My Journey to Black Belt – Melissa Atkin

Journey to Black Belt

I started my journey to black belt back in 2012 when I decided to do a trial class at Xen-Do which was located a 3 mins walk from my flat.

I had always wanted to give kickboxing a go for as long as I can remember but just never got around to it. I was talking about trying it with a work colleague over lunch who did karate and he said to me “what is stopping you?” I remember the penny just dropping and thinking to myself “yeah, what is stopping me?”

I signed up for the free trial lesson and was hooked from my first class. I remember being so afraid the first few lessons that I would get something wrong or didn’t understand the dojo etiquette but everyone, the Sensei’s and the other students, were so friendly that this soon subsided.

With every belt my kicks, punches and confidence grew. I started to notice how what I was learning in the dojo was having an impact on other areas of my life. I was more confident at work, going into meeting with senior leadership and holding my own with the more experienced team members. I felt more relaxed in myself; in my teens and early 20’s I had always suffered a lot of insecurities and these seemed to vanish entirely after 12 months at Xen-Do.

My black belt grading was one of the best days of my life – it sounds cheesy but it was. The whole build up to it, the hundreds of hours of training, perfecting each of the combinations and basics. The additional time I took to get my fitness to the best it has ever been. It was all worth it as on the day I had the best time. Yes it was exhausting, yes the pressure was intense, yes Master Raf is terrifying, but knowing I could perform under that kind of physical and mental pressure meant I knew I had achieved and deserved my black belt.

Master Raf and the club has a moto ‘Fit for Life’ and since joining Xen-Do I can say I truly believe this and know I will live it every day. My fitness is the best it has been, I am in shape, I eat better, I drink less and I have started to sign up for ‘fitness’ events I never thought were possible for someone like me. I also have met some great people who are now close friends thanks to the club. People I would have never normally met in my usual walk of life. One of these friends recently joined me on a 54 mile race through the Scottish highland’s as my support crew. It was the perfect partnership and I put this down to the fact we trained together at Xen-Do and therefore understood what each other needed in a tense physical environment.

I am now in the process of moving to South London and even though my club will now be a 90min commute away I know I will continue to attend my Xen-Do classes. Xen-Do has become such an important part of my routine that it isn’t a question of ‘if I will continue’ but ‘how to fit these around my other commitments’.

In summary, joining the Xen-Do family has changed my outlook on life, given me confidence, a sense of achievement, discipline, friendships and fitness.

If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it then I can achieve


#fitforlife #lifechanging #justdoit

This article is based on opinion:
– the author is not a qualified doctor or anyone who can dispense medical advice.
– any opinions stated are just that and people should consult a doctor before making any dietary changes or changes of any nature prompted by the articles published by or on behalf of Xen-Do.
– under 16’s please obtain parental permission before posting anything online.
– any opinions stated are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of Xen-Do.

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