By Moya Longbottom Assistant Instructor
I never could have imagined, when I first walked through the door of Cobra in February 2005, just how important Martial Arts would become in my life.
I joined the programme as a way of getting fit without having to wear a purple sparkly leotard and also to learn some self defence. Initially I found everything about martial arts extremely difficult. As Mr Wilkes will agree, I had a lot of trouble sorting out left from right. For the first 12 months I felt sick in the stomach coming to every lesson – I just didn't seem to "get it". Then one day it all suddenly made sense, and that was such a boost to my confidence that from then on I really enjoyed the classes and coming to training.
When we first started as white belts, I was so far out of my comfort zone that I didn't give any thought to attaining black belt level. For months I was still figuring out jab and cross. As my skills and confidence increased and I started moving up the belt levels, I began to think about the possibility of joining the black belt ranks. Even fracturing my leg didn't put me off once I became determined to train towards that goal. I am very grateful to Sensei and all the Instructors for their patience and willingness to answer my many, many questions about techniques and for putting up with me complaining about sparring!
But the real reason I am so very glad that I discovered Cobra has nothing to do with achieving a black belt.
My husband Keith had been fighting a battle with cancer since October 2004 and during most of my first 3 years here at Cobra he was extremely ill. Everyone here - Sensei, all the instructors, particularly Mr Wilkes, and especially my training partners Donna and Leah, supported us both through his very difficult journey. Over the last 18 months, coming to Cobra has been what has kept me going every day, and training for my black belt has given my life a focus.
I have only one regret, and it is that Keith did not live to see me achieve my black belt. He would have been very proud.