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Ashley gets a kick out of boxing!
Around the Academy:

Young kickboxer Ashley Brace in action
Kickboxing queen Ashley Brace, right

The Sport Academy met the young Welsh girl who's kicking up a storm in the world of martial arts.

Ashley Brace

I first got into kickboxing when I was about eight years old.

I was being bullied at school so my mum took me along to self-defence classes and it all went from there.

Two years later I claimed my first world title.

I've lost count of the trophies and medals I've won since then.

And now I'm a first dan black belt, I certainly don't get bothered by the bullies anymore!

Kickboxing combines the best elements of boxing and martial arts.

As well as keeping me fit and healthy, I find it's given me bags of confidence.

Some people say it's the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit.

Legendary martial artist Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee's films made martial arts popular worldwide

The rules are very similar to boxing, although you are also allowed to use your legs to defend and attack in kickboxing.

Points are scored according to technique and where on the opponent's body the strike is landed.

You need to have lightning-fast reactions. But you've also got to use your brain as well as your body to outwit your opponents.

The secret is to suss out their weaknesses, any chinks in their armour.

At the gym where I train, I spar with men twice my age and have given a few of them bloody noses!

And in competitions, I've beaten opponents up to 15 years of age - boys as well as girls.

Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe
Joe was undefeated WBO super-middleweight champion

I get invitations to fight in tournaments all over the world, but I've had to turn some down because it gets very expensive.

Luckily my family and friends clubbed together to fund my last trip to the European Championships in Greece.

I train almost every day, up to three hours at a time.

Some of that time I now spend at the gym run by boxer Joe Calzaghe's father, Enzo.

Sparring alongside a top fighter like Joe is really inspiring.

In fact, I'd like to switch to boxing full-time eventually.

I know some people say boxing isn't a sport for girls, but I disagree.

Boxer Laila Ali
Laila followed her father into the ring

Mohammad Ali's daughter Laila has really helped raise the profile of women's boxing.

And they're even thinking of including it in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

I'll be 17 by then so that's definitely something I'm aiming for.

I want to work hard and be the best.

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:: Sport Academy has moved

Ashley's factfile
Name: Ashley Brace
Date of Birth: 9/3/91
Lives: Ebbw Vale, south Wales
School: Glyncoed Comprehensive
Grade: First dan black belt
Gym: Garnlydan Martial Arts Centre, Ebbw Vale
Career highlights: 4 British; 1 European and 5 World titles

Did you know?
Martial arts is the term used to cover hundreds of different fighting formats that originate from South East Asia
They include karate, jiu jitsu, judo and Taekwon-do
Kickboxing started in the United States back in the 1970s
Karate practitioners there were fed-up because full contact kicks and punches were banned from competitions.
Kickboxing was created to form a link between ancient fighting systems and modern sporting concepts
By now there are different forms of kickboxing which vary in technique and the amount of physical contact allowed


Ashley Brace
Kickboxing champ

You've got to use your brain as well as your body to outwit your opponents.

:: Ali's daughter enters the ring

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