Four letters that could cost you your business..

May 25th 2018 saw the introduction of the new rules on Data Protection (GDPR) and now, over a year on, many martial arts instructors still aren’t compliant.

With fines of over 20 million Euros, the first question you need to ask is; does GDPR apply to me?

The short answer is YES.

If you operate within the EU or offer goods or services to customers or businesses in the EU and process personal data, then GDPR applies to you.

Think about that for a moment, even groups outside of the EU are affected.

But what is personal data?

Personal data is classed as any information which can be used, either directly or indirectly, to identify a person.

This can be anything from a name, photo, email address, bank details, medical info, computer IP address, cookies or even posts on social media and networking sites.

This has far reaching consequences for martial arts groups worldwide.

It’s not just the larger associations that need to consider GDPR compliance.

Small clubs and self-employed instructors are just as responsible for protecting the personal data of their customers.

Like every other part of your business, you need a plan.

Start by working out, who in your business is responsible for data protection.

If you are a larger organisation, you want to consider appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO).

For the majority of small businesses, this isn’t a legal requirement.

Legally, you only need a DPO if handle lots of data. In the UK advice can be requested from the information commissioner office (ICO)

What areas of your business does GDPR affect?

Most people think that GDPR is an “IT department” issue and only applies if you do a lot of online marketing, sales or have a larger association,

That’s just not true.

Information Technology (IT) is part of daily life. I would be surprised to hear of any business not using a computer, laptop or mobile phone.

Therefore, GDPR has implications for your whole business.

While this might sound extreme, especially for smaller businesses or self-employed instructors, but understanding the two key areas below, will make compliance easier.

You need to collect information about students to successfully run your classes.
Medical details, emergency contact information and payment plans are all covered by GDPR.

You need to plan how you will collect, store and share this information.

How you control access is very important and should be restricted.

Even paper copies of information, will need to be securely stored

You also need a plan for how staff share information.

Yes share, there are times when you need to share information between staff and possibly people outside of your business,

Certain third parties, like the police and your insurance company, have the legal right to request information.

Marketing is arguably the biggest area impacted by GDPR.

The most important thing to remember, is that you’re not allowed to contact prospects or even reach out to your existing customers unless they’ve given you permission to do so.

It is good practice to get permission renewed annually.

if you’re sending out emails or text alerts, then everyone on your list needs to have given clear consent to receive them.

GDPR rules state that subscribers need to express their consent, In a freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous way, which is reinforced by a clear affirmative action.

Gone are the days of automatically subscribing someone to your list or assuming they want to receive marketing communications from you simply because they’ve dealt with you in the past.

They need to opt-in.

The best way to prove consent is through an opt-in form.

This is where you ask students or customers to give their permission to store and use their personal data.

As i’ve said above, it must be asked for in a clear, unambiguous way and you need to tell them what you will be using their information for.

Any opt-in options must not be pre-ticked, the customer must actively and expressly give consent by ticking the box themselves.

While double opt-in isn’t compulsory under GDPR, it’s a good way to gain permission as it gives customers a second chance to refuse.

Double opt-ins are usually when someone is signing up to your email list and they receive an email they need to click on to confirm their subscription.

Until the person has clicked on the confirmation button, they won’t be added to your email database.

If you would like help on compliance or the issues raised by GDPR please get in touch, by emailing


Are you a “Ju-liar?”

We’re now in July, a full 7 months from the beginning of the year.

Yeah, it has flown in.

It seems like only yesterday my facebook book feed was full of “New Year, New Me” memes.

But what has really changed?

For those that planned to lose weight for summer, how much did you lose?

Have you kept it off or returned to the usual routine?

For those that posted about returning to training, did you?

How often are you making class?

Is it regularly or just when it’s convenient and fits with your busy schedule?

And what about those career changes that you were going to make?

Did you take action?

Really my question is, have you achieved what you resolved to do?

Or are you a “Ju-liar”

All is not lost, you still have time.

There are still 5 months of the year left.

That’s 5 months, where with a little work, you can turn it around, make the changes so that when 2020 comes isn’t the “Same Sh!t, Different Year”

Ah, I hear you, “What have you done in 2019?”


I may not have posted resolutions, but I knew I had work to do.

I’ve lost weight, over 20 kilos and managed to stay on track keeping it off.

Even spending a month stateside didn’t affect me, amazing with their portion sizes and Barrette’s cooking.

I’ve been working on my CPD, continuing professional development, and done a few courses to improve myself.

Self improvement through learning and education is something I openly promote to all my instructors and I try to lead by example.

I set my self new goals every year, often doing totally new subjects or taking myself out if my comfort zone.

But it hasn’t all gone to plan.

I’ve let the blog slip a little lately but on a positive note, I have posted more this year than ever before.

I still have some stuff to do but I never claimed to be perfect.

And as I said, I still have 5 months left.

See you at class…


Shapes not sizes..

Once again, a cracking discussion on a social media site has provided me with the inspiration for a blog post.

The discussion was on the hidden use of geometric shapes in the martial arts.

Here is what I have been taught, learned through practice and believe.

Geometric shapes are everywhere we look.

They can be found throughout nature.

It makes sense that we use them as a learning tool.

They are an easy way to give students a visual representation of what can often be a difficult concept to explain with only words.

Each art has it’s own point of reference, usually discussed while the student learns the Kata or forms of the art.

To keep the forms secret, these were recorded as simple line drawings, with no techniques or directions.

You could only learn the techniques from your instructor.

This maintained a certain level of mysticism, as instructors may use the same line drawings but the Kata was unique to the teaching of the instructor.

This is one explanation of the subtle differences we see across the styles for Kata with the same names.

During my martial journey, none of the line drawings were quite as mystical as the “universal pattern.

I was taught that the “universal pattern” was a template for all the possible techniques in Kempo/Kenpo.

I was told the technique “patterns” would show themselves to me as my knowledge and understanding of the arts increased.

And eventually, if I trained long enough, I would see the “heart”

As I’m a scientist, I’m not big on mysticism.

I needed to understand the principles to morally buy in to what was being taught.

Unfortunately, I found many instructors knew little or nothing and tried to “baffle with bullshit”

So this is my theory on the Universal Pattern and hoe to use it.

It will hopefully answer some questions or at least point you in a direction

We have four planes of movement.

Height, width, length and time.

If the pattern is a 2 dimensional drawing, how can it applied in 4 dimension?

Consider the universal pattern as a representation of movement in a single plane.

If we mark it out on the floor. It gives us a “template” to work from.

Starting with the pattern of foot positions on the floor, we use triangles.

Then move on to circles and finally squares, allowing for “sanctuary points” to be developed.

Eventually the pattern, will describe all possible directions of movement.

Change the plane on which you draw the pattern, for example by drawing it on the wall and it will give the angles of attacks/blocks that can be delivered by your limbs or weapons.

It will describe inner and outer gates, straight line attacks continue to circles but only as far as your understanding will allow.

Then apply the pattern to movement of the head and body in the vertical plane and you have the basis for static evasion, bobbing and weaving.

I believe the jumping and hopping techniques taught by Mitose may fit in here but I don’t know for sure, as I have never seen them.

The final plane is time.

I’m not sure how to apply the principles of the universal pattern to “time”.

We are taught that time is measured in such a way that it should be considered a constant.

But it isn’t a constant, it is relative, individual and unique to the person observing it.

If I’m enjoying myself, time flies. If I’m bored it drags.

It is the same during your training.

As a beginner, you will see all techniques as fast and explosive.

While a senior grade will experience moments of clarity, where time will slow as if to give us extra “time” to react.

I have experienced these moments of clarity.

But my journey is not complete.

Hopefully, one day, I will be able to discuss and explain the application of the pattern on the fourth plane.

Until then, thank you for your “time”,


Reasonable, Gross and the Great Lie..

Many people believe, that if they study martial arts then they will be able to protect themselves and their loved ones.

That is simply not true, self-defence is something completely different.

This is further complicated by the common belief amongst instructors that if you teach martial arts you are automatically qualified to teach self-defence.

These are two of the greatest misconceptions of our time and should be added to the other great lie, the check’s in the post.

In the past, most martial arts were combat arts but today, the majority are taught as sport by instructors who are professional coaches and athletes.

There are 3 key aspects to self-defence:

– Technique
– Law
– Conflict Management

It could be argued that martial arts is predominately about students learning combat and fighting technique, therefore they will gain knowledge of self-defence.

On deeper inspection most of the techniques are not fit for purpose.

The majority of techniques taught, rely on many hours of repetition, as they require the development of fine motor skills and balance.

Self-defence should be quickly learned and easily replicated.

Anyone, regardless of size, physical fitness, gender or age should be able to use the techniques in real life situations.

We should consider the effect of fear and combat stress on our physiology and have an understanding of how this will affect an average person.

With this in mind, self-defence techniques should be designed around the use of gross motor skills and based on the scientific principles of Hicks and Guthrie.

Most martial arts instructors have know idea about combat stress as they are sportsmen and women.

They have little or no experience of real conflict as their combat has rules.

They train for bouts lasting 3 mins, with safety considerations in place and medical teams ready to act.

Self-defence has no such niceties.

Physical encounters last between 12-30 secs, just check out YouTube.

An average person has the physical resources for at most 3-6 seconds of response.

That is why I mentioned real life scenarios.

Instructors should discuss modern risks.

These should be based on real events and situations outlined by local and national crime statistics.

Do you know the 10 most commonly used physical attacks?

No, then how can you design techniques to defend against them?

Being able to defend yourself with a long pole against a sword wielding horseman might have have been useful in the middle ages, but it isn’t likely to help on a saturday night out or be of use to a child being bullied at school.

So keep it real..

Moving on, lets look at the law.

In today’s world, if you defend yourself you will need an understanding of the law.

By this, I mean the real laws and not urban myths.

The urban myth I like most, is the one where I have to warn someone three times that i am a trained martial artist before I can defend myself.

That’s nearly as bad as only being able to fight in bare feet or the “no touch” policy advocated by schools.

If you teach self-defence you should have a thorough understanding of the law.

You should be able to define the aspects of reasonable force and list the laws which govern the use of force.

You should also, as part of what is reasonable, cover de-escalation and conflict management.

This is a topic seldom covered in martial arts.

Disengagement is a great life skill, having the ability to remove yourself from situations of danger, before the need for technique, reduces the chance of injury.

Remember as an instructor, you are deemed to be offering professional advice.

You could be held liable for the actions of your students and will need to defend what you taught in court.

Criminal cases aside, you are betting your house on your knowledge, civil suits are expensive.

For free advice on any aspect of self-defence drop an email to


A Dying Breed..

People’s attitude to training has changed.

Please don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anger filled rant or a needy expression of emotions.

It is just the voicing of quiet disappointment.

So, how have things changed?

With instant gratification available now, people’s attitudes to the arts have changed.

You can have anything now, or at the latest, tomorrow with next day delivery.

You no longer need to earn stuff.

Sure you need money but with the welfare state you can even get that for free.

You can have anything you want, as you are entitled.

It is your right as a citizen to have everything you want, when you want and anyone saying different is denying you your human rights.

Therefore, nothing has value.

Training in martial arts used to mean something.

It meant you understood the reality of life, the need to protect yourself and your family.

The need to harden yourself for battle.

You realised your training needed to be hard to prepare you for what was to come.

Sweat shed in training was blood spared in war..

That changed in modem times, it became a need for self-improvement.

To become something more.

Students still trained hard, understanding the hardship would transform then into better people.

You learned the discipline and hard work changed your life.

Principles that stood you in good stead for the outside world. Having a solid work ethic will improve your circumstances.

With the change in society, the need for self-protection has been replaced by protection by state.

Unfortunately, society believes violence no longer exists. This is a believe I do not hold, but that I will cover at  another time.

This paradigm shift has changed our arts into nothing more than a social acceptable form of fitness.

No talk of violence, no talk of law, no discussion of the need for vigilance.

Instead classes revolve around fitness, calories burnt and excessive water breaks, which allow you to take “selfies”, tag social media while checking your phone for notifications.

People no longer value the lessons the arts teach

No more do we need discipline or work ethics, everyone is a winner for participating.

Students want a holistic learning experience.

Classes need to include:

– Light physical training
– Emotional counselling
– Life coaching

We are no longer instructors but fitness and nutrition providers, customer service practitioners and marketing specialists.

In a week we deal with more issues than an internet help desk.


Students no longer respect their instructor or classmates, they turn up late or just skip lessons completely.

Not fully realising how this impacts learning, they complain when their skills do not improve.

Knowledge doesn’t accept apologies or excuses, that is if you actually offer them.

You were late because of other commitments, but still want your full lesson.

You had an appointed class time and we have other commitments too.

You didn’t come to class because you were too busy.

And yet you expect us to be available when you drop in unannounced because you need someone to talk to.

Only martial art instructors offer 24 hr advice and counselling service, for the payment of a 2 hr class..

As I said at the beginning, this isn’t a rant.

I’m not suggesting you don’t pop in for coffee when passing.

If you need advice, ask, we’d never ignore our students.

We will continue to provide the help and support you need.

Just pay your class fees

Parents haggle over discounts, as if your knowledge is a cheap rug being sold in a Persian market.

You are learning something that will save your life.

Whether that is by reducing the chances of a heart attack or illness through improved fitness or by giving you techniques to survive a violent attack.

Our knowledge is valuable, our teachings have worth.

Late and unpaid fees.

“I can’t pay this week because of your bills..”

That’s ok, just train and we’ll sort it out later. We would rather you continued learning but guess what,?

We have bills too,this is our job.

Most people don’t appreciate the time, effort and sacrifice needed to become a competent instructor.

It isn’t 2 hours, twice a week with a couple of weekends thrown in a year.

Unlike most professions, which needs 3-5 years of higher learning or apprenticeship, it takes decades of dedicated training, both inside and outside of the dojo, to become a good instructor.

The commitment and costs are high.

It has cost thousands of pounds in fees, equipment, travel and accommodation.

None of which was assisted by student loans, grants or apprentice wages. We had to work at another job to fund our learning.

And then there are the lost relationships.

Arguments with loved over time.

Missed family events, parties and funerals.

Missed social events, nights out with friends and date nights.

Missed holidays, saving days off for seminars and gradings.

All sacrificed in search of our knowledge.

And yet we don’t charge you the earth for our services.

We are a dying breed, train with us before we’re gone..


How Big is Yours? Hosting martial arts events.

I have been asked to post a blog on hosting martial arts events.

It would probably be helpful if I tell you a little bit about my background..

You mightv not know this, but I have been involved in the entertainment industry, on and off, for 30 years.

Tired of working for others, I started a company specialising in event entertainment and management in  April 2000.

I have the personal experience of planning and coordinating thousands of events.

Events ranging from intimate Highland weddings at local castles and estates for millionaires and foreign dignitaries to fashion shows for an internationally renowned clothing retailer,

And as the head of the SBA I have hosted many martial events.

We have had individual guest instructos from across the globe and larger events with multiple mats operating with 11 instructors from varying styles.

Now You have an idea of my background, it should give more weight to my insight.

As with most things in life you have to consider size, cos size matters.

Let’s start with small, in-house events.

These are usually with a guest instructor or to cover a specialist topic.

You are only looking to involve your own students, which means you can use your class venue or dojo.

Planning can be ad-hoc and could be done by one person.

Marketing is easy and should include class announcements or texting and will need a months notice.

Timing is important, make sure it doesn’t clash with other events or holidays.

Running a Kata day on a Sunday might sound like a good idea, but if it clashes with “Mothers Day” it’s going to be a quiet class.

Schedule towards the end of the month to take into account when people get paid.

Medium sized events will require a little more planning and resources.

As they are bigger there needs to be communication.

You will have to source a larger venue, meaning you have to consider your budget. This could mean an increased costs to students attending.

Suitable venues often have peak times which you need to consider, for example most hotels are busy during the wedding or festive season.

This means space is of a premium and hire rates can go through the roof.

Inviting other instructors, clubs or association’s will increase numbers and therefore revenue.

But with increased numbers comes scheduling issues as there are only 12 “Pay” weekends a year and everyone is working on the same calendar which affects instructor availability.

From a planning point of view you need to look 3-6 months and have a small team to work on the coordination.

Big ticket events..

These bring you the largest revenue

There will be more opportunities to upsell with branded event products and merchandising.

But big ticket events needs organisation and longer planning.

There needs to be a competent team of organisers. experienced in hosting and marketing large events.

Planning should be minimum of a year, allowing people to save and book travel and accommodation.

As the host, you will needs access to big name instructors.

You are looking for headliners, people capable of drawing a crowd.

Scheduling for larger events will be difficult but you’ll need confirmation of participating instructors before you can even think about advertising.

No one will register for an event without knowing who is teaching.

Now, let’s consider the logistics:

Firstly location.

Location location location..

Yes, it is really that important.

Is your town suitable to host a large event?

I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live, with loads of local sites that people could visit but if you are looking for large numbers of people to attend, then it needs to be accessible.

In reality it has to be in a location with a hub airport and great transport links.

If your town/city is known for hosting conventions, then you should be good to go.

You need a larger training venue,

Depending on the number of guest instructors you may need to think about a venue big enough for 200+ people per day.

During the day, attendees will need to be fed and watered.

Does the venue supply catering or will you need to out source.

The venue has to have attached or nearby accommodation preferably with a variety restaurants.

If the location is family friendly you’ll get a larger audience. People are more likely to make it into a vacation.

Lastly to host any kind of event, you’ll need deep pockets.

You need strict budget control as revenue won’t flow until registrations occur and that will be after everything has been booked and payed for.

Obviously I can’t cover everything in a single blog post, but If you would like further advice on event hosting, please get in touch..

Speak to you soon..


How flexible is your training?

Having just finished my 3 month trip Stateside, I finally have time to write again.

I received an email while I was away, which is the foundation of this post.

Long story short, the person had attended a seminar where, as part of a discussion on kicking, I had talked about improving balance.

I showed how balance could be improved through the use of partner stretching.

They emailed asking how they could train without a partner and what equipment they should buy to achieve similar results.

I love how training practices have changed over the years, it has been improved by the use of technology and the application of sport science.

There are machines designed to work every muscle in the body.

Just go online, you’ll find loads of sites all offering different answers to your flexibility problems.

Quick and easy solutions with their equipment and 4 monthly payments.

I could probably make a fortune endorsing them but they are expensive and usually end up occupying valuable closet or garage space.

So what should you do if you want to train on your own?

I would recommend that you add Yoga to your daily routine.

Not only does Yoga improve your balance, it will greatly improve your flexibility.

Because Yoga works with your own body weight, it reduces the chances of injury while increasing muscle endurance and core strength.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as it looks.

You’ll probably find it highlights gaps in your current training regime, usually things you hadn’t even considered.

The combination of movement and breathing, increases blood flow throughout the body.

This allows you to continue training around injuries which in turn promotes recovery.

I can’t stress this enough, using Yoga as part of your daily training, will make you a better martial artist.

You could also use Yoga to improve your social life by getting friends and family to join you in a non-martial activity.

Yoga can help with weight loss and mobility issues.

Finally, practising Yoga is a great way to battle stress and re-focus the mind.

If you would like advice on how you can add Yoga to your training, drop an email to