Written by Katrina Daniel Tuesday, May 24 2011
Snapshot: Kym Rock
She certainly has the perfect name for both her life and her life’s work. Kym Rock is strong and short (5 feet 2 inches), and she is definitely the opposite of submissive or shy.
Rock is the founder, chief button pusher, and butt kicker of Fight Like A Girl, a program-curriculum that teaches women to use their strengths and to develop both mental and physical self-defense.
A survivor of domestic violence who also beat cancer and went on to become a seven-time World Karate champion, Rock lives up to her name.
She chronicles her struggles and triumphs in her new book: Fight Like A Girl: Be Scared With A Plan.
Athlete, author, female empowerment and personal mental strength advocate, Rock lives in Colorado. She travels around the country teaching Fight Like A Girl seminars.
Womenetics: Explain the birth of your organization, Fight Like A Girl. What is it, what do you do for women?
Kym Rock: Fight Like A Girl is a 10-year-old proven program of personal violence prevention that teaches women and girls to think smarter and to develop the essential skills and awareness to keep themselves out of dangerous situations and to get away from an abuser, abductor, or attacker.
Womenetics: What inspired you to found this organization?
Rock: I was a victim of domestic violence during my marriage to my high school boyfriend. To protect myself, I started taking karate from an instructor a few hours away from my home. The skills I learned there empowered me to continue developing my strengths and to share what I learned with other women and kids, to make an impact in the statistics of domestic violence in our country.
Womenetics: How did you find the courage to leave your abusive marriage?
Rock: I started taking karate from sensei Jerry Lemon, who took an interest in my situation and encouraged me in gaining my independence then coached me in a competitive career through hundreds of tournaments that culminated in seven world championships and four Hall of Fame inductions.
Womenetics: What has the practice of karate done for your self-confidence?
Rock: The martial arts made me realize that there is always a way to get where you want to go – you just have to step up and overcome your fears and reach out and accept the help that you can find.
Karate shaped my personality in infinite ways, but most specifically in the trait of persistence. If you want to be the best at something, you have to set your mind to it and be diligent in your pursuit of success. Something is only impossible until it is done.
I found early on that self-defense was not created for women; it is geared toward men’s strong upper body strength and height. I decided to develop self-defense skills that do work for women and kids in situations that they may find themselves in. My program caters to women’s strengths and advantages. Karate is not a team sport. Karate and Fight Like A Girl are individual achievement programs, and you can go as far as you want to go, and no one can stop you as long as you have the desire to do it.
Womenetics: What’s your dream for your organization?
Rock: To change the statistics of violence against women nationwide. Fight Like A Girl has the power to keep the one in three women from being victims of abuse and 2,000 kids from going missing every day, which are the terrifying real facts about life in America today. I want Fight Like A Girl to be a household name and a popular class for females from little girls to senior women. I want to be the new mind-set – an awareness of what is acceptable behavior and an intolerance for emotional or physical abuse – for women and kids
There are so many women who have been attacked or abused, physically and mentally, and this program reaches them on a real level. They see how the skills learned here could have prevented them from becoming victims, how they can improve their lives, and how it can help newcomers from becoming victims.
Womenetics: In the midst of escaping from a violent relationship, you developed cancer. How did you deal with that double whammy?
Rock: Butterscotch. That’s what I named the big C – because just the word alone is enough to corrupt your motivation. I had thyroid cancer. Just as Fight Like A Girl was taking off, I was diagnosed and had to put everything on hold. I couldn’t teach seminars or even my karate classes. The troubles didn’t end because I lost my voice. I took the time to write my first book, Fight Like A Girl: Be Scared with a Plan. Then, after I could get back on my feet, I relaunched the program with a new mission – to certify instructors so we can reach more people with these life skills that everyone needs.
Womenetics: You live a high energy, high stress life. How do you relax and unwind?
Rock: Cook! It brings me comfort and satisfies my need to feed people and bring them joy. When I had a sports car, I could spend hours cleaning and polishing it – very therapeutic and fun.
Womenetics: How did you know that you had found your calling?
Rock: After my very first seminar, which hosted 135 women, I knew that this was what I had to do because in a small town so many women came out to Fight Like A Girl. I had an email from a woman who came to that seminar from a domestic violence shelter, and what she experienced there gave her the courage to get out of her abusive marriage and start a new life for herself. Reaching out to women and giving them not only the physical skills, but also the emotional fortitude, to stand up for themselves and to step up into their own lives brings my personal experiences into perspective.
My life followed a certain path for a reason and for a higher purpose.
Katrina Daniel is an award-winning journalist and broadcast reporter/anchor. She has worked in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and as a national correspondent for several networks. She commutes between Miami and the Carolinas, writing for magazines and news organizations. She lives with one horse, four dogs, and a cat.