On moving to London, I decided that I needed to try and find myself a new hobby. I didn’t really know many people, nor did I have a great deal of commitments outside of work so I was looking for something to keep me occupied, fit and meeting new people. I hadn’t played any sport or even done much exercise since I was at school so I felt it was time to try something new.
Joining a gym was not an option for me (I find them mind-numbing). A running club crossed my mind but I’ve always hated running so I thought that probably wasn’t for me. Swimming, cycling, and even rowing (what was I thinking?) all crossed my mind but none really enthused me much at all.
In the end, my cousin, who happens to be Sensei Anthony, kept pestering me to come along to a kickboxing class at Xen-Do. Growing up in Kent, I had never been before and I was very reluctant at first. I’d never even set foot in a dojo and I just had visions of big blokes knocking lumps out of each other. Sensei Anthony (I don’t call him that at home by the way) told me that Xen-Do was nothing like this so I agreed to sign up to one trial session.
Soon after the panic set in…
- What if I’m awful?
- Will I have to make the same noises as they do in Karate Kid?
- What if I embarrass myself?
- What if I’m really awful?!
I convinced myself that I had nothing to lose so I mustered up the courage to go to the free trial session at Xen-Do, Baker Street. As soon as I entered the dojo I felt at ease. It was really comforting to see that everyone was like a big family, and even more so to see how welcoming the instructors were to newcomers! This was a far cry from the uber-macho scenario I had previously imagined.
As I was taking my trainers off I overheard one of the Senseis saying that ‘everyone leaves their ego at the door’. A nice idea I thought, but as I walked in I felt my ego clinging to my coattails, so eager to slink its way in behind me. There was a high possibility that I was going to make a fool of myself and that was an uncomfortable prospect. Who wants to make a buffoon of themselves in front of a bunch of seasoned pros!?
Fortunately, the friendly instructors and the incredibly energised and fun atmosphere meant that I was able to completely forget that I was new. I instantly felt a part of the club, despite not even having earned my white belt yet! Other members were so willing to help guide and support me in the most non-judgemental way: from the best way to snap my kicks, to understanding that not everyone is as short as me and I may have to punch a little higher!
The Sensei that was leading the session told me something that has stuck with me ever since that first day – ‘A Black belt is a White belt that never gave up…’. From that moment, I knew I wasn’t going to give up and I truly understood what it meant to leave your ego at the door.
I am so glad I took a leap of faith that day and went to the free trial that I very almost didn’t. As I said, I had nothing to lose, but what I didn’t realise was all I had to gain. I have a new community of friends, an exciting new part of my routine and, most of all, the realisation that nothing is too scary to give a try at least once!