RELAUNCH!

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Okay everyone! So apologies for letting the blog slide a little as of late! Between running a full time martial arts school, getting in as much training as I can, training people up for instructors and getting the book Martial Masters Vol. 1 up and running at the beginning of the year, it’s been busy!

I am now back on track however and ready for a relaunch of the blog. However….

I need your help! What do you guys and girls want to see more of?

  • Videos
  • Interviews
  • Techniques
  • General blogging
  • Experiences running a martial arts school?

Let me know and I shall do my best to provide!

We are also expanding the team and looking for some writers! So if you feel you have a knack for writing and have some stuff to say on anything martial arts, fitness or training related. Get in touch through here, or through Facebook! We’ll get you up and running on a successful(ish) blog!!

Look out for the next post and a little relaunch coming very soon!

Martial Masters Volume 1

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

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

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

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

Check out our piece in Martial Arts Guardians soon!

 

 

Martial Masters Interview

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

Check out our interview below!

Simple Self Defence

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

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

It can come from nowhere

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

There’s no time limit for self defence

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

Violence moves

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

Bystanders aren’t always out of the firing line

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

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

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

Make sense?

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

5 things we love about Martial Arts

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

Training

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

Research

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

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

Therapy

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

Progression

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

The people

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

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

How to train harder in 5 easy steps

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

1) Improve your fitness levels

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

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2) Find a good training partner

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

3) Do your research

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

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4) Ask your instructor

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

5) Enjoy the journey

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

 

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!

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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Signs you’re doing martial arts right….

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Signs you’re doing martial arts right….

So originally I was going to write a blog post on signs you are, or are becoming a McDojo, the McDojo that never compete, never travel to other clubs, internally promote and have 10th Dan 10 year olds….but then someone made a great point that this has been done to death, and that bad schools dont care they’re bad schools, they just care about making money and churning out Grandmaster Shihan Sensei Ninja Turtle toddlers! So let’s focus on the positives, signs you’re doing it right, signs you’re teaching martial arts/self defence as they’re meant to be taught! In the future I’d love to travel round and see some of your guys schools, do some training with you and a little bio for the blog so let me know if you’d be interested!

5 – You yourself as an instructor develop

Self development in my eyes is key to running a great martial arts school. If you yourself are constantly developing and learning in order to get better in your field, I think you’re on to a winner. This keeps your students up to date with the latest, cements your place within the martial arts community and keeps you on your toes and not getting too complacent. I’m sure we can all agree that none of us will ever reach perfection in our chosen field and that martial arts are a lifelong pursuit! Keep developing!

4 – Competitions

For those that teach arts with a competitive edge, what better way to see how you and your students are doing than by letting them compete if they feel fit and ready? Martial arts are about practice and cooperation, but a great way of testing what you’re doing is with an uncooperative partner such as in a competitive arena. Even if you do an art that isn’t competitive such as Aikido, competitions can still exist between schools to up everyone’s game and to see how you compare to those around you.

3 – You get students with minimal advertising, pushing etc

The best advertisement is word of mouth, if you’re doing a great job with your school, people will hear about it both in the martial arts world and those looking to dip their toe in to it and try new things.

2 – You cross train and bring in visiting instructors

Martial arts are a community. We’ve discussed before the internal politics and general bitchiness that can surround the martial arts, but where you have people, politics will exist. Cross training ups your own game and knowledge, gives your students another angle on their training, and helps you build contacts within the community. The same goes for visiting instructors. A change of pace and instructor for a seminar or weekend can give your students a new outlook and new passion and drive as well as again, networking.

1 – Your students

Your students are probably the best test as to how you are doing. Are they buzzing at the end of every class? Do they get involved in discussions, go home and research, look at YouTube videos etc? Do they travel to seminars with other instructors? These are all great signs that you are really into what you are doing, and a good sign you’re doing the right thing! It’s true that a teacher’s ability is reflected in their students, and if you have a group of passionate, dedicated and skilled students, chances are you’re doing a great job! Pretty simple right?

Should the martial arts be more mainstream?

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Should the martial arts be more mainstream?

So in the sporting world we have the FIFAs, the PGAs, the NFLs, the mainstream, massively funded and massively fan based sports. The closest equivalent to this in the martial arts is arguably the UFC and I think its fair to say that MMA is getting bigger and bigger on a global scale, with more and more people becoming interested in both training and spectating mixed martial arts. Should the martial arts be more mainstream however? There are obviously plus and minuses for both sides of the argument and I think it’s an interesting debate topic.

Let’s imagine the martial arts were MASSIVE, I’m talking football, rugby etc massive. Football wouldn’t be the main option in schools for children, you wouldn’t go down to the local park to kick a football around, you’d go down to the local gym and kick a punchbag around. This sounds great yeah, the martial arts as a mainstream skill or sport? I agree it does, and I want martial arts to be a bigger thing within society for the discipline, fitness and confidence that they can instill in people, especially children, however if this were the case would it make the martial arts less special?

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Imagine there was a massive governing body for the martial arts, the FIFA of the martial arts world. Again, would this lead to more problems? I’ve discussed before the prevalence of politics in the martial arts (Here’s a past article) and how ego can often get in the way of the simple formula of fantastic people, fantastic training and fantastic development and progression. Get this right and I think you’re on to a winner in the martial arts. The emergence of a massive governing body for the martial arts will bring forth its own problems and as the old saying goes, where there’s people, there’s politics. How long before standards start slipping, people start falling out, and more and more McDojos pop up offering online course black belts and guaranteed success in self protection, all due to mainstreaming? Newsflash, there is no guarantee when it comes to self protection, and black belt requires hard work, dedication and sweat, not the watching of various online videos with the promise of black belt bad-assery at the end.

Even as martial arts are at the moment, there are enough egos needing to be massaged, falling’s out over trivial matters and frankly ridiculous and awful examples of self protection, that are not only misleading but frankly dangerous! Would martial arts becoming more mainstream improve or increase this? Is there any full proof way of ensuring quality and quantity in the martial arts?