Interview: Didi Goodman

From Biology to Philosophy, Martial Arts to Poetry

Show Notes

Didi Goodman, a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, studied biology at Reed College in Oregon and philosophy at UC Berkeley, before leaving academia to practice writing and martial arts. She is chief instructor at Cuong Nhu Redwood Dojo, a school she founded in 1992 in Oakland, California. She has been training in martial arts for more than 40 years, and teaching it to adults and children for more than 30. She holds the rank of rokudan (sixth degree black belt) in Cuong Nhu karate, a Vietnamese martial art that blends hard and soft principles drawn from several Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese systems.

Outside the dojo, she is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in many publications. She is the author of The Kids’ Karate Workbook: A Take-Home Training Guide for Young Martial Artists (North Atlantic/Blue Snake Books) Her essay “Learning from Children: Five Easy Lessons for Teachers,” appears in the book Martial Arts Teachers on Teaching, edited by Carol Wiley (North Atlantic Books). She was profiled in the book Sharp Spear, Crystal Mirror: Martial Arts in Women’s Lives, by Stephanie Hoppe (Park Street Press). Able Muse Press published a volume of Didi’s poetry titled Greed: A Confession. Her poetry has appeared in several journals, such as Crazyhorse, Notre Dame Review, Wisconsin Review, Cold Mountain Review, Whitefish Review; and the anthology, Sonnets: 150 Contemporary Sonnets. Didi also authored an illustrated chapbook titled Birds by the Bay.

Mentioned In This Episode

Key Points

  • It’s important to balance physical and mental training.
  • Impatience can be a challenge to deal with, and learning how to cope with it is vital to a happy mental state.
  • Dealing with men as a woman martial artist can have its challenges.
  • New instructors should be mentored in a group-like apprenticeship setting so that they have the feedback of both their mentor and that of actual students.
  • When studying different styles of martial arts, it is important to find the aspects that fit with you physically and philosophically.
  • Follow your gut and don’t take “no” for an answer from others or yourself.

Fun Fact

Prior to joining Cuong Nhu, she trained for many years in taekwondo and aikido. Some of her earliest martial arts training was in the style of Wu Ying Mun karate under Pauline Short, a pioneer among women martial artists in the U.S.

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