Zara Phythian was born on May 10, 1984 in Nottingham, UK. She started to train in the martial arts from the age of seven, learning the discipline of Shotokan Karate and achieving a second dan black belt before becoming a teenager.
At the age of 13, she enrolled at Nottingham’s School of Champions martial arts centre where she took up taekwondo, wushu, kickboxing and freestyle karate. She started teaching from the age of 16. Zara competed in national and international fight circuits, becoming a 13-time multi-style world champion.
In 2006 – at the age of 21 – she became the first British martial artist to be inducted into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame, alongside the likes of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Benny Urquidez. In 2009, Zara achieved the Guinness World Record for the most items kicked off people’s heads in under a minute. The event was broadcast on national television. She was spotted by a film producer at an American martial arts event in 2005 after winning four national US title belts, and she would make the decision to step away from competitions to follow a career in acting and teaching.
Zara continues to run her own martial arts school, called The Personal Best Academy, located in Mansfield, UK, which was founded in 2007. She hosts special seminars with guest instructors and teaches classes for children aged from four to 12 years old, as well as adults, under her own ‘integrated martial arts system’. She has been the recipient of a Business Entrepreneur Award and nominated for a Young Business Person of the Year Award. Zara also sits on the board of an independent martial arts team for Great Britain. In 2017, Zara was named Woman of the Year at the Warriors Assemble British Martial Arts Awards.
Achievements and Awards
4th Dan Freestyle Karate / Kickboxing
3rd Dan Tae Kwon Do
2nd Dan Shotokan Karate
1st Degree Yi Tung Shaolin
WSA Stunt Fighting Certification
TCFS Level One Instructor
CSD Level One Instructor
3rd Dan San Ryu Do
Special Achievements and Awards
IKK Hall of Fame 2006
WOMAA Female Martial Artist Hall of Fame 2008
WOMAA International Instructor Hall of Fame 2010
OMAC Instructor of the Year Award
Sports Personality of the Year Award