I did not know what to expect from a dojo before finding Martin Acton’s Aikido Institute a month ago. My interest in self-defence lead me to karate and kick boxing classes some years ago, but the leisure centre environment hosting large volumes of students failed to inspire me. Those previous experiences also led me to believe self-defence was simply a co-ordinated series of behaviours with fancy names, outside my ability and comfort zone. Recently, a friend encouraged me to give self-defence another try, and I am grateful for her guidance. In such a short time, I have developed a fresh attitude towards self-defence and this is testament to Sensei Acton’s leadership, teaching and dedication to the lifestyle of Aikido. Arriving for my first session, I was delighted at how homely Sensei Acton’s dojo is. Every person I have met has a beautiful character and this for me has been vital because martial arts training demands trust and respect for oneself and each other. As a lifestyle Aikido generates a series of attributes that develop a strong character and as a result, my self-concept is improving greatly and I am stepping out of my comfort zone.