It’s no surprise that as Lead Instructor for Defence Lab Lincoln, I’m a pretty big fan of Defence Lab. I like the style, I like the evolution and I like founder Andy Norman’s motto of “work hard, be nice and be honest”. As a result of this I was pretty excited when I heard Defence Lab would soon be releasing their Virtual HQ! Well, that time has now arrived and on Tuesday 18th October, the Virtual HQ will be going live!
What is the Defence Lab Virtual HQ?
Simply put, the Virtual HQ is an online training resource and introduction to Defence Lab from Andy and the crew. The HQ is broken down into various folders and sections including weekly investigations, architectural framework and primal reactions. All of these areas are shown and explained by Andy and his elite team. New videos are added every week, giving you time to rep and drill the previous week’s material and giving you an overall feel and sense of the professional, yet effective system of Defence Lab.
Who is it for?
Honestly – The Virtual HQ is for anyone with even a passing interest in martial arts, self defence or fitness training. No matter what style or background you come from, there is something here for you. The beauty of Defence Lab is that is never stops. It is constantly developing and evolving with the times. 1 on 1, Defence Lab cover it. Multiple attackers? Covered. Sticks, knives, bats? Covered! You name it, Defence Lab cover it and this is why the Virtual HQ is going to be such a fantastic and ever developing resource for the martial arts and wider community.
What makes it different?
Defence Lab are not the first to release online videos or courses, yet they are the first to do it in such a professional and well developed manner. The videos are shot in high definition and thorough explanations are given by Andy as to why Defence Lab do what they do. Andy provokes you into thinking for yourself, questioning the system and therefore opening your mind to new information – something that martial artists are not always too willing to do! The overall look, feel and content of the Virtual HQ is something I have never seen before in terms of professionalism, content and general style and this really will be something that will revolutionise the martial arts world and make people stand up and take notice.
When is it available?
The Virtual HQ from Defence Lab will be going live on Tuesday 18th October and Defence Lab have already started releasing sneak peaks and teasers through their social media channels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To register your interest in Defence Lab’s Virtual HQ, please head over to their main site to keep up to date with the latest information and follow them on social media at the links below.
The Virtual HQ is going to be something very special and you do not want to miss out. I cannot put into words how awesome the Virtual HQ is in terms of look, feel and content and this is a must have resource for anyone interested in martial arts or personal safety. So go ahead, follow Defence Lab and sign up for more info on the resource centre that will revolutionise Martial Arts.
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!
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!
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!!
They’ve appeared in Martial Arts Illustrated the past few months and it’s been great reading about their stance on Self Defence and how it should be taught and developed. We recently spoke to Martin Brown of UK Self Defence Systems about what the organisation was aiming to do, and his thoughts on Self Defence and his plans for the future! I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot about these guys in the future!
Hey Martin! Thanks for chatting with us, can you tell us a brief history of your system?
Well, we’re really not that old as an organisation being that we’re only coming up 12 months at the end of 2015. We’re a mix of military combative instructors, full time self defence trainers, operators, police trainers, MMA coaches, Dan grade teachers across multiple styles and deep partnerships with other organisations that also bring in additional expertise. I’m the public face of it, possibly because I’m the best looking of the bunch, but overall this is an organisation not about any individual or style except for the students themselves. As an organisation, our only function is to deliver effective self defence in a manner that’s fun, memorable and will suit anyone of any level.
Sounds awesome! What would you say are the main principles of your system?
The main principle is that every student is unique, and all people have unique tools that they can use better than others. We simply make sure that the student bins the bad bits and develops the good bits.
We’re only focused on one thing: self defence. That could mean a fight for your very life, or life changing injuries like brain damage and spinal injury, or it could mean something like verbal de-escalation and just getting away as soon as possible. Avoidance is the best way, but we don’t always get that chance to not be there. It’s not a place open for ‘opinions’ or discussion or theory: violence is nasty, wrenching and can change lives both physically and mentally, forever. We only take what works for an individual, and as nothing works 100% of the time, we have to identify what has the highest percentage chance of success most of the time for an individual and then develop that idea with them.
As far as I am concerned, and the organisational philosophy is concerned, imposition of a technique someone can’t always perform for the sake of a system is giving them a slow and ineffective tool in the face of very, very bad things. That isn’t acceptable for defending yourself.
I go back to the first sentence again – every student is unique. There is no getting around this, and our philosophy and teaching methods reflect our investment in the people walking through our doors.
What makes your system unique?
Nothing whatsoever. It’s all been done before as far as techniques go, and we all borrow and steal from everything else – I haven’t seen a new technique in decades, I’ve only seen what’s new to me as a person.
What makes UK Self Defence Systems as a group unique is something else though. It’s our delivery method. We don’t impose a system on people that they may not be suited to. We can’t all be graceful Taekwondo masters, some have terrible timing for striking arts and some are amazing grapplers. We’re all different, and UK Self Defence Systems is there to tailor effective ideas, tactics and techniques as they relate to the individual. It’s not the easiest thing to do, it requires a lot of previous background, but at the end of the day it’s about the student getting the tools that they need to survive violence: nothing else.
Where do you see your system going in the future?
We’re more of an entity than an art or system, so we’re going much more into businesses, education and other sectors to deliver training programmes in direction. We have numerous ‘bolt on’ workshops for instructors that would like to invite us in for additional material (it’s not as if gun disarming was a thing 200 years ago or in sport) to compliment their own styles and material, and we’re always happy to chat about that. Just drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and have a chat, and there are plenty of references on our website www.ukselfdefence.systems from traditional and sporting martial art schools as to what we delivered.
We’ll keep evolving, and keep training martial arts instructors so that they are giving legally compliant information. Many instructors aren’t aware that they can be prosecuted if a student is harmed or does something based on guidance or advice that they give that can’t be backed up. These instructors need to get in touch if not an accredited BTEC Level 2 Advanced Self Defence Instructor, as it may come back to bite, and that’s something that can damage martial arts as a whole. We’re passionate about not letting anyone get into these situations, and we’re here to help.
What is it you love most about the martial arts?
It’s the passion in people. I love seeing anyone, from any system doing their best and making progress, and that doesn’t matter if it’s a beginner on the mats for the first time or someone like me who’s passionate about their teaching. I’ll never forget watching Guro Roger Agbulos teaching knife defence and how passionate he is about what he does and how he stays in touch with everyone who attended our workshop with him last year. He cares for everyone that walks through the door, and he really sets a great example of someone with no boundaries, an open mind and a willingness to share everything he knows. I think that’s beautiful, and I think it’s a model to emulate.
What do you think MA/Combat brings to people’s lives?
That really depends on what you’ve chosen to do. People in sports can compete on a high level, feel fulfilled and test themselves in a semi-safe way. Traditional martial artists can compete too, but may find a lot of satisfaction in perfecting, preserving and learning the intricacies of what they’re doing. Others may be more like me, and just have a deeper consideration for personal safety or the safety of others. We’re all doing similar things to a degree, but there are clear distinctions in goals, motivations and ways of getting there. As long as the student is happy and as long as the instructor is delivering quality for the remit promised, then I think everyone is generally happy with the arrangement.
How do you define success in your system?
It’s quite hard to quantify success for students in a syllabus style of achievement for us, as we’re only really concerned with getting home in one piece. We give everyone a survival handbook, and inside of it are multiple topics like ‘Confined Spaces’ and ‘Cold Weapon Defences’ which are then sub-divided into ‘Started Out’ ‘Intermediate’ and ‘High Level’. We stress test the students at appropriate times to see if their understanding in a given scenario is adequate and mark them accordingly. We do it this way because everyone is unique, and when it comes to dealing with violence, I’m not interested in the techniques that the student uses to survive. One student may have been taught one set of tools to fit their body and gender, whilst another student has been taught very differently due to height, weight and general build. It’s possible for two students to both be ‘High Level’ and yet use completely different effective tools to commit to the scenario at hand. What matters to me is only the self defence performance as it pertains to the first moment to the last, and that they can repeatedly defend the same situation effectively over many different variations of attack – never the same thing twice.
What do you think the key to success in Martial Arts is?
The key to success? Understanding that an expert is someone who does the basics well.
What is your focus in training now and in the future?
My focus at the moment is in reversing the self defence mantra of ‘don’t go to the ground’ as a reason not to teach the ground. I’ll be working with Paul Severn, Checkmat BJJ coach and Trojan MMA coach on bringing the survival skills needed into the self defence world, whether armed, unarmed, multiple attackers and any other variation. People slip, fall, trip, get pushed, thrown and any other number of causes to end up on the floor. ‘Not going to the ground’ is a nice thought, but it happens more than anyone would like in actual confrontation and it’s a topic I feel really, truly needs to be addressed in a format that can be delivered well. People’s personal safety is the priority, and there can be no sacrifice on any level for ‘style’ or ‘system’ – I just won’t entertain that, and I won’t ever stand in front of a group and tell them something has a high chance of saving their life if it hasn’t been researched as far as it can be taken. Paul will provide the drills, mechanics and movements, and I’ll provide the stress, duress and pressure until the idea breaks or survives.
So there we have it! My passion is for people to be safe. It’s not about me, and it’s not about UK Self Defence Systems or our instructors – it’s about the students, their safety and getting home in one piece. Thank you for inviting me to take part, it’s been a pleasure.
On Sunday 25th of October, we are holding a four hour workshop covering all distances of defence. Everyone is welcome, from beginner to expert, we’ll have something for you. It’s always a lot of fun, just see flyer here for address and contact details.
Here we interview Kenji DuBois Lee, main man responsible for bringing the Jacques Payet Project to life. Jacques Payet is a 7th degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido and was live-in student of Yoshinkan founder Gozo Shioda for many years. As a westerner in Japan, Payet Sensei was able to build a close relationship with Shioda Kancho and wasn’t as bound by the rules of the student-teacher relationship and so was able to form a close bond with Kancho Sensei, gaining many insights in to the man and his powerful form of Aikido. Payet Shihan now teaches around the world and is revered by many as one of the top Yoshinkan Instructors in the world. He also recently graded me to 3rd Dan and is a thoroughly nice guy! Here’s the interview!
Hey Kenji thanks for interview, what is your background?
I have been living in Japan for nearly 7 years, making short films for the past 4. I like to consider myself a Self University graduate seeing as I pick up tricks of the trade mainly through online tutorials and real life trial and error. I shoot, write, and edit wedding, promotional, and business videos for a living. I’m happily married to the world’s most amazing woman who brings me happiness everyday. My interests include hanging out with creative action-takers, beaches, mountains, and soccer.
How did the JP Project initially come about?
One day a good friend of mine, Izzy, told me, “Dude, I’m gonna move to Kyoto and dedicate my life to aikido: intensive training 6 hours a day 5 days a week for a year.” After that year, he did it again! Over the years I watched as Izzy transformed.
Physically, he made me feel like a slob for not having a six pack and waking up after sunrise, but he also went through a rather impressive internal transformation. His business boomed, spirituality deepened, and even with the newly acquired bulge on his knee resulting from hours on the tatami mat, he was constantly exploring the boundary of possibility.
Because I was the video man for his business I spent a lot of time filming him, listening to his ideas, discoveries, and interpretations of a purpose-driven life. Purpose – which Izzy seemed to find loads of in the dojo – was taking a stronger grip on my life as well. Inevitably we spent many conversations exploring the overlap of martial arts principles and everyday life.
As you might have guessed by now, Izzy was training at Kyoto’s Mugenjuku Aikido dojo under the instruction of 7th degree instructor Jacques Payet, who, as Izzy pointed out to me in one of these conversations, “has an amazing life story that would inspire the sh*t out of you.”
Thus the stage was set for me to enter the dojo and meet the man himself.
My first time in Kyoto Mugenjuku dojo was for a 5 day shoot where I produced a short film highlighting the dojo’s Kenshusei program. This short film was well received by Jacques Payet and the international community.
A year later, Izzy, Jacques Payet and I sat down for some coffee in a small cafe across the street from the dojo. This was when Jacques Payet told me about his journey of becoming a 7th degree master, and what his hopes are for the future.
We came to the conclusion that film is a very effective tool to reach the masses. With the unforeseen success of the Kenshusei short film, we decided to implement this tool once again, this time to deliver Jacques Payet’s life story. The desired outcome being a wave of inspired and purpose-driven youth across the globe.
What was it that made you think JP would be a great choice for the project?
From my understanding, in aikido there is a push and pull between what I control and what I don’t. Even though the extent of what I control has a limit, if I am committed and effective enough I can use these outside forces and be part of something amazing and far more powerful than anything I could do alone.
This project is the perfect example of such forces combining. The timing, the people involved, the city I moved to, all these outside forces were staring me in the face like, “C’mon man! This opportunity is right here, right now. So what are you gonna do about it?!”
So I committed.
Now as for why I think Jacques Payet would be a great subject for this documentary film project.
Yes, Jacques Payet overcame challenges, accumulated accolades, and gained the respect of the martial arts community around the world. Yet, the even more significant part of this project isn’t exactly his life.
What strikes me is how so many young adults are taking the same journey a young Jacques Payet did and how even more people are stepping into their own journey.
The important thing to note is their journey.
Jacques Payet is blazing an amazing trail but it’s not as if he wants others to follow him. Rather, he wants to see others fully commit to blazing their own trails.
He wants you to feel alive – not just to go through routine, tradition, and necessities – but to truly feel alive, by finding your own path, committing to it, and embracing the discoveries along the way.
In this sense, this documentary project came to be because of the inspirational power Jacques Payet’s journey has, as well as me choosing to step up to my own.
Just after my 3rd Dan test
What do you hope will be achieved through the project?
In a word: empowerment.
Personally, I’m finding so much happiness blazing my own trail in this part of my life right now. I’m 29, well-travelled, blessed with an amazing wife, ridiculously supportive family, and talented friends around the world. When I told them, “Hey, I’m gonna make my first feature length documentary film” I was met with mixed responses. To be completely honest, I had no clue how I’d do it, who’d help me, where I’d get the resources, and I began to hear that all-too-common voice of doubt. I had a long list of reasons to give up – worse yet – not even try.
But as fate would have it, the subject of my very first feature length documentary is an aikido master.
And like any master will say, to master anything requires doing what’s difficult, uncertain, and often unrealistic, just out of reach.
So for me as a filmmaker, I hope to stretch my filmmaking career by learning as much as possible while I take these steps into the unknown. Even though I had been shooting and editing for years before this project started, I had never tried launching a crowdfunding campaign. I had never built a production team. I had never drafted an official request for funds. I had never made a pitch to influencers. I had never spoken with a bona fide producer about confidential private placement memorandum documents. I had never consulted with a campaigning agency. Now, even though we’re still in pre-production, I can happily say I’ve done all of these things and learned so much along the way. Image what I’ll have learned by the time we’re in post-production!
Most importantly, I know that there will always be more to learn. I know this because 7th degree aikido master Jacques Payet told me, “Of course I still learn new things everyday. It’s neverending. It’s for life.”
Even a master continues to learn.
Hence the name of Jacques Payet’s dojo ‘mugenjuku’ which can be translated as ‘never ending training.’ He instills this principle in his students and it is one of the messages I hope to share with the JP audience.
Simply put, whatever you want requires endless effort.
This process – endless effort – uncovers possibilities that are buried within ourselves which surface in the face of adversity. The more and more possibilities come to the surface, the more and more empowered we become.
Jacques Payet personifies this. Ultimately I hope to use his life story as a mirror so the JP audience can start finding possibilities within their own lives.
And if someone was making a documentary of me making this documentary I would hope that audience feel empowered as well! They would watch as an aspiring filmmaker makes his debut feature project about a martial arts master. Unexpectedly the young filmmaker begins to connect martial arts principles to his own life, in turn applying them to filmmaking, and begins blazing a new path in the world of cinema.
See, I wasn’t even able to articulate this a year ago!
How far is the project in development?
We’re in pre-production. We’ve done extensive research on what production level we can take JP to depending on how much monies we raise. We’ve spent even more time writing and editing the story of JP, again, to different degrees depending on the monies raised which will directly influence the scope of the film.
JP has taken multiple forms and been through so many changes since we committed to it back in November 2014. But I firmly believe these changes polished JP into what it is today.
Now we are in the funding phase of the project. Arguably the most important. Undeniably the most suspenseful!
When will the project be released?
I hate this question. lol
Once we finish the funding phase we’ll have a far better estimate of the release date. But I know this is important, especially when we’re receiving monetary contributions from supporters worldwide.
At this point, we are expecting to release in spring 2016.
We’d like to enter JP into film festivals in France, Japan and the United States.
What will the project focus on? Yoshinkan Aikido? Jacques Payet’s life?
The original title of this film was Aikido Is Life. The change was made to JP to put more focus on Jacques Payet and his relationship with Japan.
This film will focus on the overlap between martial arts and life within the context of aikido master Jacques Payet’s
3-decade journey to become a master.
How can people get involved with the project?
Make a contribution to our Indiegogo Campaign!
Rub elbows with big-timer producers? Contact us!
Ask 5 friends to pitch in on a group contribution!
Are you a musical genie who can whip up amazing scores for film? Contact us!
Become a sponsor by supplying our production team with transportation in Japan and/or Reunion Island!
Got access to gear in Japan and/or Reunion Island? Contact us!
Speak French, Japanese, and/or Russian and want to build up your resume as a translator? Contact us!
Got a private jet with room for a few filmmakers? Contact us!
Wanna support JP but not by contributing money? Contact us!
Know someone somewhere who should be involved in JP? Contact them!
Where can we keep up to date with the latest news regarding the project?
The best place is over at the JP Indiegogo Campaign page: igg.me/at/jp-film
You can also keep up with us on our social media outlets listed below.
So a few people have asked me to write a short article on my thoughts on the BTEC level 3 Self Defence Award I recently did via Mark Dawes’ company NFPS Ltd. As I am one day hoping to set up a self defence business I thought it was imperative to get this award and had heard good things about both the company and the course as a whole from a number of sources.
The course was held on the first weekend of March at the National Sport Centre in Lilleshall. The setting was amazing and the facilities there are fantastic. Prior to the course we had been sent a booklet to complete prior to attending the course, covering things like the law in relation to self defence, health and safety, the Human Rights Act and the psychology surrounding self defence. In all honestly, some of it was more interesting than other bits but in fairness, I don’t think anyone is able to make risk assessments and health and safety interesting! The pre-course material was laid out well in an easy to understand way, and various documents were sent via email outlining what was expected of you before attending the course, and what had to be completed. The written materials were aided by a number of YouTube videos on the various topics, with Mark talking us through the main points, and giving real world examples. I found the YouTube videos much more helpful than the written material but again, this is just a personal preference.
So I arrived at Lilleshall raring to go for the course and have to say it was a lot more physical than I thought it would be. Not in the fact that we were pressure testing or having difficult workouts, but in the fact that I thought a lot more of the course would be classroom based. Nearly no time at all was spent sat down, but more time dedicated to learning, and then teaching basic self defence techniques from a variety of attacks such as wrist grabs, headlocks or strikes, focusing on easy to remember gross motor skills which we knew at this point to be the most effective.
The course ran over the two days and culminated in teaching two self defence techniques to the group of your choosing from a set list of attacks. Everyone was slightly nervous about this at the start of the course, but in reality it was relaxed and nothing to worry about. The instructors put us at ease from the start, injecting humour and personality into the teaching and socialising, and at the end of the course you did feel as if you were part of the NFPS family and had their support if you ever had any questions or issues when you go out and start teaching self defence.
The course certainly isn’t the cheapest out there, but in my opinion is one of the best, giving you a recognised qualification at the end of it, and the skills and knowledge to go and teach and effective and fun self defence course. The course and the instructors were professional from start to finish. As already mentioned the setting of the National Sports Centre was amazing with incredible facilities, and really good food more importantly, and before I had even arrived home from the course, I received an email congratulating me on passing and saying the certificate was on its way out now. Everything from start to finish was well planned, professional and informative, and the general atmosphere was great. Upon completion of the course I am now confident I could offer a variety of different self defence courses, and that if I ever have a problem or question, I can email NFPS Ltd or call one of the instructors and get an answer almost immediately.
I would thoroughly recommend this course and hope to go on more in the future as NFPS Ltd offer a wide range of other courses from restraint and removal to handcuffing or breakaway instruction.
So in preparation for my review of the BTEC Level 3 Self Defence course I attended which will be published next week, we spoke to Mark Dawes of NFPS Ltd about how his company began, what it aims to accomplish and why there’s a need for it! Enjoy!
How it All Began!
I started teaching self-defence back in 1988 on the back of running a martial arts school. This was at the request of the local police and local crime prevention panel, who wanted self-defence courses for local people and local businesses.
The concept was to provide a two-hour session after work one evening a week for six weeks, culminating in twelve hours training in self-defence. This was the amount of time people could realistically commit to, when having to balance their work, family life and other everyday commitments.
Now this was a different concept to teaching a martial art, where someone would attend a class twice or three times a week for three to five years to get a black belt.
So the first question planted a seed in my mind. Do people need to train for three to five years to be competent to defend yourself?
The next ’light-bulb’ moment for me came when I was asked by a woman on one of these self-defence evenings, if I could teach her something that she could teach to her son. He wanted to learn self-defence but who was too scared to attend a class because he was being bullied and had very low self-esteem and self-confidence, and I thought, yes, why not?
If self-defence is a ‘common law right’ of every person, why do we have to elevate someone to the dizzy heights of ‘instructor’ to be ‘allowed’ to teach? Why can’t a mum simply show her son what to do? Now of course in today’s health and safety conscious world we need to apply good health and safety practices to what we teach, but that shouldn’t take three to five years! It could be done in a day or two.
It also made me realise something else (my mind was now similar to an illuminated fairground as one light-bulb moment sparked off another). A lot of people who probably need to or want to learn to know how to defend themselves, do not attend courses because:
They are probably not very confident and have low self-esteem, and
They are probably at the low end of the fitness spectrum, and are not very technically (in a physical skills sense) proficient.
This means that the people who really need the help are possibly not the people who actually attend courses. So wouldn’t it be great if we could teach those that do attend to go back and teach these very people?
The next ‘wake-up’ call came when I was asked what reasonable force meant. My co-tutor (a police officer who was running these two hour sessions) and I had been telling the people we were training that as long as the force they used was ‘reasonable’ they would be okay. Then, at the end of one of the sessions a woman on the course asked us to explain what ’reasonable force’ meant.Then apart from giving a few weak examples (basically ones that we made up on the spur of the moment, to avoid any embarrassment) neither my police colleague nor I could legitimately define what ‘reasonable force’ actually meant.
This ‘wake-up call’ was a realisation that people didn’t just want techniques; they really wanted to know what they were legally allowed to do. In short, they wanted to know that if they used what we were showing them, they would be acting legally. In essence what we were doing by majoring on teaching techniques, was akin to teaching someone to drive but not teaching them the Highway Code. This was confirmed much later when I carried out a large survey at a north London hospital, when we asked nurses on personal safety courses what they wanted to know. They all said they wanted to know how far they could actually go in defending themselves, and others and to do that they had to know what ‘reasonable force’ actually meant.
The realisation that was dawning on me was that techniques alone aren’t enough. This was because the evidence shows that people will not use something that is too complicated simply because they will not be able to recall what to do when under pressure. Also, if people do not understand the law in relation to ‘reasonable force’ then how will they be able to know what they are legally allowed to do and that can create hesitation and fear. They also wanted to be taught simple and effective techniques that were easy to learn, easy to remember and which would work if required.
At that moment, I had what I can only describe as one of those ‘epiphany’ moments.
I suddenly realised that the reason that we were all teaching a progressive course, that taught more and more complex techniques as people progressed through it, was because we (the instructors) wanted to look good / make a good impression in front of our ‘audience’ by being able to do what they couldn’t. Another motivator for some other trainers too (which one guy told me about) was that if someone actually used something in self-defence and hurt someone, he would have a ‘get-out’ clause by being able to say that they didn’t use the technique the way we had taught them. In short, the training was about the trainer/s, not the students and it didn’t make trainers accountable or responsible for what they were teaching.
So the challenge was set.
If I really wanted to help people I had to give them the information they needed to answer their questions, which, in summary were:
Can you teach me something that I can use that is quick and easy to learn as well as being effective?
Can you teach me what to do within a legally correct framework, so I know exactly what I am legally allowed and not allowed to do and how far I am allowed to go?
Can you teach me something that is so easy to remember and is so effective but which would be easy for me to teach to someone else, without having to train for three-five years to do so?
From then on the ‘Bash & Dash’ course was conceived and the first one was a huge success.
Over the years the course has developed based around a simple mantra that I keep at the forefront of my mind which helps keep me on point. That mantra is:
“If a forty-eight year old woman came up to me and asked me to teach her something so that she could either: a) defend herself and her family, or b) enable her to teach someone else in her family, because she or someone in her family was scared that they were going to be attacked later on that same day, could I do it?”
If the answer is no, I am not teaching self-defence, I am teaching something else.
Today in 2015, twenty-seven years on, our BTEC Level 3 Advanced Self-Defence Instructor Award Course follows those same steadfast principles, which hold as true today as they did all those years ago.
The reason we eventually developed it into a BTEC Course was because of another ‘light-bulb’ moment.
There are many courses taught by many different people. Some are good, some are bad and some are indifferent, so it is difficult for someone to know what to look for when they are looking for training. However, all of these courses have one thing in common which is that the instructors, in the main, actually want to help people and are motivated by a desire to keep people safe.
However, all of these courses have one other thing in common too. None of them teach to a recognised national vocational standard that involves a structured process of learning and assessment with audit trails and internal and external verification processes, and this is what makes our BTEC Level 3 Advanced Self-Defence Instructor Award Course different.
What our course does is provide an instructor with an approach to teaching, based on a structured process of learning and assessment that is legally correct and health and safety compliant.
This provides any prospective student with the safeguard of knowing that their instructor has gone though a formally recognised process and has attained a qualification written to an Awarding Body standard.
It also provides the instructor with the freedom to teach what they like as long as it meets the three principles listed above.
In summary our BTEC Level 3 Advanced Self-Defence Instructor Award Course is not about us and it’s not about the instructor. It is about the people the instructors will teach.
What I learned twenty-seven years ago, which still holds true today, is that people need more than just physical techniques. They need information and they need answers to questions, that are stopping them reaching their full potential. Provide that and you liberate them and set them free to live a safe life.
Here it is folks! The final part of the awesomely fantastical Bob Breen’s interview. Here he talks about plans for the future and 4D as well as his branding partners in Andy Norman, Phil Norman and Eddie Quinn. Enjoy!
Let’s talk about the collaboration with Andy Norman, Phil Norman and Eddie Quinn then.
I used to teach Andy back in the 80’s. He was an amazing determined guy that would come to see me in London from Hull once or twice a week and so when people say to me they can’t come to training for whatever reason, I always say there are no excuses! I taught Andy for a few years and we got on great, he was one of the best students I’ve had. I’d beat him up then he’d go back on the train thinking how he would beat me up next time in a tit for tat kind of way! We always kept in touch and then I met him in Italy last year and started talking about projects. I talked about 4D and he said why don’t you come and join me with the Defence Lab as we all have the same aim. Then with Phil as well who was an old JKD guy too. They’re all super brains! Phil was gladiators champion twice, Andy’s taught the Hollywood stars etc so why don’t we all work together. Andy has been the inspiration for it and he’s been a huge kick up the arse for us. It will be great fun and since we’ve been doing it I’ve had a great time. Then Eddie is on board too and he’s a great guy, fabulous communicator. We’re all pushing each other, it’s like a new wave happening and a new evolution that will take everything by storm!
So leading on from that what are your plans for the future?
Well we start the online university in the New Year, some of which will link up with Taken 3 as Liam Neeson is a student of Andy’s. We’re all filming crazily as I have 50 years of experience I want to show, lots of techniques too, but also showing how to get them to work practically. We’re all different heights, Phil’s tall and athletic; I’m about medium height but had a double hip replacement in the past so that taught me how to find space within space. Andy is shorter than all of us so his is all inside game. So when we look at everything together it’s like a jigsaw and if you learn all three, you would be an incredibly well rounded guy! Everyone there is so much fun as well. It’s almost like the old days of JKD, everyone has high energy and everything is new and exciting! Who else has done anything like the Defence Lab World Conference last month? There were 300 people there all learning together and everyone was just so revved! That was just the start we’ve got huge plans.
So finally what are your developments? How do you progress in the martial arts?
I’m collaborating with Matt Chapman at the moment with the 4D ground stuff. The 4D has a code, and a map which in essence can be seen as a timeline saying I’m here; I do this, etc so we want to do that with the ground too. I’m just training the 4D stuff hard now, we have a team we train at 7am in the morning with, all the high grade guys just bashing each other and testing the concepts and learning. We want to make sure it’s perfect for the guys we’re going to teach out there. We have discovered link points where you can go into Ghost or DL so my people can go into that so its cross branded, and also cross training. The big thing with 4D is a 4D fighter is never in front of you. We did a GoPro test where European BJJ champion David Onuma and I put a GoPro on our chest and we put it on every half second and attacked each other with blades. There are only 2 pictures with us in front of each other. All you catch is a bit of a shoulder, or a finger in the eye. It’s a great test as it shows, look; this is where you’re at. It’s not just you hit me, I hit you. A core concept is across all our systems is we don’t like or want to get hit. Myself, Andy and Phil and all the guys never want to get hit and that’s what we’re all about! We’re trying to do the martial arts we all dream of, we’re aiming at excellence.
Here’s part number two of the awesome interview with the incredible Bob Breen! Enjoy and as always like, share, comment and get involved in The Martial View Community :).
So what are the main principles of 4D Combat?
So firstly its total stand-up combat. All fights start standing contrary to what people believe. That’s where we want to end it. They all start standing and we do total stand up fighting – striking, clinching, weapons and group attack. You can’t choose the format any fight will be in, or morph into, so you have to be adaptable. Similarly we’re all short of time so you need a simple format that works whatever is happening. We try to have a code that covers 60% of that so we aren’t learning 4 different arts; we’re learning 1 art with 4 different aspects. One of the aims is to be faster by making the opponent slower, so that’s the Kali kind of influence, making you heavy or off balance. You can hit me really hard when you’re stood up straight, but I’m never going to have you standing straight, I’m always manipulating you all the while, mentally and physically. It integrates really well with Phil’s GHOST approach where you need to be fairly athletic. That’s fabulous which is why we have cross-branded as there are obviously times where you do have to be athletic and conditioned, but equally working hard for the sake of it isn’t good. You want them to work hard, and you to work less. Its minimum input, maximum output, keeping it simple and less is more! Amazingly you get all that stuff you dreamed of happening like the fancy arm locks as they give it to you!
You’re obviously a world authority on self-defence and especially knife defence. There are a lot of schools out there at the moment that claim to teach self-defence, but it’s not really that realistic, what are your thoughts on effective self-defence teaching and training?
Real fighting is always a lot faster and more chaotic than you think it will be, that’s part of the 4D thing. I’m either running, or hitting or clinching; I don’t want to be where you are going to hit or stab me. Take knife, the amount of people with experience knife fighting is not a lot, not healthy ones anyway! I had my first knife altercation when I was 11 outside of school and I’ve come up again knife, axe, gun etc. I haven’t been heroic or done incredible things, but we’ve tried to take the traditional stuff, the Filipino stuff mainly as I think it’s the best and use it.
The Filipino stuff is the best, but it’s almost the very best of a bad bunch, so we try to take that, test it, upgrade it and thin it so that the criteria is very rigorous on it. What happens with the majority of dojos is you get the conformist thing. I’ll come at you in a certain conformist attack; it’s all big and slow. There’s no interruption where I poke you in the eye with one hand and stab you with the other, so we embrace all that, but we do it in a classical way where we have the idea of total freedom where you can do anything, but we break it down so it has a traditional structure. That way you can learn and develop. It has to be tested though and have a chaos element or people lose the plot and think everything’s possible. Which of course it is but only when you really know it. Sometimes less workable aspects have their place. Take disarms people say disarms don’t work, but what’s good about them is that you get to be holding the guys arm at a slower pace than him stabbing you repeatedly and fast. So you get to learn things there, body knowledge as well as practicing the disarms which do happen. So everything works, but you need to train it rigorously and not have weird training routines where it’s too collaborative.
What are your thoughts on pressure testing? Is it possible?
It’s alright, but even that can be forced where they come and you one on one. The best pressure testing I can see is Andy’s DL stuff in a group and Phil Normans Ghost. Andy’s is a simple idea done really really well. Often in a group attack where he’s always on the move. Phil likewise but with one on one, My own 4D is replete with pressure testing, it’s built into the training at every level. Take knife for instance you have to try and stab me, not just stab a spot two feet away. You want to get to the cutting edge, but not the bleeding edge as that doesn’t help anyone! There needs to be a balance. My old Chinese Tai Chi teacher used to say to me Mr Breen! How many times you fight?! So I said once, twice a year maybe at the most, then she would say how many times do you trip up?! So I would say everyday then she would say better to practice not tripping up then! And I think that’s where people get into a whole paranoid thing about what could happen, but really life is about having fun. Train hard and functionally, but it has to be fun! I want my 4D guys to be the best they can be, but they have to be a decent person, keep their fitness, keep safe and keep their spirituality too! I want guys training when they’re 85 and be really balanced individuals yet still kicking arse!
Here it is guys and girls! The Bob Breen interview part 1! A legend in the martial arts, and go to guy for self defence, here Bob talks about his early days in martial arts, his own philosophy of self defence, and his cross branding with Andy Norman and Defence Lab, Phil Norman and Ghost, and Eddie Quinn with The Approach. Enjoy and as ever please feel free to comment, subscribe, share and like 🙂
How did you begin your training in the martial arts?
I started Karate at the end of 1966, getting my black belt in 1970. Roundabout then I opened my own school one of the first schools in the UK to be run by a non-Japanese. I fought for England and captained the England team and things like that. Then in 1971-72 we started doing a bit of grappling, so we were cross training even then really, predominantly Judo stuff. I was always interested in the cross-training approach, it resonated with my personal experience. There was a comic strip in the Evening Standard called `Modesty Blaise`, books too, and that had the idea of cross training and fighting in it. It was JKD before JKD had even happened! So I was enthralled by this idea of combat as I’d had quite a few fights on the street growing up so knew it didn’t quite go as it did in the dojo! In many ways I was primed up for JKD and Kali. I got into Eskrima in 1978 and met Dan Inosanto when I invited him over the UK in 1979! I became a huge advocate of JKD and Kali after that, and have followed Guru Dan from that time onwards.
Would you say that your previous experience having fights on the street etc led you into the martial arts?
Not especially, I was just intrigued by it. I’d had fights and I remember having a fight with a guy called Andy who was an amateur boxer. I had loads of spirit but no technique, I was just scrappy! So for me it was just a journey of enquiry, it looked beautiful and it wasn’t just about the fighting it was the discipline and speed. I remember my first teacher Tatsuo Suzuki, just being unbelievably fast! It was of the age as well, there was `Odd Job` around and things were opening up changing, people were getting interested in the martial arts. Nowadays I don’t think people understand how closed everything was then, but times were changing.
In terms of the JKD, what was it that originally drew you to it and made you think this is for me?
Initially I don’t think it was the art of JKD specifically, I was into Bruce Lee before that had been publicised , I used to go to China Town and watch the films in Chinese and be the only English person in the audience! I was intrigued by the idea of Bruce, Definitely the best and most realistic on the screen. When JKD articles came out showing pictures of his approach I thought ‘Well we do that anyway’ but what set Lee apart was the level of his integration and thinking. He was on a much higher level. What intrigued me about Dan Inosanto was the Filipino arts and what he did with that. His visit with Jeff Imada was amazing. It showed how they could go from empty hand, to knife, to stick, to battle axe, to grappling, back to empty hand. They wouldn’t have a plan; they would just flow and could handle everything. It was amazing and in truth I still think that evening in 79 was one of the best demos of the art I’ve ever seen.
What do you think JKD can offer today?
JKD was the original cross training or MMA as Bruce was into everything. Done well I think it’s what many of the top fighters are using today, at least conceptually. Lee’s influence has been immense. However I think a lot of it has been lost as people are caught up in technique, they know everything but can they do everything? This for me is why I developed 4D. It’s a sort of reference back to the original principles of JKD. 4D is functional, you have to be able to use it practically and apply it. 4D is nearly 50 years of sparring and fighting in every format and thinking how do you take all that knowledge and make it really easy to learn. prioritise it, adding a strategic structure to it, so that whatever happens you’re in charge. All the guys doing 4D now say they feel less fear, are more confident, and get more things to happen due to the simplicity of it. The choices are small, but because of that you get everything. If I’m punching you in the head you can’t have 20 thoughts in your head, its fight or flight. All the decision making is binary like this and natural so it’s quick.
Then we work on the what would be traditional JKD concepts like non telegraphic striking so when we hit you can’t stop it! However in 4D it’s not acceptable just to know it, you have to be able to make it work. It’s almost like a computer game; if you want the next level you need a certain score. If I want to progress I need to land 8 out of10 jabs against a defended target, then I understand and really know the jab and can move on. We do this on everything; everything is tested. It’s an evolution of the JKD idea, Bruce’s ideas were fabulous but it’s been evolved. You’ve interviewed Phil Norman, and I think you’re interviewing Andy Norman too, and all these guys have done the same thing, they’ve evolved and simplified. 4D have taken practicality first and built from there. People seem to like it, I’ve been hitting world champions in the head and they all say it’s like WOW! Mind blown!