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..




Time for a little one..

The New Year has come and gone.

How many of you have been to the gym, changed your diet or made the changes you said were coming in 2017?

We are now in February, 31 days have past, one twelfth of the year gone already.

How many of the promises that we made ourselves are already broken?

Now I’m not criticising or pointing fingers, I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

Last year I promised that I would put more effort into writing my blog.

I promised and then didn’t.

It’s so easy to make plans, but unfortunately life often gets in the way.

Please don’t think I’m moaning, last year was amazing.

Loads of work, courses and trips away.

From teaching seminars throughout the UK and Northern Ireland to teaching at the “Last Man Standing” event in Texas.

It’s was arguably the best run event that I’ve ever attended. Texas is definitely a place to see and I’m looking forward to my next trip in August.

So as the title says, this is just a little one to get me back into the swing of things.

Watch this space..


Martial Arts – 6 Reasons to Learn

I know it’s been a wee while since I’ve posted, 2015 was a busy year..

I have been involved in the martial arts for over 30 years, that’s longer than I have spent working in any single job or career. It is a passion, as anyone that has met me in person can testify too.

I have learned a lot through the years, met some amazing people and travelled the world.

But why am I writing this post?

Well it’s 2016 and many people are looking for the “New Year, New Me” or at least that is what they are saying on social media.

I hope that I can either inspire a beginner to look at the martial arts and the benefits they can gain from training or re-kindle the spark in a lapsed student who is looking for an excuse to get back on the floor.


The world we live in has changed greatly in the last 30 years, we now live a more sedentary life than at any point in recorded history. Our lives are ruled by our media access.

Hours spent watching computer screens, TVs and mobile phones.

Obesity is on the increase, this affects not only the individual but also our society and we need to address this before things go too far.

Why should I go outside and play when I can play on-line with our friends?
No matter your current level of fitness, martial arts will change your lifestyle.

You will lose weight and look better.

It helps you improve your flexibility, stability, endurance and strength. Training on a regular basis also helps change your attitude to life, making you more positive and outgoing.

It can even reduce the need for medication.

Reason two – SELF-DEFENCE

Violence is on the increase, knife crime is on the rise and everyone knows at least one person that has been physically attacked at work.

Whether it is due to the current economic climate or from fear of zombies, it is becoming more and more important to be able to protect ourselves, our families and property.

The Martial arts were designed around the need to survive and therefore they are the best resource available for learning self-defence. They have been tried and tested.

Instructors will teach you to defend yourself against both armed and unarmed attackers in a safe and controlled environment. As part of a class, you will get to train with attackers of different sizes and shape, giving you the chance to see what works best for you.

Dealing with confrontation and understanding the psychology of violence is a skill we all should learn.

Experiencing a situation before it happens for real, through class based scenarios, changes the way you will react. It can reduce the effect of fear and give you an advantage.


It is a sad fact that many people are lacking in self – confidence. They have a complete lack of belief in their own abilities, qualities and judgement. Learning martial arts can help you to overcome your fears.

The physical training will change your fitness and make you feel or look better.
Conflict management training will help deal you with confrontations and build self-esteem.

You will learn to work on your own and with others, helping you get over shyness or social anxiety.

You will learn to accept difficult situations and challenges, nothing is easy and you will need to work hard to progress.

You will get to see your own potential, too often we aren’t able to see what we could achieve.

Martial arts will teach you that success is earned by hard work and dedication and not due to luck.


Being disciplined in life is important. We need to control our words and actions to fit into society.

Many people are short tempered and lose patience which becomes violent at times. Martial arts training helps you to control your inner self and be in peace.

Martial arts will teach you not only about your body but also about your mind.
As instructors, we focuses on teaching you to respect and motivate others.

Controlling your base emotions like fear, anger and jealousy, will have a positive effect on your life. Once you start training, you will be able to feel the real calmness in yourself.

Self-discipline not only provides you with the ability to make choices, before defending yourself you need to defend your inner self by controlling your emotions, making you more accountable for your actions.


Nowadays there is an over emphasis on team work and while that is important, we sometimes forget that the individual needs to progress too.
Martial arts, is not about teamwork but about improving your individual personality.

No one else can do the work for you, no excuses the buck stops here.

When we talk about progress, people tend to look towards the end of a task to gauge their achievement.

Again martial arts is different, we focus on the distance you have travelled.

We look at the development of the individual, the changes to their technique and attitude. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Modern education tends to focus on the learning of facts and knowledge rather than principles. This means that most people have missed out on learning important life skills.

Martial arts will teach you these skills, you will learn about respect, courtesy, setting / achieving goals and how to focus on the job in hand in a complicated world.

If you learn and develop these skills you will be ahead of the pack and achieve success.

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post.

Martial arts classes can be found in every city and town, find one that is near you and give it a try.

I look forward to seeing you at the top of the mountain, whichever path you follow..

Speak to you again soon..



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First Aid provision..

My last post was on the new concussion guidance and it sparked a fair bit of interest. Personally, I think it is important that everyone has first aid training. It should be taught in schools and everyone should have a first aid qualification by the time they leave school.

I want to continue with first aid provision for employers.

Under mandatory legislation, all UK businesses must provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.

These provisions were laid out in the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 and apply to all workplaces, including those with less than five employees and to the self-employed.

The 1981 act also sets out that all training would need to be approved by the HSE.

The law on First Aid changed on the 1st October 2013.

Since then, the HSE no longer approves first aid training, Training Providers or Qualifications.

This has caused some confusion for employers as to what is compliant and what isn’t.

In theory, this should give businesses more flexibility in how they manage their “provision of first aid in the workplace”.

In practice, it has opened the door for some trainers to sell low-cost, low quality training, which looks very attractive to businesses in the current financial climate.

Unfortunately, this cheap training often falls short of the needs of the employers First Aid Risk assessment and only comes with an “in-house certificate of attendance” issued by the training provider.

It is now the employer’s duty to ensure that all training, provided by an employer, is fit for purpose and that the training provider used is qualified and competent to deliver that training.

Failure to purchase quality training would leave the door open for both criminal and civil prosecutions.

Depending on your choice of provider, you will need to undertake varying levels of due diligence into the course content and how the provider will deliver the training you require.

Please note some providers are still using their unique HSE centre number on their stationary. These are no longer valid and are not proof of competence. Just because a training provider has, in the past, had HSE approval and carried out your training in the past, that does not guarantee they are fit for purpose under the new regulations.

The HSE website has free guidance and a check list for employers to help them with selecting a training provider.


The guidance suggests that the easiest way to prove your diligence is to use a provider offering certification from an awarding body, as these qualifications are controlled by the qualification regulators – Ofqual (in England), the SQA (in Scotland) and the Welsh Government.

All our First Aid courses are awarding body regulated and come with nationally recognised qualifications, a full size certificate, a wallet sized laminated certificate and a certified CPD statement.

For a free consultation on First Aid Regulations, Firstid Risk Assessments or info on our upcoming HABC Level 3 in First Aid at Work (QCF), email

Check out our video here,,

Speak to you again soon…



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Leading the way..

Scotland seems to be leading the way on a lot of things just now.

We put in place a lower drink drive limit and it looks like the rest of the UK will follow suit.

Now we are setting the standard by becoming the first country in the world to introduce standard guidelines for dealing with concussion in sport.

I posted about this on Facebook this morning and have had a few people contact us for advice or just to comment..

Firstly, at present, we have no further info on the new guidelines but as soon as we have I will post an update to our mailing list.

If you would like to receive a copy, please register using the link below.

Secondly, I am shocked at some of the comments I have received.

People commenting that we are becoming a granny state, it is just another way to get money out of clubs and probably the worst one yet “It won’t change what we do”

I won’t name or shame but really if I was a parent with my daughter going to that class, I would be moving her somewhere else.

So I’d like to address the comments in detail..

I have never had any of my students die as a result of our training but,if I did, it would have a profound effect on me.

If following a piece of guidance on first aid can save a life, then I’m all for it, granny state or not.

As I’ve said, I haven’t seen the guidance but as a business in the UK, you should already have in place a risk assessment for first aid.

This should look at the injuries you could expect, from the nature of the business you carry out. Sport and concussion go hand in hand and this should have already been highlighted.

From a martial point of view, we should already have personal protective equipment and training in place to reduce injuries.

maybe we need to review the level of kit that the competitors wear and the training our staff get..

First aid is a must but better teaching, coaching and refereeing courses will help.

Unfortunately most sports clubs and associations won’t have completed a first aid risk assessment or due to cost, opt for a short, 1 day level 2 – EFAW or Sports First Aid, which doesn’t cover head injuries.

When asked, we recommend that all coaches/instructors have a full 3 day level 3 awarding body qualification in First Aid.

All our instructors are Level 3 trained, sure it costs more but I can sleep better knowing that I have provided the best level of cover for my staff.

And if you are one of the “it won’t change what we do” crowd, I hope you lose everything as your negligence could kill.

Need more information or advice on first aid issues?

Contact us today for a free consultation..



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