Many years ago I was asked what the most effective training environment for self-defence could be.

I  answered them in seconds: “the set of Coronation Street”.

For our global readers, Coronation Street is a long-running British drama/ soap opera set in an urban Manchester street.

The person asking me the question was an expert in firearms, and he looked puzzled. Then I told him;

“The set (which I have stood on) has everything; there is a street, alleyways, shop fronts, houses, a pub/ bar, a kebab house and even a restaurant. Pretty much every type of environment where a person could be attacked. ”

While I might have been speaking slightly ‘tongue in cheek’ the sentiment still exists. A gym or a hall is the world’s worst environment for realistic self-defence training. However, it is the most accessible.

If you have ever trained with the founder of Defence Lab Andy Norman, you will know that he encourages outdoor training, nightclub training and also even turns off the lights in a hall, while playing club music.

He encourages the training environment to be real and for good reason. The environment changes things!

Unless you have used self-defence in a variety of situations, it’s hard to know what issues you will face that are caused by the environment.

In this article, we are going to tell you seven environmental factors you must know about and consider.


1. Kerbs


Have you ever been tripped over by someone?

It is a real pain in the ass but can be quite amusing.

Now imagine you are fighting for your life, and you get tripped over, not so funny.

Yet this is just one of the hazards that street kerbs present. We forget they’re there, but these short and little-raised blocks of concrete can deck you quicker than a right-hand punch.


2. Inclines Make A Difference


It was Star Wars Episode 3 where Obi-wan was fighting Anakin Skywalker, and he told him to give up because he had ‘ the high ground’.

Well, this is an excellent point that people never consider, inclines.

Stairs and even the pavement can give people opportunities to hurt you, both the one standing higher and the one lower.

So to fix this use the ‘eye line test’. Take a look at where their eye line is looking at and see how vulnerable you are.

Many years ago I watched a doorman standing on steps, and he had refused a person entry and sent them on their way. What the doorman didn’t consider was that the steps put his knees and legs in easy range.

So the angry man just grabbed the legs of the doorman and pulled them from under him, what followed was a punch!

The high ground does not automatically mean a tactical advantage, it all depends on the environment, but consider it!


3. Kebab Shop Floors


Ok if you know me, then you will know that I love a good kebab at the end of a night out. I have also been ‘hands on’ with people inside Kebab houses and let me say this. They are the worst places you can scrap in.

The floor of almost every kebab house is either tiled or some other ‘easy clean’ flooring. The reason is that after a few hours the floor is a mix of donner kebab, mayonnaise, ketchup and chips.

Great for skating, bad for fighting.

Ninja tip: if you are having issues in a kebab shop that might go ‘live’ tell the person you can’t hear them and ask them to come outside. This will give you a better chance to de-escalate the situation as fewer people will be watching. It also reduces third party involvement and reduces the slipping if things go wrong.


4. Avoid The Kitchen


House parties are far more widespread now than ever before.

Cheap alcohol, music on demand and convenience has made the house party an excellent choice for entertainment. However, every house party has an arsenal of weapons in the kitchen.

So if you are having a disagreement with a person, or you are a cop attending an incident keep out of the kitchen.


5. Nightclub/ Pub Toilets


After a few beers, you lose a lot of your awareness skills, and you often have no idea who you may have annoyed by your best attempts at ‘skipping the light fandango’ on the dancefloor. Not to mention if you have any enemies out there.

Many a ‘bad person’ will wait for you to go to the toilet before trying to hurt you. After all, there is no CCTV inside, and while you are face to the wall, you are vulnerable.

Now there is no fixed solution but a tip is to use a cubicle. For our female readers this is a given but another tip for everyone is to go to the toilet with a friend, there is always increased safety in numbers.

And yes I have had to fight inside a nightclub toilet, very messy, and I wouldn’t recommend it!


6. Cars


Road rage is a fact of life; I had a friend once that was mild mannered and quiet until he got behind a wheel and turned into a foul-mouthed maniac.

The issue is, just because you are in your car, and swearing at someone does not make you immune to repercussions

Now the thing is, when you are behind the wheel you are pretty vulnerable to someone opening the car door and hitting you.

Think about it, seatbelt on, steering wheel in your way. You are pretty trapped, and the same applies with carjackings.

Solution: Keep your doors locked at all times, be careful who you swear at and why! Now if you should choose to take action then get that seat belt off and remember the door is a weapon (if you time it right).


7. Doorways


The last challenging environment to start going hands on with another human is a doorway.

Now I am not talking about nightclub doors; I actually mean an average door.

Police officers, debt collectors, postmen, delivery men and just plain old you and I meet people in doorways. Over the years I have seen doors literally slammed in faces, fingers trapped and even ‘booby’ traps laid in doorways.

If you think about it, they are pretty substantive structures that are designed to keep people out. So here are a few things to consider.

a) be careful about putting a ‘foot’ in the door.’

b) watch where your hands are on the hinge side (trapped fingers)

c) a door is just like the iceberg quote where you can only see a small part. You have no idea what or who is actually in the address.

Legality aside, if you are in a doorway, and things go wrong you do not want to be in that doorway for long. Be one side or the other but not actually in the middle.



We might learn our skills inside a dojo, but we apply them in a range of environments. Just by spending a short amount of mental effort thinking about these environments you can are better prepared for the future.

Thanks for reading.


It is happening. Things just got real, and now you are in the fight of your life.

All those hours spent training have lead you to this point, and then it dawns on you.

This is real, and if you lose you could be seriously hurt or killed.

Just as you are thinking this, you take a punch straight in your face.

You have never been hit by someone before with a bare knuckle,  even in training you wore gloves. Now a fist had just impacted onto your nose, and you felt it break.

You start to feel blood dripping down your face.

Then you realise what is happening.


In this article, we will tell you how to spot the five signs you are losing a fight and what to do about it.


1. You Got Hit By 3 Punches

Sounds simple, but trust me it happens in a split second.

If you take 3 or 4 punches and are unable to respond, you are going to lose. This is not boxing. In real self-defence situations, there is a tempo, a kind of flow.

I have seen it time and time again, once the person breaks through with more than 2 punches, it is usually the beginning of the end.

So how do you fix this?

Use body mechanics, headcovers (shapes as we call them), body movement and of course footwork.


2. Your Legs Wobbled After A Punch

If you have never been hit hard, then this sensation might be unfamiliar.

If you get hit hard enough, you will get ‘wobbled.’ It is an odd feeling, but your legs turn to jelly.

If this has happened to you, then you need to act fast because you are at your most vulnerable. Your footwork and body movement will be out of the window, and you are easy to push to the floor.

So what should you do?

Take a leaf out of the book of a boxer and clinch.

There is no other solution at the time. You need to get behind them and grab them.

It will take just a few seconds to clear your head, and then you can get back into the fight


3. You Have Been Knocked Down

Boom!!! You took a heavy shot and now you’re down.

You are dazed, and you hit the deck hard! It feels as if a bomb went off as the noise is muffled and the world seems distant.

This is one of those moments that you never saw coming in training but it is here and what are you going to do next?

The answer is cover up!

Let me be clear, now is not the time for trying to jump to your feet. This is how you will get knocked out. Instead, you need to cover, regroup and potentially re-asses before you make another move.

I know people say ‘get up fast’ however just think about it. You have been knocked down by a heavy hitter. You are dazed, in shock and you are hurt.

It makes no sense to jump up and try and  ‘duke’ it out when you just got pole axed.

This is the time when the versatility of your skill base comes into play. How you have trained to get up off the floor, what level of the ground game you have and if you can protect yourself against a standing opponent.

However, you also cannot linger. You need to move fast but only when you have recovered slightly. Spot your opportunity (inline with your training) and get back up.


4. You Just Want ‘Out.’

I cannot tell you enough that how you react in your mind in a self-defence situation will dictate how well you do.

If you are thinking to yourself ‘please let this be over’ you are going to lose.

This is a victim mentality.

Instead, turn yourself from prey into a predator.  Do not think about what you want. You need to get back into the moment and do something.

Sure, no one wants to have to fight for their life, but here you are. So grit those teeth and if they hit you hard, hit them back harder.

Refuse to lose!


5. You Know You Are Losing

This is a tough one to swallow but in a fight for your life, you may realise in a few seconds that you have lost.

Let me explain.

Over the years I have seen a lot of incidents where one person was very aggressive verbally and keen to fight and the other less so.

Then after a few punches, the aggressive one backs down and wants to stop and then looks for the other person to stop.What happened? Well, the aggressive one knows he was outgunned and thought ‘ I need to stop this before I get hurt’.

I have seen this in normal violent encounters also when a person turns and looks to the floor and puts their hands out in a submissive manner.

It resembles a wolf lowering himself to the new pack leader.

If you are still struggling to picture this, think about someone putting a water hose on and spraying you. The same turn you use to avoid the water is the same you use in fights (when you know you have been beaten).

Sometimes people are just stronger, hit harder or are more skilled. At this point, all the internet bravado in the world won’t prepare you for that sensation.

It is the feeling of impending doom. The feeling that you just can’t win and you hope they don’t hurt you too much.

So what is the solution?

You need to do something completely different.

This could be running away, doing a takedown, grabbing a weapon. Whatever you can do you need to do it.

Take epic high-level action to change things. Sure you are losing, and you know it, so you need a new plan. What you are doing is not working and WILL NOT WORK!

Sure, it might work against another person, but right here, right now this is not happening the way you want.

You need to do something very different because if you carry on this path, you will get hurt!



We all train with the belief that should we have to use our skills in real life they will work, and we will be safe. Experience tells me that is not always the case.

However, you need to plan for the occasions where things do not go your way and figure out how you can change those situations to get you back on track.

Remember there are no referees in real life.

Thanks for reading


When I look at the world of self defence training I see two issues.

  1. The vast majority of people are stuck in the early 90’s
  2. The vast majority of people are teaching for the types of attacks that took place in the early 90’s


Like it or not the world has moved on and in today’s article we will tell you about 5 important self defence issues that you may not know about.

The thing is, you need to look around and see the changes going on in the world and think ‘how is this going to change my training?’

Hopefully after reading this you may start to have a few ideas of what you can do.

Ready? Let’s do this:


1. Cocaethylene


The above word is terrible to say but even tougher to deal with.

So what is it? Well, Cocaethylene is the substance that your body creates when you mix cocaine with alcohol and the substance is formed in the liver.

What does it do?

The substance encourages a ‘more is better’ approach to drinking and allows the user to drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

How does this affect you?

The nature of alcohol and drinking a lot of it means that people end up getting into issues, either health-wise or due to actions.

However from personal experience, I have witnessed people under the effects of Cocaethylene, and they have been extremely violent. People with zero previous convictions have assaulted police officers for no reason.

For you this could mean that you face an aggressive individual who has high pain threshold and if they are a group affected by Cocaethylene you might find yourself having serious issues.


2. Steroid Use Has Increased over 600%


We have all seen the pressure on young men to look ‘great’ and in an age of Instagram and ‘if you haven’t got a six pack then you are not normal.’

However behind that has seen a 600% increase in steroid abuse but just one visit to a local gym will tell you that, the numbers just reinforce what you already know.

So why should this matter to you?

Well, steroid abuse causes aggression, and when you start to mix aggression with the enhanced strength, you have issues if you apply your self-defence skills.

I have had a chance to grapple with steroid users, and it is true they are exceptionally strong!

Your techniques need to match this extra strength and you need a plan!


3. There Are Less Police Now

Less Police

A global recession has meant that most of the world has had to decrease their police numbers due to budget cuts.

Violent crime in the UK rose by more than 27% in 2014- 2015, and there has been a steady decline in some police officers with around 40,000 fewer officers between 2010 and 2016.

What does this mean to you?

Well, it is tough to say, but less police is never a good thing, but potentially you might have to wait longer for officers to come to your aid. Although this is guess work, I think it is fair to say that less police is always going to have a backlash with crime and potential increases in crime.


4. Kids Are Better Fighters Than Ever Before

Kids Are Better Fighters



Like it or not we are in the internet era, and people have the ability to ‘self-teach’ a lot of things including violent techniques.

Just because a street thug won’t go to an MMA class does not mean that they will not be watching YouTube techniques and learning arm locks and rear naked chokes.

If you go online, you can see school kids fighting in parks using MMA techniques. Now these will  kids grow up into young adults!

Schoolyard brawls are one thing but as these kids age you will have a generation of 18 to 25-year-olds who know the difference between a triangle choke and a rear naked one.

The question is, if you get taken down do you know what to do?


5. Potential Reduced Prison Sentences

Reduced Prison Sentences

Prison across the world are bursting at the seams, in fact in 2016 in the UK prisons are going to have to reduce their populations

Now although this is once again ‘speculation’ we recently saw a female given a suspended sentence for stabbing a male in the eye with a shoecausing injury.

So speculation or not, a rise in crime and reduced spending on prisons could spell trouble.

There are a lot of nasty people out there looking to make a reputation for themselves by inflicting harm upon another human being and most are prepared to do a little time to ‘grow’ that reputation.



You may be wondering what this means for you?

In essence, it means that you need to train with the understanding that you might be attacked by someone stronger, with higher pain threshold and intoxicated.

They may be skilled, and if you think the police will automatically get to you in a short amount of time, you may be very wrong. Also, deterrents like prison sentences may be less powerful as prisons look to reduce their populations.

In basic terms, you need to take responsibility for your safety and the safety of people who are with you.

You need to ask yourself ‘can I protect myself’ and if the answer is no, you need to go out and change this.

That is what Defence Lab is for. We provide the knowledge and skills that will help you to become successful in self-protection.

Thanks for reading.


If you are training in or thinking of training in Defence Lab you would be forgiven for thinking that it is all  about the elbows and hammers. However, that isn’t the case.

One of the unique elements of Defence Lab is its ‘power’ generation  system.


Andy Norman, the founder of Defence Lab will actually say “If you hit like Mike Tyson on your feet, you  need to be like Mike Tyson on the ground and on your knee’s”. The  basic premise here is to hit hard from any position but how do you actually achieve this?



How to Hit Really Hard


If you are now used to seeing Defence Lab in action via the On-line learning packs or the free videos here at Defence Lab.com you will know that body mechanics are essential to your training. Yes speed is great and it is an asset but the ability to hit hard comes from hard work and the study of  body mechanics and not just punching speed. If you have good body mechanics then you will be able to hit harder from any position.


I have made no secret that I came to Defence Lab via a process and it is this:

  • Boxing
  • Vale Tudo/ MMA
  • Submission Grappling
  • Judo
  • KFM
  • Defence Lab


The above represents my journey in martial arts and  it would be fair to say that all  of those  arts are at the higher end of the food chain in terms of  street applications.  That was always my goal, to be able to protect myself and my loved ones so everything I ever learned had to be easily translated  into self-defence. By this I mean that I  needed to be able to take elements from each art and  use them in the street, and I  did  but you have to understand that Defence Lab wasn’t around back in those days. If  it was I would  have been spared from having a broken tooth, nose, cheekbone and multiple other injuries that come from doing those types of sports


Trust me when I say this; what I love about Defence Lab is that it takes the core elements from my favourite martial arts and adds its own unique elements.  My personal schedule at one point was training 6 days a week- Boxing, Judo and Vale Tudo training. It was crazy but looking back Defence Lab would have easily  given me what I was looking for.


Power-  Big Power


One of the biggest barriers in self defence training is learning how to  hit hard. Power is essential and by this I dont mean you all have to hit like a baby Rhino, you need to strike with enough power so that any attacker will be rocked.  On you back, on your knees and on your feet. But how exactly do you do this?

If you go to physics  and look at how force is generated.


Mass x Acceleration= Force


So you have to think of your fist, elbow or anything else as a’mass’  and you need to accelerate that object. However, this is only part of the puzzle because as we know this would mean the person with the fastest hand speed would hit harder and  we simply know this isn’t the case.


Weight, timing, strength and even muscle fibres  all come into play when we talk about ‘power punching’ but above all this body mechanics is the core of  power striking. In 20 years of boxing and martial arts training, I can tell you that Defence Lab cracked the power generation code with its amazing use and study of Body Mechanics.



If you take a look at Paul ‘The Demolition Man’ Strauther who is one of the highest ranking DL crew members  you will see amazing body mechanics on display. Now please note, this  isn’t about saying Paul  hits harder than Lennox Lewis- Paul  hits as  hard as he physically can! This is the key here, we all have a maximum power threshold based on our size,  strength, weight and our DNA. The key is to improve your body mechanics to get you hitting as hard as YOU can.



Ducking and Diving


When I first experienced Defence Labs power generation method I was immediately  taken back to boxing. I know Andy Norman has studied boxing and its easy to see. Even in the basic Defence Lab drills we see  ‘plyometric loading’ in the striking.  As a result, the body mechanics  are not that different from that seen in power punchers such as Nigel Benn, Mike Tyson or Rocky Marciano

Lets Take a look at each individual boxer:

First a classic look at Nigel Benn delivering a knockout blow;

nigel benn 1


You can see here that Nigel Benn has started to lower his weight as he loads his body power via rotation.

nigel benn 2


Now look at his body, now the weight has dropped and he has started to circle his body ready to drive power into his strike

nigel benn 3


Here Nigel has popped up and his arm and body is full of plyometric power to unleash

nigel benn 4


The result is  clear to see.  You can watch this and other Nigel Benn knock outs on the video below, study him to see a power puncher in action  and you will easily spot similarities to how DL students train and move:

And  next we look at Nigel Benn on the pads- notice his power  generation with the hips and  waist:



If we look at Mike Tyson we see similar  body mechanics on display where he combines Defence into Attack:


Rocky Marciano  was  another classic example, although his body mechanics are not  as pronounced in the video you will  see he often drops his  weight and loads up for the power shot, its a  very slight movement compared to DL and Nigel  Benn but look closely  and you will see it.


So what has this got to do with you?


Well if you train Defence lab you  need to focus on your body mechanics because this is what will lead to your results.


Do you have 5 men attacking you?  How are you going to stop them?

Well using your shapes and combined with explosive power you will be able to hit hard and this changes everything. Power makes eveyone  think twice before attacking you with another strike. Hitting them hard makes them stop in their tracks.


What to Focus on in Class


When you go to training what do you think of?


Nothing?    The trainer?    The training partner?


You are wrong if you do any of these things. You need to make your training environment real and put pressure on yourself if you  want to develop quickly. This is the key to rapid development.


When you hit the pads, in your mind are you are hitting the man who is attacking you?  When you hit the pads to need to ask yourself “was that with the right intensity? Was that really good enough? If not then you do better with the next shot.


This micro focus compounds and by the end of the session you haven’t  just trained DL you have actually fought 20 people and landed dozens of strikes! It is this mentality that will give you an edge.

Tips and Techniques

When Andy Norman created Defence Lab, he did so after  a lifetime of study and training and everything has a purpose. The body mechanics are your core. They power your striking, but this wont happen over night. You need  to develop it over time and  this itself  takes effort.


If you want to make your striking amazing then you will need to mentally focus  on this and study. This goes beyond your training in class and you do it  each day, multiple times a day.  Work on your body mechanics when you are cleaning your teeth, when you go to the bathroom, when you walk to the kitchen to get a drink  and any other  chance you get. This adds up and before you know it you are getting better, faster.


Now if you are reading this and expecting me to tell you exactly what to do to hit hard, well I already have. Work on your  body  mechanics- it is that simple. No one is going to swoop down and with one touch make you a harder striker.  You have to study, put the time in and  go from there.


Watch Video

In this article I have placed videos of experts in boxing and you should literally wear those videos out (if they would have been on VHS). I wore out hundreds of boxing videos when I was a boxer. Now you live in digital age and you should make the most of these types of resources.  Defence Lab now has a lot of free and paid for videos  that you can learn from. These have taken time and effort to develop but let;s be clear these are not just entertainment to watch on a Friday night. These are professional training tools.


If you read a book or watch an instructional DVD then you will have wasted your time if you do not take ACTION!!!


So what is action? Well it is you actually taking he information and using it. So here is some real advice on getting the most out of any training;

1. Get a Notebook

2. Make  detailed  notes about what you see

3. Go and practise on your own time


It sounds too simple to be true but trust me its effective.  This is how you will get better far faster.  Now go  and access the free DL training videos and analyse them. Watch how Team storm members Grek, Ruben and Paul move and make notes then work on it.

To be a power striker takes  time and effort but you CAN achieve this if you out in  the time.


Train hard, punch hard and focus on your mechanics folks


Until next time.





Are You Fit  Enough To Protect Yourself or Your Family?

I hear it all the time, “real fights only last 60 seconds”.


To this, I say “Time is relative”.

OK this is cryptic I admit so let’s dig down to  what I  mean.

It doesn’t matter if you are old or young health and fitness are important and they form part of Defence Lab’s overall  training and strategy and there is good reason for this because fitness is essential to self-defence,  no matter what anyone tries to tell you.

Fitness and Weight are Two Different Things

The video below shows George Foreman aged 45 taking on Michael Moorer  for the heavyweight championship of the world. What is shocking to see is  that George does not have the ripped physique that we see  these days on almost  every source of media  there is:

So if a slightly rotund George Foreman can win the heavyweight title what does this tell you?


Well it is  fairly simple, fitness does not mean that you have a six pack,  it has  to be specific to what you are training for however inherent  to this is a risk that you only train to fight for 60 seconds!!


Earlier I wrote that time is relative, and from this I refer to  Albert Einsteins theory of relativity. Now  I am no scientist but let me just break it down into self-defence terms. A fight where you are losing feels  like it goes on for  10 minutes and not 60 seconds.


Now here is a  fact that unless you have ever had a real fight  you wouldnt know. When  it comes to a real self defence situation your body undergoes  huge changes, your heart will beat a lot faster and the adrenaline will flow. This ain’t sport!!


So if you can fight for 60 seconds in the Lab or gym and then you get tired.  In the ‘street’ you will get tired after 10 seconds!


Why? Because real fighting is like a sprint and  not a marathon!

Sprint Finish



The above video shows Usain Bolt- the fastest man on the planet winning a race in just under 10 seconds. Now look at the sheer energy expanded in this situation. Now that was just 10  seconds!!! Imagine sprinting  hard for 60 seconds, because that is exactly what you would do in a ‘real fight’.


There is a mistaken belief out there that self defence training should be ‘easy’ because fights dont last long, but lets break this down into a real scenario.

No one Steps In  To Help


Self defence situations tend to last 60 seconds or less because of a few things,  firstly  a bystander or  third  party steps in. Secondly one of the people land a serious  strike causing injury and or one of the people involved is vastly more skilled than the other, be that due to natural or trained skill. The final  part is  that one of the participants  is heavily intoxicated.


In these situations, fights can actually last between 3 to 10 seconds in my personal experience.


However, there exists another situation and this is quite frightening and I call it the ‘zero interference’ situation.


In this instance,  no one lands a telling shot, both people are of high skill level, no one interferes and or  you may end up in a  grappling situation or even on the floor!


These situations are far more common than people think and it is here that you will be tested and it is your fitness that will help see you through when combined with good skills.


Imagine if you were walking home one night and you got attacked and you  were on your own. The group attacking  you will only stop when they want to!! Unless you can fight your way out of the situation. This is going to require stamina, and if you don’t have the stamina then you aren’t going to be able to last!!


When it comes to fitness and certainly the ability to survive and altercation no one is saying you have to be ‘ripped’ and as  fit as a  UFC fighter.  However, you  do need to certainly be able to last if you were attacked.


Fitness is specific so quite simply  you will  not develop the level of fitness  you require if you aren’t getting down to the lab for training!


The moral of this post is simple- get down to your local lab or school to get training. Otherwise you may find the gas tank empty when  it really ‘hits the fan’.


Take care and train hard.


Young man being mugged in a dark tunnel

Violence is scary.

I mean ‘crap your pants’ and wish you were somewhere else scary.

Don’t fall into the trap of hearing people with ‘some’ experience of violence tell you that it is easy if you do ‘this’ or train in their system.

The truth is that in any violent encounter you could be seriously or even fatally injured.

And that is before you even talk about life changing injuries.

The whole subject of life changing injuries is one that has many a person, and instructor confused. So let’s address it.

Just because you survive a violent encounter and come out on top physically, it does not mean that you have not been hurt.

Let us say that you get punched in the face, and your jaw gets broken.
You win the fight, but you end up going to the hospital where they tell you that you will have to have surgery.

But hold on, you have to work tomorrow. Your boss will sack you if you don’t turn up.

It doesn’t even have to be that bad.

Your nose could get badly broken and change the way you look or in one real life example I remember seeing an 18-year-old lad whose front teeth were broken in half after being punched in the face.

He hated the way he looked and would need to spend thousands on dental treatment.

But you still see the internet filled with self-defence and martial arts instructors who talk about violence as if it was a sparring session.

The truth is that reality hurts.

The Punch You Won’t See Hurts You

In all the years I worked as a cop one thing was always clear, the punch you don’t see coming is the one that gets you.

Time after time I saw both in the flesh and on CCTV, situations where a guy or girl was knocked out by a punch they never saw.

Those single punches often caused serious life changing injuries on their own, but that wasn’t enough the attackers followed through with punches and or kicks.

Sometimes it was clear that the person knocked out had skills.

For years I often wondered what the solution was to this issue.

I mean how could a strong, trained fighter get taken out so easily by one punch?

The answer, was to come in the form of Shape Shifting

Why We Shape Shift

For those of you training in Defence Lab then you will know this, however,plenty of people do not really grasp what DL is.

When I first started to look at the mass attacks that I was seeing so often I realised one thing.

That was the need for 360-degree defence while still being able to attack. I tried several variations that failed until I met with Andy Norman and he showed me a trick or two.

The penny dropped and shape-shifting became part of my training from that day forth.

So what is shape shifting?

It is really hard to answer that without a video but you will be able to learn it all in the new online university coming soon.

But if I were to do an elevator pitch I would say this:

“Shapeshifting is the way you can protect yourself from multiple attacks while still being able to produce fast and powerful attacks.”

I appreciate this is not much of an answer but without seeing or experiencing the way shape-shifting works you just can’t appreciate it

When a DL student learns the shapes in the syllabus, they soon see that their body is a weapon and just like a jagged rock face you will see how you can resist and break someone trying to conquer you by using your skeletal structure to its most effective.

So for those of you wondering if DL is effective, worry not.

DL was created to deal with the worst situations you can face, and as such new techniques were created, tested and born from reality.

Until next time Shape Shifters


instructor group

The beginning of June saw the latest Defence Lab Instructor weekend in Derby. These weekends enable the Senior Leadership team to get together with the UK and European Instructors in order to provide training .

Saturday started with a morning session on business skills and after lunch we had the chance to train in the new product Defence Lab will be offering to train in, ‘Combat sports’, superb training session with Javier and Jose from Spain.


Sunday similar session again in the morning however we had been joined by the Certified Instructor Trainers, followed by a further in depth training session on ‘Combat Sports’

It was a very tiring weekend lots of pad smashing but very worthwhile. I would like to thank Andy Norman, Grek and Paul (DL Crew) for all they do to make us Instructors better and better each time. These guys are not just super martial artists but also amazing individuals as people, and it’s awesome to be always learning from the best which in turn we can then pass onto our students.

Future is definitely black and green! 


The self-defence world is full of opinions, and this joke sums it up.

“How many self-defence instructors does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

“The answer is 100. One to change the bulb and 99 to say it would not work on the street.”

I could go online right now and check Facebook or a forum and see people talking about what would or wouldn’t work in a real self-defence situation.

Sadly I am on the end of the conversations where people with zero experience in real violence try and tell me (an ex-cop of 17  years) what does and does not work in real life.

However, even after years of self-defence training, real experience and martial arts competitions; it took just one Defence Lab drill to make me see how vulnerable I was.

The drill?

Defence Lab calls it the four-man box.

What Is The 4 Man Box


Can you hit hard?

If so that is great. Now, have a training partner stand in front of you with the pads and hit them as hard as you can.

This gives you a really good feeling that you can protect yourself.

Now go and grab three other training partners and have them stand at the sides and behind you.

Give them a set of focus mitts and tell them to see if they can hit you while you still hit the pads of the guy in front.


Now I know what will happen when you do this with 99% of self-defence training; the answer is you will get hit, a lot!

OK so these are just focused pads, but in 1 minute and using just one drill you will see that your training is ineffective when confronted with more than one attacker.

This is a sobering thought for anyone and to be honest, this is now the industry standard test.

So what happens when you put your current training through this drill?

Right now you might be imagining your current skill set and think “I would grab here, move this way or do this”.

Stop thinking like this.

Self-defence has one simple truth; If they hit you hard, in the head, it is all over!

Once the ‘lights are out’ you can no longer defend yourself.

There is no escaping from this.

I have used this drill numerous times over the years to educate people on ‘what works’ and every time I use the drill people look shocked.

It is as if you have just reduced them to 5 years of age and stolen their puppy.

The thing is, I too was like that.

When I first tried the four-man box, I remember driving home and thinking to myself that my skill set sucked and if I was ever confronted by a group I hope they attacked me in a single file line.

So what is the solution?

Train For Reality Not Fantasy

Some time ago I heard an instructor talking about how all techniques should work with the idea the attacker has a knife.

I watched a demo of their slick skills which they had honed and then said: “OK that’s great, lets try that with four people, who all have knives.”

The instructor said straight away “but it won’t work with four people.”

And that was my point entirely. The minute you add numbers to the self-defence situation, it becomes more complicated.

This is the sad truth about the self-defence industry; people sell the ideal world.

They are selling the ‘if you grab here, do this and that’ then you will be safe and win.

The reality is that every self-defence situation could end your life. You could get hit by one punch and be knocked out, hit your head on the floor on the way down.

You could be stabbed by multiple attackers.

The attacker could have a knuckle duster

The list goes on, and the amount of potential variables in self-defence are staggering.

This is one of the core reasons I chose Defence Lab and what separates it from 99% of the other systems out there.

There is no ‘sell’ of what works and what doesn’t.

There is the investigation.

This is why we are called Defence Lab. It is a laboratory of self-defence.

Every Lab is a place where people can learn what does and doesn’t work, without the risk of being hurt and the 4 man box is just one example of this area of study.

The founder of Defence Lab is Andy Norman, and if you have ever met or spent time with Andy, you will know why he is considered one of the best self-defence instructors of all time.

Andy spends lots of time looking at situations, experimenting and checking out what works, and how things work when you add some pressure.

It is this approach that has lead to the constant innovation of Defence Lab as can be seen with techniques such as the Razor and many others.

For the first time, you are going to be able to learn the drills and techniques of  Defence Lab from anywhere in the world when the new Defence Lab online university goes live! It is within the programme you will start to see why so many people are training and teaching Defence Lab.

So what should you do now?

Go out and test your training by placing yourself in the 4 man box. Ask yourself how many times you are hit, could you survive with your current level of training and what options do you have?

The DL Online Lab is coming very soon, get ready for something truly special and until then check out the 4 man box below in this DL clip:


There are a lot of self-defence systems out there promising the earth and most have marketing tag lines to match:

“the most comprehensive reality based self-defense system in the world today.”

“Global leaders in self-defence.”

“the most effective self-defence system available today.”

“the most eye-opening & rewarding self-defense system for the REAL world.”

All the above taglines are taken from the marketing material of different self-defence systems. But it begs the question:

Which should you choose?

In this article, we look at what you need to consider when choosing a street self-defence system and also look at what makes Defence Lab so good.


No Returns For Faulty Goods

If you buy a TV or any other item, and it does not work, you take it back.

Also, when you purchase a service, you stop paying if it does not live up to expectations

However when it comes to self-defence training, you pay with the goal of it working if you ever need it, it is a bit like house insurance.

Because of this, people can invest in years of training with no idea if the product is going to deliver on its promise. So how do you know if the training you are receiving works?

The answer is ‘you don’t’.

This leads us to the ultimate question: If you don’t know which system will work, how are you going to choose?


How To Choose A Self Defence System That Works For You

When I was a young man I boxed two days a week, did Vale Tudo on Tuesday and Judo on a Friday.

By anyone’s standards, this  is a lot of training, and as you would expect I was pretty good at looking after myself. However now I am 37 things have changed.

I have two kids, and I can’t just go out of the house six days a week, and to be honest, I don’t want to go to the local MMA club to fight and train with 20-year-old lads who want to be the next star of the UFC.

This is the first part of choosing a self-defence system. It must fit in with your current lifestyle.

Now this is different than trying to do the minimum. I know of people who sell 6-hour self-defence courses that create a false sense of security into the student.

The self-defence industry has to have morals, otherwise, it is merely selling imagination and not reality.

If you truly are concerned about your safety or your ability to protect your loved ones, you will not find solutions in a few hours. You need to realise that it can take years to become really good at self-defence.

So when picking a self-defence system, you must take into consideration that you will have to dedicate some time to training.


You Must Choose A System That Is Physically Right For You

After you take a look at your lifestyle, you need to look at how a system fits in with your physical ability.

For example, I do Judo as well as DL. Judo can be hard on the body. I also did boxing for years as well, and that can be tough on the face.

If you work in certain jobs, the thought of coming into work with black eyes might not sound appealing.

Also, if you have hip or back issues, then certain activities are not going to be right for you.

Assess the risks by speaking to the instructor and checking things out.


Choose A System That Addresses Reality

If you get this far, and you are looking at a system that seems to fit your needs, there are two more hurdles.

Does the system address reality?

Now many people take the term ‘reality-based self-defence’ and think of just their reality.

However, a good system will address all aspects.

Knife Defence, gang attack, grapplers, strikers, MMA skilled opponents and more.


Evolution Is A Must

The final aspect of what makes up a great self-defence system is evolution.

Does the system you have chosen ever evolve?

This is something that is focused on a great deal in Defence Lab. As a result of many closed-door sessions, Andy Norman is evolving the system so that everyone has more tools in their arsenal of self-defence skills.


So Why Did I  Choose Defence Lab?

A lot of people come to me for advice and one of the questions is “what self-defence system should I do?”

The answer is Defence Lab. I never say any other style is better.

For some people, this is a tough pill to swallow. After all, many people cling to self-defence systems like an Alien Face Hugger attaches to its next victim!

After 17 years of police work, boxing, Judo, Russian Sambo, KFM, and Vale Tudo Training I know that Defence Lab is the best system of self-defence out there.


Because it addresses everything that you need to know about defending yourself.

That is not to say that other systems won’t evolve, or that they don’t also address everything. However, from MMA, to group attack, I am yet to see a more complete system of self-protection on the market.

Sure, people can think I am telling lies, or that I have been paid to say this. However, if that were the case I wouldn’t be teaching my son Defence Lab at home, would I!

Now this is of course just my opinion, and many I am sure will disagree. However for those on the fence, you will be able to see inside Defence Lab for the first time in the coming months.

The DL-Online University will be opening its doors and you will be able to see what makes me so proud to be part of Defence Lab.

Packed with techniques and training by Andy Norman himself, you will be amazed and it is on its way.

Thanks for reading

The Shape Shifter  Team


There is a view that self-defence situations start with a stranger attacking you in an alleyway and while this can happen it is rarely the truth.

In fact, the most common reason self-defence situations occur is communication ego.

Here is an example;

You are walking down the street with your girlfriend, and a group of lads is across the street. They shout at abuse at your girlfriend, and you look at them, and you shout something back.

They run across the road and are straight in your face saying to you “What did you just say to me.”

You have two options here; you can say ‘sorry’ to the man who just abused your partner, or you can repeat what you said which is going to put you in a self-defence situation.

It is these situations that are far more common than the attack in the alleyway by a random ‘mugger’.

So it begs the question what do you do in these situations?

This article will address the communication triggers that ignite situations into full-scale violence and how to avoid using them.

1. The Bar/ Pub Situation

I love going to the pub; nothing quenches the thirst like a nice cool lager; I actually love the whole Belgium beer thing now as well.

However, alcohol can cause aggression and ‘loose tongues’, so people end up arguing. The most common of situations are the ‘what are you looking at’ and the ‘Bump into you’.

The ‘what are you looking at’ situation happens when someone is looking for trouble.

So you have a few options here.

  1. a) “I’m not looking at anything mate.”
  2. b) “I’m not looking at much.”
  3. c) “What’s it got to do with you.”

As we see the responses cascade downwards, each one offers a different type of response. Option A is a great response because it is genuine and provides very little aggression.

Option B is an aggressive tone which is designed to challenge the person. Option C is a straight challenge back.

What you say in these situations will dictate what happens next. We aren’t here to wipe your nose, what you do is up to you, but the ‘Trigger’ here is the challenge.

If you meet a challenge with a challenge, it will escalate until someone backs down, there is an interruption or it goes violent.

2. The Street Challenge

For this, we go back to the original example where your girlfriend has been shouted at. You have a two options here:

  1. a) Shout back
  2. b) Ignore them and carry on

The thing you need to realise is that people are shouting to get a reaction. That is their goal, and it is likely that if you react, then you will be playing by their ‘script’.

It is up to you how you handle this type of situation, but if you shout back then, there is a likelihood that they will escalate the situation.

Personally, I live by the ‘sticks and stones’ method. Words across the street are exactly that; I have no desire to fight people so I will control the situation by not being a part of their ‘entertainment.’

3. The Kebab House/ Chip Shop

Back in the day when I as a policeman you could bet your money that most of the night’s action would happen in a  kebab house/ chip shop.

Why? Because everyone suddenly wants food after a night out and they squeeze into a very confined space.

Food to a drunk is like water to a man walking in the desert, and people will push and shove. Also, there seemed to be an abundance of idiots that had failed to meet anyone that night and were just angry.

What usually happens is that someone will say something offensive and because of the close proximity of the people the situation turns violent very quickly.

So what can you do if someone is abusive to you?

The simple answer is just to ignore them unless they try to get in your ‘way’/ path.

Trying to reason with a drunk at 2 am in the morning is like speaking to someone in a foreign language. You will not be able to make them see sense.

If however you have to answer them just turn and say ‘listen I just want my food, and I’m going home.’

What a drunk says to you has little relevance to your life so ignore them.

The trigger for violence here is ‘engagement’. The more you engage with someone like this the higher the chance they will confront you physically.

4. The Classic Robbery

The classic robbery is the thing we all hear about, yet in truth rarely happens.

Just a quick scan onto YouTube and you will see more knife disarms based on the ‘mugging scenario’ than you ever thought possible.

So what do you do if some crack addict pulls a knife on you and demands your phone, wallet, and car keys?

What do you say? Simple:

“Here you go.”

If someone is demanding money from you, this is a because they want the money, they are not looking for trouble. They want to get the cash/ belongings and go.

The second you start to challenge them you enter into a situation where you start to ‘increase the timeline of the encounter’. By creating friction, you start to increase the chances of them being caught.

The advice here is simple, give them what they want because money, wallets, and phones can be replaced, lives can’t.

The trigger in this situation is ‘disruption’. If you disrupt the plan, you may force them to take action to ‘get their plan back on track’.


We can end up in situations where we are faced with people who want to confront us.

How we react can add fuel to the fire or put water on it.

If you understand what ‘triggers violence’ you can respond tactically, and this will give you the greatest opportunity to keep safe.

Thanks for reading