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Philippa Scannell's Journey

Philippa Scannell is the Founder and CIC Director of Physical Empowerment CIC. Philippa believes that every human being has the right to feel safe in their own skin. She has been teaching martial arts and self-defence for over ten years and Physical Empowerment CIC is the result of the stories she has heard from people she met on the way as well as her own personal experiences. Read more about how she got here below...

Philippa Scannell

I am not sure where to start so I am just going to dive straight in! For various reasons, by the time I was 21 years old I was a very angry young woman and I did not know where to direct my anger so I used to get in to fights quite regularly and I know that I was not always a very nice person. I was at at De Montfort University in Leicester and we got offered the opportunity to go and study abroad for six months; I thought it would be a great idea to get away and be in a completely different environment so I signed up. Living and studying in Holland was a fantastic experience which I will never forget, I met amazing people from all over the world and I also took up kickboxing. Wow! I loved it, I was allowed to punch and kick those pads as hard as I wanted to and I learnt to save up any frustrations during the week to take out on the pads in the kickboxing sessions.

To cut a long story short, I moved around a lot after university but continued to kickbox wherever I went; Leicester, northern Spain, Sussex, southern Spain and then back to Sussex. There came a point when I couldn't find a local kickboxing class and that is when I discovered Muay Thai; elbows, knees, clinches and lots more! At one point I helped to coach the gym's Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) junior classes which was great fun and ended up with me qualifying as a coach. Over the years I have also tried Wing Chun, Karate and Aikido.

I love martial arts but due to personal history, there was a part of me that never felt safe and confident despite training so much. Everybody always thought I was super confident but deep down I knew that I wasn't and I couldn't quite figure out what to do about it. It was only when I really analysed it that I came to the conclusion I wasn't confident about defending myself in a real-life situation. Having experienced pure fear that causes you to freeze, I knew that all the martial arts training in the world would not help against that. When you spar or fight in a martial art, you are generally pitched against someone of a similar weight and experience and you have a referee to ensure it is all done safely and kept within the rules. That is not how it happens in the real world and I realised I wanted to train in a system that was based on reality.

I found Combat Academy and after one session, I was hooked. I immediately signed up to qualify as an instructor. Completing the training was tough and I had to face up to some serious demons from my past but I did it and I qualified after many tears and lots of hard work. I ran various self defence sessions in schools and universities, all of which I loved.

Then, purely by chance, I discovered CROSS (Combat Ready Offensive Survival System) Krav Maga and after a trial session, knew that I wanted to add the skills taught within their system to what I teach because it is gritty, sometimes harsh but always based in reality. You can never train your body not to freeze but you can give yourself a much stronger chance of reacting with something rather than doing nothing.

A quote I found summarised why it was so important for me to learn self defence and feel safe in my own skin:


"feeling confident in your ability to protect yourself empowers you to live with less fear and more freedom."


I understand, first hand, that our physical and mental health are connected and that if one is suffering then the other will suffer too. When I teach somebody, no matter what I am teaching them, I try and understand what makes them tick and why they are there in the first place.

In March 2021 I set up Physical Empowerment CIC (Community Interest Company) which is aimed at helping people work through past physical trauma through focusing on all the aspects of self-defence; emotional, physical and mental


In the words of Winnie the Pooh, "You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think."

If you'd like to join one of Physical Empowerment CIC's courses or just want to talk to us, please contact us.

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