I've just finished a session of Choi Hawarang Do at the Martial Arts Leisure UK. It's a martial art, based on effective self-defence and personal development - a really positive direction.
Everyone was really positive and friendly. Right from when I first walked in, Jenny , the assistant instructor, was welcoming and helpful, and everyone was willing to help along a new person, explaining what was going on and making sure I was OK. I was surprised and pleased at the mix of ages and people there - there was a good selection of older and younger students, right down to age 10 or so, and several ladies. There was none of the 'macho' atmosphere that is sometimes associated with martial arts and it all felt warm and friendly.
After the standard line-up and introduction, we did some guided stretching as a warm-up, and then onto the lesson. I was quickly paired off with one of the senior grades to show me the basics of the stance, and a basic block, punch and kick, and to run through the first block/punch/kick sequence. Once I'd shown that I was no ninja by wobbling through the simple kicks and punches, we rejoined the main class for a 2-on-1 exercise - where you simulate two 'attackers' (holding pads as targets) against one defender. After a few minutes, there was a quick break for a drink of water and then we ran through several self-defence techniques, including getting out of a headlock, a choke hold and a bear hug. A final line-up ended the lesson.
It made me breathe pretty hard at a couple of points - perhaps I shouldn't have spent the last couple of years on the sofa watching TV. That's good, because I needed a bit of exercise.
I'll definitely be back next week.