We followed 53-year-old Peter Jones, from England, now living in Jumeirah, on the first of his karate classses in Dubai at the Dubai Karate Centre.

Why karate? I am out of shape, and needed to get fit. But I don’t like running, the gym is too repetitive and swimming is boring. I like something that motivates me and sets me goals. Karate is a growing trend in Dubai and a friend recommended I give it a try. The first session is free, so why not?

Ever done anything like this before? I’ve played sport all my life, but I have never done martial art before, so I was quite nervous. But the warmth of the welcome put me at ease. They lent me a white kit and wrapped a white belt around my waist. It may be the bottom rung of the ladder, but it was a start.

What was the lesson like? Karate sessions are disciplined. Discipline is one of the virtues of karate and you ignore the protocol at your peril. It all boils down to respect: give it, and you earn it in return. So when Sensei Michel Chaloub put us through our paces for half an hour, we did what we were told.

How difficult was it  physically? After the warm up and a short break, which I really appreciated because I didn’t realise how out of shape I was, I started to learn my first ‘kata’, or move. Frankly, my arms moved about like a bad dancer, but my instructor was generously patient.

First session done – what’s the verdict? I genuinely enjoyed it. By the end of it I felt as though I had already made progress. It’s fantastic for children and for people of my age. It’s a great way to stay healthy, as well as presenting a fresh challenge.

What’s next? Black belt is my goal – I was told to give it three years, but there is no timetable or pressure. First of all I want to achieve my first grading, and I will be so proud when I do it. And a lot fitter too.

 Al Razi School, Al Safa 1, Dubai, Dhs400 per month for three sessions. Tel: (04) 3447797. Taxi: Choithrams, Safa Park. dubaikarate.com