1. How old were you when you started training and why did you choose Martial Arts? I was 10 when I first started, I was not enjoying school at that time and became very withdrawn. My mum read in a magazine that Martial Arts was great for improving confidence and self-esteem, soon after she saw Shihan Chris in Tring’s Tesco and I came along for a session. Martial Arts ticked all the boxes for me, I needed something that would help my self-esteem as well as something physical because other sports like Football and Rugby just weren’t my thing, an added blessing in disguise was that I didn’t know anyone from my village so I could start completely afresh. 2. How has martial arts helped you at school (better concentration, grades, confidence etc.)? A key life skill that I benefited from when training was improved confidence, this definably helped me settle in with the transition from primary to secondary school especially since I had the experience settling in somewhere that I didn’t know anyone prior. One of the best ways that martial arts has helped me is management of stress. Early secondary school, years 7 to 9 were awfully stressful due to a number of different reasons but being able to vent my build up emotions several times a week has certainly prevented me from doing something I would have later regretted. 3. How do you balance homework against your training, has training helped you to be more organised or helped you to cope with the stress of moving up to a new school? Training on a regular basis has defiantly helped me to organise my time and manage my homework. I would think: “ok it’s Monday, my lesson is at 6pm we will need to leave at quarter to and I will be tired after so I’ll do my maths now because that’s due first then my science tomorrow.” A lot of parents worry that spending two or so hours a week doing an activity will leave no time for homework, when in reality it’s two hours a week not twenty. I found that by doing my lessons helped to ‘budget’ my time better. If I wasn’t doing martial arts I would have probably sat on the sofa for hours thinking to myself that I would start my homework later when in reality later didn’t happen. As for stress when moving up schools, I mentioned it above. 4. Did you ever feel like quitting training? All the time, and its completely normal (I hope anyway). Sometimes if for any reason I didn’t enjoy the lesson, I would ask myself: “Is it worth it?” and “Do I want to come back?” to which I would reply: “Of course it’s worth it and of course I want to come back.” I look back to what I was before doing Martial Arts and how I have improved, the sheer level that I have improved by speaks for itself. From speaking to students at a similar rank to me, I’ve found out that’s fairly common to feel this way, some have even handed in their notice but have changed their mind from just speaking to an instructor. Every single class at TMA is so different so every once in a while there may be a class that quite isn’t your cup of tea, I’m personally not too keen on sparring but love a high-energy fitness based class while someone else may have the opposite opinion. TMA caters for so many people and helps them to achieve so many different goals and you can’t base your opinion of an academy on one class. Some fitting quotes that I’ve heard are: ‘Start with the end in Mind.’ and ‘If you feel like quitting, think about why you started.’ Two very powerful quotes which speak volumes. For anyone who feels like quitting I would strongly advise that you speak to three people: a family member/ friend, a peer at the academy and your instructor. When you’ve adopted the mentality that you want to quit something it’s very hard to persuade yourself, the same applies with subjects at school. If your adamant that you want to drop a subject or course it’s important to speak to someone and be resilient and determined, two life skills taught at TMA. 5. If you had to give someone one piece of advice about managing home / school / work and Martial Arts, what would it be? Only one? There are so many things that I could suggest! A popular thing to do is to write a list or making a colour coded schedule. Prioritising is absolutely essential, as much as I hate to admit it, education is more important than Martial Arts, if it’s ever getting too much then it’s ok to miss a session. If you have loads of homework to do or if you need to revise for an exam, then take the night off and if you can just make up the class, TMA is open six days a week and has plenty of opportunities to make up classes. There is a great misinterpretation that some parents feel that students shouldn’t do any kind of sport when there exams, to which I would reply that Martial Arts is essential for providing key life skills which are proven to help with grades, but reduce your attendance when the exams are right around the corner, I’d say that Martial Arts is most important with stress relief which can do awful things to students if left to build up including: Depression, Mood Swings, Muscular Pains, Poor Immune System, High Blood Pressure, Insomnia and many many more conditions. 6. If you have left school, where are you now? I am currently studying A-Levels in Maths, Economics, Business and IT after completing my GCSEs with 3A’s 6B’s and 4C’s. I’m also a part time instructor and administrator at the academy.