Though I live in Sydney now, I am originally from a town called Redditch in England. It’s just south of Birmingham.

I did not really take part in any sport while living in the UK, aside from riding my bike to and from work. It was not until I came to Australia in late 2007 that I started enjoying sport as a leisure activity.

After a while in Sydney I started to enjoy cycling as a hobby and in early 2009, I started attending the Gay and Lesbian Martial Arts (GLMA) classes in Erskineville. I decided it was something I wanted to pursue so I joined the club.

Martial arts had been something I’d always wanted to try but had never found the time for while in the UK.

So far, the biggest achievement would be first getting my first belt (brown belt) early in 2009, and my second belt (yellow belt) in December 2009. The gradings are very intense, and a long night for all, plus there is an extra element of pressure from having someone external coming in to assess our progress.

My partner of two years comes along to the gradings for support. Due to an old injury he is not able to take part in the kung fu but we have other sporting interests outside the martial arts world.

I listen to music when I practise at home, normally something heavy rock-oriented to keep the pace up!

If I had to stop martial arts for any reason, cycling would probably become my main focus, though I would miss the group and the camaraderie we have.

We are a very mixed group, and we have gay, straight and a transgender member so we are definitely all-inclusive! It is this inclusiveness and welcoming atmosphere that makes our group more than just a bunch of people doing kung fu together.

If anyone is curious about what we do at GLMA, they could look at the eight-week self-defence or the eight-week kickboxing courses that Penny Gulliver also runs in Erskineville.

Hopefully this year will see me progressing to a blue belt, or even a green belt.

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