You train several hours each week.

You can punch and grapple, and your awareness levels are on par with Jason Bourne.

And then it happens, the moment you have to protect yourself, and you get your ass handed to you.

You wake up with a crowd around you, and your jaw hurts like hell.

But hold on, what went wrong? You were sober,  you had a strategy and had read more on martial arts and self-defence than the average bouncer.

Like it or not you made a mistake, and it was quite possibly a training one!

In this article, we will look at the mistake that most people make in self-defence training and how to fix it.

Are you ready? Let’s begin.

The One Training Mistake That Will Get You Hurt

Ok so you are wondering what the mistake is, I will get straight to the point.

It is a lack of training feedback!

Confused? You won’t be by the end of this article.

When I say training feedback I do not mean filling in a sheet of paper after class; I am talking about the feedback your body receives in its training.

If you take Defence Lab, for example, you will see that we use drills with the focus pads. We often have a student in their first-week, training against 3 or more attackers, and they get hit by the pads.

They don’t get hurt, but the ‘feedback’ is through contact on the body. It is a bit like that board game ‘Operation’.  The one where you get a little shock as you remove the parts of the body.

You need feedback like this in your training because if you don’t get any then how will you ever learn?

One of the things that are ever so common in self-defence training is the misuse of padded suits. What is a potentially great training tool is seen as some kind of ‘uniform.’

However if this is overused, you lose the feedback.

Now I know people will rush to defend their use, and this is great but ask yourself why boxers don’t use them? It is because boxers need to be able to get caught. If you think about it, if the boxers were sparring and never got hurt they would go into the ring with really weak defence. This, of course, could lead to a quick knockout.

The human body has it’s own system of feedback, and we call this ‘pain.’

We developed our pain system through evolution because it is like an ‘alarm’ that something is wrong, and our body is being damaged.  Pain allows us to take action.

We also see over compliance in self-defence training. This is when someone just does as you ask and gives zero realistic feedback. You can usually see it when someone holds the focus pads for their training partner.

Rather than move the pads around, using footwork to change angles and force your training partner to adapt, instead we see the pad holder with their feet stuck in place.

So why would a lack of feedback cause you to be defeated in a street altercation? Well in truth feedback shows you the holes in your game and forces you to fix them.

The attacker, on the other hand, is looking for an opening or an opportunity.

When I was boxing, I used to hate to spar in head guards. My vision would be restricted, and I struggled to move my head quickly. More importantly, I could get hit but not feel anything. There was no discomfort in my training and without this, we will not grow.

Feedback does not have to be full on sparring where you try and knock out the training partner. It can be light, just enough that your body ‘feels’.

Boxers do not ‘spar’ hard all the time. They control their power because they are there to learn. So when they get caught by a punch, they need to figure out ‘how they got punched’ and fix the issue.

Head Guards, shin guards, padded suits and other such items have their uses. Yet your body has a central nervous system that allows you to feel pain, impact and discomfort.

If you do not embrace the need for feedback in your training, you will leave gaps in your defence and trust me when I say that, the average street thug is highly skilled at exploiting vulnerabilities.

Just try and give them as little to exploit as possible.

Thanks for reading.


It happens suddenly.

One second you are walking home with your significant other and the next you are jumped on by a group of attackers.

Your face is getting smashed with a fist, and suddenly you see a flash of light, you have never felt it before but in your head, the world feels fuzzy.

For a second the world goes sideways and only the grazing sensation from the concrete on the side of your face tells you that you are on the floor.

The sound is muffled, but you can hear your partner screaming. Then like a dark cloud a shape appears in front of your field of vision and your head rocks backward. It was the attackers big boot kicking you in the face.

You start to feel numb but the trickle of blood goes into your eyes but your vision is clear enough for you to see the attackers foot swinging once more towards your face…… and then nothing.

You are gone.

It is the moment that anyone who trains self-defence fears. The moment our skills were tested and they failed us, or more importantly we failed our loved ones.

But what went wrong? How did our years of training fail us? In this article, we will show you 5 factors that will cause you to lose a self-defence situation.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is a part of society, and I enjoy a drink, however, alcohol affects the brain and body. Many people who drink on nights out do so because it encourages confidence and reduces inhibitions.

From the self-defence practitioners point of view, it dulls your senses and situational awareness.

You will struggle to see attackers approaching, and you will fail to assess the situation correctly.

There is a saying in Jiu Jitsu that if you hit a black belt in the head, he become a brown belt.

Well if a black belt has a pint of Stella Artois he  becomes a brown belt and after 6 pints he falls asleep!

2. Under And Overestimation of Skill

A quick scan of Facebook tells me one thing. The guys that are doing a lot of talking about self-defence and how ‘easy’ it is have had few real altercations.

The biggest factor in modern self-defence is the ridiculous underestimation of the skill of an attacker and the overestimation of the skill of the student/ instructor.

Everyone has a view of self-defence that is entirely dependent on their experience and that is their reality.  And everyone thinks they are better than they are.

The ability to stay grounded in self-defence training is the key to success because out there are people with little or no training that are dangerous.

They hit hard, are strong and have zero respect for you. They have not grown up, they were dragged up and have seen violence their entire lives.

They do not over complicate training; they have a few devastating techniques which are straightforward, and they have a high success rate with their attacks because they are cunning in their set up.

Do not underestimate people. No matter how good you think you are and this means always look for a peaceful solution to any situation.

3. There Is No Substitute For Power

In boxing, people say “A good little guy will never beat a good big guy.”

There is a reason that sports like boxing, Judo, Kickboxing, and BJJ have weight divisions and sadly a lot of people forget this.

I see a real common issue with self defence students in that they cannot hit with force. Their strikes are really poor and lack power and this will cause you issues against a bigger attacker.

Sure smaller guys can be effective, and I have seen this a lot but if you face a bigger opponent that has skills you are in for a serious issue.

But this again begs the question how do you know if a big guy has skills?

You don’t.

So you need to be careful about biting off more than you can chew. However, you don’t have an option of picking the size of an attacker so what do you do?

You need to be able to hit as hard as you can!

There is no substitute for power, and this is an area that we see so many neglecting in martial arts. Invest in body mechanics and the cultivation of power in your strikes and this is an investment which will pay off in the long run.

So if you do get attacked by a bigger and stronger attacker, you make every strike count!

4. Clothing

You train in comfortable clothing,  shorts, Trouser, T-shirts, rash guards, and hoodies.

You get attacked while you have your nice clothes on, shoes that have hardly any grip, jeans that make it difficult for your legs to move and bend.

Fashion is great, and no one is saying you should go out for drinks with your training kit on. However, you need to understand that your clothing really affects how your body performs in combat.

And more importantly, your attacker’s clothing makes a difference to how they perform.

Rings that look and work like knuckle dusters, steel toe, capped boots

even kevlar gloves with knuckle protection can be seen on the streets these days.

So what is the answer?

Think about mixing fashion with performance. When you pick a pair of jeans in the shop, you need to ask yourself if you can bend and flex in them? Or when you choose a new pair of shoes to make sure the sole of the shoe has decent grip.

People rarely consider that attackers actually dress to help them to achieve their goals, so you need to make similar choices.

5. Lack of Strategy

This is the weakest area for most people. Having little or no strategy.

So a person comes to you and threatens you, what are you go to say?

Or a group approach you and demand money. What do you do? Same if a guy pulls a knife or a bat on you. You need to think about strategy.

Think about what you are going to do and say. What would your first strike look like, what is your most effective entry technique?

If you wait until the time of the attack to think about strategy, it will be too late.


You may be training at a club or school that talk as if the attacker is someone that is easily dispatched.

In truth that is not correct, the attacker is often very determined, very aggressive and has the deck stacked heavily in their favour by their design.

The best solution to self-defence is to look for a non-violent solution. The second you enter into violence you might lose.  This is a truth you need to accept.

By choosing to realise that the attacker may be better than you, less intoxicated, more skillful and stronger, you instantly make looking for a non-violent solution more appealing.

Avoid at all costs but always be prepared.

Until next time.


Why You Should Train in Defence Lab

There is a vast range of martial arts out there in the world and even more self defence systems. However, there is only one Defence Lab. This article will list the 7 most important factors of Defence Lab. Read them, share them and tell the world about Defence Lab. The moral of this article is simple, Defence Lab is about much more than just learning to protect yourself.



The martial arts develop friendships like no other. You stand there each session dripping with sweat and you are tired, broken down to the very essence of your character. You are vulnerable, not looking your best and your body aches. At this time, you are at your weakest. However something strange happens next. Rather than you give up and want to sit down, you have a surge of energy, your body suddenly pulls itself together and you are back at it. Punching and grappling, making yourself even more tired.

What caused you to get this surge of newfound energy? It was the shouting of your training partners, it was the words of encouragement, the shouts of “come on, dig in” that forced you to get up and train harder. And once the drill is over, you swap roles and now it is your turn to do the same.

This type of training is rarely seen anywhere else because martial arts taxes the body in minutes like few sports can and you need the support of your training partners to help you push through the barriers.  At Defence Lab you will develop friendships like no other because the very act of training grows friendships. Yes, you might not spend all day talking to each other, instead you will help and encourage a person when they need it most. The result will see friendships formed that grow further and deeper after you leave class.

2. Self Defence


We know that martial arts can deliver self-defence skills however Defence Lab is focused on exactly that. The fluff and boring elements of martial arts have been stripped away to provide functionality. This doesn’t mean that Defence Lab is not fun, we are simply not obsessed with hurting people. Instead, we are focused on self-defence. Police officers from all across the globe train in DL because it delivers high-quality self-defence training.


If you know anything about martial arts you may have heard of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is a grappling art where the students are known to become highly skilled on the ground because they focus on that aspect. At Defence Lab we focus on self-defence and the end result is simple. We become highly skilled at Self Defence.




It is easy to think that having muscles, a six pack or even the ability to do 100 pull ups is useful. However what happens when you need to call upon those muscles to protect yourself or your loved ones? The answer is that fitness is specific. Therefore when you train Defence Lab you will develop functional fitness.  This is a type of fitness that will help you when the s##t hits the fan.  From our Defence Lab drills, to the warm up and so much more you will see that Defence Lab training gets you fit and fast. We don’t promise big muscles, we don’t promise six pack but our training will get you fit!



Ask a person why they won’t train in martial arts and the uniform is a major turn off. To the outsider most martial arts uniforms look like muti coloured pyjamas. From kung fu to Aikido and Karate this type of training outfit can be off-putting for many. At Defence Lab we are all about looking cool. That is why Defence Lab prides itself on having great designs, high-quality clothing and even awesome jewellery.

You can go to the pub or even out shopping wearing Defence Lab clothing and not look embarrassed. Now this is not hyper aggressive clothing that we associate so often with martial arts. Instead, this is classy. Defence Lab students can wear their uniforms with pride.

5.Modern Training


Guess what, self-defence has changed.  We are no longer in a world where every street thug has zero training and an obsession with Oasis (the band not the soft drink). Enter this decade and we see thugs with training. They are pumped up on steroids and other drugs and very often watch or even train in MMA (check this article out to learn more about drug use and violence), they attack in groups and will stamp on your head whilst holding a can of beer in one hand. Now this type of thug requires you to embrace these changes, it requires you to learn how to deal with more technical and potentially coordinated group attacks.

Defence Lab has taken training and evolved it through study, feedback and training. We deal with weapon attacks, group attacks, dealing with those training and those who are stronger than you. There is no “wax on and wax off” here. It is functional and modern. Do you train in a martial art already? Great, add Defence Lab to your training and you will see the modern innovation that has caused so many high-class and experienced martial artists to come over.

My own credentials are 15 years boxing, Judo black belt, 17 years police experience, fitness instructor, submission wrestling, Vale Tudo and more. Despite all this, I have chosen Defence Lab because it delivers training like I have never seen it before.




We touched on the friendships that develop through training but there is something larger at work in Defence Lab. It is a connection that is larger. Your training partners become like a family. If you haven’t seen them for a while they greet you with warm and respect. They wish you a happy birthday, they share in your successes and support you through the bad times.

Go to Spain and the Lab is there for you as if you have trained there your whole life. Go to the USA and the labs will be more than happy to meet you for a beer and talk DL. This is a community that you belong to, a global community, and a unique family.

7.Shape Shifting


If you are friend with a DL member then you may hear them say “I’m off to do some shape shifting”. No, they do not think they can turn into a cat!

Shapeshifting is a unique part of the Defence Lab training that is oddly addictive, very challenging and works. Try it and you will spend the week shifting shapes. I end up doing it on the sofa whilst watching TV, I shapeshift whilst cooking dinner. Andy Norman the founder of DL may have to start a support group for addicts!

So there you go, DL’ers. 7 reasons why people should train Defence Lab.

Now here is a test, comment below with the reasons you train, let us have your feedback.

Until next time




How To Be a Better Martial Artist in 3 Years


In our last post, we looked at how you can be better martial artist within 28 days (It  was  shared online by the conditioning coach to UFC fighters Barry Gibson,  thanks Barry for that one).  Today we expand this further and look  at your development over three years. Now this article will help you to plan your goals as a martial artist and show you how you can achieve those goals. I titled this article ‘ How to be a top martial artist’ but what I mean by this is how to be at the  top of  your game!


Many people start the martial arts with a few clear goals but leave without ever achieving them. The world is full of people who have ‘grades’ in martial arts but gave up on their journey to the coveted black belt. Why would they just ‘give up’, what made them lose their way?

There is a range of reasons why people ‘just up’ and leave martial arts training, and very often you will see them floating in and out for years, trying martial art after martial art. I think we all know people like this. But how can this be changed? How can we get more students through to black belts without reducing the standards?

If you are reading this as a student of the martial arts you may also be thinking about leaving your training. So how can we stop this?

The answer is all to do with goal setting.


What is a Tangible Goal in Martial Arts?


When you start martial arts you need to understand that there are some tangible goals and also intangible ones. If you understand the difference, this will lead you to far higher success over the next three years.

A tangible goal is something like a grading result, perhaps getting to blue belt or passing your next grading. Another tangible goal is to lose weight or increase your fitness. You can see these results because they are real. You can see the achievements.

The intangible goals cannot be seen by others, they are an experiences, a feeling and even sensations you might feel. It could be the sensation of ‘being part of something’ or perhaps the feeling that you get when you went to a session without getting tapped out, or how it feels to hit the pads far harder than you used to.

So as you set off on your journey you need to keep track of your progress and these goals and to do this do not only use a training diary (as we discussed in the last article), instead you need to create a training contract.


Creating a Training Contract


You do not need to make a training contract a big deal. What I mean by this is you do not need to tell the world about your contract, your friends or even your other half. This contract is between you and your  inner yourself, however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend time doing this.

So here is what you need to do, go out and get a piece of paper. My personal suggestion is that you need to get a nice quality one and get a ruler and some pens.

Next step is to write down your goals and here is how you should do this:

1. Be realistic as to where you are right now

This is pretty much an honesty check. There is no point saying that you plan on winning a world title next year if you have only been to 3 sessions. You need to assess where you are, and if you aren’t sure ask your instructor for an honest opinion.

Yes, this might hurt your ego a little bit but everyone thinks they are a little better than they actually are.

2. Set SMART goals

By SMART I mean Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.

Now notice that you can make all your goals fit the above, even the intangible ones. You really need to nail down your goal, and when you want to achieve it by.

3. Plan Out How You Are Going to Reach Your Goals

If you want to feel part of something, or be part of a community then you need to go to club events. Make sure you get to the club BBQ or grading or in really simple terms make sure your face is on the Facebook photos, then you will be able to show you are part of something!

If you want to last a class without getting tapped out then you will need to work on your defenses.

If you want to lose weight you will need to train harder, eat better and make sure you weigh yourself.

If you want to be a world class martial artist then you will need to surround yourself with world class martial artists!

This is your contract, and you need to plan out for yourself how you will achieve your goals.


4. Set Progress Markers

Do you want to be a National Champion in 3 years? Then you need to be winning the regional events in year 2. If you want to lose 80 pounds of fat for Christmas then you need to say what you need to weigh in September.

You don’t run 26 miles in a marathon, you run a mile 26 times!!

Set your progress markers and you will be able to stay on track.


5. Write out Your Training Contract

On a regular and boring Sunday, take out your pens and get writing. In Huge letters at the top write;

Training Contract

and then under it write your goal or goals;

“I want to be a black belt in 3 years”

Next write what you are going to do to get there:

” I will be going to every class and workshop each month and have one private lesson each month”

Then Write out your Progress Markers

” Year 1 I will be blue belt, year 2 brown, black year 3″

Now finally this is the part when you will have to take your time.

Write the words, ‘my commitment’:

Write out a calendar underneath so you can cross out every time you went to training, make it big enough to add a one line note underneath. Each year you will create a new calendar and stick it over this one. It is an easy to see visual record of how much work you do towards your goals,

The final act is to stick it where you will see it everyday. I used my wardrobe door for years for my training contract.

How Do I know This Works?

I can tell you this works because I have used training contracts for 20 years in every aspect of my life and rarely did I fail to hit my goals. I used them for my boxing career and my Judo training contract got me to black belt.

A training diary is a detailed look at your training, a contract is a road map to getting to your goals, no matter what those goals are.

98% of martial artists will not use a training contract because it is a way to hold yourself to something, and make yourself accountable for your failure or success.

Ultimately it is yourself that will decide if you reach your goals as a martial artist but having them written down and a plan to get to those goals will certainly help you focus and that is what will make your dreams come true- FOCUS!


Now you  have a choice. You can ignore training contracts, you  can just go to class each week and have fun  and then  in 4 years time you will look at why you aren’t really much better than you were after year 1. Or you can be serious about your hobby or sport and  focus your mind and get the most out of your training.


Until next time!





How To Become a Good Martial Artist Within 28 Days

Sounds too goo to be true isn’t it, become better at something within 28 days. Well, let me assure you that you can become not only better but vastly improved in a few weeks.

Wait, hold on. I am saying that you can be better in a matter of days and not months. Am I scamming you?

The answer is that I am telling the truth so let me explain.

Stop Listening To People on Facebook

Do you know how much time the average person spends on Facebook? Well according to this data it is 40 minutes, well in my experience martial artists spend three times that amount.

Go to any on-line forum in facebook and you will see the same boring arguments about what works and what doesn’t in self-defence. I can easily name several individuals and if I was to check their timelines at least one post a day is about the standards in martial arts.

These are the people you should de-friend, you are unlikely ever to meet them anyway. In short, their antics can become addictive, it is like a soap opera of martial arts. Some of their posts are a comedy, others entertaining but what they are doing is draining you of time and more importantly focus.

The Truth About Standards in Martial Arts and Self Defence

I will say this very clear and loud. There is only one standard that you or anyone needs to worry about in martial arts, and that is your own. Because there is always someone better out there than you!

So why pass judgment on the standard of others, or what techniques work?

Get over it folks. Yes use Facebook, Reddit or anything else but do so in a more positive manner and more things will happen for you. Use it in a negative way and guess what, you will attract negative people.

So once you have got out of the habit of judging others you can focus on yourself and YOUR MARTIAL ARTS!

How To Develop Your Martial Arts Skills

Now for those of you sitting there reading this, you could be under the impression that getting a lot better at martial arts in 28 days is impossible, however here is my guide to achieving this. You can do it but it take effort

1. Get a Training Diary

I have written about this extensively on numerous websites. Get a training diary!!

One of the best articles I have ever read on the subject of training diaries is this one by Neil Adams MBE. He is a two-time Olympic medal winner and world Judo champion his advice is crucial, not just for Judo but also any martial art.

A training diary is a simple notebook that you record your training inside. The very act of doing this will help you to focus your thoughts and training. Write inside it after training, fill it in after you go to the gym and then read it!

A training diary is useless if you don’t use it, record your feelings after each session, your thoughts on how your techniques went, which techniques you learned. Be as detailed as you can!

2. Go Over The Techniques In the Week in Shadow

I have been shadow boxing, shadow fighting and even shadow Judo’ing for 25  years. It works,

Shadow fighting allows you to develop muscle memory. Think of it as a test, if you were studying for an exam or an interview then you practise, you revise. In martial arts if you just sit and wait for the next class then you will be holding yourself back from increasing your skill level quickly.

Each day set a timer for 3 x 2-minute rounds and just go through your techniques in shadow.  Refer to your training diary and be loose. This is not about getting hurt by over training but developing good body mechanics via muscle memory.

3. Be the First To Class and the First to Leave

Most people will tell you that you should be the first to class and the last to leave, this is an old description regarding training focus. However, it is not correct. Why would you hang around? Say your goodbyes, have a quick chat then go.

I will explain why here;

Firstly after class you will be warm and have lost fluids. To aid in your recovery,  you need to get home,  get showered and take in fluids.

The second issue is focus. By staying to the very last second when the coach turns the lights off you are not focusing on your goal that should be to get home and write in your training diary.

By all means stay, get cold and not write in your diary. Then you will not develop as quickly as you could do.

Being the first to class is all about getting warmed up, getting focused and training. Get into the right mental attitude before training.

4. Train With the Instructor in Private Lessons

You train once or twice a week in class and then book a private lesson as well.

Almost all instructors give private lessons, and you should get some because this will help you to grow quickly. It is not about making money for the instructor.

This is about paying him or her for 1 to 1 attention, and guidance. This way you will be able to learn the techniques quickly and get them down, so you hit like a baby Rhino!

Worried about the cost?

Then get a mate to come in with you, the instructor will do you a deal I am sure if you ask nicely and possibly knock money off for each of you.

5. Train As If You Are Going to Teach

Have you ever been asked to teach in class? It is great when this happens. An instructor will ask you to demo or show a  technique and what happens? The student usually stutters, no matter how experienced they are.

If you aim that every technique, you learn you should be able to teach to anyone! This sounds odd,  but you should aim to be so confident and knowledgeable about each technique that you can show others. You gain this ability by doing the above steps.


6. Focus  of Technique First and Speed Second

What happens when you hit a pad? You try and punch faster and harder the each time you strike. However in my experience, the faster and harder you hit something the more faults that come into the technique.

Hands Up;

When a person starts boxing, they drop their hands; this is a pretty bad mistake and to fix it old time boxing coaches given boxers little hand weights to hold as they shadow box under supervision. They stand and watch the boxer do shadowboxing and footwork drills and shout every time  they drop  their hands.

When the boxer  is on the pads they  slap  the boxer hard in the face (trust me it really  hurts) whenever they drop  their hands. They do this, not because they want to be a pain in the backside but because the boxer needs to get the basics right!

Often they will have the boxer punch with hand weights and correct them every time the arms do not come straight back to the guard, the weights both strengthen and then slow down the arms so the boxer focuses his mind on technique.

If you try and add speed straight away to anything then you will start developing errors very quickly. So slow done in your training and make sure the technique is correct.

7. Remember Your Next Opponent Might be Training Harder Than You- So Train harder!!

The final tip is quite simple, but many don’t do this.

Do you train as if you are getting ready for the fight of your life or as if you are at the country club?

Go to a boxing gym and you will see people training hard because they train for an opponent. Ever seen the Rocky film where he puts a photo of his next opponent up in his mirror? It was Rocky 4 I believe.

Boxers do this because they want to think about their opponent training hard, so they train even harder. For the martial artist this becomes hard because we don’t have an opponent. After all in self-defence we never know who is going to try and attack us. However we can train for the worst case scenario.

When I was a police officer I used to train hard. Why?

Because at any time I could get a call to a situation where I was fighting a drunk, drugged up MMA trained fighter or boxer who was younger, bigger and stronger than me. Or perhaps a groupd of them.

Worst case scenario or what!!!

And guess what, that happened on more than one occasion.

The answer was to train hard for those situations, so I could be explosive when I needed, so I could fight against the odds when my life depended on it. But how do you do this?

Simple- it is all about attitude and focus. Give 150% in class and training. This really is the magic glue that makes the difference.



So there you have it. A guide on how you can become a better martial artists in as little as 28 days. This really is a useful series of tips. Now you can ignore them or you can use them. The choice really is yours.


Until Next Time