Learn How To Defend Yourself

How to Hit Like Thor’s Hammer- Eddie Quinn’s The Approach

I have seen a lot of hard hitters over the years and not all went on to be world champions but some have. I was actually present when Carl Froch lost in the ABA (amateur boxing association) finals to Chris Bessey and I was actually in  Carl Froch's dressing room as a pro boxing official before his world  title  fight. I have spent many years sparring with England Internationals  and I have boxed a lot as well, both winning and losing.

The number one lesson my father Neil Holland told me was this "there is no substitute for power' and he should know, he was an amateur boxer and a coach to both amateur and pro boxers! He is totally right of course, it doesn't matter how good  your techniques are, how Gucci your moves are or how fast your hands if you strike really hard then you are always going to be better off in self defence situations.

​Enter the Approach By Eddie Quinn

I  first heard about the Approach some years ago and I was really sceptical, no hold on I will honestly say I thought it  was pretty average if  not below  average  and I am not afraid to say when I  have got things wrong. I didn't get it, understand  it or even think  it  was worth looking at but over time  I slowly warmed to the idea and its founder Eddie Quinn even sent me a free DVD of him in action.

The DVD really blew me away because it was raw seminar footage of Eddie teaching The Approach, its Bio-Mechanics and how to deliver the strike. But a few days ago I actually  got to see The Approach in action.

Way of the Spiritual Martial Arts​

It took a few phone calls and suddenly a routine Monday became a road trip to see Mikey Wright , the amazing Anthony Pillage and Eddie Quinn. The meeting location was Anthonys gym in Coventry- The Way of the Spiritual Martial Arts, if you have never been there let me say this. It is like a martial  arts wet dream, 3 floors of yoga, dojo space and martial arts mayhem but Anthonys Office which has had such greats as Royce Gracie inside is the core!! It is perhaps the greatest office in the world, shelf after shelf of books and martial arts 'toys'. 

Anyway I walked into a training session where Mikey Wright was helping MMA Fighter Paul Taylor with some new skills and after a short time Eddie Quinn arrived.

In a few moments we got to see Eddie showing The Approach  in action as poor Mikey Wright got to hold  a very thick Thai Pad.  Boom Eddie smashed the pad and my jaw dropped.

So let's revisit-  I have seen world class boxers on the pads, I have boxed and done Vale Tudo but my jaw dropped.

Why? Simple- the power and speed was simply amazing. Like Thor's Hammer hitting a  super villain Eddie smashed into the pad with evil  intent and it was the type of power that makes you not  want to be the pad holder.

Self Defence Applications of The Approach​

Simple, powerful  and fast. The question really should be "why wouldn't you want to add this to your training?"

On the drive home my mind was buzzing with the ideas about how I could use The Approach and quickly followed by some harassment of Eddie to tell me when the next seminar is.  I can only describe what I saw as like Thunder hitting the pad. It was a bizarre whipping motion with a hammer fist strike with little recoil and a sort of circular motion. But I have seen the DVD so I know others can easily pull  this off  too. That is the  beauty.

Young females, police officers,  martial  artists,  the military-  all need to use The Approach because it really  does work. Eddie doesn't pay me, I don't earn any money from saying this but  I assure you that learning The Approach will be the smartest martial arts decision you ever make and it could  actually save lives.

After seeing  the demo Eddie gave we chatted a lot  about how I could  see The Approach help so many people  and I really do hope  Eddie takes this amazing technique and becomes a huge success. This is going to be bigger than Tony Blauers SPEAR and  I can see  how  it could  work so  easily with that system  as  well,  in fact I can see it working with lots of  systems. 

I am  going to be learning The Approach soon because it is an amazing innovation!  Check out some really old  footage of Eddie in action below!

 Until next time read my previous interview with Eddie Here​

Coopers Colour Codes: Why It Needs Throwing Away

​In this article I will explain why Coopers Colours Codes is no longer an effective training tool and provide you with the exact method  I used to improve my awareness  skills which allowed me stay safe in a police career  that spanned 17 years service. The technique I use is called the 'Threat Scanning Method' and it is supported by science and is based on techniques from advanced driving and also training for the visually impaired

The Issues With Coopers Colour Codes​

Coopers Colour codes was one of the first things I learned as a police officer as a method to keep me safe, alert and recognise potential threats to myself and others. Some 20 years later I know it is still taught across the globe as a learning base for awareness in confrontational situations and  it  was originally developed by a pistol instructor. It is now heavily used for general personal safety training across the globe as a way for people to recognise which 'states  of  awareness' they  are in.

For those that don't know the codes used in the Cooper system are used to describe the awareness levels of individuals and they are broken down into  4 groups or colours.

 Code White

Code Yellow

Code Orange

Code Red

Code White- This was always taught to me as being completely switched off to threat, un aware of any dangers around them

Code Yellow-  This is what most would called 'switched on'. A person in this state would be aware that in alleyways there could be a threat​ to their safety if they walk down them, they are aware of the aggressive male in the pub even if they are stood across the bar from them. It is the state that any cop or self defence student should always be in when out and about.

Code Orange- This is the state you get in when a threat starts to emerge, perhaps  that guy has moved to your side of the bar. Perhaps a group of lads have walked over to your side of the road as you are walking home. It is the state of a potential emerging threat.

Code Red- ​ This is the fight or flight mode. In simple terms it is when you are involved in an incident that requires physical action fast! Either you are going to fight and or you are going to run away to avoid harm.

You can actually watch Jef​f Cooper himself explain his colour codes here:

So there you have it, this is pretty much how Coopers Colour codes are taught across the planet to law  enforcement and self defence students and I understand why. It is a simple way to discuss how people are switched off to dangers around them, however I personally have for many years now had a great deal​ of doubt that the system is accurate or in fact correct.

Now Coopers focus is heavily based on firearm usage but  he actually states in the video that "if you are in zone white when you are attacked the only thing that will save you is the incompetence of the attacker".  He also talks about whilst we might want to be in Zone or code white it will never happen in this time due to the turbulent nature of society.  Things I actually disagree with because he places a heavy and unscientific emphasis on the personal ability to shift zones. Which I will prove is wrong.  

Many will argue​ that this system was devised for pistol/firearms  which again may be the case however Cooper himself states that this system can be used for all confrontations and as you will see it is actually being taught for personal safety training . If you watch the video I feel that the Cooper system places a heavy emphasis on 2 things:

1. Your actual readiness to shoot/  fight with someone

2. The decision to actually  shoot/  fight with someone.​

In opposition to the Colour Codes I feel our levels of awareness are far more complex ​and are not self governed and as I will show you in this article the Cooper Colour Codes  now look as antiquated as the video above.

Awareness in Self Protection

If you go to  any self defence instructor and ask them what they feel is the most important aspect of self defence the vast majority will say "awareness" and they are right to do so. It is the most basic skill we possess. By having good awareness skills we can spot potential threats to our safety and take action to avoid them. Yet despite this being a 'key' self defence skill very few people actually teach awareness and in fact I have even heard some people say that 'you cant teach it' and even if it is taught the vast majority will  revert back to Coopers Colour codes and basically discuss the colour codes and then expect people to suddenly become 'aware 'of threats around them by expecting them  to turn on awareness like a switch when it simply doesnt work like this.

We really have failed as self defence instructors to help students to become more aware and I personally think Coopers Colour Codes have become an unscientific 'crutch' which makes the life of Self defence instructors easier​ so they can get onto the 'fun' stuff. If awareness is so important why  has no one  spent any time on the subject. It really is annoying that so many self defence and especially martial arts instructors have 'washed' over this key area of personal development and rely on the  colour codes as a 'go to guide' which I am certain they were never intended to be.

What is Awareness?​

If we are actually​ going to write about awareness we need to learn exactly what it is. 

Part of the failure of Coopers colour codes is the vast over estimation of our concious ability, it is based on a system that makes out that we are somehow in control of our states of awareness, when in fact we  have a far more complex friend running the show on a day to day basis- our subconscious. ​

​The subconscious brain is a very powerful tool because it pretty much takes care of everyday life for you. Only when your concious brain requires you to think about things does it actually need to. This is exactly what happens when you learn to drive. At first there seems to be hundreds of complex actions to consider-  what gear should I be in, how much pressure should I place on the clutch, mirrors, speed, cars around me, lanes, road signs and the list  goes on and on. However we know that after a few years we can  get into a car and just drive as if it is second nature, but wait what about all those complex things we need to do that were once so hard, yes you got it, the subconscious brain is taking care of business while we talk to our passengers and in some cases even on a hands free phone kit.

​When I think back to my years in the police what was going on when I responded to a 999 call. On route I would be using the police radio, driving at speed with sirens on and blue lights flashing, breaking speed restrictions and the same road laws that are designed to keep us safe, avoiding cars and all this at the same time  as processing key information about the incident I was travelling to, often asking questions so I could acquire more information. It begs the question- who was driving the car? 

Of course we know that it was myself doing this but in essence I am a machine, a very complex one at that. At work in my brain is a wide range of elements that you could call systems or even secondary brains.

Computer scientist and artificial intelligence specialist Marvin Minsky ​suggested that human minds may be a collection of enormous numbers of machine like, connected sub agents that are themselves mindless. This is of course just one view point but it is referred to as the 'society of mind' framework. All the small parts add up to for a society that allows us to complete very complex tasks. In his book "The society of mind" he writes:

'Thousands and, perhaps millions of little processes must be involved in how we anticipate, imagine, plan, predict and prevent-and yet all  this proceeds so automatically what we  regard it as ordinary common sense'

However the issue behind this theory is that ​it is all too civilised. After 20 years in the police I know that after 5 pints of Stella Artois  common sense goes out of  the window.  I have seen people I regard as rational and calm individuals change in the presence of alcohol and that is before you even bring into the discussion ego.

In 1920 Sigmund Freud suggested three competing parts in his model of the psyche: the id (instinctive), the ego (realistic and organised) and the super ego ( critical and moralizing). Other models have also been introduced throughout the years however I personally prefer the descriptions used by Neuroscientist David Eagleman in his book Incognito in which he describes us as having a dominant 2 party system of our brain- Reason and Emotion. Regardless of which model of  thinking you use  it is clear that we (as in our concious self) are actually not alone in operating our day to day activities, instead we have a vast array of complexities that govern our behaviour and abilities. 

Violence as Tool or an Emotion

If we now recognise that our brains are clearly very complex it brings into discussion the validity of Coopers Colour codes. I will be the first to state I have never actually read the source material of Cooper Colour codes(only watched the video) and although I possibly should I dont need to because of how generalised the method has become(it is this generalisation that I am against), there are enough texts out there to state that whatever the original ​goal of Pistol Instructor 'Jeff Cooper' was when he created them, the codes  have been referenced in the manner I described earlier for a long time and BAFTA award winning self defence expert Geoff Thompson even refers to them the same way in his excellent book "Dead or Alive". Whatever the codes started as they have ended up as  a personal safety training tool

The thing we should be concerned with ourselves is if this method of teaching valid or is it as fictional as 'no touch knock outs'? 

In my personal experience of violence I have come to the conclusion that violence is a direct result of 2 things. It is either a tool or a vehicle to gain or obtain something- be it a physical item such as a wallet (as in a robbery) or even an pleasure such as when a rapist uses violence to rape a  female. The other formation of violence comes as a direct result of emotion.  For example a person will attack another out of nothing but pure anger, in this way violence becomes the physical manifestation of that emotion. Whilst this is an over simplistic definition it has been the source of my own awareness skills for a long time- and not Coopers Colour Codes.

My personal system of awareness is actually based on not understanding my own levels of awareness but actually on my own levels of knowledge​ and my ability to increase the chances of 'seeing' a threat. Let me explain:

Coopers version is all about 'states of awareness', as if we can actually control our own state. In many ways we can but on only on a momentary basis. We often hear a parent tell a child to "be careful" when they are engaging in an activity that could have negative consequences. As such you see a child often stop and look around them to form some form of 'risk assessment' based on the dangers. However in most cases the child carries  on with their behaviour until a parent physically intervenes because the child cannot see or understand the consequences of risk. It is the child  who with prompting has  actually looked around and assessed the risk to themselves. 

Think about that for a second- The child has been prompted (received a parents command) they then  stop for a second and assess the risks and ​the  child takes one of 2 actions. They  either alter their behaviour or carry on. This takes place in a split second and the child who may not even be able to talk due to their age will  make a decision. We know that it is  not them making this decision on  a concious level but their subconscious. What happens if they hurt themselves? Well if you are a parent you know  that they are not likely to do this again!

On  a practical level my 2 year old daughter shows me this in action  all the time. On one specific occasion she decided to start hitting her  5 year old brother with a toy​. He told her to  stop but she didnt, I told her to  stop  but she didnt! Eventually her brother took the toy off her. However not long after she started again until the brother pushed her away and she fell to the floor crying. Guess what, she didnt do it again. She has learned  that if she hits her brother he will push her away.

Everyday life is full of  these learning experiences- from touching a hot radiator to eating foods we dont like and all these decisions go on behind the scenes in our subconscious.

Coopers Colour codes ignores the vast power of our subconscious and actually requires the student to self monitor their awareness levels and 'switch on' in the face of danger. However the critical element here is the one thing that Coopers codes miss out. It relies on either being told the need to 'switch on' as in the parent child model or the person does the switching 'on' themselves!  

The ability to 'switch on'  requires the person to have recognised the potential threat in the first place or live in a rather bizarre relaxed  state of self imposed readiness. But how does a person actually spot a threat in the first place, what process is behind this?

The Problem With Vision​

We all know that the eyes do not actually see, instead the mind makes up a picture- a 3D Model if you like as it processes the data and we know that our vision isnt perfect even if we have perfect eyes.

One third of the human brain is devoted to our vision however it is not the movie style  recreation we think it is. Just because we see something does not mean we have actually seen it. ​Magicians  have specialised in exploiting the vulnerability of the vision of humans, they very often perform a trick in front of us and we have no idea they have because they have lead us to focus our vision elsewhere. Focus is the key!

In essence we only see what we focus on and we only focus on things we want to. Take driving a car again! We are driving along and the car in front slams its brakes on- we then do the same ​without any concious thought. Before we have consciously become aware of this our sub conscious has taken over and taken action. It knows that we need to brake or we will have an accident and before you become aware your foot is pressed on the brakes and  you screech to a halt. This happens even if we are talking to the wife about dinner (granted if you are travelling too close and  too fast you simply hit the car in front). Let us take a look at our focus in action.

The Invisible Gorilla​

Chances are you will have seen the Invisible Gorilla Test before but if not here it is, please take it as it will go some way to explaining my issues with Coopers Codes, just watch this short video and go along with the test:

​If you did the test you may or may not have seen the Gorilla coming into shot. The crux of this is that it was an experiment in selective attention. Basically in a University experiment students were asked to count how many passes were made and less than half the students in this test actually saw the Gorilla walking in the game. This 'selective attention' is the main reason that Coopers Colour Codes falls down it is based on the critical assumption  that just because you are 'switched on' you will see a threat. This is simply not true.

This places the key to awareness actually on education, experience and visual skills and not your personal levels of awareness! This fires directly against the current and over used approach of the Colour codes and actually places a far greater emphasis on the requirement of experience within situations that require critical observation. In essence if you dont know what your  looking for you are unlikely to see it!

​So by telling people to 'switch on' or go to code yellow  just wont cut it unless there is an accompanying educational process which tells people what they need to be looking for and even then there should be procedures in place to protect your failures in observation and awareness.

I have personally been present when victims have been described as in 'code white' after an attack which is totally unfair and has  no scientific basis whatsoever. In boxing there is a saying "its the punch that you dont see coming that knocks you out' and personal safety is the same. It is the attack  that you dont see coming that you cannot avoid!​

The Reticular Activating System​ and Its Use In Personal Safety

If we acknowledge based on science and experience that Coopers Colour Codes makes no sense at all and is actually pointless to teach what are the alternatives?

Many years ago I started to research 'awareness' and discovered part of our brain that has involvement in our states of alertness and it is called the RAS  or the Reticular Activating System

The Reticular Activating System is actually part of the brain that governs ​our state of awareness. It is the thing that gets switched off when we undergo general anaesthetic however studies show that it also governs periods of high alertness. 

Whilst this post is not an indepth look at the RAS it is clear that you cannot go around teaching people to be in certain states of awareness when in actual fact ​this is  totally wrong because it is known that during high states of awareness blood flows to the RAS. Coopers  colour  codes (or at least how they are taught) seems to imply that we can send blood to this area  of  the brain on demand. 

So what happens to the colour codes? Get rid of them. This might sound cruel but why keep driving home a process that doesnt make sense​?

Over the years I have heard a lot of time people critiqued for their lack of  awareness. The classic example of  this is the female walking home alone at night down a dark alleyway. Sure she knows this isnt right but unless she was to have a negative experience she is likely to believe 'it will never happen to me'.

The funny thing is, statistically she is actually pretty right! The likelihood  that she will be attacked is far less than most self  defence instructors would admit. But what if as she was walking a male suddenly appeared behind her and she felt and then saw his presence. As blood flowed to her Reticular Awareness System her state of awareness would be heightened and she is in what traditionally could be classed as code orange with the potential to move to code red.  In reality even if this was just a random guy walking down the alleyway the  female would likely to have had such a poor frightening experience she would change routes in future.

The key take away from this is that even with zero knowledge of awareness levels or Colour codes her own body has taken over for her. The subconscious will have registered news stories over the years of rapes and murders and like a bolt of lightening has put her in the zone ready for fight or flight.

Experience is a great teacher but you need to have had that experience. If the female in the above scenario had no personal levels of awareness or risk ( code white) then she would not have felt fear,  her RAS would not have kicked in. But experience tells  me that even without instruction we have an inbuilt  defence mechanism that does well without much help.

​The traditional and often evangelist self protection instructor will tell female students to avoid dark alleyways and its easy to see the sense in this. The truth though is that a person can be attacked  in any location where 3 components come together. These are of course the following:

  • Victim
  • Offender
  • Location​

​Note that it is not levels of awareness that serve as a method for the potential victim to either avoid an offender or the location of an offence or remove themselves from a situation. Instead it is all to do with knowledge of possible outcomes. For door supervisors the key would be to remove the offender from the location prior to  an assault taking place. For other people it might be getting a taxi home as opposed to walking. This has nothing to do with codes and everything to do with tangible threat analysis which is dependant on the speed of the decision can be done either consciously or subconsciously. 

Again this has nothing to do with the state of awareness you are in​ but is actually all about the ability to spot the offender or the offence location. This is knowledge or experience and sometimes a combination of both. However to  do both requires visual skills!

Awareness v Education​

By now I hope you are starting to see just how pointless even discussing awareness​ using Colour codes is. There has been for a long time now the misguided belief that  if you tell a person  about Jeff Coopers colour codes  then in some way shape and form  you will magically transform the student and they will instantly switch on and be able to spot potential threats. The relaxed and experienced doorman or police officer will  be able to spot a troublemaker far easier than the 'wired' up  rookie  desperate to impress. 

This again has nothing to do with codes and everything to do with something known as  Combinatorial Explosion​.  Although you may be unfamiliar with the term it is something that separates computers that play chess from grand chess masters. It is the ability to see things far beyond that which normal people/ a computer can see and it comes as a result of experience.

An example of this is the doorman that refuses a person entry. To the bystander this may seem cruel and often goes against the logic of anyone, however the years of experience has taught the doorman that this guy is too animated, to muscled up  and ​too  heavily intoxicated  to be inside his venue. The seasoned doorman knows this guy is full of cocaine, steroids and alcohol and he doenst want to be dealing with him later at his venue. He knows this male  has trouble written all over him. The rookie would have let him inside only to be fighting with him later.

In the book Bounce by Matthew Syed the subject​ of performance is thoroughly examined and we see experience is talked about greatly.  In essence expert knowledge isnt gained overnight and it is sadly ignored by most martial  arts and self defence instructors.

The Importance of Vision in  Personal Safety​

As we have seen already the colour codes have no  basis in science and instead we have see that there is a complex operations ongoing with our subconscious which has a basis in experience also which is trying to keep us safe.

However  we have also discovered that focus is actually a key component in 'aware​ness'. Just because we are looking for something does  not mean we will  see another key event such as the Gorilla in the experiment or the magician palming a coin. We only see what we are focused on  and what we focus on is largely dictated to  us by our subconscious programming.

The Phantom of the Opera​-

I recently had this experience when I travelled to London  and went to see 'The Phantom of the Opera'. ​Years of going to the theatre had  taught me  to focus on the stage where the actors were and it took my wife to nudge me to show me the Phantom behind me on wires and above the stage! Of course if I  had known he would be doing this then I would  have looked. It is this  unique combination of knowledge, experience and vision that actually dictate our awareness and not ourselves. 

​The Threat Scanning Method

Earlier I told you about ​the method  I had used throughout my  career and as I developed  it I  believe I got better at using it.  I call it the Threat Scanning Method and it comprises of 3 main parts:




​1. Knowledge

The first part of this method is heavily based on knowledge​. This can either  be taught externally or self taught. The key here is to learn more about the potential threats that you may or will face. I will  give 2 examples:

First consider a  door supervisor- any course where you are running door supervisor training  should include 'awareness' however just  by telling people about the states of awareness using colour codes is  not going to help anyone. There should  be a heavy focus on the types of threats doormen face. This can be as detailed  as you like and draw  upon real life events if you can.  I would recommend  you make the accounts as detailed as possible and this will  help the students to visualise the scenario. Only by going over as many potential hazards as you can will the student embed this knowledge. From an incident with a gun to a guy concealing a screw driver. It important to keep these incidents factual.

On the other hand if  I was  teaching a group of middle aged women I would be using factual stories​ around hazards. Such as the girl who was stabbed on her way home when she took a  short cut through the woods to a murder in a secluded car park at night. This is not scare tactics by the way, you are actually using real incidents to  re enforce your training and help  to embed their personal levels of knowledge. 

You see this is the key difference here- you are actually teaching the student about things to 'BE AWARE OF' rather than just telling them that in certain situations they should switch on. You are teaching people based on the individual threats they may face. This is not a catch all event, you need to specifically teach people based  on their needs and not just​'wash over' things. 


The next phase of the Threat Scanning Method involves experience. For this I recommend scenario training. Having taught the student about real life incidents their personal knowledge has already grown.  The scenarios can  be as detailed as you want them to be as long  as  the key ​elements are covered. Perhaps a guy trying to get into a club  is refused and he pulls a screw driver out. The scenario will provide the experience that when you refuse a person entry they may  have a weapon on them that you do not know about. 

Whist this may seem obvious to  some it wont be to a lot ​of  people. But by adding reality based scenarios to training you are re enforcing the knowledge taught in step 1. 


Although I know many instructors out there already using steps 1 and  2, I have never heard anyone teach visual training techniques. This however is the key and as we have seen already just because you aren't looking at things doesn't mean you will be  able to see something. 

I personally use a method I discovered from  advanced driving techniques and also it is used to help train visually impaired people.  This method is called scanning!

Rather than fix your eyes on an area you need to sca​n the area in your visual field  rather than just look ahead. For example if I am walking home at  night I will start to scan. Instead of  keeping my head down I will look in the distance, at the alleyway entrance up  ahead, at the car reversing out of a driveway and onto the footpath in front etc ect. Most people will  either have their head looking at their phone or be staring into space. 

This​ is not the same as being aware, this is all about focus! 

If you were to consider Coopers colour codes I would be in state white-  why? Because  I know that there is next to zero chance of being attacked. I dont need to impose some  kind of  'alert state'. Common sense tells me I will be ok.

However as my scanning picks up the shadows of the gang standing in the alleyway my subconscious has made me aware of this  and based on my  training I know that there ​could be a chance they say or do something. Rather than  take this risk I make  a sensible decision and cross over the road. 

Please note that this has nothing to do with​ any 'code' I have simply made a risk assessment based on something I have seen. 

The tick here is to learn to scan effortlessly and to do this  you can practise all  the time. In the car, walking or running own  the road etc. What starts off as a complex task soon becomes the norm .

Observational and Situational Links​

One of the key things I am looking for is situational or observational links and this is what you want to teach your students.

An observational link is quite easy to learn and is part of the Threat Scanning Method.  Think about driving again, a ball  comes into the road as you drive. What do you think could be coming after the ball? A child.

Personal safety at any level  is the same and if you see a gang  on a street corner drinking then you know from experience that this group could cause issues  for you as you walk past​. 

A situational link​ is slightly different because it involves your participation in a situation as it happens. For example if we look at the door staff refusing entry we know that in that situation the male may respond in a few different ways such as  simply leaving, shouting abuse, trying to force their way in, trying again to  sneak in or even brandishing a weapon. Because you have this knowledge your prepared. 

Putting it All Together​

The goal of  the threat scanning method is and always has been simple, to remain relaxed​ and calm.  This allows me to make sensible decisions based on ever changing information. The way I would like to explain this is to use a standard example, as an officer I  would often turn up to incidents with people injured and screaming. Most often they would be drunk after a big fight has  gone on and tensions are still running high.   Coopers Codes really should dictate I be in state orange or even red. In truth I am relaxed but focused- How?

Because I was aware of my role and responsibility I could quickly assess dangers and threats as well as gaining key witness  information. ​I have scanned the scene and have seen the guy with blood on his knuckles.  

This has nothing to do with any state  or code of  awareness and has everything to  do with knowledge, visual recognition and observational  links.

But I have Taught People and They Still Put Themselves at Risk​

Now here is the issue, we  often refer to  people as being unaware or actually in code white because despite training courses and knowledge they still put themselves at risk​. This is actually a really poor description. 

The person who takes risks despite knowledge of those risks  has made a decision either  consciously or subconsciously that the benefits or gains of this decision outweigh the risks​. 

There are hundreds of domestic violence victim's who  stay with their partners despite knowing they are at risk ​of being killed one day. There are many young girls that walk  home alone at night and down darkened  alleyways even though they are aware of the risk of being attacked. 

Note this is not the  same as being unaware, this is actually a choice made.

In conclusion​

​I started this article by explaining that the modern use  of Coopers Colour Codes is wrong and has no real use in self protection. We have looked at the reasons behind this and suggested that the Threat Scanning Method is a far better way of training awareness.

My issues with the  colour codes is that they are now used as a  training tool and a descriptive method​ and this is really inaccurate. Just because a victim didn't see the attacker doesn't mean they were 'switched off'  and just because the doorman got stabbed doesn't mean he was not focused on his job. As humans we are very complex organisms and by constantly referring to an outdated model of 'awareness' analysis fails to take into account the human element. 

I often  wonder why the fascination around these 'colour codes' but I think it is all about people. We all find it easier to label others and certainly criticise ​people and I think in many ways Coopers Colour Codes has been a way to criticise others. Do you view CCTV videos  online  and place blame on the victim? 

The other aspect that the codes fail to recognise is the ability of the offender. ​Very often  an offender will  hide or actually disguise their techniques and just like a magician  people fail to spot this. 

The video below is an example where the  victim had no chance​

​You could argue that if she was in a heightened state of awareness she  may have been able to react and seems she had a hood up but are we need to teach personal safety with some actually reality and normalisation. If people are always on pins of being attacked then personal safety has failed to do its  job and that is to help people feel more safe and confident and not make them feel  in fear!

One of the key aspects of self defence training is ​getting people to feel  empowered and the Threat Scanning Model works  because it is  relaxed, after all it is just a  way of seeing and only when we actually see something that catches our attention based on knowledge or experience do we  need to take action and even then we might not want or need  to but I personally feel the more relaxed we are the more likely you can spot dangers.

The actual video of Jeff Cooper talks  about muggers selecting victims based on stature etc. This is  true,  we know that people who are not  confident  or  are vulnerable will slouch, drop their heads and look an easy target. Self Defence training empowers people and  tells them that if they are attacked they can and do  have the power to  fight back, and if  they make key changes they are likely to avoid trouble and stature is part of  this. But that is different than being 'aware or ready to fight back'.

To finish  I personally believe that Coopers Colour Codes is an outdated model of analysis. We know from modern science that we do not think like the colour  codes and encouraging people to be in some form of readiness is not needed. Through quality training and information you will be able to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle where you are equally ready to defend yourself and take action. 

To finish off and for a bit of fun our last video showcases the famous scene from the Pink Panther films  where the Inspector comes home. I personally f​eel that Coopers Codes want everyone to be in that state of awareness!

Take care and stay safe

Systema: How It Beat Pro Boxers in a Scientific Power Study!

Systema Striking

Systema is a Russian Martial Arts system I admit I have had little time for because I thought it lacked  any real power.  In this article,you will read in one evening how I was wrong about Systema and how a room of pro  boxers were blown away by the striking of Systema!

Let me explain why:

systema punching

For those that don't know my main qualifications (I hate that term but people do ask)  are that I was a boxer for a long time I even worked as a Pro Boxing Official for a short time (I actually worked  at a few world title fights) I was the guy that signed off on people gloves to ensure they were  correctly on/ no horse shoes in them!

In addition to this I hold a Judo black belt and I was a cop for 17 years so  this in my book is reasonable proof  that  I  have seen a lot of heavy hitters in my time and I have had my fair share of real incidents. I am not easily impressed by anything.

Now like many I have seen Systema  videos on the web and to be honest I  was not very impressed. To me it always seemed too 'soft' for me to give it any real investigation. I  have had many forum debates about this on line as well as leading UK Systema expert Rob Poyton of Cutting Edge Systema can attest.  I admit video's  I  had seen on the web had generally turned me off. That  is until I saw this guy in action:

This actually lead to a total re think about Systema and I ended up writing an article about how Systema might actually be one of the best forms of self Defence.

Now I have seen countless martial artists ridicule Systema videos on the web but the Systema guys and girls just seem to  take it  into their strides and don't  even bother to get involved in this debate. It is like water off a ducks back which again impressed me.

Now before I continue I probably need to tell people who may be unfamiliar with Systema what it is so I asked Rob Poyton  (Systema Instructor) for description.

What is Systema The Russian Martial Art?

Rob Said- "Systema is a Russian method of training based on traditional health and martial practices, developed for modern use by experts within Russian Special Forces. Systema has no grading system and no formalised patterns. It incorporates many areas of training and was developed from a European perspective. Classes are informal and based on the individual more than the group. Training is designed so that basic principles can be picked up very quickly. Systema teaches freedom of movement and the skills of controlling emotions / psyche and the body in a variety of situations"

Now that we have that out of the way lets continue and  explain what blew me away about Systema and totally changed my mind:

What the UFC Has in Common With Systema

One of my martial arts friends is Mikey Wright,  he is  a Defence Lab instructor but is a also a teacher of Systema. Now those that know Mikey will agree he is a great martial artist an all round cool guy. However he is also involved with an amazing strike training company. The company is  based in the UK and they can test the striking power of any combat athlete. The technology has been seen and used by Connor Mcgregor of UFC fame.

Check out the equipment below:

So Mikey asked me if I knew of any pro boxers that might want to take a test  on the equipment to measure their strikes and I called some of my contacts and hooked Mikey's team up with a pro boxing gym I know.

So this is where it gets interesting- the boxers all clearly hit really hard and the measurements showed this. But at the end of the evening  Mikey had a go himself.

Now he used a different strike to the ones  use by the boxers, it was a clothes line type of strike and a back hand. Boom the back hand was more powerful than the boxers hardest strikes and then the clothesline style well that was double the power of any boxers strike!!!

So lets say this again- It was double the power of any strike that the pro boxers could throw.

Now I  asked Mikey about this strike and he stated that the power generation he used was from Systema and let me say this- when the pro boxers saw the scientific results they were impressed!

This is science!! showing that by using a different method of power generation  we can see double the results.

Systema Review

If you watch the video below you will see the technique that Mikey used to generate the power I witnessed:

Now already I am starting to see how Systema could  add value to  Judo when you consider the use of Body mechanics. Take  a look at the next video that shows Go Tsunoda ( a Judo coach) using body mechanics in a similar way:

I am especially liking the way that Systema seem to use the shoulders and hips and I have to say I am super excited to learn more.

Now you can take my opinion with a pinch of salt if you wish but I dont teach systema, I dont sell systema products (although Im going to buy some now) AND I dont actually do Systema. My loyalty is to bringing my readers (10,000 each month) quality articles that  encourage personal martial arts and self defence growth.

The facts are simple- using scientific  equipment the Systema strike was more powerful  than the pro boxers. Now I have no idea how the strike  compares with another art say Systema v Krav Maga or anything else for that matter, but in this case I was  impressed.

I am hoping that we can get some of the footage released to  show the power difference but we have a lot of legal stuff to go through to do this. However for now, my opinion of Systema is completely changed and I look forward to learning more about it.

To finish off I have included a really good Systema mini documentary which I  think you will enjoy- its only 15 minutes long but well worth it.

What  are your thoughts about Systema? Comment below  and let me know

Until next time

Andrew Holland



Let us Handle Your Martial Arts Marketing



If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that over the last few months we have launched our own digital media business. This was to focus full time on our sites and also on the sites for our ever growing list of martial arts clients.

Now I would like to formally give you the opportunity to come on board with our business so that we can help to promote your business on-line.

What Exactly Do We Do?

At Zoogly Media we blog and manage social media. Sounds simple enough however behind this are a serious amount of professional tools and a lot of experience.

zoogly ad

In the last 60 days we reached 2 Million People on line and we can help you to reach far more people than you ever thought possible.

But how?

Well lets say for a second that you are a club and have 60 students but you want to expand and grow to 100. How are you going to do this?

The answer  is simple- marketing.

Like it or not the only way you are going to grow your business is by marketing, be it via leaflets, word of mouth, posters or  any other form of marketing. This is really the only way you can grow.

However social media and internet marketing represents the best type of marketing you can employ.  This is what we can do for you at a price that you can afford.

Zoogly Media who now own The Self Defence Expert.com and a  range of other sites are here to take care of your Internet Marketing for a price of Just £15.67 per day!!!

Thats it!!!! So what do you get?

Blogging- We will not only blog for you but we will Build you a purpose built blog with cutting edge technology and image compression, your blog will be super fast and work on all devices. This blog will  be optimised for Search Engines so your club is found by anyone looking for martial arts training in your area.

We will write articles for your business and these articles will help you to be seen by more people on line. Our  articles always have an aim, that is why  we  are reaching a million people every month now. We want to help you reach far more  people than you ever imagined within your community.

Google Domination- People go on line to search for martial arts training, this is a fact. We will make sure your site and club is seen multiple times on the web. Your internet presence will be much larger.

SEO Search Engine Optimisation- We will get your current site ranking higher on Google for the terms your customers will be searching for. We will even help you get in front of customers looking for more popular martial arts in your area. Our Google Ninja tactics will get you seen by a lot more people!

Social Media Management- Over the years we have developed  a range of techniques that get you seen by the right people on social media. We take social media and expand your reach. We will post daily to your page members and help run competitions, give aways and much more.

Email Marketing- We will use email marketing in ways you never thought possible, we will take care of this aspect for you, emailing potential customers, current members and help you to reach far more people and get them coming on board as full time members of your school.

Detailed Reports- We will provide you with full detailed reports showing exactly how we have helped you.

No Contracts- We have a zero contract policy, if our work isnt benefiting you then just cancel at any time!

For a service like  this most media companies would charge several thousand pounds, SEO work alone (search engine optimisation) can cost in excess of £5,000 alone!!!!

We will charge you just £470 per month!!!!  This is a huge reduction against what we normally charge people for this same service!!!

Now we have a lot of work on at this moment so this offer will not be open for long, in fact we take on a limited number of clients so we can really focus on going a great service so if you are interested please get in touch with me either via Facebook

or email me on


We can help take your business to a new level!!!





Shaolin Kung Fu: Why Could Be Bigger Than BJJ This Year!

Why Shaolin Kung Fu and Wing Chun Could Be Bigger Than BJJ This Year!


shaolin kung fu


The purpose of this article is to look at some things happening in the world of martial arts that you may have not spotted, in particular Shaolin Kung Fu.

By the end I hope you might understand not only why I feel that Kung Fu Techniques will be seen more in MMA but why it could grow to the same popularity as BJJ over the next few years ( I am well aware that Kung Fu used to be huge). I will also examine the new science which shows the unique health benefits that arts such as Kung Fu Might possess.

It is in article that has just under 2000 words and is heavy on video so please take your time to read and enjoy the article.  I also might point out that I do not do Kung Fu. I am a former boxer, Judo black belt and Vale Tudo guy. So I think to have an outsiders view on Kung Fu and offer some incite might be useful for other non Kung Fu people.

In the Beginning there Was David Carrdine and Kung Fu

When I was a little by I was obsessed by the David Carradine show Kung Fu. It was the story of a Shaolin Monk who went off and had little adventures week by week (or that's at least how I remember it). Back then Kung Fu was the art to be reckoned with and Shaolin Kung Fu in particular was the art that was the Grand Daddy of them all.

I had images of the Shaolin Monastery in my mind as being some kind of voluntary harsh labour camp where in exchange for mopping floors you were taught how to become a fighting machine.

I was pretty sure that if you wanted to be tough then you needed to be a Shaolin Monk or certainly learn Kung Fu at least.

My thoughts on Kung Fu became more intense over the years simply because I kept reading more about it in magazines such as Martial Arts Illustrated. I recall seeing guys wearing motor cycle helmets in training and was like "they must hit really hard"  however I really lost any interest because when I was about 15 UFC Fever hit the world and everyone became a grappler over night.

I ended up getting a copy of UFC 2 on video and saw a a range of martial arts including Kung Fu get owned by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner Royce Gracie and ultimately this did end up fuelling my grappling journey later in life.

However recently I have been hearing, seeing and learning things that makes me think that Kung Fu and in particular Shaolin Kung Fu has a lot more to offer and because of one fighter we may see a huge increase in Kung Fu uptake again. I will explain why here:

Shaolin Kung Fu Techniques

There are lots of kung fu styles out there and to be honest I know next to nothing about any of them, however there are 2 that have always caught my eye. The first of course is the Shaolin Style and the next is Wing Chun.

Wing Chun first came to my attention when reading about Jeet kune Do and I liked it. I was a boxer those days and straight punches were my thing, speed of hand with correct technique is so misunderstood by most martial artists but to be honest I could never find enough footage of Wing Chun in action to warrant any belief in it as a fighting system. Yes it made sense to me, straight and fast punches on a single line. However when you can watch Mike Tyson destroy people on boxing Videos and watch Royce Gracie Tap out everyone in a cage your whole reference point or belief system on what works 'for real' can easily be determined on sports martial arts alone.

Now I wont lie, my closet love for Kung Fu was further enhanced by watching the new Ip Man films of which Mike Tyson is going to star in Ip Man 3. However the scene where by Ip man takes on a load of karate guys and whoops them is now part of  the all time great fighting scenes. Take a look at it below:

Now you could forgive me for being a bit romanticised by this clip but a short while ago a bit of real life Karate v Wing chun footage came across my desk and I was shocked by what I saw. Wing Chun Kung Fu in action and yes it was amazing!!! Take a look:

It was all there, the Wing Chun stance, the calm solid fighting style and of course the superb chain punching. Wing Chun really did look amazing in the video.

So where am I going with this?

Yes I really do see the appeal of these classical arts, they are direct, powerful and fast! Whats not to like?

But hold on I said that Shaolin Kung Fu and Wing Chun could be bigger than BJJ this year didnt I! Yes I did so let me explain.

Enter Yi Long- The Shaolin Fighter

A young fighter named Yi Long who many say is a Shaolin Monk has been gaining a huge on line following recently.  His very destinctive style in the ring and combined with his look certainly have drawn a lot of fans to watch his fights. The video below shows him in action and is a great fight to watch where he stops his opponent.  His takes on a Muay Thai fighter in this match.

The next big fight Yi Long has signed will be to face the Muay Thai Tree Destroyer known as Buakaw Banchamek which takes place in June 2015 . Buakaw is one tough fighter and perhaps is most famous for his hugely popular video showing him kicking down a tree which I have included in this post:

This is the Mayweather v Pacquiao of the martial arts, a superfight that could be amazing.

But what if Yi Long wins? Well let me tell you this the world will start to go ever so Kung Fu mad again because when you add to this  Mike Tyson starring in Ip Man 3 with Donnie Yen then we will yet again be gripped by Kung Fu mania.

But Do Shaolin and Wing Chun Techniques Work?

I hear what you are saying, this is all great in sport but its not MMA or Self Defence, so do the techniques work in those arenas?

Well if we take MMA which is heavily designed for the grappler then I would say all it takes is one very good wing chun person to enter the cage with some basic grappling and dominate.

How?- Well in MMA fights which have now become kind of repetitive, we see a lot of missed opportunities on the cage where people are wrestling for position. This is the ideal moment for wing chun chain strikes to be used, fast strikes that score punches and cause a lot of facial damage. Everyone is looking for the take down or defending the take down. They are not seeing the opportunity  to land these shots.

Ground defence? In a fight where one person is a great take down artist and the other is a striker we have usually seen the striker taken down and submitted.  But why? The answer lies in a lack if training on the ground. Now whilst Kung Fu people do not heavily focus on ground techniques there is grappling in Kung fu! Some very devastating forms as well. We just havent seen it in the UFC as of yet. It doesnt mean that it isnt out there.

In the video below I have included a some footage form a guy who trains in a variety of arts but here he is training in Chinese grappling. Looks a lot like Judo, and I am aware that many Kung Fu styles have this type of training incorporated into their systems. You just dont get to see them very often, but once we do it could really change the way people feel about Kung Fu and MMA.

Now there are of course a lot of if buts and maybes in this post, well that is because we have yet to see a truly world class Wing Chun or Kung Fu person enter MMA. When it happens I truly believe it will be something special.

But what about self defence?

This is a good question can Kung Fu work in self defence? Err hell yeah. Kung Fu really can work in self defense situations, just check this video of these Kung Fu Cops in action:

This is a fantastic video because you will start to see the great variety of ranges that Kung Fu has, from grappling to striking.

Shaolin Kung Fu Strength and Conditioning Training

One of the most interesting aspects of Kung Fu is its strength and conditioning aspects. Shaolin Kung Fu has become known for its Iron Shirt training whereby the internal energy and organs are strengthened, however there methods of basic training are still very impressive.

We see lots of body weight work, lots of stretching and I guess you good argue its like a fighting version of 'free running'. This is a hidden element in kung fu, yes we may not see the same type of training as in an MMA club but that doesnt mean they don't have strength and conditioning routines Check the videos below:

We have seen exercises like this across the world now in modern fitness clubs and classes, but the horse stance, rapid and explosive movements combined with fighting techniques are excellent strength and conditioning drills well worth exploring.

The Mind Body Element


To finish off we will also look at another reason we might see a huge uptake in Kung Fu students.  For me this is the mind and body focus on training.

In a world where we rush around, we now have very little time for strong mental exercise. We are seeing our senses bombarded with a range of different stimulus and to be honest my own brain very often aches each day when I sit down at night.

So is it any wonder that now science has started to prove that things like meditation and internal energy might actually exist and have huge potential to impact on our health. They arent sure how or why this is happening but it does.

This article on IFL Science is a fact based article that discusses the use meditation on Cancer patients and how the mind can directly change our bodies on a  cellular level. It is just one of thousands of articles out there on the subject which I will be examining in detail over the coming months.

So if martial arts like Kung Fu and Shaolin Kung Fu place a heavy focus on meditation and the mind body experience it is very likely that people studying these arts can both have improved ability to protect themselves and great leaps forward in health and conditioning.


The scope of this article was to look at why Wing Chun (or any Kung Fu system) and Shaolin Kung Fu could enjoy a resurgence in popularity to the kind of scale enjoyed by BJJ.

We have not only seen that footage of Wing Chun in fights is now on line but it is very impressive, we have also seen that Shaolin Kung Fu techniques are being seen in the ring and being used to great efffect.

Add to this the clear uses in self defence situations, potential for MMA and the clear increase in evidence of a mind/ body connection we start to see that Kung Fun really could sweep the world again. However the real interest may come from the new IP Man Film which stars Mike Tyson.

In a world of various martial arts I like to try and predict trends and I see that the Kung Fu trend may be just around the corner!

Would you like to see it?

If so let me know or share this post

Andrew Holland


Watch as This Grandad Fights off 3 Armed Burglars! (video)




They say that men aren't the same as they used to be,  and that our Grandads generation are made from far harder stuff!

Well if you are looking for proof of how tough Grandads actually are then look no further because here we have the proof.

Andrew Adamson a Grandad of 4 came home following a night out to find that 3 burglars had broken it to his house. So what does this Grandad do? He shows them who is boss and throws them right out of his house.

One of the burglars even had a razor blade that he pulled and one attack him with a pole.

Andrew suffered injuries that required seven stitches but during the incident, but as if throwing 3 armed masked men out of his house wasnt enough he even managed to pull one of the masks off. That mask was handed to the police and the DNA from the mask later lead to a conviction.

So there you have it, but I know you want to watch the video so here you have it, CCTV footage of the incident. Well done Grandad!


for the full article click here

The Truth About The Self Defence Expert, Defence Lab and FAST!

This is a post specifically aimed at my regular readers. It will hopefully give a real insight into myself and this blog and in the process reveal some things you might find really interesting.  I will also talk about FAST Defence, Defence Lab and a few other things.

Now a lot of people reading this blog do not know my true background but here it is:

I am a black belt in Judo

I have studied numerous martial arts

I was a boxer

I was a Fitness Instructor and a Pro Boxing official.

Now I have never thought that any of this makes me more of an expert in self defence than any other martial artist, however the one thing that does give me a unique perspective is that I also spent 17 years in the police as a police officer.

Its only recently that I left the service after being diagnosed with chronic asthma which has changed my life . I have always had to keep my professional background quite separate from my on line activities however I feel that this post deserves some weight to my opinions and I have never disclosed this before

Why Am I an Expert? 

The term expert is an interesting one and has in many ways a lot of meanings, however I must add that I have never felt that I am THE only person who is an expert in self defence. In fact I believe that there are numerous people out there with much more experience and skills than I, some who have public persona's and some that don't.

I have always maintained the view that I have more experience than some but less than others and that the only thing that makes my views unique is that I forged them through experience.

I joined the police as a 16 year old under their strange Cadet programme which saw 16 year old males and females join the police in an early entry scheme. From there I became a regular officer at 18 and as such my martial arts studies adapted very quickly.

I never had the culture shock that my martial arts needed to adapt to deal with reality because I was so young my skills were based around the reality that I was facing every day.

I recall going to a martial arts club for one session and never going back because I knew what they taught would just fold under any pressure. But how do you tell that to a person or an instructor that their skills would end up getting them hurt if they ever had to use them?

You Dont.

That is not my place to tell people that because if what they study keeps them happy who am I to burst that bubble.

My personal training would be forged in the boxing gym where I would learn my skills and I later became the British Police Boxing Champion and represented The British Police in International Events as part of their team.

I would later go into Vale Tudo and Submission wrestling but found Judo and fell in love, becoming the PSUK (Police) Judo champion Kyu Grade champion and later earning my Dan Grade.

KFM, Defence Lab and Andy Norman

For those that dont know I previously wrote an article for Martial Arts Illustrated (the Number 1 Magazine in Martial Arts) This was a dream come true for me because I had spent so long reading their magazine and to get a chance at writing for them was amazing.

However the true story behind this may surprise many.

At work myself and another had set up a martial arts training group with the idea of getting seminars for us all. The group was pretty hardcore with some very skilled martial artists of all arts and grades who wanted to try new things. I had been reading all about Andy Norman in Martial Arts Illustrated and I wanted to see what this KFM thing was all about.

So we booked a seminar and Paul Strauther and James Boyle came along with other instructors to our group and our minds were blown away. Needless to say I thought that this system of  self defence was simply brilliant.

Footage from that seminar

Footage from that seminar


Alas I didn't actually stay training KFM as I was so heavily into Judo at the time but many of my friends did and they became high level keysi students in later days.

How My Club Ended

I kept in touch by reading about Keysi and looking on line. I guess it was seeing their success that I decided to start my own martial arts club, it was a weekly class I called Masac Ju Jitsu and my friend Georgi who is a top Sambo and Judo guy set it up.

It seemed logical because at that time I had become an Judo black belt and combined this with my boxing background, police experience and some KFM drills I thought combined with Georgis skills we would be packed out.

So without ever even logging onto Facebook I handed out a few flyers and expected the rush through the door. I even paid for a newspaper advert but still the club struggled. It took me months to get to the point where 10 people would come but that was not consistent.

But I knew nothing then about lead generation, websites, class plans or anything else. I had only ever taught short seminars over the years and they were always on request so we ensured they were packed out. But the weekly class model eluded and confused me.

So I studied a little on marketing and got a website which was you guessed it The Self Defence Expert.com.  And after many months we started getting consistent numbers but we had an issue, we were a Ju Jitsu Hybrid and as such we needed decent mats and the facility had terrible mats that slipped over the floor.  I couldn't afford to buy a load of mats and I made a decision that this was not going to work, not to any level that was right so I pulled the plug before anyone got hurt, we so nearly had a broken arm from a slippy mat incident and I couldnt have a self employed builder break his arm and lose money because we used 'crap' mats.

I felt defeated and deflated after putting so much effort into developing a club, but it was the start of a learning curve that would lead to my current work.

Oddly despite the close of my club I kept the website and for some reason I enjoyed writing about martial arts so started I started blogging, I was one of the first blogs on self defence that got any real traction and the result was one day I get a call from the BBC!

One Site Gets Exposed to 7.3 Million Listeners

I answered the phone and it was a radio producer was speaking too me and asking questions about my views on self defence and after a short interview I was asked if I wanted to go on BBC Radio 2 that day on the Jeremy Vine show.

I am told that its about 7.3 Million listeners that tune in to that show and 45 minutes after the call I was on the show talking about self defence.

Suddenly I was on the map of martial arts and from that day I realised that a few web pages could be more powerful than an advert in the local paper and I was hooked.

With Growth Comes Discomfort

All of a sudden my blog started to grow and I started to study more about on line marketing than actual martial arts. It became an obsession and I vowed that I would never open up another martial arts club again unless  I knew all I could about marketing, business and the on line world.

I tested everything I could and my next big break came when I was asked by the head of corporate training of the British Judo Association if I would do some research for a self defence project they were launching. I did this  and the head of corporate training sadly left the role a few weeks later so I never got to help implement any of the ideas we looked into and the project was moth balled after his departure.

It says a lot that 3 years later the British Judo Association still has no self defence product.

My Old Primal Logo

My Old Primal Logo

As my site grew I became under pressure to start my own system of self defence and something called Primal Combatives was born. It was a success from the out, people were interested and we had 20 sign up within a week for our first instructors 'top team' course.

But we attracted more and more 'heat' as we got seen by more people. On line battles and abuse commenced and you would have thought I was trying to rip people off. However people slagged off everything but it was generally from people who were really heavily involved in their own systems or arts.

Eventually I had enough of all the 'keyboard warriors' and as such I decided to leave it all behind. I mean here I was working full time hours as a police officer, writing internet articles and trying to create a system of self defence. In the end I had my fill of the martial arts community.  So I stopped teaching any self defence.

After dusting myself off a few months later I got back involved in on line writing and I started studying on line media with serious drive and before I knew it my site started to grow but this also came at a time when my health was really changing.

I would soon be diagnosed with severe and chronic asthma which meant my sporting career would drastically changed. This of course gave me a few options, either moan about it or get on with it. I decided to start learning more but in the end my career was over.

Out of the Ashes
Me in a Judo event

Me in a Judo event

Out of the ashes of my old career has already a begun a new career which has seen me start my own media business. I'm 14 days into that now and I'm working with some amazing people and brands.

Three of the brands I work with are FAST Defence, SAFE International and Defence Lab.  For myself these are real pioneers of self defence and martial arts and each has really unique product.

Defence Lab as we know is the creation of Andy Norman and in my opinion is the best weekly class structure programme and martial arts business there is. Not only are the techniques original, practical and really do work. The system is really fun. Andy Norman is one of the best martial artists in the world, a great man and really nice. So is his whole team including Grek, who comes across as the most humble of guys but moves like lightening and hits like a sledge hammer!

FAST Defence is the science based training that looks at how we conduct ourselves in the presence of fear and adrenalised states. It is amazing what these guys and girls at FAST are actually achieving with events like 48 hours of Adrenaline. These are experts in military and law enforcement tactics but unlike others they are combining their knowledge with scientists. FAST Defence is really going deep into how conflict, Fear and Adrenaline affects us and how we can improve how we react in bad situations.  With guys like Bill Kipp, Wayne Hubball and Woody Boyd involved this brand is going places FAST (pardon the pun)

SAFE International is the Global self defence business that is focused on providing self defence information to all and training programmes for high school females. They are on a mission to teach self defence to 500,000 by 2020 and they have already taught 193,000!!

Headed by Christopher Roberts a true expert in self defence SAFE International are doing great work!

All three are very different yet they are in my opinion the best out there. I am working with others in sports and different industries also, its now my passion to help others get their messages to more people.

My journey in martial arts has taken a strange and unexpected turn as I have gone from a struggling club owner to working with some of the best brands in martial arts but despite illness I am very happy with how it has gone.

I will be talking more about FAST, Safe and DL over the coming weeks and also taking this blog into a new direction which focuses on the things that its readers want.

It was kind of a personal article but it needed to be done to form some form of closure of this section of my life and for the blog and myself to go onto a new journey.

Take care and stay safe.




Why 50 % of Martial Arts Schools Will Go Out Of Business This Year

going out of busienss

Over 50 % of Martial Arts Schools Could Go Out Of Business This Year

This may come as a shock to some of you but the vast majority of martial arts schools are going to go out of business and fast! But how do I know this?  I'm not a psychic, but I do know about the internet and web sites and Google is about to stop sending web traffic to some martial arts websites on 21st April 2015.

Now before you flip out let me explain. On 21st April Google will roll out its latest search algorithm update. This update is focused on one aspect alone, mobile searches on the internet.

So what does this mean? Well Ill put it like Google did, either your website is mobile friendly or it isnt. This is as cut and dry as it gets. So how will this effect your business? Pretty badly to be honest as it is estimated that as much as 50% of Google searches take place on mobile devices. So in essence if your website is not mobile friendly then it will not rank as well as a mobile friendly one. Potentially Google wont even show the site at all in its search results on mobile devices.

I did a check and there are about 50% of martial arts clubs or schools with websites that arent mobile friendly. Most of the big martial arts organisation and governing bodies don't even have mobile friendly websites.

mobile friendly

This means that when a person searches on a mobile device for your club, school, martial arts in your area or whatever keywords you target for your business then a Google is likely to bring the mobile friendly sites first. This means that your competitors sites could come back above your own or your site simply doesn't even appear in the results at all.

So what can you do?

Id like to say that this is going to be easy but for a lot of people you will need a whole new website making for you. I googled a lot of schools and they are not mobile friendly and in the age of internet and mobile devices this will have serious impact on martial arts club that are slow on the uptake.

You may at first notice less traffic or leads form your web site or potentially you may experience your site simply give virtually zero website returns.

How do you check if your website is mobile friendly? Simple, Google has a free tool for you to check: click here

All you need to do is to enter your site and let google check for you, it takes a few seconds to get the verdict.

mobile freindly 2


Feel free to google all about the 21st April update as the web is full of information about it but if you want some personal free advice fill in our contact form on our home page or message us via facebook.

Sorry to give bad news but you have until 21st April to get it sorted!

If you are struggling to understand how this will change your business then please get in touch

All the best


How To Grow UK Judo Membership to 200,000 Within 2 Years!

Andrew Holland

To read the Eju article click here


There has been a lot of negativity in the press and world at large about Judo. The recent decision by the European Judo Union to take the European Judo championship out of Britain over a sponsor ship issue caused both floods of support for the decision and outrage at what occurred. However at some point the dust settles and one thing is clear, we need to get back to the task at hand which is growing Judo in Britain, and in this post and am going to explain just how to do it!

Like it or not Judo is not anywhere nearly as big as it should be, especially here in the UK. but why?

Over the years I have heard every excuse going, from 'people just don't like it', 'its because of the use of Japanese language', 'people like punching and kicking' (the Gracie s proved otherwise), 'its too expensive', 'its too cheap'.........the list could go on and on.

However there is absolutely no reason why Judo cannot be as big as any other sport in the UK.

Current Sporting Levels

According to Sport England:

"The number of people in England who regularly take part in sport is rising.

During the year up to October 2014, 15.6 million people aged 16 years and over in England played sport at least once a week. That’s an increase of 1.6 million since 2005/6 – the first year of the survey."

Now current Judo participation in Britain is estimated to be around 26,000 members (my estimate based of a few figures). if we are to look at the recent surveys done by Sport England we can see that Judo has had 'no change' in active members however that isnt a good thing.

Judo survey

With the increase in overall sport activity increasing we need to catch some of that traffic and this is how you do it. Ready

Traffic+Conversion= Profit

This is the very basic recipe for success that exists for all business, I use the term traffic broadly because it basically means 'interested people' and that can take the form of website visits, phone enquires or even simply reading a leaflet.

The next part of the process of course is key- Conversion. After all you can have all the traffic in the world but unless you can convert them into customers then it wont make any different to your business/ sport. Once converted you will see your membership grow, profits grow and opportunities grow.

Judo needs to be focused on one thing, Growth!

The major slap in the face for Judo is that boxing has grown to around 145,100 weekly users and so has Taekwondo with 29,100. All these figures are for the ages 16+

This of course really is more of a power slap in the face for Judo because it blows every excuse out of the water as Taekwondo is an Eastern Martial Art.

OK, so enough about the bad, how do we grow?

Focus on 5 Areas 

5 areas of business need to be focused on to grow Judo and this comes from data that shows the core motivating factors for taking up Judo.

They are:




SOCIAL- Making New Friends

The fifth area of change needs to be communication!

The sad part of all this is that the road map for things is pretty much already laid out, you just have to borrow the best things others are doing and then make them unique to British Judo.

If we were to look at boxing for example we see a sport that has grown a lot. We now see Boxercise, White collar, tournaments, team events, Club shows, University programmes and many more.

However Judo needs to follow this route, its thought about it but never has really done this.

Self Defence

The aspect of self defence training can not be ignored, there is a huge market out there for the self defence aspect of Judo to grow, hell even cross fit now has 'cross fit defence'!

Now many people will have their own opinions about what Judo Self Defence should be and I am not going to argue this here, I would just say look at what's out there and doing well to give an indication. However the self defence strategy is more complex that just putting a self defence programme together it acts as a conversion tool.

Street Safety

Data shows ghat there are 8.2 million pupils in 24,372 schools in England. This is what I refer to as 'easy pickings'

Imagine that in each of those schools you had just 20 more children doing Judo. The effect this can cause is:

20 x 24,372 = 487,440 new members

Just doing this sees a huge amount of increase, but the trick is what you sell. Judo for Judo's sake is not right, you need to use the various elements of Judo as a separate product to drive more customers into full judo. It works like this:

Andrew Holland

The basic idea is that these areas all offer something that provides an aspect of Judo to increase funds for the main association and then also acts as a lead generation tool for Judo.

In the form of street safety, a programme I devised a long time ago (but have never sold or taught it) the idea is to bring martial arts and self defence together to build respect among children of all ages. The idea is based around respect. However if you look at what the Gracie family have done with their anti bullying programme you get the basic premise.

Watch these videos

It doesnt matter what you think about these programmes just think of the scope.

Fitness and Increased Strength

I am going to focus on these things together because its a key part of growth. At this time we know that the fitness industry is huge, any idiot can seen this and its growth is estimated in report to be worth a huge £3.92 billion (2013 figures) According to this site we can see the following:

  • Total Market Value (public and private sectors combined) is estimated at £3.92 billion, up 1.5% on 2012
  • 12.6% of the UK population are now registered as members of a private health and fitness club or a publicly-owned fitness facility contrasting with 12.1% in the previous year
  • Total industry membership base is the strongest growth indicator, up 4.5% to 7.9 million over the past 12 months
  • 167 new public and private fitness facilities opened in the 12 month period ending 31st March 2013, up from 163 in 2012, 149 in 2011 and 122 in 2010
  • There are now 6,019 fitness facilities in the UK, up from 5,900 last year

So why didnt Judofit take off? The simple answer is marketing.

Judo has the fittest athletes in the world and now thanks to Neil Adams we have huge opportunities with the equipment he has created that offer the potential to take Judo exercises to the general public. Take a look at his battle belts for an example and his uchikomi bands.

By creating a programme based on fitness that is branded for Judo we see an opportunity to grow Judo revenue and also increase revenue for clubs by holding sessions at Judo clubs and also by running them at leisure centres. You could even sell courses to non Judoka because at the end of the day its one big advert for Judo!

After all who wouldn't want to stake part in an exercise programme designed to increase fitness to the levels of Olympic Athletes!! Cross-fit move over, enter Judo-Fit.

The Judo Newaza League

My post about the Judo Newaza League or JNL as I call it was a huge success and resonated with so many. BJJ is great but I find Judo Newaza far more fast paced, and the lack of leg locks and use of Pins really changes the groundwork game.

The idea for the Newaza league was to provide a focus point for groundwork fans and centred around some key facts:

  • Get the Newaza experts together and pay them- well!
  • Create a Syllabus to improve Newaza based on these experts
  • Create an online membership site with this information
  • Create a competitive structure with an on line league table
  • Charge an optional £5 per member to join the league and get access to all the above

If Judo has say 26,000 members and only 50% of them opt in to this you are talking about an additional £65,000 income. More than enough to pay the people involved and for set up etc.

However more importantly you actually stop or slow down any desire that Judoka have to leave Judo for BJJ. It also offers an opportunity for older Judoka with injuries to stay in the sport and excel on a competitive basis. This again means more income for Judo and increased retention.

Kosen Judo has been around for a long time and this project really embraces this. It also offers the older kyu grade Judoka a chance to embrace the sport. Yes they might not want to get thrown a lot but this offers them an alternative.


Im not going to go over this as its all pretty obvious but Judo creates great friends and a truck load of respect. It has a huge social aspect because it is the only sport where International athletes train together and barriers of race and religion are totally dissolved and everyone is seen as Judoka, everyone is human.

I see no other combat sport on the planet where this level of mutual respect is achieved, check it out below:

This is a huge advertisement for Judo, where different nationalities can train and compete in a combat sport that is not destructive and brings people together. This is the way forward.


I have saved the most important aspect for last because how we communicate the above to people is perhaps the make or break of this. Judo wont sell itself and you have to be clear on the benefits of Judo. People buy benefits!

There needs to be increased presence on Youtube because we know that from youtube own data the following is seen:

12 Million adults in the UK aged 16-34 years use Youtube every month

78 5 of those 12 million share links to content at least once a month

35% use social media whilst watching sports content on Youtube

29% Say that sharing sports videos with others is part of the overall experience

78% say that when they find a brand they like they stick with them!

I cant underestimate just how important that You Tube is to growing Judo but then so is email marketing. The science of sending the right emails to the right people at the best time is far beyond the scope of this post.

I could go on about communication but I think you get the point!

The last hidden element I will talk about is business systems. Judo needs to grow and to do this both financial stability needs to be obtained. This isnt done by 'mat fees'. It isnt done by people giving up their spare time.

It is achieved by a far more professional outlook and programme. However again this is a  very complicated subject.

So after 1800 words I think I have made a point. Its time to forget about the loss of the Euro's and concentrate on Judo Growth. What do you think of these ideas? Any good?Let me know by commenting below

One thing is certain. Judo wont grow itself and by starting a lot of solid data driven campaigns we will see Judo grow.

The Drug That Makes People Violent-Cocaethylene



The Drug that Turns Normal People Violent-Cocaethylene

Over the last few months I have been on nights out with friends and I've been shocked by what I have seen. The UK night life scene is pretty much in decline. It saddens me to come to this realisation as I recall going out in my younger days and hitting the town around 8 pm after going to the local pub first, when you arrived there you would find almost every bar busy and you would have to get to the nightclub early to queue up. If you weren't wearing a shirt, shoes and trousers then you simply wouldnt be allowed into the venue!

The current UK night life scene doesn't really resemble that, and to be honest its pretty much down to the males! The females still dress to impress and you can easily see that ladies on nights out spend a lot of time and effort on their appearance yet when you look at their male counter parts you see the current UK male fashion sense on display! Short and tight fitted T shirt to display muscles which look enhance by steroids and of course the tattoos on full display, and of course not forgetting the jeans and trainers!

Now before people who have tattoos jump up and shout let me say this. I have no issues with tattoos, but when you combine all of the above we have seen a new male fashion sense that is all about 'aggression'. This is alpha male creation at its finest and trust me when I went out it was on display everywhere I looked. You could almost smell the aggression in the air.

The posture on display by this younger generation was in short "up for a fight". It was as if the goal was to find a woman or fight! It certainly didnt fill me with feelings of safety, the bars were generally dumps and the glitz and glamour of a night out faded quickly.

But if you peel back the initial layers and dig a little deeper you will see that the sensations of aggression I felt weren't in my head they were real and caused by a combination of drugs that turns normal people into violent street thugs, and worse of all one of these drugs is legal!

Enter the world of cocaethylene

What is Cocaethylene ?

Cocaethylene is a substance formed when cocaine and alcohol meet the liver, So everyone that takes cocaine and then drink alcohol on a night out will create this substance inside their own bodies.

So what? That's possibly the response I would get from my younger readers. Well the following section is from the site "drinking with Charlie"

  • "when mixed with alcohol, the effects of cocaine last up to two and a half times longer.
  • cocaine counteracts the effects of alcohol giving you the feeling you can drink more.

Although mixing the two substances together can create an additional high, it can also cancel out the effects of both alcohol and cocaine and have much more serious side effects, the downside, get ready...

The effects of taking cocaine and alcohol together are far more dangerous than taking either drug alone. Cocaethylene is formed when alcohol and cocaine meet in the liver. This ‘metabolite’ remains in the body much longer, subjecting the heart and liver to a prolonged period of stress. That’s why some of the recorded deaths from Cocaethylene occur up to 12 hours after the user has mixed substances. The risk of sudden death is 18 times greater when alcohol and cocaine are used together. And what’s even worse is that you can’t see it coming, you could be feeling completely fine one minute and the next minute, BANG."

Now as if this concern about health isnt enough to worry you then the fact that Cocaethylene will make you more aggressive should. The issue occurs in the body because when you take cocaine and alcohol together the Cocaethylene that is produced actually causes you to drink far more alcohol. In effect you start to binge drink. So you start off really happy and on top of the world and shortly afterwards you end up extremely depressed.

The end result is a tendency to become more aggressive!

Stats on Drug Use

Ok so I appreciate not everyone out there takes cocaine but there is a large amount of people that do. According to government figures:

  • Those who went to nightclubs or pubs more often were more likely to use drugs frequently. Levels of use of any illicit drug more than once a month on average in the last year were higher among those who went to nightclubs four or more times in the last month (10.9%) compared with 2.3% of respondents who had not visited a nightclub in the past month. A similar pattern was found among those visiting pubs more often.

So what does that mean for you? Well I think it paints a picture that drug use on the town centres in the UK exists and with that comes a very real risk of increased aggression, and whilst I have no data to confirm this it is clear that there has been a definite move towards 'alpha male fashion'.

Some would say that this is simply down to an increase in the fitness industry. More people care now about their physical body than ever before. But hold on!!! According to data from CRI that run needle exchange programmes in the UK  they state that in 2o13 there had been a 645% in steroid users!

Last time I checked, steroid use was pretty un healthy and is all about gaining strength and improving muscular appearance.

Now according to NHS Data steroid use is on the rise and in 2010 around 250,000 people in the UK had used steroids. Other data on the web suggest increases in teen usage of steroids as well but you can google to your hearts content to read all about it.

We now start to see a very real problem emerging that we will have a culture of steroid filled coke heads getting ridiculously drunk and heading up to town centres and given that steroids naturally increase aggression and we know that taking cocaine combined with alcohol also increases aggression there can be a conclusion made that being on a night out will see you mixed with potential 'ticking time bombs'. People so wound up due to chemicals in their bodies that normal behaviour and rationality goes out of the window.

From a self defence point of view this create a lot of problems, for starters your verbal communications skills will have little effect on a person whose aggression is out somewhere in orbit, This is before you talk about the decreased ability to feel pain. I would ask are you currently training for these types of people? If not perhaps your training needs to be evaluated.


Take care




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