Life is hard..

Life is hard.

It is full of challenges.

We have to compete in every level and aspect of our lives.

Everyday some new problem presents itself to hinder our progression towards our goals of happiness and success.

To often people just give up when things get tough, they get overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed.

This has happened many times in history. Inventors often give up on their theories, while others take it further and succeed.

So what has changed, why do we now quit so easily?

I’m not sure but maybe it’s the way we have changed our societies mindset.

Food is instant.

We no longer fear the weather.

We now believe the marketing hype that life is easy.

Everyone is a winner.

Everyone believes they are supposed to be successful. Hell, it’s our birthright to be rich, successful and happy.

Modern education systems compound this feeling of entitlement by giving everyone a medal for participating.

There is no need to train or study, you will get the same for doing nothing.

The consequences being, we are creating adults ill prepared for reality.

When they finally reach the real world and fail, they have no back up plan or ability to problem solve and just quit.

This happens often in martial arts, people believe they should be progressing quicker than they are. This leads to frustration and anger then ultimately to failure.

Often we’ll get a natural athlete come to class. They pick up the techniques quickly and sail through the grades.
But when they hit a stumbling block or training plateau, they aren’t used to working through it and just quit.

Sometimes, it can be issues with parents.

Pushy parents believe their childen should be progressing faster and achieving more.

They blame the teacher, the school or other students but not their child. They forget that lessons need to be practiced away from class to become a skill.

Martial arts are skill based activities. It takes time to learn skill.
Lessons are often difficult and the learning curve varies greatly from student to student.

Remember, we are all individuals and living things grow at their own pace.

Not everyone will make it to 10th Dan, just as not every job will make you a millionaire.

Life is hard but we can still enjoy the journey. If we work hard, we will rise to our full potential.

That is true success.

Find happiness at whatever level you finally master and be proud of what you have achieved.

In NLP, we have a saying.

There is no such thing as failure only feed back and progression.

See you at class..



Events in London, a penny for my thoughts..

Several of my online friends have asked for my opinion on the recent events in London and Manchester.

So here goes..

Everyone and their dog has voiced an opinion on the events, most of which were negative.

People are blaming it on everything from reduction in policing to “Red Flag” Operations by govt departments.

There has been the usual call for deportation of muslims and restrictions on immigration.

I have even seen a discussion about making firearms laws stricter, strange when the attackers were armed with knives.

At the other end of the scale, arming security guards and door supervisors has also been discussed.

Well I’m not going to comment on on any of that..

We learn a lot when things go wrong and this lesson was a hard one. But there were a lot of plus points to be taken from the attacks.

From Manchester we can see that the first responders and medical professionals worked well under pressure.

Even with reduced staffing levels, staff volunteered to work around the clock to deal with the victims.

This shows a level of dedication that should be recognised.

From London, we see that increased police presence can reduce response times. 8 minutes from the first 999 call to resolved incident is amazing.

In both cases the responders showed their professionalism and training are top notch.

So how can we improve for the next time?

And yes I do believe there will be a next time.

The govt needs to increase the numbers of police on the beat, looking at the risks and also improving training.

More funding and staff for NHS, not more chiefs but hands on ward and ambulance staff.

Could we possibly implement a locally based multi-discipline response team, made up of firearms trained police, paramedics and firefighters?

Who knows?

People way above my pay grade will discuss this for years..

But what can we as individuals do?

I have seen people advertising on FB that they are running “Knife Defence” training.

Save your money folks, the best defence against a knife is to run away.

Second best, is to hide.

Only fight if there is no other option.

Oh I believe there is a need for individual training but spend your money on stuff that helps.

First Aid is a must and please don’t think taking a basic CPR course is enough.

Take the best course you can afford.

Make sure you cover major injuries and bleeding.
If you have kids make sure it covers their age group. There are specific courses for under 5’s.

Carry a basic first aid kit on your person, include a rescusitation mask and gloves as a minimum.
You can buy key chain or belt kits on eBay and Amazon.

Buy a full British Standard first aid kit for your car, rather than a travel kit.

Have a larger kit at home, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Make sure to keep your kits stocked and up to date.

Take a self-protection and awareness course.

Please remember not all Self-Defence courses were created equal, many won’t cover situation awareness.

Just because an instructor is a martial artist, doesn’t mean they are qualified or experienced in Self-Defence.

Make sure whatever you choose to learn is fit for purpose, covering the law and situation awareness, rather than just techniques.

Most people don’t understand the inherent risks in modern society and put themselves in bad situations daily.

Situation awareness training will teach you to see the real world you live in, the dangers signs are there to be seen if you know what to look for.

The key is to trust your instincts.

If things feel wrong they probably are and you should leave.

Please feel free to contact me for free advice on any of the above and stay safe..

Speak to you soon..



How well do you know your kids?

Time for another blog post.
I know I promised to post more often but to be honest I haven’t had anything to say, well that was until this week.

This week I had a child booked in for NLP counselling.

The issue was anger at school.

Now I’m not going to talk about the sessions, as they are confidential, what I do want to talk about is the background and the self image of the child.


Here is a child who, previously had no discipline issues, who started to become angry and aggressive at school.

When asked by school, the child told the teachers that they were being bullied.

The school virtual called the child a liar, as the alleged bully couldn’t possibly be acting that way.

The bully is popular with the kids, helpful, polite and liked by all the teachers in the school.

The school also implied that the child’s outbursts and change in temperament must be due to the stress of the up coming change of school in August.

When they spoke to the parents, they made no mention of the alleged bullying and only spoke about the stress of moving to the High School.

This left the child feeling even more alone and isolated, sparking further outbursts.

That’s when the parents made an appointment to try counselling.

They knew it was out of character and couldn’t understand why the child had changed so much in such a short time.

As I said earlier, I’m not going to talk about the sessions as they were private.

But several issues came to light.

Firstly, the school were either so blinded by their personal views that they couldn’t see what was actually happening or they were not willing to deal with the allegations as they wouldn’t be their problem after August.

Secondly, this child was at serious risk, there has been a monumental breach of care by the school.

The child’s self image was damaged to the point the child had no self worth. Depression was already evident and thoughts of self harm were being voiced and no one pick up on it.

There are supposed to be safeguarding policies in place to deal with this and I have highlighted the short comings to both the local authority and social work departments.

I would suggest they review their staff training to.

Thirdly, there is another child being routinely bullied. This child isn’t even on the schools radar, as they are becoming insular rather than aggressive.

So back to the question I raised in the title, how well do you know your children?

Do you know how your child feels, do you know what they see in the mirror?

Could you spot the signs and notice the changes before things escalate from outbursts to violence?

Self harming, drug use and suicide are all outcomes of depression, you need to take action early.

These parents did and took appropriate action. The second child’s parents might not even know there is an issue.

Let that sink in, what if the second child was yours?

Please talk to your kids, let them know you care.

Look for advice, read up or take a course in safeguarding.

It could save a child’s life.

As usual for free advice on this or to discuss anything on my blog, email


A Travelling We Will Go..

So the New Year is moving quickly on, nearly a quarter of the way through and time to get moving.

I hate standing still, I love working on new ideas and projects, most of which requires travel and networking. I try not to accept invites to teach through the winter months, as the weather in the Highlands isn’t the best. But come spring my feet start to get itchy and I need to get away.

This is something I try to promote at class, I encourage students to do other things.

Unfortunately, many instructors look at things differently. For whatever reason they stop students cross training.

I want my students to try other classes and styles. Each instructor is unique, the journey through the arts is a personal one, individual interpretations of a technique can change a student’s perception of the lessons being learned and variety is the spice of life.

From local clubs and associations to international events there are no restrictions as to who my students can train with. This swings both ways, anyone is welcome to walk through our door.

With this in mind, I contact all the groups and instructors we are involved with and ask for a list of upcoming events. Every December I post a calendar giving information so the guys and girls can plan and save.

This promotes a social side to our classes that students really enjoy.

Over the last 10 years we have travelled to events throughout the UK, Europe and the United States. Students and their families get involved in both the planning and fund raising, bringing everyone together.

I truly believe that instructors and students should make the effort to attend external courses and events. The benefits of personal development cannot be stressed enough. You get the opportunity to see places you might never have got to see. Making new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Too many groups are becoming insular, only attending events run by their own association which feature instructors from the same clubs. This is a bad thing, instructors need variety in their lives or they will go stale. It also gives instructors the chance to network, discuss techniques and business strategies.

Besides, if you attend events you are increasing the potential audience for products, services and events you host in the future.

So March sees the beginning of our travelling season.

This year it is kicking off with TAMMAA, a bi-annual event hosted by Adam Illidge in Penkridge.

Held over three days this multi-style event is open to any student or instructor regardless of rank or affiliation.

There are lectures on business governance and law on the Friday night, these are free even if you don’t attend the rest of the weekend. All they cost is your time.

The SBA has attended TAMMAA events since 2012 and would recommend them to anyone serious about training.

Hopefully we’ll see you there, if not in March in November..

Here is a short video about the event


Expectations of an Instructor..

I posted on a previous occasion about surveying my students to see what they thought of class. It started of as an exercise in marketing but ended in a personal look at training.

lets start with a question:

“How was class?”

A simple question but we seldom ask it. Feedback is important for students and instructors.

Do you know why your student trains? Well I looked at that in my last post, if you haven’t already, please read it after you have finished this one.

The other side of that question is why do you teach?

Well there are as many reasons as there are stars in the sky, I’m not going into my reasons but it is something every instructors should think about.

This post is more about my expectations of class.

What makes class better for me?

Progression, I love to see a student change and improve.

That starts with students attending regular classes.

As individuals, the students need to attend to learn. They can’t improve their techniques by sitting on their couch. Of course I understand sometimes life can get in the way but instructors have lives too. They give up valuable time to teach for little or no financial reward.

Consider this, I have a family and two successful businesses, if I can make it with my commitments so can you.

For students to progress, they need other students to train with.

As an instructor, I prefer to teach principles over technique.

This requires students of different shapes and sizes to prove the principle works. There is a “Goldilocks” number, to many students and you can’t give a personal touch. Too few and you can’t teach what you need to teach.

The final key to progression is work rate. The more a student practices a technique the easier it becomes.

If the magic number for mastering a technique is 4ooo times. At an average of 100 repetitions per class, it would take 40 classes to learn a single technique.

But how many students manage 100 reps per class? How many have the mindset for that kind of training?

So to answer the question about making class better, students need to turn up and train hard..

Thanks for reading, hopefully see you at class soon..



Expectations of a Student..

Following on from my last post, I’m going to look at the students expectations of the product “Martial Arts”.

As I’ve said before, martial arts isn’t the same as buying shoes or a burger.

But unfortunately, we have to market our product as if it is.

Students come to the martial arts for many reasons:

  • Fitness
  • Self-Defence
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Social Events
  • Discipline

With so many reasons and the current need for instant gratification, how can we meet the needs and expectations of the student? Should we change the arts to suit?

Students train for their own reasons, these may change over time but if you don’t address their immediate needs they won’t stay. So at their first lesson, I ask their reason for joining, I ask what they are looking to gain from the arts and then get them to tell me a little about themselves.

It’s important that students and class are a good fit. If both are singing off the same hymn sheet, training will be fun.

If not, there will be a parting of the ways.

Expectations can change depending of the background of the student, instant gratification can be a major issue in the arts.

The first question many students ask isn’t about cost of classes but often how long it takes to get to black belt. They are usually surprised by my answer, 5 years.

That is a long term commitment for someone that is used to next day delivery, downloading a full series of a TV show or food delivered in 10 minutes.


Martial arts training is difficult, sore muscles and fatigue are the norm.

This to can be a shock for new students.

The question is do we want full classes that are easy, fun and inclusive with everyone passing every grade?

Or do we set strict standards and maintain the quality of the techniques we teach?

Well that’s a decision each instructor makes for themselves, I’m not here to judge either business model.

I try to meet the expectations and needs of my students but not at the expense of the art.

And when it comes to class sizes, I opt for quality over quantity.

If I could make all the lessons fun, then I would. But in the end I’m more about results.

Thanks for reading, hopefully see you at class..




How was class?

As it’s a New Year and we have so many new students, I thought I would take a little survey of what students think of our classes.

So I messaged all our students, even ones who haven’t attended in a while, to ask what they thought about class. What they like and/or dislike.

The responses I received was, on the most part, positive. Although there were some constructive criticisms and issues that I will be looking into.

I was shocked by one student, they posed the same question back.

I hadn’t really thought about it, should I have any expectations of students?

As an association, we are the ones providing the service. We should be concerned about the products we sell, customer service and value for money. That’s what modern marketing teaches us, it’s all about the purchasing experience.

But learning martial arts is different from buying a pair of shoes or a burger.

So my student asking me a question has left with two topics to discuss:

“Expectations of an Instructor”


“Expectations of a Student”

Watch this space..