To be honest, this review is going to be a lot out of date as I left over a year ago and they’ve made a lot of changes since then. The main change being, they have their own premises now, instead of hiring halls in other towns in the area, I think all the classes take place in Tunbridge Wells. It’s also great that they have a beginner’s class because we were often held back when new people joined the group.
I still think it’s worth me writing this, because when you’re interested in trying something new, it helps to get a bit of extra info. And if you haven’t done kickboxing before, then I would certainly recommend this club – they were always brilliant with beginners, making them feel welcome and go easy on them to begin with. The classes start with a warm up (depending on the instructor, this can take up to half an hour); then ususally you’d go over the punches and kicks individually, using thin air; then you’d pair up and practice with the big punch bags; then you’d get the gear on and fight; swapping partners regularly. Of course, there were variations, but you get the idea.
If you’re worried about the fighting, then you’re probably right to be. Interestingly, I noticed that many of the men in the classes were short, and perhaps felt they had something to prove, even when they’re fighting women. And yes, men and women were mixed up (though were roughly even in number). You wear coloured belts after grading, so you know what sort of level the person you’re with is at, but I was often paired with people in higher grades who took no account of this. Most people do fight to practice, but every session I’d get at least a couple of people who fight to fight. It certainly helps you up your game, but when you get people that really just seem to relentlessly puch you with no hint of the “art”, you do have to worry about their ego issues.
The worst thing is when they put large groups in a circle and literally put 2 people in the middle of the ring while everyone watches. I hated that. And the instructors don’t step in when you get someone like I mentioned above. I witnessed several people never come back after one of those. I’m not saying this to put you off – but you should be aware – sometimes you need to be hard.
However, I would highly recommend Sarah’s Ladies Only classes. (Some may be run by Rachel by now – and would be just as good.) I saw on their website these are still only during the day, so only available for those without a 9-5. They were honestly fantastic classes; great for fitness and you would actually improve quicker than if you did the normal evening ones. I found the others could go over the top with repeating the basics, whereas Sarah’s classes moved on faster, making them much more interesting to go to . When I went, there was no fighting each other – it was just pad and bag work, which was a pleasant relief from some of the other classes.
I’ve already recommended Lil’ Dragons, but there really needs to be a class for over 8s. My daughter came with me once a week, but was put off by having to fight adults, or often boys that were far too tough for her. This may be solved by their new beginner’s class, but it’s worth asking about if your child wants to start.
The people in the club are friendly and get together for a big Christmas do, and sometimes arrange nights at the pub. There was a certain feeling of being ‘in’ with the instructors or not. Difficult to explain. I’m not at all hurt or upset that I wasn’t invited to Sarah’s 40th – honest. Even though I’d been going 2 or 3 times a week for 3 years. Hm.
Anyway, whether you go to this particular club or not, I’d certainly recommend you start a martial art. The best thing I’ve got out of it is knowing I could handle myself if I need to. Fortunately I’ve never had to. But if you’ve got this confidence, then I think it shows and the people who may otherwise try something – won’t.