The Sound Of Community
What is ‘ouss’?
A sign of respect.
According to Argie, it’s the sound of community.
Last month, we discovered Arghierenia’s article about the positive impact martial arts has had on her mental health and work-life balance. Now coming up on the one-year anniversary of her Xen-Do membership, we met for coffee to learn more about her martial arts journey.
Argie’s come a long way in a year. A Green/White belt and a sparring enthusiast, Argie remembers when she thought of coming to classes as a job.
She recalls her mindset during her first classes, drawing her goals out on the cafe table with a finger: “I want to do kickboxing, I want to improve my fitness, get the skills…get a bit of everything,” She laughs, coming back to the present. “And in the end, I did get a bit of everything!”
“I thought I’d have to put on a bit of a persona. You know, like, I’m serious, so I have to put on a serious,” She gestures at her own face, making a mocking grimace. “But it wasn’t like that at all. I feel like all the time I get to be myself.”
She leans forward over her coffee, conspiratorial. “You know the whole thing, when you enter the dojo and you have to say, OUSS? OUSS all the time,” now she leans back, she needs the room to move, “and YAAH every time you change your legs. Even when you’re already at the top of your voice, you have to be louder!”
“Well, for a while, I felt embarrassed. Not because of them!” She adds quickly, gesturing as if she can see her sensei’s standing next to her. She clarifies, “I just expected that I should feel embarrassed, that I would look ridiculous. Entering there like, OUSS! YAAH! I felt like I wasn’t good enough to make those noises.”
“I see that with everyone that’s new. Everyone who’s like a yellow belt, or on their free trial. Because you just feel silly at first.”
“But after a while, it becomes…I don’t know, you feel you are worthy of making that sound! It’s the sound of the community, it’s the common calling. OUSS! Every time I leave now, I say thank you, bye, OUSS! And everyone responds in the same way.”
She describes the way her interactions with her classmates has changed over the months. Members at Xen-Do are free to attend whichever class during the week fits their schedule. As a freelancer, Argie’s schedule changes constantly, so she attends a different session—and meets new classmates— every week. She felt hesitant to start conversations at first, but was charmed by the steady sense of welcome she felt in the dojo, no matter which day she showed up.
“We all help each other. It took me a while, but I keep getting reassurance that everything is going to be fine, they’re going to accept me, they’re going to work with me, and it’s all going to work.”
“And that’s the thing, once I realised that was the deal, I was like, okay, great!”
Arghierenia is a busy woman. When she’s not sparring or writing about her martial arts journey, she’s developing new theatre with Jittery Pens Productions and Bashir Productions:
Jittery Pens Productions website:jitterypens.wixsite.com
And here’s a link to Argie’s original article about her experience with Xen-Do: psyche.media