Martial Masters Volume 1

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We have a release date everyone! Martial Masters Vol. 1 will be available in kindle and print version as of the 1st December 2016, just in time for Christmas. Featuring legends such a Bob Breen, Anthony Pillage, Russell Jarmesty and Andy Norman, Martial Masters provides an insight into their lives and their philosophies and thoughts on martial arts and self defence.

Each interview is unique – funny, harrowing, sad, inspirational and will soon become a must have for anyone with even a passing interest in martiala arts or self defence. Pr-orders will be available in November so reserve yours now!

It’s been a long road to get it to publishing but we’re there and can’t wait to have it in our hands, ready to share with you guys!

As always thank you for the support and hope you’re all excited to read this book! I had an awesome time interviewing everyone for it, hope you have an awesome time reading about it too!

Check out our piece in Martial Arts Guardians soon!

 

 

Mittmaster video & lesson plan subscription

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I’ve written before about Matthew Chapman and his fantastic series of Mittmaster videos, as well as his business seminars and book `Black Belt Biz`which I highly recommend! This post is on his video and lesson plan subscription – again which comes highly recommended!

Quite simply Matt’s Mittmaster series is a must have for all martial arts school owners in my opinion, whether you teach traditional martial arts, self defence or sports focus. Pad feeding is an essential part of every martial art, improves reflexes, timing and fitness and is just a great addition to any class!

The Mittmaster videos are broken down into 3 main levels, allowing progression and ensuring that you never get bored or complacent with the content. The videos are well thought out, well explained and you can see directly how they relate into the sports combat world of kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA. Each level comes in two sections, the video section showing the pads drills, then the lesson plans which are again, well thought out, well explained and perfect to implement into your class.

All this is available instantly once you subscribe, and active until such time as your subscription ends, meaning you can go back to look at level one drills even when you are on level three. I’m sure we all know the benefits of pad drills and pad feeding for both the person hitting the pads, as well as the person feeding the pads and it’s not hard to see why Matt has become so successful in his development of these drills.

I would highly recommend checking Mittmaster out if you are a school owner or just fancy learning some fun and effective drills to improve yourself both as a fighter as well as pad feeder. There is currently a free trial offer on the Mittmaster subscription right now and it’s just £9.99 for the first month so head on over to Matt’s Mittmaster page and get yourself learning some fantastic pad drills!

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Martial Masters Interview

Myself and Lucci were lucky enough to be interviewed by the awesome Vic from MA Roadshow at this year’s Martial Arts Show for our upcoming book Martial Masters! The book will feature some of the best martial artists from the UK from all realms including sports, traditional and self defence! There are just a couple more interviews to get done, the some editing then it’s off to the publishers and ready for you guys to enjoy!

Check out our interview below!

Simple Self Defence

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Writing a post on self defence is bound to open up a massive can of worms with people chipping in from those who have experienced real world violence, all the way to the ever present keyboard warrior calling themselves an expert in self defence. This post won’t focus on the perfect technique to defend against a big haymaker, or the best way to escape being choked. We’ll look at one simple tip – leave if you can. Sounds simple right…

Violence is chaotic and as a result of this it is unpredictable and ever changing meaning:

It can come from nowhere

Things can seem calm until, out of the blue they aren’t any more. You take a second to process and the fear and adrenaline kick in and it could all be over by then. That split second could mean someone is lying down unconscious after being sucker punched and the attacker is maybe being held back by a few people? Sound a familiar situation? I’ve certainly seen this before!

There’s no time limit for self defence

Like the scenario above, fights can be over in a split second, one punch and it’s done. Alternatively, a fight can take one minute, 5 minutes or even 10 minutes or longer. There is no way of knowing.

Violence moves

Violence is not a static thing. You could think you’re out of harms way one second, then BAM, the fight has come to you and you are forced to take action. I’ve seen this happen on numerous dance floors where for a minute you think you’re out of the way then suddenly you’re being pushed into the bar and people are fighting around you! Not nice!

Bystanders aren’t always out of the firing line

As in the situation previously, you may not even be the one fighting, yet before you know it you’re in the middle of a group that are and as a result, taking a few shots yourself. If you’re near a fight, you’re at risk. I remember my housemate at University being sucker punched just due to the fact we were too close to a fight and we got inadvertantly dragged in.

Even if the fight is over, you’re not necessarily safe

A fight can end but then just as quickly start up again with the wrong comment or look, especially if the loser is trying to get even!

Make sense?

This all makes sense right? yet as soon as a fight breaks out, people rush to it like 14 year olds at a Harry Styles sighting, or David Cameron at a pig farm. People take out their phones to record the fight, later uploading it to social media for the world to see. We like watching extreme situations, the Jeremy Kyle Show is testament to that, even if it puts us at risk. We can also learn new behaviours however, and that’s why sometimes the simplest advice can be to simply leave the situation if possible, rather than going in for a cheeky look!

5 things we love about Martial Arts

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Many of us who have studied martial arts, especially for a reasonable length of time will find that it becomes more than a hobby but rather, a passion. It gets to the point where it becomes a way of life and we eat, sleep and train martial arts. We train and research martial arts, we socialise with other martial artists and we invest both time and money in getting better at the martial arts. There is an endless list of things we all love about the martial arts, but here are my top 5!

Training

This one is pretty obvious right? We all love to train. We love getting on the mats, getting a sweat on and trying to decipher and work out the great big puzzle that is martial arts. It’s a great feeling when we leave a class sweating, smiling and wanting more, hoping that we’ve managed to slot another piece of the puzzle in. No matter what discipline we train in, we sometimes get those eureka moments where a technique just feels right or suddenly it just makes sense. Granted, you can have one, then have to wait for years for the next one, but hey that’s part of the fun right? We get on the mat to train, to get fitter, to learn self defence, or as a form of therapy, but regardless of the reason we train, we do it for one overriding factor – we love it!

Research

As we progress up the grades and delve into the martial arts further, we may start doing a little more research on our chosen martial art, and indeed other martial arts too. There’s a wealth of information out there on a wealth of different martial arts and if we look closely enough we begin to see that many of the martial arts have similarities. Judo will have some similarities to wrestling, boxing to jeet kune do as at the end of the day we have two legs and two arms and there are only so many ways to punch, kick and throw. Body mechanics and the physics of martial arts remain the same regardless of whether the style is Chinese, Japanese or Reality-Based. The more research we do the more we see these similarities.

Research can also mean tracing the history and lineage of the martial arts which can be fascinating it itself. Finding the roots and origins of your martial art and the main pioneers and their histories can take years and give you a great insight into what they wanted their martial arts to become. So get researching, it’s fun!

Therapy

Had a bad day at the office or your girlfriend/boyfriend/cat is giving you the silent treatment? Martial arts can be a great way of letting out some aggression in a controlled environment, getting a sweat on and basically doing a form of therapy. Getting on the mats, smashing some pads with friends and having a great class where you feel you’ve learnt something can change your mood from shit to great in as little as an hour, such is the power of a great martial arts class!

Progression

Let’s face it, we all like to feel we are improving, learning new skills and developing as humans. This is where the martial arts are great and gives you very clear goals through a structured grading system. Some people don’t like grading systems, others do. I like them as it gives a clear goal to work towards and something tangible to attain e.g. a belt or a band. There’s also grading days where you can show you skills off in front of friends, family and of course, the instructor! Martial arts gives a clear progression and path up to black grade then up from there and this is one of the things I like most about it!

The people

The number one thing I like in the martial arts is the people and the friendships I have made. Martial artists seem to fall into one of two categories. Either they’re the most open people ever, willing to give you everything they know and genuinely passionate about the martial arts and developing people. Or they’re dicks. Dicks in that they’re in it for the money, want you to only train with them and have a 15th degree black belt in bullshit-jitsu. I’ve met some truly fantastic martial artists and truly fantastic people on my journey so far such as Eddie Quinn, Andy Norman, Anthony Pillage, Russell Jarmesty & Scott Caldwell among many others. These guys are at the top of their game yet there is no ego, they just want to impart knowledge and get the best from their students. This is what I love most about the martial arts – the friendships you make. It’s a special kind of friendship where you regularly hurt each other and spend worrying amounts of time in compromising positions as you grapple on the floor and I wouldn’t change it!

So tell me….what do you love most about the martial arts?

How students can inspire their instructors

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Many people go to a martial arts instructor wanting to learn a new skill, improve their fitness, and learn to defend themselves or simply to try something new. While the student learns the skills, movement and philosophy of that chosen art, what many don’t realise is that the instructor is also learning a whole lot from their students. So, as a result of that it’s time to flip thinking on its head and highlight a few ways students can teach and inspire their instructors.

1) They can teach different teaching methods

People learn in different ways and a common mistake for instructors can be that they teach every persona that walks into class the same way. People enter into the martial arts for different reasons, learn in different ways and pick up things at different paces. It can be difficult accommodating everyone in a class of 30 people, but every effort should be made to. Some learn from seeing a technique and analysing it, others learn from hearing how the technique or strike works, and some need to simply give it a go therefore learning by touch. Students can be a fantastic way of improving the teaching skills of the instructor, especially if there is a wide variation of learning methods within the class. A good instructor should be able to tell people’s preferred method of learning and adapt to it through observation, which is another key trait students can teach!

2) Observation skills

Observation and awareness skills are important aspects of the martial art or self defence. Being aware of your surroundings and aware of any potential issues are essential to self defence and even in a regular class, being aware of the people around you is a great habit to get in to. But how aware are we as instructors? Can you tell if someone is struggling or not picking up the material well? Do they feel uncomfortable with the person they’re training with? Can you spot the signs they’re ready to give up and has their attendance gone down? Being aware of every potential threat on the street is great but unless you sideline as a drug dealer, your instances of being placed in a violent situation are hopefully fairly few and far between. Far more important is your ability to be aware of the people you are around and in tune with their feelings, body language and mood, both in training and general life. Teaching your students can be a great way of developing this and if you have a high drop-out rate, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your own awareness skills!
In addition to this, students can be a great way to help you develop awareness about yourself and how you are interacting and transmitting your style. Awareness of your students is a must have skill, but awareness of yourself is also crucial, and students (especially kids) will be the first ones to let you know if you’re being inconsistent or chatting shit!

3) They can test your skill and knowledge

Students can sometimes ask some pretty tricky questions and call you out if they ever think you’re bullshitting. A beginner can sometimes ask the simplest question but it will leave you stumped! Your knowledge could be vast and have the Dalai Lama scratching his head, but if you can’t explain the reason for something as simple as your stance, it’s all irrelevant!
Your students can also test you physically. I’m around 5ft 6 and about 72kg, but some of my students are over 6ft and over 16 stone! Some have door work experience and so if something isn’t working for them, they’ll let you know! Demoing with different students not only helps them grasp the technique better, but also allows you to work with people of different sizes and weights to test your techniques.

4) They can be an example to you

Do you have that one student who is always early to class, always enthusiastic and always trying their best? That’s the inspiration. Instructor’s are human and will sometimes have a bad day and not be in the best mood to teach. We’re imperfect. It’s important not to let your day enter the class however and leave any trouble back at home for a few hours while you instruct. This is where we can find inspiration from our students who always turn up with a smile, willing to help and enthusiastic to help you pack away after class. These are the students who will eventually become instructors themselves and run their own classes and be inspired by their own students. Keep them!

So there we have it, 4 reasons why students can sometimes be the ones teaching the instructors a thing or two. As instructors we can sometimes become so focussed on transmitting knowledge that we forget to take information in ourselves. Your students can be a perfect way of doing this. So learn, enjoy, and instruct with passion!

How to train harder in 5 easy steps

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In order to progress in the martial arts, we have to train and train well. Not every session should feel like you’ve just done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson as you emerge bloody, broken and physically exhausted, but some hard training that puts you under pressure occasionally is a great way to test your skills. Harder training where you get a good sweat on, take a few knocks and really see how you cope with the pressure should be built up to, not started with. New students entering the gym or dojo can be intimidated enough without being repeatedly punched in the face the first class! It’s not character building, it’s mean! So here are 5 steps to get you into the mindset of training harder and upping your skill level.

1) Improve your fitness levels

Regular training will gradually improve your fitness levels, but if you’re really looking to up your training levels you’re going to have to put some hours in outside of the class too! Training harder in terms of sparring or pressure testing can REALLY take it out of you, FAST, and there is a world of difference between repping a technique in class and trying to make it work for real. Preparing your body for this is therefore essential and so it’s time to get fitter! High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is fantastic for martial arts and involves short periods of intense exercise followed by periods of rest. This not only sends your cardiovascular endurance levels through the roof, but also builds lean muscle through employing fast twitch muscle fibres. This means you become a lean, mean, ass-kicking machine, fast!

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2) Find a good training partner

I’ve spoken before about the importance of finding a good training partner to progress in the martial arts and this is especially true when it comes to upping the intensity. Having someone you know and trust won’t take your head off immediately is essential to building up your training. A good partner will know your limits and take you just slightly beyond them when you’re ready to be pushed. The same can be said for both sparring and pressure testing in the reality sphere, build it up and find a partner you can push it with!

3) Do your research

Unless you’re seriously committed, you’ll normally be training around 2-3 hours a week. This isn’t a lot over a week long period, but it’s necessary when you start out to avoid burn out and condition your body to get used to martial arts. You can still research and expand you’re knowledge even when you aren’t physically training however. Study the best martial artists out there, the innovators and the specialists and look at their movements, angles, positioning and striking or grappling. There’s a wealth of information on platforms such as YouTube (some good, some bad) all at your disposal if you look for it. I study, train and teach mainly in Defence Lab now, but still watch Aikido, Jeet Kune Do, Ghost, and Boxing among other systems to see power generation, positioning and movement. Learn what you can, regardless of style.

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4) Ask your instructor

Your instructor is your instructor for a reason and hopefully they’re open and approachable enough to talk to. If you want to train harder in class let them know and chances are they’ll know the right way to give you that progression and they’ve probably been there and done it themselves. Hopefully they can advise you if you’re looking to step it up to the next level so ask and see what happens!

5) Enjoy the journey

Martial arts are a marathon, not a sprint so don’t rush the journey, enjoy it! There is always more to learn, even when you become a `grandmaster` or some other egotistical title. Let natural progression occur. You’re system should have a syllabus that progresses individuals step by step so that when you reach your black belt level you should have a fairly high degree of competency (note I say should!). Training is meant to be fun and push you both physically and mentally but never forget to enjoy the journey, movement, exercise and friends you build along the way, piecing together the jigsaw puzzle that is martial arts.

 

Black Belt Biz – A review

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Last Sunday I was lucky enough to attend a Martial Arts business seminar with the the fantastic Matthew Chapman. I’ve been lucky enough to know Matt for a couple of years now first training in one of his MMA workshops in 2014. Since then I’ve followed and been impressed by his MittMaster series as well as his books `100 Essential Pad Drill for Kickboxing and MMA`, `How to win your first MMA fight`and `Black Belt Biz`. I was therefore really excited when I saw he was hosting a business seminar not too far away from me at the fantastic `Twin Tigers`facility in Scunthorpe and jumped at the chance to attend both the catch up with Matt for the upcoming `Martial Masters`book & also to get some tips on building my own business here in Lincoln.

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People have varying opinions on making money with the martial arts, with the frankly idiotic view some people have that martial arts should just be taught for the love of doing it, not money. I disagree with this wholeheartedly and think that as long as an excellent standard of instruction is maintained, martial arts should be treated the same as any other professional service. I now run a martial arts class under Defence Lab in Lincoln and hope to make this full time as soon as possible. For this I need money, simple as. The more time I have training, teaching and learning martial arts, the more it will benefit my students and so I agree with Matt when he says that the best martial artists he has seen are the ones that have gone full time and can dedicate themselves to it.

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Matt’s business seminars aim to grow your school through marketing & retaining your students – an area often neglected by martial artists who hope for students to come into their class yet do nothing to recruit. A very old-school mentality. Matt has a successful school with the Masters Academy, and is a published author and now creator of the MittMaster series popular all over the world. Matt knows his stuff 100%. His workshop was personable, informative and I came away with some fantastic ideas to implement in my school, hopefully to get me to the point of eventually becoming a full time martial arts instructor which is a dream I’ve had for many years now.

Matt provided tailored information specific to what we wanted help with, offered personalised advice and really took the time to get to know where you were with the business and where you wanted to be. This wasn’t a sales drive by Matt, looking to earn a bit of money by teaching a half-arsed seminar, I believe he genuinely wants to help martial artists succeed and spread brilliant martial arts to a wider audience. Through his ideas in terms of business, I also believe he’ll help you do this and get you to where you want to be.

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The seminar included handouts that could be taken home, along with a copy of Matt’s book `Black Belt Biz`which in itself if an invaluable book for those looking to build up a martial arts business. We also get 6 months of support from Matt who has always been on hand to answer any questions I have asked him in the past and am sure will in the future. I came away from the workshop enthusiastic and ready to implement the ideas.

This is a review guys and I’m always honest with my reviews on here. Matt is a great guy and isn’t in martial arts to make a quick buck and get out. He has a great pedigree in martial arts and wants to help great martial artists fulfil their potential and have successful martial arts schools where they can dedicate their lives to training and teaching people who will ultimately continue that martial art on.

So would I recommend his course? Yes. If you are struggling to recruit or retain your students I think Matt can definitely help. If you’re looking for new ideas to recruit and get people through the door, again I think Matt can help. It was a great course and one that I’m definitely glad I went on! Worth the early Sunday morning and one I would go on again.

To find out more, check out Matt’s Facebook group here

Martial Masters Volume 1

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So those of you that follow the facebook group, or me personally on Facebook will know that myself and my good buddy Lucci Del-Gaudio (Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer founder) have a book out this year! What’s it called I hear you ask! Well folks it will be called `Martial Masters Volume 1` (That’s right there will be more than one volume! The idea of it is to bring out some of the best martial artists in the UK right now and basically have a lovely chat with them! We have reality guys, sports guys and traditional guys so there’s a fantastic mix of characters all with brilliant stories to tell!

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Martial Masters will be out Spring/Summer this year so keep an eye out and for now check out a mini interview with myself and Lucci on some more details for the book! Follow us on Facebook too at `Martial Masters`to keep up to date with all the latest and get sneaky peaks as we work on the project! It’s going to be a fun few months getting to speak to these amazing people about my favourite subject! Martial arts and Self Defence!!

Martial arts – let me ask you a question…

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Today we have a fantastic guest post from a good friend of mine with a rich history in Martial Arts. Declan Lestat runs Aikido Shugyokan in Minnesota as well as holding black belts in Kung Fu & Kickboxing and is a JKD instructor. Here he writes a great article on why exactly we train in martial arts! Hope you enjoy!

Let me ask you a question. It’s a question that, if you’ve been in the martial arts for any period of time, you’ve probably been asked or pondered over countless times.

Why do you train in the martial arts?

You may have more than one answer, maybe it changes over time (Like mine does). Maybe your answer is vague and only you would really get it. Maybe you don’t even know.

Here’s another question, this one a bit tougher but quicker to answer.

Why do I train in the martial arts?

Maybe I train for street fighting. Maybe I want to compete. Maybe I’m of an age and level of experience where I don’t need to train formally in self defense so I attend classes for other reasons like fitness, stress relief, interest in other cultures. Maybe I want to make friends. Maybe I’ve been training so long it’s just a habit now. There’s even a chance I train because *gasp* It’s fun!

I know exactly why I train, but the point is that anybody else – obviously – couldn’t possibly have a clue. And of course, I don’t really know why you train. I could maybe guess, but I don’t know for sure.

My point?

The other day, somebody I’d never met and didn’t know and never had any contact with before or since, commented on a video I shared: “Aikido is ineffective. For self defense learn wrestling.”

Like I’d asked him.

But to be fair, he’s far from unique. Post anything on Facebook or click on any clip on YouTube and you’ll find similar comments, though many not as polite. The comments are usually from people who don’t understand what they’re even watching, thinking chi sau or randori are being presented as actual examples of “street effective” technique and not as what they actually are – exercises. They’re no more street effective as push ups or squats, but no less important. And don’t get me started on the morons who rant about a clips obviously filmed for entertainment or demonstration purposes.

Still, my critic made a major mistake in assuming that a: The clip was supposed to represent a self defense technique (It wasn’t), b: That I don’t know what does and doesn’t “work” in the street, and c: That I train for the same reasons as he does.

But from the point of view of a practitioner of, say, MMA, Aikido is indeed ineffective. I know this, because many of their proponents aren’t too shy about telling you this on YouTube. Unfortunately for them, I don’t train Aikido for self defense. I train in Aikido for personal growth reasons. Thanks to Aikido, I have greater respect for all people (Which is why I held back on responding to this guy’s comments), humility, empathy, mindfulness, self control… So when I look at an MMA champion like Conor McGregor, I’d have to say MMA is ineffective.

But then again, what is “Street effective”? 2 minutes on YouTube will reveal thousands of clips to make you think. I found one of a BJJ guy taking down a boxer, but just when I was thinking I should train BJJ for self defense, I found another clip of a boxer defeating a BJJ guy. One of my best friends has had precisely zero martial arts training and I’ve never seen him lose a fight (And I’ve witness many!) so maybe we’re all wasting our time.

Then again, growing up in, at the time one of the most violent cities in Europe, working private security, managing city center pubs, and sheer bad luck had given me the chance to experience a lot of nasty situations close up. And even though I have multiple black belts and decades of training, on the relatively few occasions when I was too unlucky/stupid to control a confrontation enough to prevent it becoming physical, guess which system has kept me safe? Guess which martial art has put down the bad guy for me every time?

Aikido. And here’s me saying I don’t train in Aikido for self defense!

So is Aikido effective then? I wouldn’t say that. I would say that on those occasions when I had to defend myself I did so successfully, and that’s all I could say. If I’d used boxing or Muay Thai or Judo, the same would apply. It’s not the style that was effective. It was the fighter. More accurately, it was the fighter on those specific occasions. Was I just lucky? Don’t care. Could I defend myself successfully again? Possibly. Would I use Aikido again? Couldn’t say. Every situation is different. I could beat Mike Tyson tomorrow, walk around the corner and get mugged by a 14 year old. There’s not many things in the world as random and unpredictable as a street fight, after all.

This doesn’t apply to the obvious charlatans, of course. If someone posts a “Street lethal self defense techniques” comprising of ballroom dancing, then you may be inclined to offer a correction if you have the expertise. That’s a stated promise that fails to deliver.

We may not like what someone trains in but here’s the good news for us: Our approval isn’t required. To criticize an art or practitioner for nothing more than it doesn’t meet your personal training objectives isn’t worthy of a martial artist of any style. Minds are not changed with ridicule or fault finding, nobody has ever said “Wow, I totally thought I was training traditional Karate to be a lethal Jason Bourne style street assassin. The last 15 years have been a complete waste of time, I’m heading straight down to my local Gracie academy to sort my life out!” thanks to some chump on YouTube who probably doesn’t train seriously in any style, let alone a “street effective” one.

But together, with support and a little understanding, we may not change minds but we can maybe broaden minds on both sides of the debate. I think the reality and sport based arts could have a lot to learn from the more traditional arts as well as vice versa.

And a little unity in our community has to be a good thing.