Gemma Sherwin
1st Degree Black Belt

I started at Fighting Fit completely by accident in August 2008 when my flatmate asked me to come along to a class with her. I loved the classes right away – they were much different than I imagined martial arts classes to be and everyone was really friendly and helpful.

After a couple of sessions I was completely hooked and joined the club with an initial plan to attend classes to try to improve my fitness levels rather than to grade. The thought of standing up in front of people was really scary for me ­ I cried once in class when I tried to do my techniques because I used to get such bad stage fright. In December 2008, I thought it would be a good experience for me to push myself to try just one grading. I managed to get through it, passed (shaking like a leaf!) and I was on my way!

Fighting Fit is a huge challenge for me both physically and mentally. It's fair to say that I am not a natural athlete and when I started at the club I was a smoker, was unfit and generally had a pretty unhealthy lifestyle.

I initially tried to focus on pushing myself to complete a class without having to stop for a rest. I remember being really embarrassed as I was huffing and puffing my way through the warm up ­ I didn't want to get too hot and sweaty either. Vanity was the first sacrifice of my martial arts training!

I realised fairly early on that most of the time in martial arts, the only person you are truly competing against is yourself and that the biggest challenge is to continually push yourself and to believe that you can achieve the next level.

Over my time at Fighting Fit, I have become physically and mentally stronger, made some brilliant friends and my self confidence has grown an immeasurable amount. I have gone from shaking with nerves at my first grading to taking part in club displays and passing the instructors course and teaching others.

In June 2012 I achieved my black belt. Although the training and the grading were one of the toughest challenges of my life so far, it was a fantastic day and the culmination of years of hard work. Hearing my name called out to collect my black belt from Mr Lloyd in front of my family and friends was a really emotional moment and I will never forget it.

Fighting Fit Gemma Smith

Fighting Fit Gemma Smith

Fighting Fit Gemma Smith
Fighting Fit Gemma Smith