1st Degree Black Belt
As a mere little 6 year old, I could barely fit into the smallest size gi, and the only girl; I started martial arts in South Africa doing karate. I learnt the basics of punching and kicking, as well as the first form and was pleased to discover I was as good if not better than the boys. The time I spent in that system was brief, only a few months, but the seed of martial arts was planted in my head.
At the more wizened age of 17 I noticed that there was a Goju-ryu karate dojo up the road from my house and I convinced my mother and younger sister to come with me to train. It was then that the martial arts seed began to flourish. Those years changed me as a person; I grew stronger, bolder and confident in my abilities. I rose through the belt levels, alongside my sister and mother; achieving a first dan black belt in the KUSHIDO system in South Africa in 2006. After another two years of training and teaching both junior and senior classes, I decided to immigrate to the UK.
After a year of rest, the Fighting Fit banner caught my eye and, after doing some research online, decided to stop by and watch a class. If it had not been for my work attire, I would have joined that very same class I watched. The very next week I was at the Wimbledon club, running, punching, kicking and fighting like the rest of them. During the past six years I have worked my way up the ranks of the system, starting again at the bottom and following the journey that every student should follow to better themselves physically and mentally. This culminated in my first dan black belt in the kickboxing syllabus which I achieved in 2014. I started to assist Dave Solomon and LJ Sendall with the Tooting class in 2011 and you will now find me there 'roaring' at the students every Monday.
I would advise anyone to take up a martial art at least once in their life. It is difficult to explain to people who have not trained that it is not all about punching and kicking one another; especially as a female! Martial arts teaches one many life lessons that are only realized later when one least expects it. It teaches one confidence to speak up if something is wrong. Courage to face life challenges. Mercy and Patience to deal with unreasonable people. Fitness to live a long and healthy life. Co-ordination to help with every day activities. And Bite-sized accomplishments to keep one motivated and a deep satisfaction in mastering a new technique.
“We train not to learn how to win; we train to learn how to emerge victorious in any situation.”