Former kickboxing world champion opens Temple Fortune dojo

Denise Bailey

Denise Bailey said the goal of the dojo is "to give people empowerment, confidence” - Credit: Gavin Nugent

A new dojo in Temple Fortune, led by former kickboxing world champion Denise Bailey, is looking to “give back” with new self-defence classes, after concerns over her own safety pushed her to begin learning martial arts 35 years ago.  

Located on Finchley Road, the Meiji Kickboxing dojo will offer innovative martial arts courses, hoping to give anyone the opportunity to learn the basics of self-defence. “The overall goal is to give people empowerment, confidence”, said Denise. 

First learning kickboxing in the 1980s in Kings Cross, to protect herself when walking home alone, Denise rose to European and world champion, gaining 7th Dan, the equivalent of seven black belts.

She said: “[Originally] it gave me confidence, in the sense that I didn't feel so vulnerable. Then, if something did happen, I at least knew a couple of things, a couple of skills, a couple of techniques." 

Major concerns from women in London, after the deaths of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa last year, means that women’s safety has again become a top priority for the city’s residents.  

“It's almost like it’s come full circle, because people are afraid to go out, and some women are afraid just to live their life”, said Denise. “We want to offer some simple self-defence, so that when you are out, you feel that bit safer.” 

“People are now aware”, she added, “and we want to show there is something they can do”. 

Denise Bailey teaching class

Denise Bailey teaching a kickboxing class - Credit: Meiji Kickboxing

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Meiji Kickboxing opened the new dojo after the growing popularity of their original gym in St John’s Wood, which retained a loyal customer base throughout the pandemic.  

Denise said: “[The pandemic] was everything that people have said it is – we were teaching outside in the parks, any kind of given space where everyone can be distanced appropriately. Now, I just want to bring back a sense of wellbeing.” 

Though the classes are currently being offered to businesses, Denise says they are looking to bring them directly into the Hampstead community as soon as possible, including at community centres and youth clubs. 

She added: “Everything that martial arts has given me, now I’m giving that back to people, children, men, women, all ages, all the way through."

See more on Meiji Kickboxing on their website here.