What Earning a Black Belt Taught Me About Writing

What Earning a Black Belt Taught Me About Writing

Amy Jarecki

When you pick up a Scottish romance, karate might not be the first thing on your mind. Author Amy Jarecki, author of The Highland Earl, just might surprise you. Jarecki, as it turns out, is an accomplished master of the martial arts, and it informs her writing. Here, Jarecki dishes on how her karate experience influences her writing process.

It’s not every middle-aged woman who decides to take karate with a bunch of teenagers. After all, it is an impact sport. And to be honest, I haven’t gone without injury, but through the experience I’ve learned so much more than I ever imagined.

Initially, I enrolled in karate classes thinking I’d attend the school for about six months to learn fighting mechanics to help me write better fight scenes. I write historical romance and romantic suspense, and my characters are always getting themselves embroiled in sticky situations. I figured the more I knew about weapons and fighting techniques, the more visceral I’d be able to create heart-pounding action scenes for my readers.

Of course it only took a couple of weeks of classes to realize my timeline and vision were shortsighted. I didn’t consider that I might find a school where the emphasis is on how not to fight. In every class there are lessons on living a well-rounded lifestyle, on reinforcing respect and helping others, as well as the added bonus of interacting with a myriad of age groups. I thought karate was about self-defense and learning to be a good fighter. But studying the discipline of karate is nothing like the movies. On top of learning good fighting techniques, it is a regime and an enriching way of life.

Better yet, everything I’ve learned I’ve been able to apply to writing. As an author, I like to be hands-on and write from experience whenever possible. I travel to the places I write about, and karate has become another element to enhance my personal experience. Because I write historical novels where there are battles, sword fighting, and brawls, I have satisfied my goal of learning the mechanics of blocking and self-defense, as well as how to strike and use my opponent’s momentum to gain the upper hand. But through all this my characters have become more well-rounded individuals. And they might walk away from a fight if the stakes are too high or not high enough. They might not be as quick to anger. Some weigh all the odds before acting… or maybe they don’t, and a bad decision leads them into a world of hurt.

I earned my black belt in November of 2018 and am now studying for my second degree. Along this journey, I have gotten in fantastic shape, meditated, and applied new methods in the exercise of self-control. Most of all, I’ve discovered it’s the journey that’s more important than the destination. We walk a path that may not be direct but will lead to a higher purpose. Once a goal is achieved, it is time to move on to a new journey. Where will yours take you next?


Award winning author, Amy Jarecki likes to grab life, latch on, and reach for the stars. She studies karate, ballet, yoga, and often you’ll find her hiking Utah’s Santa Clara Hills. Reinventing herself a number of times, Amy sang and danced with the Follies, was a ballet dancer, a plant manager, and an accountant for Arnott’s Biscuits in Australia. After earning her MBA from Heroit-Watt University in Scotland, she dove into the world of Scottish historical romance and hasn’t returned. Her latest book, The Highland Earl, released on June 25. Learn more about Amy’s books on amyjarecki.com.


Leave a Reply