Mittmaster video & lesson plan subscription

maxresdefault 1024x576 Mittmaster video & lesson plan subscription

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 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.

Blinkers on…

Blinkers on in the martial arts…

There’s a lot of negativity in martial arts. Something new is being tried, it gets a torrent of abuse as it goes against the grain as someone tries to change the way of traditional thinking. Evolution is natural to human instinct, we want the latest thing. iPhone 5 is fine, but as soon as the iPhone 6 is out, the old one becomes useless. Martial Arts are different, we cling to tradition and shun a new way of thinking. Tradition is good and should be kept in the martial arts to preserve lineage, culture and respect, but equally things need to change with the times occasionally with a new way of thinking. This is often met with harsh criticism by the martial arts world however.

In fairness, I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past, posting videos of techniques labelled as effective self defence, yet lacking a realistic framework to off of or highlighting the fact an individual has a 12th degree black belt in every martial art in the planet yet is 25 years old with no traceable lineage. Is this criticizing unjustly or simply drawing attention to the fact that in many cases these people are teaching potentially dangerous techniques or principles to their unknowing students? It’s a fine line between being an armchair warrior and genuinely wanting to show the sometimes awful martial arts out there.

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The past few weeks have only emphasized the fantastic martial arts out there on display at the moment though. We have the Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer seminars that have now raised over £4000 in under a year, with top level instructors giving up their time to travel and teach for free. We have the UK Martial Arts show, where genuinely passionate people came to experience the best of martial arts under one roof. People laughing, training, teaching and showcasing their styles in a friendly environment. We have the Warriors Assemble Awards put on by the awesome Mr Anthony Pillage, showcasing those in the martial arts world who have persevered through things in their life when many of us would totally give up on everything, let alone keep training.

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Honestly, these are the things that should be focused on. Posting a video of a shite technique or a knife demo where the assailant slowly and respectfully tickles the “victim” with the knife always raises great discussion points, but a post showing something someone has done that has been really positive rarely generates the same amount of interest, which is understandable, yet wrong?

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The charlatans and the guys who never train, or promote themselves to Soke Master, Grandmaster Shihan Dogs Bollocks 15th Dan will do their thing, but they will never amount to anything. Never be part of a great network of great martial artists and self defence instructors who are passionate about what they do and committed to genuinely empowering people to live better lives. Got loads of students but the stuff will never work in the street? Does it matter? Are they having fun? Getting fitter? Gaining confidence? Do they stand a little taller and shake that hand a little firmer in the job interview as a result of going to a martial arts class? Yes? Awesome! Who cares if it’s practical. As long as you don’t label it as something that will 100% work in the streets as the deadliest martial art on the planet. This isn’t empowering people, its indoctrinating them into a cult of martial arts where people simply follow the norm.

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Focus on the good people. The bad will just sink into nothingness and people will wise up to it (I hope)! So thanks for being part of the group, discussing, sharing ideas, asking questions and connecting with people who you otherwise wouldn’t have connected with. If I hadn’t have started the blog nearly two years ago, I doubt I would be involved in such things as Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer, met so many wonderful people, and learnt so much from so many! So I’m grateful! The haters will hate about martial arts and the blog, let them. Keep your blinkers on and do what you do safe in the knowledge you’re learning and progressing!

 

Peace out!

What motivates you?

What motivates you

Martial arts are a lifelong pursuit as I’ve said over and over again, so what keeps you motivated when you train? Do you go for the social aspect? Do you go to learn and develop yourself more? Do you go out a sense of obligation – you’ve started may as well keep going? As people progress through the martial arts, motivations change and evolve as you yourself also change and evolve, going from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced. Do you aim to teach, always aim to learn, or a bit of both. The most effective schools and instructors are always the ones who continue to learn. Learn from those above them, learn from different styles and learn from their students in order to progress both themselves and their students.

Martial arts are an individual pursuit and a certain level of selfishness is probably required. We want to do the best for ourselves, especially in the early days, we want to progress and get good at whatever art we have chosen. As we progress however, our focus may turn to those less experienced, getting their skill level up and therefore improving your skills as an instructor. Martial arts are often quoted as saying we develop self discipline, respect and selflessness, yet do many of us actually practice these in real life? Fellow blogger Andrea Harkins who runs The Martial Arts Woman recently posted about the criticism she received at the start of her blogging, and I have to say I had the same from those involved in the martial arts. High ranking instructors saying I was too inexperienced/young to be writing about martial arts which I think is ridiculous, as well as some bloggers who were willing to help in the beginning, yet quick to criticise and publicly slate The Martial View once it started building a bit of momentum. These same people who advertise teaching respect, self-discipline and selflessness on their school advertising. It’s a shame there are not more who actually practice this in real life, not just using empty words. Recently Martial Arts Guardian Russell Jarmesty who runs Jarmesty Martial Arts Academy in Atherton Manchester posted a facebook post offering 1 year membership to his academy, fully sponsored, only conditions being you must be committed and must be out of work or in education. It’s selfless acts like this that actually improve the community as a whole which is what martial arts should be about. My motivation is to one day have my own full time school and be in a position to earn a living from the martial arts, while also giving back to the community as often as I can. How realistic this is we shall see but we can all dream and passion=success in my book.

What is your motivation for training? How far along are you in your training? Do you instruct? Simply learn? Or want to make martial arts your life? Motivation is important and previous posts have focused on setting goals both in fitness and in life in general. What are your goals?

Review! Matt Chapman’s Mittmaster!

banner logo1 Review! Matt Chapmans Mittmaster!

Review! Matt Chapman’s Mittmaster!

So I’ve just finished watching and training in some of Matt Chapman’s Mittmaster series, looking at MMA, Trapping and Kickboxing and honestly… I’m well impressed! Matt has nearly 30 years of martial arts experience in a variety of styles including Kickboxing, Ninjitsu and Keysi Fighting Method and won a British MMA Welterweight Title in 2006. All this shows in the way he de-constructs and explains some pretty complicated pad work and the reasons behind it so that both pad feeder and the one hitting the pads is getting some great technical knowledge and progression!

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Matt’s idea with Mittmaster is to raise the standard of pad feeders around the world as pad feeding can be just as difficult a job as the guy hitting the pads. Good pad feeding takes coordination, memory, timing and great technique yourself and through these series of videos, Matt takes you right from beginner level pad feeding, all the way up to bad-ass pad feeding!

The MMA and Kickboxing level 1 videos are great, going in to enough detail to explain why the drills worked and how they look in a real MMA/Kickboxing scenario, without Matt just rambling on talking for the sake of talking! Fitness and instruction was also looked into such as games where the leg is caught on a leg kick, therefore drop down and give me a burpee! Matt explains a number of different ways of doing a technique and different options available such as the whizzer where a short range whizzer allows follow up strikes, a longer range one allows for the head kick and the whizzer driving the head down allows for takedowns and submissions, meaning the full range of options is outlined.

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The trapping video is equally as good with Matt breaking down relatively complex moves so they are easy to understand and develop, drawing on his real life experience on why he does things the way he does. Different angles are looked at and again, the technical knowledge is great, with Matt’s instructors including the JKD legend that is Bob Breen so you know he comes from a great pedigree of martial artists.

Basically guys! I recommend this product pretty highly. Matt really knows what he is talking about from a technical point of view, but he also has a great style of teaching that I know from experience and it’s translated through these videos. If you want to improve your fighting game as well as your pad feeding and technical knowledge I would definitely recommend these videos as well as the other stuff Matt has done such as his books on how to win your first MMA fight, or how to get more students at your dojo!

See more of MittMaster at http://mittmaster.com/

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Ego and the Martial Arts

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Ego and the Martial Arts

It can be argued that martial artists are egotistical and there’s plenty of examples where this is just the case. Think of other sports or hobbies such as football or basketball and we realise that these are team games. You succeed, the team succeeds, the team succeed, you succeed. This is not the case for martial arts however, and in many cases, martial arts are a completely solo journey where you focus on developing yourself and no-one else. Is this a bad thing? Potentially not, but it does beg the question as to whether professional, or high ranking martial artists aren’t just a little selfish and egotistical?

Let’s take a traditional art such as Aikido or Karate, the focus is on you. You develop yourself physically and mentally and compete in some instances to further your knowledge and skill. Martial arts are not a team sport, they do not rely on a team mindset or environment, they rely on you as an individual having the strength and determination to succeed and this in many ways can be a great thing – it can teach self sufficiency. Many draw their inspiration or energy from a team, feeding off the group dynamic and using that to achieve athletic performance or zone in on their task. Martial artists in many aspects don’t have this team environment. Sure you belong to a club, may have friends and family supporting you, but when you get up to fight, or compete, or grade, it’s you and only you in front of the judge or inside the cage. Only you can rely on you in martial arts. As said, this can be a great thing, but can it also lead to egotism? There are countless examples of egotistical instructors, teachers, sifus, grandmasters, shihans etc who think their style is the best style, or even worse, get their students believing what they teach is the one and only way and that no touch knockouts are a legitimate thing and something that can be achieved if enough time (and money) is invested.

There’s also plenty of fantastic high ranking instructors and teachers out there who give all their time to their students and are open and honest about their style, their limitations and other styles. Martial arts are what you make of it but the journey, especially at the start, is a very personal one in many instances. Is a certain level of egotism or narcissism okay in the martial arts – I think so! After all, it’s your training and your progression whether that be competitive martial arts, traditional martial arts or self defence training, either way its your development that comes first.

What does self defence mean to you?

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What does self defence mean to you?!

Self defence is a minefield. The Martial View website could easily be dedicated just to self defence as there is just so much to discuss, talk about and ponder! People have different ideas of self defence, some are based on their own personal experience, and some are based on what they’ve been told/taught. I think all self defence viewpoints are valid but there is often a misconception that martial arts = self defence, and in my opinion this simply isn’t the case. The frankly redundant argument about which style is best in a real life situation is prevalent in the martial arts world, with some arguing, for example, Karate is the best form of self defence, others Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, some Jeet Kune Do. For me martial arts are exactly that, martial arts, not self defence. They can overlap sometimes and knowing some form of combat art definitely isn’t going to hurt in a real life altercation, but isn’t the be all and end all of self defence. So I ask, what is self defence to you?

I’ve luckily had few experiences where I’ve had to use physical violence to end a confrontation, but it has happened, yet I still prefer to avoid a potential situation wherever possible and this to me is true self defence. If you’ve been in situations which could clearly have ended in a punch up, but managed to either spot the danger before it arose, or managed to talk your way out of it, to me, this is the best example of self defence. It shouldn’t be flashy or clever, it should be direct, straightforward and easy to grasp. I’ve heard arguments that the best form of self defence to learn is MMA and although I see where people are coming from in this argument I disagree. To be proficient in MMA, as with any contact sport, takes years. Self defence should be effective in a matter of hours. Sure you can learn to strike, kick, takedown etc, but do you have to learn MMA to do that? A few hours learning simple avoidance/awareness, de-escalation techniques and some simple physical skills that rely on gross motor skills such as palm strikes, elbows and slaps are way more effective in my opinion and aren’t particularly technical or difficult to grasp. Self defence should be as efficient and effective as possible.

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Flashy wrist locks, shoulder throws and arm bars simply won’t work in a real confrontation unless you are either very lucky or very skilled as adrenaline and an un-cooperative opponent will make even the simpliest of wrist locks very difficult to adminster in a situation where you are really likely to get hurt. Do they work on a drunk guy who’s a bit annoying and simply needs to be told to get lost. Yes, I’ve used them before and they’ve worked a treat. Will they work against someone barreling in really meaning to cause you some harm? Probably not. In this case, nasty as it sounds you have to meet violence with violence and do everything you can to get out the situation and so elbow strikes, palm strikes, biting, shredding and kicking are far more realistic.

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I love learning about self defence and want to learn all I can on it from as many people as I can, as so many people have different ideas of what it entails. To me personally it should be as simple and easy to retain as possible. You should know your legal rights in relation to self defence, and understand the physiological and psychological changes that will takes place during confrontation. Finally avoidance and awareness is of paramount importance and the foundation for self defence, above the physical techniques and strategies. So what are your thoughts?

NFPS LTD – Chat with Mark Dawes

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Chat with Mark Dawes

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:

  1.  They are probably not very confident and have low self-esteem, and
  2.  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.

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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:

  1.  Can you teach me something that I can use that is quick and easy to learn as well as being effective?
  2.  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?
  3.  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.

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Mark Dawes.

25 March 2015.

Do kicks have a place in self defence?

Do kicks have a place in self defence?

We think martial arts, we think kicking, punching, snapping and cracking! We think Bruce Lee literally kicking the crap out of multiple opponents, flying kicks and massive Ki-ai’s! We look at the Olympics and Taekwondo and see all sorts of wonderful kicks where legs get wrapped around people’s heads twice round in a split second. Basically kicks are awesome, impressive and a massive feature of the martial arts. What about self defence though? Do kicks have a place or will they land you in more trouble than their worth?

Me, personally, I’m not a massive fan of kicks. I’ve never used one in a real altercation but I can see their application if done right. I don’t use them as I’m no good at them basically. But what about the guys and girls who are good at them, the Taekwondo practitioners, the Karate experts, where do you guys stand on this?

Low level kicks up to about waist height I can see the advantage of. People normally won’t be expecting it, and a well timed outside leg kick to the knee or thigh can easily put someone out of action for quite a while. Look at some of the UFC guys leg’s after a fight, black, blue and difficult to put weight on. Waist kicks and front kicks, again I can see the practicalities of. The leg is longer than the arm and so is therefore great for getting a strike in early and creating distance, which as I’ve repeatedly said, I believe to be one of the main principles to take from martial arts and into self defence. Distance is everything and leg kicks can certainly keep the opponent at a distance if done correctly (even for me who’s the height of a borrower).

Effective use of leg kick here, low risk, high result

Any higher than the waist and I think we’re in danger territory. Kicks here are easier to telegraph, leave you off balance on one leg for longer and in general are just far riskier in my opinion. Even if I had studied head kicks and kicks above waist level for many years, I would still be reluctant to use one in real life as there are just too many what ifs? What if I don’t connect? What if I do connect? What if they grab my leg? Personally for me, I want both feet to be on the ground and planted as much as possible.

There’s also the practicalities. If you aren’t wearing shorts or loose training gear, as well as being properly warmed up, high kicks can be near impossible. Imagine attempting a high kick and not only missing but also pulling you leg muscle…not cool… If you’re a Justin Bieber wannabe and wear skinny jeans, its going to be difficult simply walking, let alone throwing a leg kick regardless of where it is. If you do wear skinny jeans though you may be deserving of a kick or two… 😛

So me personally, not a fan of leg kicks for self defence, but only because I’m no good at them, am as flexible as Jeremy Clarkson’s views on the Argentinians and see too much risk involved. Have people used leg kicks in real altercations? Have they worked? Have they gone horribly wrong?

The Silliness of Kids!

The Silliness of Kids – Children and Martial Arts

kids karate 250 The Silliness of Kids!

Sifu Declan Lestat is the founder and chief instructor at The Forge in Minneapolis, specializing in Jeet Kune Do and Lau Kuin Kung Fu. He is a student of world renowned JKD instructor, Sifu Lamar M Davis II and a proud member of the prestigious Five Thunder Chinese Martial Arts Association. His website can be found here at www.theforgeacademy.com Here he speaks about children and the martial arts…..

I spend a lot of time teaching children. In fact, my time is probably split 50/50 between children and adults at the moment. As much as I love teaching adults – there’s always something new to challenge me when training a fighter of police officer – I’ve always felt that, when it comes to martial training, we have a lot to learn from children.

I’ll explain.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken with an adult who, when they find out what I do for a living, shows great interest and enthusiasm for martial arts. More often than not, they’ve even trained in an art some years ago. Unfortunately, within minutes of their interest catching light, the flame quickly dims as real life dumps a bucket of water over their aspirations. I’ve heard it all, and you probably have as well:

101851210 The Silliness of Kids!

I’m too old to start all that Bruce Lee stuff now.

Where would I find the time?

I’d never be able to do that, I’ve got a dodgy hip (Back, knee, shoulder, whatever)

I haven’t got a clue where to begin, I’d look stupid!

I can’t afford it right now. Maybe after Christmas (Easter, holidays, etc)

I have asthma

I’ve got two left feet!

I’m too tall/short/fat/thin/female

The list goes on, and I’m sure you could add to it with reasons you’ve heard too. It’s not much different for existing students who hit a plateau, or are about to be challenged in a new and different way as they advance in grade. It’s important to note at this point, that these reasons aren’t always excuses. They’re often genuine beliefs and fears held by the grown up in question, so I’m not passing judgment on anyone who offers a line similar to one of those above. Just making an observation.

no excuses 300x300 The Silliness of Kids!

Now, compare this to children. Children are notoriously unreasonable, in my experience. Wonderfully unreasonable. Over the years, I’ve trained children of all ages who you would never expect to see in a martial arts class. And if they were grown ups, you probably wouldn’t.

I’ve trained kids with learning difficulties and physical disabilities (From the partially sighted to the asthmatic). I’ve trained kids who were overweight, and some who were skinny. Some were tall, some were shorter. I’ve taught kids with anger management issues, dyspraxia, various degrees of Aspergers syndrome, and diabetics. I’ve had burly junior rugby players sharing the mats with dainty girls who would have loved to have frills on their uniforms (I actually had that request!)… This list, too, goes on.

But whatever the challenge, the child has seen what we do as martial artists, and said to their parents “Gimme some of that!”. They just want to have fun and train. Their personal shortcomings don’t even enter into their decision making process. Like I said, they’re wonderfully unreasonable. Not to mention unrelentingly optimistic.

But of course, they’re just children and aren’t old enough to know better.

As we continue our journey in the martial arts – or if you’re thinking of starting your journey – I suggest we do our best to not know better. We may just surprise ourselves.