Judo, as Geoff Thompson says, is one of the best kept secrets in the martial arts world. Do you think it is ironic that a lot of people are now going back to Grappling?
I think Grappling is pretty natural to do, you do it when you are a child on the playing fields even though you haven’t been taught, you pull off some kind of kesi, gatame or whatever. I think we were just ignorant or just didn’t look hard enough. Then the Gracies came along with the
UFC. The rest is history. Now everyone is at it, including you and me.
So after Judo, Mick?
After Judo I did Lau Gar with a guy called Dave Sharpies for about three years. Phil Glover (Kickboxer) was a brown sash when I started and
Carl Spencer joined soon after. I don’t know if they’d recognise me now after all these years. All I remember is Phil being a nice, quiet bloke who was a brilliant Kickboxer and Carl was as big as a house with a fast right backfist. It was a shame the club fell apart and ceased, fond memories. After this I tried bits and bobs and flirted with Jiu Jitsu for a while training Tai Jiu Jitsu and Ken Jutsu with Sensei Brian
Lister. The time wasn’t wasted as I value what he taught me physically and mentally.
After this you met your instructor in Filipino Kali/JKD concepts? That’s right. Dave Irwin in Selby had what I had been after. I was never well built, but Dave was a stone wet through and he could kick, punch, trap, box and tie you up with sticks and knives. He blew my mind with stuff I’d only read about in Dan Inosanto’s books when I was young.
You’ve mentioned that the training was hard? Well truthfully, at first I took shares in underpants. The stickwork was hard, but when Dave introduced me to Filipino boxing it was like hello, wake up and smell the coffee. This was in your face, we used to box in a room above a butcher’s shop not big enough to swing a cat in. I had my share of black eyes and bloody noses, but as they say ‘a good test of character’. It was through Dave that I also experienced Muay Thai.
I remember we all used to compare bruises on our legs after each class.
So where did the Silat come in? Well through Dave I experienced the Kali-Kuntao Silat and various types found in JKD concepts. I liked what I saw and went to a Kali-Silat seminar. I enjoyed the Filipino but Glen Lobo took our breath away. I began studying Silat under Glen shortly after. It seemed a good sister art to the Kali, nice to look at, yet so deceptive and powerful.
When you were teaching Silat earlier I heard you mention ‘tourist version’ of martial arts. Could you explain?
Well, for example if you went off in search of Silat in Malaysia or Indonesia you might get a watered down version if you didn’t go to the right sources. The taxi driver at the airport might offer to teach you if you mentioned you were looking for a Silat master, then show you a load of cobblers or you might find somebody who decided not to show you the full art and leave things out. The other problem is that when the art is finally here it is further watered down to meet the Western palate and the end result is a shadow of the original product. Not only southeastern arts have these problems with watering down, I think it is widespread in other arts as well. ‘Too many with pot bellies just doing hubbud and looking good’.
There aren’t always good caretakers about.
That’s right. I’ve seen people who do a bit of Silat, who don’t practise their low stances and when they try to pull it off they fall flat on their backsides.
A few years ago a Silat guy entered a stick fighting competition at the Clash Of The Titans, do you remember?
I sure do. Filipino martial arts had started to become noticed in this country, we had recently hosted a Rapid Amis seminar in Selby and they had brought up some armour with them and we all had a go. Soon after you invited me to Huddersfield where we all belted hell out of each other,
I remember Dave Berry and me hitting each other on the floor, we all had a good laugh that day. What I didn’t expect was a challenge being issued to the British team to take them on at the Clash of The Titans. With six weeks of training we had a go and survived to tell the tale.
Does competition have a place? Yes, in its rightful place it can improve confidence as long as it doesn’t bring on over-false confidence, like winning a contest and thinking you can take on the world and never get beaten.
Is there a difference between competition and street defence? Yes. People like MAI’s Geoff Thompson and Peter Consterdine have hammered the message out clearly. A lot of martial artists don’t understand the psychological side of a fight and all the techniques go to pot when the adrenalin rush hits them in a street fight. This is one of the most important aspects. I’ve been in the situation where so called martial artist experts have lost it completely and left me to face the music by myself, so much for back up. These days just go around the pubs and clubs regularly and if trouble doesn’t come near you you’ll see it bothering someone else. It’s part and parcel of a Fritav/Salurday night out.
What does a typical day consist of for you? No day is the same, I train a lot of private students through the week, so if I’m not training them in the morning, I’m training myself. As a rule I like to get three to four Grappling sessions in a week, doing Grappling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling conditioning through the week, Silat twice a week, boxing and striking of some sort done most days, be it kicking or Jun Fan or elbows, knees and so on. Shadow work and tyre work with the sticks is also very important. I would say that most martial arts instructors who train students on top of their own training put in a hard week. K I hear you’ve got quite a good thing going in Doncaster with regard to mixed martial arts.
We have a fully equipped gymnasium and a martial arts room where you can learn Filipino martial arts. Jeet Kune Do (JKD) Grappling, Brazilian
Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and two types of Silat. Malaysian Silat Lincah and Indonesian Harimau Silat.
It’s not often you get two types of Silat in one town never mind the same gym.
That’s right and over the year we have various seminars and instructors coming to visit. English Martial Arts