Petherick, 3rd degree, instructor and club secretary
A horrific road rage incident drove Janet Petherick, from South London, into
the arms of her future husband Tony,
'It was a Sunday afternoon and I was on a busy Surrey Road, heading off on
a shopping trip. As I switched lanes, an irate face suddenly flashed into
my rear view mirror. The man behind me was going berserk because he
thought I'd cut in front of him. I could see him jumping up and down at
the wheel, waving his hand at me; and I could only guess at the language
he was using. But I tried to keep things polite and courteous, by simply
raising my hand in a 'thank you'. Unfortunately it seemed to enrage him
more. As our cars came to a standstill at traffic lights, he pulled
tightly behind me and started nudging my car and honking his horn. I could
feel my heart starting to race, and was horrified to see that he was now
getting out of the car and coming towards me. He started banging on my
boot, then came to the front of the car, hitting at the windows. At that
point the lights changed and the car in front moved off enough for me to
pull back into my original lane and escape, abandoning my plans to go
shopping. I didn't know where I could drive to - but anywhere was better
than being in the queue with that horrible man. until, to my horror, I saw
that he'd also changed lanes and was chasing me.
'For a few minutes I thought he'd chase me to Hampshire. But then I
remembered a turn off that would get me to my fitness club, and drove
there as fast as I could - with my pursuer right behind me. I dumped the
car by the club entrance, and ran straight past reception to the ladies'
loos - where I stayed, shaking with fright for about half an hour. A
friend at the club took me home, but I was shaken for days afterwards.
'My aerobics teacher, Tony, got wind of what had happened, and suggested I
joined his self defence class. I wasn't at all sure it was my kind of
thing, but he eventually wore me down and I started a month later -
although I have to admit that at first it had more to do with his great
legs (I thought mine could get the same way!) than the prospect of
learning to throw an assailant over my shoulder.
'Before now Tony had just been the figure with the microphone at the front
of the aerobics class. But we were working much closer in the self defence
class and I started to realise what a special person he was. He'd been
attacked as a child, but had been too frightened to tell anyone because
he'd been truanting when it happened. Instead he'd learned martial arts as
a way of protecting himself. And now he had a thriving business helping
others. His classes were great for anger management and all types of self
esteem issues, as well as self defence. With his help, my confidence
started to flourish. and I could feel romance budding too. We began
dating and married a few years later.
I became a partner in his Fighting Fit business, helping other women learn how to look after themselves when they're in danger. From being a bit of a wimp, thinking
you had to be an Amazon to do martial arts, I am now a black belt. Our
daughter, Toni, six, is training up too. Which proves our point that anyone can take this up - whether they're five or 105!'