The one in 20,000 Interview with a female black belt
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you got started in Martial Arts
I’m a film producer and actor, my journey in martial arts started a long time ago. I was always interested but there weren’t any courses near me when I was growing up. I ended up taking a few short courses in Judo, mixed martial arts, taekwon do in Sydney and then a 1 month course in a chinese martial art similar to Wing Chun when I was living in Taiwan. Moving to London I ended up in a few films where I had to use my martial arts but I hadn’t practiced in years!! So I signed up to the nearest taekwon do club without really knowing much about the sport! I thought I’d go for a few lessons – perhaps a few months. Next thing I realise it’s been about 7 years!! Crazy to think about now.
How long and tough was your journey to 1st degree black belt
When I started TKD in London I ended up becoming good friends with you, Leah! And you inspired me to start from white belt again – also the taekwondo they practice in the BUTF (British United Taekwondo Federation) is much stricter with a great emphasis on form than my previous teachers.
So starting from scratch was a good way to learn properly. Looking back this was in 2013!! Working up the belts got tougher as I got higher, but incredibly rewarding. As an adult you rarely get to be a beginner and learn new physical skills – but with TKD you really can see improvement in just a few weeks if you try hard. Working in sparring and patterns is very rewarding – we were encouraged to go to competitions and winning was so exciting. First time I won gold for Female BUTF Championships was so exciting, I couldn’t believe it. I’d never won gold for anything ever before!
Mastering my jumping side kick for black belt was very difficult, but the feeling of achievement gaining my black belt made it completely worthwhile!
How often did you have to train and what supplementary training did you do?
I try to train twice a week for around 2.5 hours each. Leading up to my black belt I was training 3-4 times a week. I’ve eased off a bit now though. In between training sessions I do yoga / workouts / pilates in the mornings usually about 15-30min each day. I like to stretch and keep fit, and getting flexibility and strength makes a huge difference to my taekwondo.
What’s your diet like?
I try to eat healthily, lots of veges and don’t drink too much – TRY. But I do love my coffee, chocolate and icecream!! My philosophy is if I do exercise I can afford to eat those things : )
What’s the ratio of females to men in your class and how did you deal with that?
There are a lot more boys and men in our classes than women, but it is tough to keep up as an adult. I gained my black belt and hopefully its inspiring to other girls coming up the ranks to show that they can as well. I’d love more women or girls to join our classes! I also think its great parents bring their kids to classes – but its even better when they join in too. Quite fun to see parents and kids spar each other!!
Do you think more women should take up martial arts?
Of course! I’d love more women to join – please come and try out our club in Clapham. You dont have to be particularly fit, or sporty (I’m not!), or even commit to coming every single week. We all have busy lives but if you just try it I know you’ll enjoy it. Its a LOT more fun than gym classes. You get to meet lots of interesting and fun people, give up control and learn something new, challenge yourself and your idea of your body, and inspire others.