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Reporter toughens up and kicks some butt in martial arts lesson
I’ve never been the toughest cookie - walking solo at night in south east London can be rather bone-chilling at times.
It was time to man up, so I headed to Pyramid Martial Arts in Woolwich to learn how to kick, punch and, most importantly, to defend myself against potential attackers.
Admittedly, I was feeling nervous about my private lesson with master of karate, Matt Milchard.
But there was absolutely no need to be scared – this expert doesn’t just know how to cause people serious physical damage with minimal effort, he also knows how to treat an anxious lady.
After bowing to each other as a mark of respect, as is traditional in a martial arts classroom, Matt had me running around, jumping up and down and stretching to warm up.
Then I got to beat the crap out of him, well his pads anyway.
In just an hour, I learnt several punching and kicking techniques, with my new teacher encouraging me along the way.
Being congratulated by Matt for executing a Freestyle Sport Karate move well was addictive – I only wanted to get better.
Gloves strapped on tight, it felt incredible to let rip on the punch-bag and put my freshly acquired skills to work.
I thoroughly recommend giving this a go to expel any pent up aggression - just picture your worst enemy and go for it (I gave my old boss what was coming to him).
Jokes aside, it was seriously empowering to learn how to throw punches properly and how to block oncoming hits.
It’s no wonder Matt is such a fantastic teacher – this guy has lived and breathed martial arts since he was 10-years-old.
Growing up in Indonesia, it made perfect sense for him to fall in love with the sport.
Between them, Matt and his business partner Jamie Wood have 40 years of experience training in multiple styles and competing at world championship level.
And along with teaching discipline, respect and karate moves, the Pyramid pair could save lives with the vital self-defence techniques they pass on to students.
“What do you shout if you’re getting attacked?” Matt asked me.
“Um, help?” I replied.
“Nope, what we suggest is shouting ‘fire’.” He told me.
“Sadly, people don’t respond to ‘help’ in our society anymore.
“But if they think they could be in danger, they’ll look around to see where the fire is.”
The next thing I learnt is never to stare an attacker directly in the eyes - it will only inflame the situation, exactly how it would with a mad dog.
Next, Matt taught me how one of my most practiced arm motions, drinking, could actually set me free from a bully’s grasp.
I was sceptical, but this simple motion is extremely effective.
It is almost impossible to struggle free from someone grabbing your wrist, but simply cock your thumb and move as if you’re taking a sip and they will have no choice but to let go.
Then, it would be my advice to run like the wind.
If, like me, you’re new to martial arts and want to toughen up, Pyramid is a wonderfully friendly, professional and exciting place to start.
The club offers group sessions, private lessons and even development classes for children aged three and up.
For the full list of classes and prices visit pyramidmartialarts.com