How old were you when you started and martial arts?

I think I was about 40.  I tried a little krav maga and some tai chi before I found ECKA and kickboxing.

Why did you choose ECKA?

Originally it was because my kids had joined as the classes . I stayed with ECKA because it is the most welcoming club.  There are no egos and you all are just trying to beat what you could do in the last session. Sensei Jo is a fantastic instructor and has now built a brilliant teaching team, which has only made the club even better.

How do you maintain your work/life/training balance?  

I had to stop training in 2018 after I had gained my orange belt.  Life was getting so busy and work meant I kept missing class so I stopped.  I went back this January (2022) as I have more time and have been enjoying it so much I have thrown myself into all the classes I can!  It just means a little more time has to be spent planning mum taxi duty and who’s going to cook dinner!

Did you ever feel like quitting?

I did back in 2018.  Everything was just getting a little too much and I lost my drive.  Sometimes in class I get annoyed with myself when I cant do as well as I would like, but I soon get over that, usually giggling with someone over it.  The hardest part after a long tiring day is getting changed to leave the house.  Once I’m there I’m so glad I did.

Has martial arts had an affect on any areas of your life outside of the dojo? 

I’m getting a bit older now and one of the main reasons I came back was to feel healthy and gain some energy back in my life.  When you start to lose your energy loads of other things go with it, your confidence, your ability to relax and I was putting on weight.  ECKA LB has helped me with all of this and has also inspired me to train outside of class.  Doing kickboxing is a little like mediating for me, you have to focus.  Whatever has been going on during the day has to be put to one side as soon as you walk in the room and your full attention needs to be on what you are doing.  If you don’t do that you are likely to get hit in the face! 

What did you think about your first few classes?

Oh my god I’m going to die!  The “warm ups” were more than I had ever done and I felt really old, slow and very unfit.  Soon I realised that no one else cared!  They were all working at their own rate and trying to push themselves. When I noticed this I also started to notice how encouraging everyone was.  I was never made to feel like I wasn’t good enough or that I didn’t belong and now I am really proud that I didn’t let my self doubt stop me from working that out.

 What is the thing you enjoy the most in your training? Have you achieved more than you thought (if so what?)

I love the awesome friendships I have made.  I really like how varied the sessions are.  You never know what you will be doing, with the exception of a little run/jog/walk/skip at the start, but you know it will be just challenging enough and that you have a troop of people backing you and willing you to succeed.  Being able to build skill and technical ability and then put it into practice with some sparring is really rewarding.  I never thought I would compete, if you had asked me at the start I would have laughed, but I have now been in 3 tournaments in the senior category and I’m looking forward to 3 more this year!

What would your advice be to anyone considering martial arts?

Give it a go!  It’s really good fun and not nearly as intimidating as you may think.  If you don’t want to fight you don’t have to, but what you will do is get stronger and fitter in a truly fun way.

Do you have anything else you would like to achieve within your training or anything else you would like to add?

I would love to keep training and get a medal in the light continuous category at some point.  The idea of getting into the more senior belts is becoming a reality and that’s really exciting.  I would highly recommend the club as one of the most welcoming yet competitive environments I have ever been in.  It’s a difficult balance to strike, but Sensei Jo and her team manage to nail it every time!