The Defence Lab Virtual HQ!

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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.

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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.

www.defencelab.com/VirtualHQ

www.twitter.com/DefenceLabHQ

www.instagram.com/defencelab_hq

www.facebook.com/DefenceLabOfficial

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.

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Martial Masters Interview

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

Check out our interview below!

5 things we love about Martial Arts

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

Training

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

Research

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

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

Therapy

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

Progression

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

The people

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

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

A week to remember!

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Wow what a week it’s been! It’s been so good but all flown by in a blur! Firstly the Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer charity event in founder Lucci Del-Gaudio’s home town in Nottingham, then a BJJ masterclass by none other than the legend himself – Royce Gracie!!

Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer Nottingham

I’ll admit I was looking forward to this event for weeks. The Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer events have been around the country the past few months, raising money with awesome events with awesome martial artists, and this one was to be in Lucci’s home town of Nottingham so was extra special! If there was a who’s who of people I wanted to train with the UK, they were all at that event! The legendary Trevor Roberts was there teaching, the awesome and inspirational Eddie Quinn who I’ve been dying to meet for a while, the fantastically practical Russell Jarmesty and the awesome Sifu Peter Mogridge among many others! Defence Lab was there being represented by the talented Charles Hartnett and Mikey Wright, Anthony Pillage was there as ever showing his support and a wealth of knowledge and talent was all placed in a sports hall in Nottingham.

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Highlights? Eddie Quinn was top of the list for me, teaching an inspirational and fun seminar where he tried to condense 3 hours of info into 1 hour! We even got to play a game of Dodgeball and it was great to see a whole room full of well known martial artists dodge, duck, dip, dive and….dodge, then translate this into their striking! Russell Jarmesty was another one I was looking forward to meeting having chatted with him a few times online, over the phone and seen his stuff like his `Mean Streets` app, check the review here. He didn’t disappoint and did a great little section on practical jiu-jitsu he tested working on the doors.

What an awesome day!!

Royce Gracie Seminar

Wow, what can I say. It’s not everyday you get to train with legendary UFC winner Royce Gracie. Basically the guy that kicked off MMA and made Gracie Jiu-Jitsu the force to be reckoned with that it is today. The event was awesome, catching up with friends at Anthony Pillage’s fantastically well equipped academy in Coventry and learning some BJJ from the very best! We looked at takedowns, chokes, armbars and defences, giving a great overview with various levels attending from those in their BJJ gi’s and blue/purple belts, to others who had never done BJJ in their life. Energy, awesome, instructor, awesome, facilities, awesome, overall….awesome!

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It’s going to be a great few months of martial arts, from awards dinners (nominated for an MAI Hall of Fame), to trips abroad, to trips around the UK seeing friends and learning more!

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1st November we have our next Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer event in my home town of Lincoln! We have 10 awesome instructors lined up that I had a hand in picking and a great mix of styles! All done in the great Function First Academy! Be there people!

MASCWC A week to remember!

Close Quarter Combat Craziness with Defence Lab!

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Close Quarter Combat Craziness with Defence Lab!

Endorsed by Liam Neeson, used in films such as Jack Reacher and Batman Begins and hailed by many top martial artists as the future, Andy Norman’s Defence Lab is taking the world by storm and for good reason as I’ve recently been finding out. Anyone who follows The Martial View on Facebook knows that I fairly regularly post videos and articles sent out by the Defence Lab team. I do this for a number of reasons; I think the material is fantastic, both in terms of the content as well as the production and I think Defence Lab is paving the way for professional martial arts in terms of business, content and image. Last Saturday I attended the Defence Lab `Defence in Action` workshop in Andy Norman’s home town Hull, held by Paul `Demolition Man` Strauther which focussed on close quarter combat craziness and my verdict? Absolutely mind blowing…

What makes the workshop and classes I’ve been attending recently so incredible? The techniques?The instruction?The application? Yes, all of the above, but it’s also more than that, it’s the family atmosphere Defence Lab have managed to create which I’ve seen lacking in some schools. Having trained at both the Nottingham school under Charles Hartnett and also the workshop under Paul, from the moment I arrived at the venues I was welcomed by the team and the students who took the time to ask how I was, see my background and generally have a chat. It’s a great thing seeing a room full of people decked out in the Defence Lab black and green, laughing and joking but also learning an incredibly practical, dynamic combat system developed from real life situations. Everything that was taught in the classes and the workshop was practical and had an application with a special focus on Defence Lab’s speciality, multiple assailants. Techniques were shown and explained by Paul then put into a real life context through drills such as the `Temple of Chaos` which includes working and escaping from a multiple attack situation.

The pure practicality of Defence Lab, combined with the image, branding, endorsements and family feel truly is making Defence Lab the future in martial arts in my opinion. With Andy Norman’s Defence Lab being cross-branded with Phil Norman’s `Ghost` system and Bob Breen’s `4D Combat` as well as Eddie Quinn’s `The Approach`, these all combine to form one hell of a lot of martial experience. This also shows a refreshingly collaborative approach in the world of martial arts where many bicker over whose style is best and Defence Lab has the feel of people just wanting to make friends, train in a great environment and learn an incredibly practical form of self-defence. With Defence Lab schools now active around the world, there has never been a better time to join the Defence Lab team and I would highly recommend experiencing training with them both from a martial arts perspective as well as being a part of something that is taking the world by storm and revolutionising the martial arts forever.

 

Bob Breen Interview Part 3!

Bob Breen Interview Part 3!

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!

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Lets 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!

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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.

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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.

Bob Breen Interview Part 2!!

Bob Breen Interview Part 2!

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 :).

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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!

Youre 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 its 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!

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Bob Breen Interview Part 1!

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Bob Breen Interview Part 1

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.

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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!

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Unity in the Martial Arts

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Unity in the Martial Arts

I wrote a post a few days back on the politics that seem to surround the Martial Arts. A lot of the feedback and discussions as a result of the article seem to say that where people are involved, politics will be involved. I completely accept this, but still think that politics seems to be particularly prevalent within the martial arts. So in the immortal words of Martin Luther King “I have a dream”! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and it’s something that could become a reality in 2015 if all goes to plan, but I have a vision of a massive martial arts event, all styles welcome, all backgrounds welcome. The only condition to entry is that you are open minded, willing to learn and respectful of the martial arts on offer. These martial arts could be traditional, say Aikido, Taekwondo or Judo, could be Reality Based such as Defence Lab or Krav Maga, or sports based such as the GHOST system developed by Phil Norman (look out for an interview with him being posted in the next couple of days)! All combat arts would be on offer, instructors would become students of other instructors and learn a bit of their style before teaching their own to both students and other instructors. In short everyone, whether you’re a white belt or a black belt, would learn together.

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It would be ego free, politics free and massive for the martial arts community. Sure seminars exist at the moment, you get some massive names doing tours all over the world. But how often do people from other styles go to those seminars? If there’s a Judo seminar with a massive international name, do many non-Judo guys go? I think not, even though as I’ve already theorised before, all martial arts come down to the same thing in the end so we can learn something from everyone regardless of rank, years spent doing martial arts, or style you train in!

This is my dream for the future! A politics free seminar, big names in martial arts, all styles working together to enhance learning, build networks and increase exposure for the martial arts. What do you guys think? Good idea in theory but never possible in practice? We shall see! Watch this space!!