Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits?

Confidence - We strongly believe that there is nothing in the world that can give a person more confidence than the martial arts. Many sports may boost a persons confidence, but they often do so at the detriment of others, in the form of winning and losing. Martial arts don’t work in this way, unless you choose to enter competitions, so during training time you are focussed on developing yourself and exceeding your own potential. Gradings prove how much you have achieved and how much further you have grown with each belt you earn, which boosts confidence enormously. Additional to this, knowing that you can protect yourself should a self-defence situation ever arise, boosts your sense of ‘self’, which has subtle ripple effects into your posture, the way you speak, and can even tackle fears such as public speaking. Confidence is something that is boosted over time with dedicated commitment, but it is arguably the best benefit of practising martial arts.

Discipline – It takes discipline to study hard at something for a long period of time. Even the best of us look out at the dark, cold winter’s night and don’t want to go training. But the discipline that is developed when you choose this commitment is something that expands into the rest of your life - it can remind you not to eat that third cream cake, give you the control to not snap at your colleague, or for children, it can teach them the discipline to not lash out at siblings and classmates. The self-control that is honed during class practice swims into other areas of your life, seemingly without awareness. And this, is what develops success over failure, the determination and discipline to continue and keep going, even when things gets hard. These lifelong habits that are nurtured within the system of martial arts, are what promotes the biggest successes and achievements in life, and what encourages the biggest rewards.

Fitness – It may seem obvious, but yes, one of the top benefits of kick-boxing is fitness. The difference you may find with our classes however, is that we can keep you motivated. Unlike gym membership, we are always there to keep coaching you to push yourself. And unlike some fitness classes, kick-boxing has the added benefit of system rotation so that classes never get boring. Without system rotation, fitness classes get boring and your body adapts to the workout and stops producing the same results as when you first started. But with an effective system rotation like kick-boxing, you will find that some days you work on core, some days legs, other days arms. Some days will have a heavy CV basis, and others we will focus on strength, so your body isn’t allowed the opportunity to become accustomed, and you keep benefiting from great results!

Delayed gratification – Things that come easy in life are no challenge, and therefore, unrewarding. It is the challenge and the chase that stretches us to reach beyond our potential. In a world where we are encouraged to have everything now, to have the latest cars on loan, the latest gadgets, to get into debt, we have forgotten that the benefits of delaying gratification can be immensely rewarding. For children, just like saving up for something special helps grant them with a bigger sense of achievement and joy, training for their belt grades is no different. When you have struggled and pushed yourself, been patient, worked hard and put your sweat and tears into your training, the achievement of earning a prestigious black belt is second to none.

Good physical and mental health – Exercise is scientifically proven to encourage good mental health. It picks you up after a difficult day in the office, it boosts endorphins and serotonin levels, and it can have a profound impact upon anxiety, depression and stress. It really does just make you feel GREAT! Like with every new form of exercise, the hardest part is the first few classes, as it takes a while to adjust to this new strain that you are putting on your body, but we encourage you to push past this and you will find that soon enough you are keeping up with the regulars and reaching those goals. We recommend finding a great club with friendly students and instructors, and taking the plunge of stepping outside your comfort zone. The greatest achievements are on the other side of fear, and that is where we have to go to grow and develop good mental and physical health.

Isn’t it violent?

No, this is a common misconception. We have been teaching for over 15 years, since 2002, and it is a question we come across a lot, but everyone we speak to changes their minds once they see the classes running. None of our students have ever become violent while training with us and we have a big focus on respect and self-defence. If you have a child who struggles with communicating themselves and gets aggressive easily then kick-boxing can actually help them vent their frustrations and let off steam. We don’t allow thugs in our club, so you don’t need to worry about being beaten up during sparring, and we have very strict guidelines on contact levels and supervision. We pride ourselves on our friendly club atmosphere, with trained, insured and DBS checked Instructors. There is a high focus on anti-bullying and most students grow in confidence and self-belief during their time with us.

Do I need to be fit?

No! You wouldn’t clean your house before the cleaner came round, so don’t feel you have to get fit before attending an exercise class! The classes will get you feeling fitter but you do not have to do any work before coming. We take students of all fitness levels and abilities and we only ask that you try your best. If you need to take breaks, that’s fine, just be sure not to compare yourself against someone who has been training in the club for years, it takes time to build up that strength and stamina, but put in the effort and you will achieve those fitness levels too.

Why kick-boxing?

The reason we love kick-boxing is because it incorporates the best bits of all the other martial arts we have trained in.

We like the class to be relaxed (in fact, Mark refuses to be called ‘Sir’, and believes respect to a black belt or Instructor should be earned, not obligatory), we love the combination of line work, pad work and sparring, and most of all we love the high-intensity fitness aspect. Martial arts vary massively, and some have a much more realistic view of self-defence than others. We believe there is a martial art for everyone, but to find your best fit we suggest trying out as many as you can to see what you prefer.

We have trained in kick-boxing for many years, and although we always enjoyed it in the beginning, we have now developed a different view of the martial arts styles. Kick-boxing has a fantastic, relaxed atmosphere because it’s not governed by a strict set of rules like most traditional systems, however that doesn’t mean it is an easy class, far from it!

Will I get hurt?

There is a risk of injury in any sport, and although we are a contact sport, our classes have a much lower injury rate than that of football for example. The reason for this is because we take safety very, very seriously. In our classes you will be taught how to warm up/cool down properly, how to safely hold pads and equipment, will be advised on which protective gear to wear for sparring, and you will be supervised very carefully. We only ever practise semi-contact sparring in the class and all our students are aware of this and respect the lower belt grades. We are very proud of our reputation of respectful, technical, quality fighters and we won’t allow thugs to enter the club to damage that reputation, so you can know that you are in safe hands when you train with us.

What’s the difference between martial arts and self-defence? Surely martial arts IS self-defence?

Martial arts and self-defence are two entirely different subjects. Yes, many who become proficient in martial arts can then properly defend themselves in self-defence situations and their years of training will enable it to become a muscle memory reaction, however, training to achieve a black belt takes years of practice. A huge myth that surrounds martial arts is that you need to have a black belt to know how to properly protect yourself, this is simply not true and we can teach you simple and effective techniques in a one-day workshop that will enable you to know how to stay safe in today’s world. Most martial arts are developed and taught with competitions in mind, and with perfection in every move and bodily position. Self-defence situations aren’t clean and controlled and respectful, and they must be dealt with in the appropriate manner. In our self-defence courses you will learn attack prevention techniques, personal safety tips, what you can reasonably and legally do to protect yourself, and the practical skills to defend against bigger and stronger attackers. With commitment, our kick-boxing classes will give you the speed, muscle memory and technique to develop into a strong and proficient athlete where self-defence comes additionally.

I have martial arts experience, will I struggle with a different style?

Agreed, it is harder to start an additional style than to start afresh, as to a degree you will have to unlearn what you have already been taught. You will have a better understanding than a complete novice, but if you have trained for years in a different art then your body will have memorised those techniques and you will have to work hard to fight that ingrained instinct. However, during our classes we will explain every element of each move so you can understand why we do it our way. We don’t agree with Instructors saying ‘we do it this way because it was the way I was taught’, as it demonstrates a lack of understanding. We will go into depth with techniques, as understanding functionality is the key to learning the basic framework of what we do.

Cross training is particularly difficult if the two arts are very similar however if you train in a ground fighting art then kick-boxing will be easier to adapt to. We welcome martial artists from other styles and have students who have achieved black belts in karate for example before successfully switching to kick-boxing. If you have experience in another art and wish to grade in kick-boxing then the Senior Instructor will assess your level of training and will discuss gradings with you individually.

I’m a beginner, will it be hard to keep up with everyone else?

Yes and no! Our classes are designed to push everyone, whatever their ability. So we encourage new students to work at their own pace, to never compare themselves with the more experienced students, and to always try their best. Nothing is worth doing without effort, so, as long as you finish a class feeling tired then you have had a good session and will be progressing at your level. You won’t feel like you are slowing the class down as every black belt was once a white belt, so we respect everyone who comes and sticks with it. It will be tough, but it will be worth it!

I suffer with anxiety and am nervous about attending. So that I can prepare myself, what is a typical class like?

Firstly, try not to worry, we have so many enquiries like this, you are definitely not the only one who feels like this as a new student! Secondly, kick-boxing is excellent for good mental health, it can boost endorphins, boost confidence and be a great stress reliever, so hopefully after a while of training you’ll start to see the positive effects on your anxiety. However the best thing we can suggest when feeling like this is to get started as soon as you can. There’s no time like the present, and it’s very easy to over think things and put it off, but once you get stuck into a class you’ll enjoy yourself.

There is no such thing as a ‘typical class’ in our club as we like to keep it fresh by alternating the sessions, however, as a general rule of thumb, we always start with a joint warm-up, followed with a CV warm-up to get the heart going (this can range from circuit training to pad work, basketball and shuttle running to HIIT!), this is then followed by technical skills and syllabus grade training. Contact sparring is only introduced after you have signed up and isn’t part of the grading syllabus until you reach red belt. We then always finish with a gentle cool down at the end of the class.

If you have any other worries then we are more than happy to chat things through on the phone, sometimes speaking to an actual person can take the uncertainty out of it and help you relax before attending. We value every single one of our students but we especially value those who have outside struggles, as we know how valuable martial arts can be and have witnessed first-hand how the club can positively effect a person’s life. This is what drives us to teach.

Do you do ladies-only kick-boxing?

We don’t agree with ladies-only kick-boxing classes for various reasons, but mainly it is because we believe that for women to become proficient in their training they need to train against men. That’s not to say that women are weaker or that training with women won’t test you (some of our strongest sparring students have been women), but simply that fighting against men will develop the self-defence and survival skills in a different way to fighting against women.

That’s also not to say that you will always be pitted against men during our classes, we often have a 50:50 ratio of men & women and we try and match people equally so that they can learn well from each other, sometimes that means building confidence through working with same sex groups, and other times it means pushing you outside your boundaries and comfort zones so you can push past your limitations. Experience has taught us that often, when starting out in martial arts, women are nervous about hurting other students and so when they are developing their sparring skills they take the gently, gently approach and are apologetic with every punch. Training against men helps women not only to become more realistic with their sparring, but it also develops their self-defence awareness, something that is often lacking with ladies-only classes.

We do however, run beginners-only classes for those who are developing their basic skills, and we will also be starting a fitness based 'aerobakick' style class in 2018 for those who want the pad-work and fitness training without the sparring and grading elements.

Is kick-boxing good for losing weight?

Ok, so this is a two-part question! Essentially kick-boxing is one of THE best forms of exercise to burn calories and lose weight (google it, we’re in the top 3!) so in that respect yes, it can help when incorporated alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle. However, more importantly it is good for feeling STRONG! Everyone starts on the fitness journey because they want to lose weight, but it’s only when you start to train properly that you truly realise how good it is to feel fit and strong! At Mark Pengelly’s Schools of Kick-boxing we always encourage you to not exercise as a punishment for what you ate, but as a celebration of what your body can achieve! This way you will find it more enjoyable, you will find it easier to stay focused and persevere, and you will get better results as you will be in a better mindset. There is no quick fix to losing weight (other than unhealthy fad diets), the best thing you can do for your health is to eat more whole-foods, eat less processed foods and move more. It is simple, it just takes commitment, but if you provide the dedication, we can provide the motivation!

How much is it?

It's difficult to quote prices as they vary due to which class you train in and how much training you do, so we usually explain the various training options and discounts available at the end of your first class. However, we believe in full transparency when it comes to fees, as there are some clubs (mentioning no names) who will sign you up and then charge extortionate amounts of ‘hidden fees’ for each grading for example.

So, to give you an idea, the first month is completely free as a trial, if you decide it’s not for you after your free month then that’s fine and there’s nothing to pay. However, if you enjoy it and decide to stay on then there is a joining fee (£50 for juniors/£55 for adults) which includes your entire second month's unlimited training and your annual licence. You then also receive your FREE KIT consisting an embroidered & printed t-shirt, trousers, belt and hand wraps. After this, monthly fees vary depending on how often you train, but range from £30-£45 per month for adults and £25-£35 for juniors. It is worth also remembering that our adults classes are nearly all 90mins long, so that’s an extra 50% more training per class than most other clubs. We aim to remain competitively priced without compromising quality, which is why we offer the first month free, so you can see for yourself how much you can gain. But don’t take our word for it, we are convinced you’ll agree which is why we offer the first month free! Get in touch to book your free trial to see for yourself!

A breakdown of all the payment info can also be found on the ‘Prices’ page.