The Defence Lab Virtual HQ!


It’s no surprise that as Lead Instructor for Defence Lab Lincoln, I’m a pretty big fan of Defence Lab. I like the style, I like the evolution and I like founder Andy Norman’s motto of “work hard, be nice and be honest”. As a result of this I was pretty excited when I heard Defence Lab would soon be releasing their Virtual HQ! Well, that time has now arrived and on Tuesday 18th October, the Virtual HQ will be going live!

What is the Defence Lab Virtual HQ?

Simply put, the Virtual HQ is an online training resource and introduction to Defence Lab from Andy and the crew. The HQ is broken down into various folders and sections including weekly investigations, architectural framework and primal reactions. All of these areas are shown and explained by Andy and his elite team. New videos are added every week, giving you time to rep and drill the previous week’s material and giving you an overall feel and sense of the professional, yet effective system of Defence Lab.

Who is it for?

Honestly – The Virtual HQ is for anyone with even a passing interest in martial arts, self defence or fitness training. No matter what style or background you come from, there is something here for you. The beauty of Defence Lab is that is never stops. It is constantly developing and evolving with the times. 1 on 1, Defence Lab cover it. Multiple attackers? Covered. Sticks, knives, bats? Covered! You name it, Defence Lab cover it and this is why the Virtual HQ is going to be such a fantastic and ever developing resource for the martial arts and wider community.

What makes it different?

Defence Lab are not the first to release online videos or courses, yet they are the first to do it in such a professional and well developed manner. The videos are shot in high definition and thorough explanations are given by Andy as to why Defence Lab do what they do. Andy provokes you into thinking for yourself, questioning the system and therefore opening your mind to new information – something that martial artists are not always too willing to do! The overall look, feel and content of the Virtual HQ is something I have never seen before in terms of professionalism, content and general style and this really will be something that will revolutionise the martial arts world and make people stand up and take notice.


When is it available?

The Virtual HQ from Defence Lab will be going live on Tuesday 18th October and Defence Lab have already started releasing sneak peaks and teasers through their social media channels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To register your interest in Defence Lab’s Virtual HQ, please head over to their main site to keep up to date with the latest information and follow them on social media at the links below.

The Virtual HQ is going to be something very special and you do not want to miss out. I cannot put into words how awesome the Virtual HQ is in terms of look, feel and content and this is a must have resource for anyone interested in martial arts or personal safety. So go ahead, follow Defence Lab and sign up for more info on the resource centre that will revolutionise Martial Arts.


Interview with self defence expert Matt Frost Part 3


Interview with self defence expert Matt Frost, Part 3

This is the 3rd and final part of the interview conducted with head coach at Function First Lincoln, KFM Top Team Member, and developer of the Combat Resource Centre, Matt Frost. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 here. Links to the Combat Resource Centre can be found here. Enjoy! 😀

A big thing about self-defence nowadays is the legal aspect. KFM has been criticised for being quite smash and dash which sometimes wouldn’t be classed as self-defence. Has Renegade Street Tactics built on this in a legal aspect?

It certainly has, the programme has threat levels from stage 1-3. I was talking to Tony about this the other day and maybe you have experienced this where you train and the instructor says, “The guy comes up to you, postures at you and points a finger. You break it off, headbutt him”. And you’re going Woah!!! He’s just pointed at you and you’ve broken his finger and headbutted him! Not just in a legal sense this is wrong but also as a decent human being! Anyone can escalate the situation and there’s not going back from that. Is that the outcome we want? We have our three basic threat levels, there’s posturing and peacocking, then pushing and shoving to a full blown attack. Now obviously if you get blindsided, it goes to threat level 3 and do what you need to do to get out, that’s where KFM is great and you just survive. But the other elements were missing, and it doesn’t fit in with the family, community aspect! Teaching kids head stomps doesn’t really go with my philosophy of family community and development! It’s about redirecting the threat if possible, but if you can’t you go to the next level of force. Today with CCTV camera’s etc., you can’t just grab someone, head-butt them and stamp on them, you’re off to Prison. I’ve been to seminars where this has been taught. We teach stomps but from a defence, learning how to defend against it, not as an attack. We do not teach you how to go to prison but the opposite. It’s not acceptable martial arts behaviour. There’s also a lot of bravado and macho talk in the martial arts which can lead to delusion in people which is dangerous. I’ve had to use violence on people and it was one of the most shocking things I’ve ever done. I went home and broke down. I used violence and kept it to a level that was reasonable, but I didn’t expect the way it would affect me after it had happened. I went home and burst into tears at the thought of doing that to someone, I wasn’t prepared for. I’ve been shot at and beaten up, but this really affected me. It’s great in theory, smash them and get out, but it’s not that simple, and it’s not something people talk about or consider really.


So finally, what’s the future for you, Function First and Renegade Street Tactics?

2015 will see the launch of the new satellite schools and coaching courses with great business backup for us so we can replicate what we have done here in Lincoln and in Louth.

This is not your average franchise, its an exclusive opportunity and model for those who are prepared to put in the work. We are limiting it to maybe 6 new school owners each year, this is quality not quantity.

It’s a little Utopian but why the hell would anyone settle for less eh? To build full time professional schools, and raise the level of martial arts in the UK is a massive goal. Martial arts are still in the past in terms of pricing structure and the way it’s perceived. There’s nothing wrong with church halls etc. that’s where we came from but, people don’t value it as much, it has a stigma. Modern fully equipped full time academies are what your students are paying for so they get the best of everything. We should be on the same playing field as a professional business which is what we’re trying to do here. Build coaches and savvy business people, deliver honest products and keep it really high level martial artists and schools, not the watered down Mcdojo model as you mentioned before.


Function First full time professional academies throughout the UK?

That’s the vision. The martial arts changed my life, saved my life, it’s done that for a lot of people, I’m sure it’s changed yours. I believe that’s what I’m here to do now. To transmit that knowledge and grow it more from a place of experience. I think that can be achieved through the people we have here and it’s an exciting time! I just love the martial arts and want to continue growing as much as I can. I’ve just competed in my first BJJ competition and look forward to progressing more and more in that for a new challenge and something to learn. I’m 45 now, MMA is great but I’m not too keen on a shin in the teeth or a punch in the face with a 4oz glove anymore, I know im getting soft! I love the sparring but it’s much lighter now. All martial arts have something to offer and I want to learn as much as I can from all of them! As long as I, my coaches and students keep progressing I’m happy!

Matt with BJJ Legend Jon Will

Matt with BJJ Legend Jon Will


Interview with Self Defence Expert Matt Frost Part 1


Matt’s life and journey in the martial arts and self defence is certainly an interesting one. Starting martial arts at the relatively late age of 30, he was looking for martial arts training that coincided with his previous and sometimes violent experiences. He found that training in Keysi Fighting Method, learning from both Justo Dieguez and Andy Norman, both world renowned experts in realistic self defence training and progressing on to become a Top Team Member and coach for Keysi Fighting Method. Now head coach at Function First Lincoln and published author, Matt is developing his own style of martial arts and training through his Renegade Street Tactics Programme, and his teaming up with Tony Davis from Total Dojo Milton Keynes to develop the Combat Resource Centre. In this series of interviews, Matt talks about his personal experiences of extreme violence, his time training in Keysi Fighting Method and how martial arts changed his life forever as well as his development of satellite schools and coaching courses running for the public next year. Keep reading for part 1 of the interview and please continue to like, share, and support the site 🙂

Q. Hey Matt, thanks for taking the time for the interview, really appreciate it! Shall we start with how you got involved in the martial arts and self defence to begin with?

Same as a lot of people I believe, for building confidence. I’d gone through some real bad experiences and tried different therapies, sunk into depression, nothing was working for me, DR’s were trying to put me on drugs like anti-depressants and I just wasn’t interested in anything like that. I’d tried all sorts, hypnotherapists etc. and I just wasn’t in a good place. I remember walking past a church hall in Horncastle and there was a sign on the door saying Kickboxing, build confidence, so I thought I’ll try that. Next day I went in, tried it, loved it and that was the start of it. I just loved it from the first class and never looked back. I started quite late, I was 30 so quite a late starter. I did kickboxing for about 4 years and there was a crossover with other martial arts systems. I was looking at other stuff. I got to a place in that particular club where I was sparring heavily with all the black belts, but at a low level, I was just up for it and loved it, holding my own with the higher level guys. I then started reading about and starting other martial arts, and the world opened up to me, realising there was so much more out there than I realised, I thought it was just kickboxing or karate! I was reading stuff in Martial Arts Illustrated about centreline angles of attack and Dim Mak pressure points, so started investigating. I did some traditional Jiu-Jitsu, and some Kempo and a few pressure point seminars and just experimented with different things. I got my confidence and fitness levels up, but my skill level wasn’t very great, and I realised I wasn’t going to get that where I was training, no offence to them but the skill level I wanted I wasn’t going to get there. I started looking for other stuff. I wanted stuff that answered the questions in relation to the experiences I’d suffered, why I had the mental breakdown and depression and why I started looking for help to build confidence. Those questions weren’t being answered in the classes that claimed to teach self-defence and realistic this and that. That’s when the journey for the truth started. I felt good and got my confidence, but thought actually this doesn’t make sense and it isn’t what I’m looking for. That’s when my journey for realistic self-defence started and that’s when I found Andy Norman in Hull, and that was a big turning point in my life.

MAtt Frost interview.indd

Q. Did you then travel to see Andy and learn self defence from him?

Yeah. Well at that point, I’d tried a few other things, and sort of gave up and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t working out. I thought maybe martial arts were just for the movies and choreographed, and I wasn’t finding the answers that related to my experiences. The people that were talking weren’t really talking from a place which I knew was truth and I was thinking, this isn’t how things happen in real life from my experience, so I sort of gave up on it. I remember I lived in a vehicle at the time, I was a traveller and got all my old martial arts illustrated pile out, and I just scattered them across the floor, I was reading and reading articles and certain names kept popping up such as Andy Norman’s. I saw he was being spoken about by other people, so it wasn’t self-promotion, so rather than looking for an advert I was looking for who was talking about who and Andy’s name kept popping up.

Hull was the nearest place for me. I’d never heard of it, it said it was JKD and KFM, I didn’t know what that was really, I’d read a little bit, but went and tried it out. They wouldn’t let me train more than twice a week to start with. I remember walking in absolutely terrified. Everyone was all in black uniform, all bald heads, tattoos, really intimidating, and I was really nervous. I now appreciate people walking into function first now, gives me a different perspective. I went and trained twice a week until 3 months had gone by then I could train more and step it up to 5 nights a week and by that point I was on the instructor course as I just wanted more information. At that point, I still didn’t really know what I was training. I didn’t know if it was rubbish, crap, amazing. I didn’t make my mind up straight away; it needs to resonate in certain ways with me. To begin with I just really enjoyed it which was enough, then I made a decision based upon my experiences to stick with it.

Then one day, about 4 months in, Andy Norman starting speaking about violence and the predatory instinct, redefining predator and prey and the way he spoke I knew it was real. He understood violence and that’s what I wanted to understand and learn. I wanted to understand the self-defence better, but it became crystal clear I wanted to understand violence and violent people. All the old sayings of know your enemy and keep them close came to mind and the penny dropped and I felt that was what I needed to understand as I was so scared of violence. The thought of violence used to terrify me to the point of sickness, and that was it and I just went “that’s it! It’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life” and that was the start of my journey into Keysi.

MAtt Frost interview.indd

Q. You’ve said about the bad experiences you had. Presumably this was pre any self defence training. Are you OK to talk about some of them?

Yeah that’s fine. I left school at a young age and met my girlfriend who I got a flat with on the high street in Lincoln. You know me Dan, I have a look and a style and always have. When I was 16-17 it was a 2ft Mohican and leather jackets with studs. I’ve always been a peaceful person, never into violence, and I still am, I just want to understand violence. That look didn’t go down too well in Lincoln in the early 80’s and I used to get attacked quite a lot even in broad daylight, like a Saturday afternoon, I’d get quite a bad kicking and sometimes wake up in the hospital. One time I got quite a serious kicking and ended up with some memory loss, found my way home, people thought I was drunk; I just have flashbacks from it but not a lot. I ended up going to A&E and stayed there a few days with memory loss and a nervous disorder after that from it. It was all just based on my appearance. It then escalated more so to distance myself from society further bought a bus and went travelling when I was 18!


I stepped out of society’s norm, not only did I look like this punk people were threatened by but now I was travelling round in a giant pink 40ft bus. Again, people didn’t like this, and this caused aggression. We had people unloading shotguns into the side of the bus while I was asleep at night and bricks through the window and we’d get attacked a lot. We moved abroad it then escalated in Spain where there was a big knife culture in Seville. We were attacked by a gang there. A guy ran up to me and friend, screamed in my face while he stabbed my friend in the stomach several times. I bundled my girlfriend to the floor then into a car and then went back picked a fire extinguisher up and fought with these people with knives. We saw the CCTV in the police station later on and these guys were passing the knife around, deciding who was going to be the one to stab us like it was a game. These were some serious wakeup calls. In Seville while we were there, I don’t know if it’s still like this but it was like anarchists, punks, Nazi’s and fragmented groups in the early 90’s. Masked gangs would shout at us “Viva Española” and beat us up, chasing us into bars where we had to fight to protect ourselves, using beer barrels as protection. In the end I was like, let’s get out, it’s not working, Seville’s not nice, I wanna get out! We went to Portugal and parked in the mountains. We were there about a week and there was a knock on the door. My girlfriend answered the door, and then closed it again. I asked what was going on and she said the guy that walks the goats just knocked on the door and just smiled at me. There was then another knock on the door, I answered and the same guy was there putting a gun to my head. I’ve been in various situations with guns before. Not to take it lightly but I knew it was all a bit of show for most people from body language. This one though, I knew it was real and he was going to kill me…..






Keysi Training with Justo Dieguez


Keysi with Justo Dieguez

Keysi is incredible, its as simple as that. My experience of Keysi before training with the founder, Justo Dieguez was relatively little and so I was eager to learn all I could in the two hour seminar hosted by Keysi Lincoln. Keysi is a martial arts method developed in the 1980s through life experience and study. It aims to develop personal defence through instinct and personal growth and has now grown international recognition as an effective form of self defence, as well as through its use in Hollywood movies such as Batman, Jack Reacher and Mission Impossible III.

The seminar focused on principles such as trapping, and before long we were working in groups practising the Pensador or Thinking Man technique that is synonymous with Keysi, followed by strikes such as elbows and hammerfists that are again, part and parcel to the Keysi way. Throughout the training, we were encouraged to think about what was happening around us, not just focusing on our partner and the technique, but also thinking who was around us and what was going on. If someone’s back was turned while training, we were to tap it and that person then had to complete two press-ups. Before long the press-ups mounted up in to the hundreds! As Justo explained, that tap on the back where you were not aware of the people around you could quite easily be a knife in a real situation and that split second where concentration and awareness is lost could cost you your life.

“Training is training, the situation is the situation. You have to separate training from reality. In training, you miss what happens around you, you don’t hear, you don’t see anything, and you don’t move your body the way it needs to be moved. 90% of the people in the gyms go for sweat and feel happy but they don’t learn anything. In Keysi, the intention is to enter into the situation, with the physical, mental and emotional all coming together.”


The class ended with some two on one drills that again got us thinking about what was happening around us, hoping to develop a 360 degree awareness that is necessary for self protection, especially when there is more than one assailant. As Justo says:

“I don’t sell security, that is impossible. I sell the fact that we are vulnerable, I don’t have a magic formula for anyone, its attitude and training that matters.”


I found the seminar incredible, the techniques Justo demonstrated were simple enough to be effective, and Justo explained the principles of Keysi with a mixture of real life examples, valuable insights and humour, taking complex ideas and simplifying them for us. Keysi is seen by many as one of the most effective forms of self defence available today, yet Justo acknowledges that no system is perfect and that he does not have all the answers.

“The important thing about Keysi is who you are – your value. Through training you feel better and learn more about the street, but we can’t sell security. We sell good training and development to understand and recognise situations. In a real situation, in one moment you need to have the answer. If you’re thinking about how many techniques you know, you die, if you think about what you are going to do, you die, what do you do?

One time in Spain on TV, a guy showed a knife defence technique from the throat, playing to the camera. When the knife is put against the throat, the guy says show the camera you are scared. You really have to show that?! Of course its a scary situation. Then he says when this happens you catch the arm and the knife and apply this technique. Not possible. If someone put a knife against my throat from behind, guaranteed I would shit my pants. It’s ok to train like this, but don’t believe you can do it in real life. The attacker is angry, crazy, maybe on drugs and you try to disarm the knife? It’s impossible. How these people have the bollocks to stand in front of the camera and say in 10 minutes I will show you how to defend against a knife attack I don’t know. These people need to go to jail, they are selling lies. Maybe you believe it, and then if you ever try it, you are dead.”

Keysi is by far one of the most developed and intelligent forms of self protection around today. The seminar taught by Justo was incredible and thought provoking and it will be interesting to see Keysi develop further in the future, reaching wider audiences and spreading it’s message of self development and self protection.