PAUL Bernard is the latest martial arts hero to hail from Camberley. And the latest in a string of local experts to hit our screens.

Paul's competition, however, is even harder than the ones, which faced our Commonwealth Games medallists. He is one of ten participants in Sky One's autumn flagship programme Fight School.

The programme, which is set to do for martial arts what only Bruce Lee, the Turtles and Jackie Chan have done before — propel its status to unbelievable heights — makes its screen debut on Thursday at 8pm.

Fight School sees the five male and five female pupils compete in a series of gruelling tasks in a Shaolin monastery style school in China — the same beautiful location used for the film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'.

Paul, who runs Precision Martial Arts at the Camberley Arena, picked up his application form on the Friday, rushed it up to the LWT offices on the Saturday and received the call on Monday to say he was shortlisted for an interview.

The interview took place in Fulham that Thursday and within a month Paul, 27, was in Beijing as one of the ten selected from over 2,000 applicants from all walks of martial arts life.

Once at the school the pupils had to complete four tasks over two days. The tasks varied considerably from speed and strength to balance and co-ordination, giving everyone a fair chance to excel.

After the two days the three instructors or masters, Clive Elliot, Becky Riggs and Nathan Lewis, would chose the strongest and weakest pupils. The strongest then had to choose a person for the weakest to fight later on that day. The winner of the fight stayed. The loser left there and then.

"It was a dream to go," said Paul. "I never thought I would be able to perform martial arts on the TV and compete in competitions at the same time. I learned a lot about how martial arts work on TV and in films.

"They really wanted to get our reactions and feelings so it was all very strict and the person had to leave very quickly after the fight.

"We became very close because of the way it was over there and we all overcame a lot of fears and phobias.

"We soon realised it wasn't a holiday. I wouldn't wish anyone to do what I had to do. You had to be very focussed and mental strength was very important."

Living conditions were basic. They slept on sacks and ate sparce food, including bullfrog, duck head and eel. They had to endure cold baths and strict training, which pushed them to the limit in the heat.

If even a comb was out of place in a bedroom it was seen as a sign of disrespect for themselves and their companions and they were given punishments.

Punishments included severe drilling of press-ups until they were exhausted. Black belt Paul is the current British champion and has recently returned from the World Championships where he lost out to the eventual champion in the individual competition and came home with a team silver.

To see how long Paul lasts at Fight School, tune into Sky One on Thursday at 8pm. The series will run for eight weeks.