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.

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Join My Adventure in Martial Arts and Self Defence and along the way I will share what I have learned

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.

 

 

 

Andrew Holland

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