I was a victim of bullying. When I was about 14 years old, I grew 10 cm taller at once, and that brought some health issues; the doctors diagnosed me with scoliosis, which was making my spine bend and my shoulders crouch. To help my back stay straight, doctors prescribed the use of an orthopaedic corset, which was very sturdy and tight, and also very visible underneath my clothes. I had to wear the corset all the time, also when I was in school. I remember some people looking at me as if I had grown a third eye. 

One day, a classmate started asking me questions about what that was and how it worked; I don’t remember whether I was annoyed by his questions or just embarrassed, but anyway, I just answered them and that seemed to be enough. However one fine day, during a school trip, I recall seeing this guy talking to another classmate and close friend of his, whom also happened to be the school’s jock and the boy every girl fell for, in addition to being the son of the football team’s coach of my hometown, all of which put him on a sort of pedestal and feeling superior to other people. When I saw them looking at me and laughing, I immediately understood that they were mocking me for my “handicap”: this guy started to make jokes about me, ironically calling me “armour” and knocking on my corset in front of others to make them laugh at me.  

What followed was the worst school year of my life, this guy made my life miserable every day, and what was worse, my friends and teachers did not stand up for me, although being very conscious of the situation. I was crying every day and I felt like I was helpless and desperate. Many years passed, I fell into depression, became even more shy and solitary, but always managed to stay afloat and succeed in many things.  

A few years ago, I started hitting the gym with friends; at first, it was more to spend time together than train. I tried this training class called “body combat”, I’ve never heard of it before. At first, I thought I looked ridiculous and didn’t want to make a fool of myself, but, step by step, I began to quite like it, and I found a purpose to it: fighting, punching and kicking was, and still is, making me feel de-stressed and relieved, and I can just imagine to have my fear, my shame, my anger in front of me and punch them and kick them away with all my strength. I have grown to like this discipline very much, I even thought of picking up boxing, although I’m still far from it!  

The relief and satisfaction I get when working out has really helped me in a more physical way to relieve the burden that the bullying has put on me. This burden stays with me to this day, even 19 years later.  

I feel much better after a workout, my body has much more energy and it also helps to calm my mind and put things into perspective. I would recommend body combat to anyone, especially those people who are looking for a good way to kick stress and tension away, whatever the reason may be! 


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