Introducing Ms. Stacia Cheney, a brand new black belt in our martial art, a loving mother to her son, Ian, and living proof that the strongest women do not come in large packages! It has been my pleasure getting to know Stacia throughout hers and Ian’s martial arts career, and I’m excited for her to be part of the Femme Fatale Project.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a 36 year old, who tells all that I am 27! I have a 9 5/6 year old son, Ian, and a 4 year old Levitt Old English Bulldog named Tyson. I am a social worker, reach up case manager, for the state of Vermont and work mainly with parents who struggle with mental health and substance abuse. I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, as is my son and I love being outside!
2. What do you think makes a strong woman?
The ability to communicate, in my belief, makes a strong woman! To advocate and to just be able to have a voice! I wasn’t always a vocal woman and have found a lot of strength in my ability to communicate.
3. Society tends to make women out to be weak, to be the victims. “Hit like a girl”, “Run like a girl”, “Fight like a girl”. How do you think martial arts has helped you defy society’s picture of a woman?
I wouldn’t want to get a kick from this girl…. I am small but I know where it hurts! On a real note, as a mother of a son, I am irritated at this kind of thought process and I know personally it feels good to have accomplished something that a lot of men have not accomplished.
4. If you could offer advice to the young females of the world, particularly those who are in martial arts or who might need martial arts, what message would you give them?
Don’t be afraid to use your voice and know that you are stronger than you think…. emotionally and physically! When I started TKD, I was not so sure I had it in me, I was not a fan of sparring or one steps and thought because of my size, I wouldn’t be able to handle it…. I’m not going to lie, I was scared. I had been in a long term domestically violent relationship and didn’t realize it at the time that I started…. I thought it was normal to feel weak and unable. I never used my voice to discuss this with the masters and I wish that I had.
5. What advice do you have for the young men in our culture- on the subject of women?
I am raising the next fine young man so I know this!! Women are not above you nor are they below you…. women are right there beside you! Women are strong and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Women make choices and always empower the women in your life to speak up and make choices!
6. Who has been a positive and strong role model for you, in or out of martial arts? How and why?
Hands down, my father! My dad had always wanted me to take self-defense…. mostly because I was his little girl, but more so as I branched out, moved away and started social work…. my dad was a worrier. My dad passed away 10/23/14 and never was able to see me achieve my black belt but I know he would be so proud…. he was always proud! My father had a tattoo of my name, Ian’s name, my sister and my niece and nephews name on his left arm…. on his right arm, he had them in Korean and was planning to get some sort of black belt around them as we achieved our belts… he was a pretty cool man! My dad was a man who had many struggles but one thing he was constant in love, support and pride for me, his little girl.
7. As a new black belt in the community, can you discuss a little bit about what you expected being a black belt would be and how it compares to actually being a black belt?
I had no expectations about being a black belt. I knew I would be able to do more in the martial arts community but didn’t really think it would change much about me… and it hasn’t… aside from my walk… my head is higher and my shoulders are strong and I feel really proud and accomplished. I do not feel not afraid… in fact I have always been a cautious one and would never put myself out there in harm’s way or in risky situations, but I live alone for the first time in 36 years and I don’t fear it as I used to. It is nothing less than a positive feeling of great accomplishment.
8. Your son is still quite young and a new black belt himself! If you could give him any advice about women and/or martial arts, what would you say to him?
Encourage strength! I would always want for my son to remain modest… I want him to be the man that I would want for a daughter if I had one… to allow her to be strong yet to be there for her if in need. I would want him to encourage all girls to always do their best and don’t put on the act that they cannot do something because it is what is expected… help encourage strong and confident women! I have a teen niece and nephew and I see clearly that there is expectations in society that women shouldn’t be able to do things… my niece is a martial artist and is confident and has overcome that at age 15, I know other young teenage girls who present themselves as unable and I hope they can find a way out of that and into their own confidences.
9. You have encountered some very personal loss in your life. Can you speak to how martial arts and the community has helped you transition through these losses? Can you offer any words for others who might be experiencing some hardships?
In the last year and a half, I have lost my father and I have lost my marriage. I have also in the past lost some pregnancies that I was so excited for… I have always wanted 3 kids but definitely to give my son a sibling… it has been difficult. My father passed away on a Thursday and I was in class the following Monday, my marriage was falling apart and I didn’t miss a class… in fact, we filed for divorce and off to TKD I went. Master Yordan’s school has an energy that makes me feel like I can get through anything… it is a feeling of strength and a family feeling of support. I am grateful for this journey and whenever the days are hardest are the days I have to be in class… not to release negativity but to feel the strength! I say go to class and surround yourself with strength and energy!