Ghofrane Jabloun is from Tunisia, North Africa.
Ghofrane, or Young Panther as we call her, is a martial artist and not just any martial artist – she earned the title of Kung-Fu Wushu Champion in 2008/2010 & 2011. You would not look at this nice young lady and think that she has a serious ability to defend herself and you! Her story tells us that when you put your mind to it, anything is possible!
What made you decide to learn martial arts?
I joined martial arts to be able to defend the people that I care about and anyone that might need my help someday (and for lots of other reasons that I prefer not to mention). It’s funny but I don’t believe in violence at all and till this day I still don’t, but I learned that sometimes you need to fight fire with fire when there is no other option. But, of course you must remember that you always have a choice; you need to think before you act. Plus, you should never intentionally hurt someone.
Of all the different disciplines, why Kung Fu Wushu?
To be honest I was always attracted to it from a very young age.
How did you make your decision about that specific form?
Well, I consider it to be the best of all types martial arts, mainly because it contains all sort of different styles. Kung-fu is within everything that we do.
You mentioned you had to make sacrifices in order to train. What kind of sacrifices did you make and was it worth it to you?
I should start by saying that my parents were against it and still are because they think it’s too violent and since I’m a girl it’s another reason why I shouldn’t be “playing.” That made me want it even more.
When I put something into my mind, I do it no matter what. I gathered money all by myself, and I was lucky to have such a wonderful teacher. He let me train as long as I wanted. He was simply just an amazing man, adding to that the team was amazing. It was more than just training with them, they were my second family and we still see each other.
I enjoyed it. It’s more than just a game or sport, it is a way of life for me and definitely worth it.
Did you actually have hand to hand combats with other students as part of your training?
Oh yeah! The first time that we got into it, it was more like a street fight. And by my luck on that day the only other girl on our team didn’t show up, so my trainer asked me if I wanted to get into this. And i said: “Bring it on!” I had to fight one of the guys. I picked one of my friends and we started. It was normal at first but then we decided to have some fun and it became really brutal. Our teacher was so impressed and lots of people started to pay attention to us – needless to say “best training day ever!”
The next day, I woke up with bruises everywhere, and everyone were asking me what happened. I was like, ” I was just messing with my friend on training !”
The following day I was waiting for my friend to show up and he didn’t make it. He showed up three days later saying :”look what you did to me!” We end up laughing and making jokes about it as if nothing happened. It was fun! We both got what we deserved! lol!
You started to do competitions?
Yes. I trained because I wanted to learn kung-fu for myself – nothing more. I didn’t go there to compete but my teacher told me that I should, so I did it for him.
What is competing like?
First time I went, I was a bit nervous, but then I got used to it. In every competition you can get injured and you never know what the other is cooking for you, so you need to expect anything at any time and never underestimate your opponent.
What did you have to do to earn the championship title?
I needed to be the best, so I used to train for hours. Sometimes I could start at 2 pm and finish up at 9 pm without having any rest whatsoever. Then waking up early in the morning so I could go for a run and still have time to train when I got home.
Does knowing martial arts give you more confidence?
It definitely does. It kills your fears, and it frees you in a way. You can feel in control and that no one really can get to you – well, not easily.
How about knowing that you have the ability to defend yourself against an attacker?
It makes me more relieved to know that if someone were to attack me, it wouldn’t be as easy as they think it would be for them. At least I would be able to fight back and have a chance to win and possibly beat the crap out of them. I can walk anywhere I want at any time because I am not afraid to be in such a situation. I would advise people who got attacked before, abused or raped, to take at least a couple of classes. It will make you feel more safe and conformable and you’ll be able to have that confidence in yourself again to do what you like and you’ll stop being afraid.
There is a big difference between learning martial arts and self defense. Could you describe what you think the differences are and how you think a woman should determine which she would rather learn?
I would advise you to go for martial arts because it has both – but that’s just me. You should choose whatever makes you feel more comfortable. At the end you’re just trying to learn how to protect yourself from possible situations where you must use these techniques. Just make sure that you like what you’re learning.