Rebecca O'Connell

This course was created by Sensei Dwyer, together with some of the female members of Physical Arts. It is intended for women who want to become more confident about themselves and life in general, but we also created the course because we discovered that some women didn't feel entirely comfortable with group classes. Lots of people find joining classes difficult and feel that they might be inadequate in some way, or look stupid. The 'one on one' course is aimed at building confidence immediately. People can defeat themselves before they even begin by not giving things a go!

I used to be one of these people. Having admired Kung Fu and various martial arts for many years, I finally attended some classes with Sensei Dwyer (hiding behind two of my friends!). After two months of training, my friends went abroad but I remained, confident enough to continue on my own: a good decision, because it changed my life in many ways. I soon got the bug for classes, and devoted more and more time to the art; it became a way of life. I became healthier in my eating habits and cut down on my alcohol intake, while smoking lost its appeal completely. I was being completely challenged, and for the first time in my life, I found that the key to excelling was in myself.

At the end of my first year of training, I competed in numerous tournaments around Britain. I won silver and gold medals and trophies, including the British Championship. Thus I found myself in the British national team, competing in the World Championships in Croatia. The whole thing was an amazing experience, and it taught me a great deal.

Over the following few years I became increasingly interested in teaching women, finding an extended enjoyment in sharing what I had learned from my Sensei. What I have found is that Physical Arts can be either a rewarding hobby or a whole lifestyle, depending on how involved you get and how much time you want to devote to it. It is so fulfilling, seeing the people that you teach start to grow and become more confident in every area of life. Women do particularly well in this art, being able to take from it what they want or need - from self-confidence to general fitness, stamina, toning muscles, self-defense or competing. It's up to you! The hardest step is the first one - turning up - but after that it's self-development that is great fun, with great people.