Tales from the Western Generation by Matthew Apsokardu
So a friend of mine and fellow blogger Matthew Apsokardu from www.ikigaiway.com asked me to write a review of his new book that has just been released on Amazon and I was more than happy to do so! Free book for me if nothing else :P. Those who follow the facebook group will know I have just ordered a shit ton of self defence and martial arts books so look out for some more reviews soon, as well as a recommended reading page!
I know nothing about the history of Karate, or much about the history of most martial arts to be honest and in general find it pretty dull to read about, but Matthew’s book was the exception! I was actually surprised to find myself really enjoying it, learning about the historical and cultural changes that led to the evolution of Karate as it is practiced today from the pioneers in the early 1900s to the tournament scene in the 1960s and 70s.
What really makes the book is the interviews conducted however with pioneers, mavericks and trendsetters of the martial arts who have set the tone for those that practice martial arts today. The book is incredibly easy to read, informative and enjoyable and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of martial arts or martial arts in general. This book is a must have on the shelf for any serious martial artist.
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.