This is an interview with Tony Preston about himself and his amazing 1 million punches Challenge. Tony is doing an incredible thing and its well worth a share or two! He currently teaches Krav Maga in the Wirral and is literally throwing a million punches for Charity. In his interview he talks about krav maga and a load of other things such as Geoff Thompson and even Russian Sambo. Its a classic interview, amazing stuff.
Please read, like and share. But first watch this video!!
q. Hi Tony Thanks for taking the time to chat. You are perhaps one of the most interesting men in martial arts. An instructor, a pastor, a doorman, a business man, so could you tell our readers a bit about yourself.
Hi Andrew thanks for asking me to contribute. I grew up in Birkenhead and my early years revolved around being a typical latch key type kid from a dysfunctional and sometimes violent family, we lived in a terraced house with an outside toilet, my mum God rest her soul put up with a lot and sadly she ended up in hospital through domestic violence, I was shunted around from place to place by my step father.
I guess as a result of living in a bunch of different chaotic homes I dealt with it by being a naughty kid and always in trouble. I was definitely the one who would jump off the high wall as a dare and this often ended badly.
In fact by the age of 9 I had sustained many separate injuries from both inside and outside of my house, requiring various hospital visits and admissions that included, fractured skull, broken arm, broken legs, burns, fractured hip and so on. That said it did not help matters being knocked down by a car, (twice) ironically on two different zebra crossings.
Fortunately the rest of my youth was relatively injury free until I hit a lamppost on a Vespa p200e scooter as a 17 year old. I was hospitalised with a broken femur, fib, tib in my left leg, humerus in my left arm and the metacarple bones in my left hand. Unfortunately the severity of the break in my arm caused major nerve damage to the radial nerve in my left arm that resulted in my arm and hand being paralysed, the only thing I could move was my left thumb which would later on become a key element to my rehabilitation and recovery.
Leaving school early and with no qualifications I was destined to join the army after getting various awards as an army cadet in the Cheshire regiment but these injuries would stop me in my tracks. I was released from hospital and could only walk with a steel leg caliper. What followed was 3 years of physio therapy and various corrective surgery, the surgeons took the working tendon controlling my thumb and transferred it over tying it to a bunch of other tendons that had been damaged to give a better working functionality. In its day this was cutting edge and they called it the Robert Jones tendon transfer.
I seen it as a miracle when I finally got the use of my arm back, however everything I do is an adaption compared with the right arm functionality.
I began training in Shotokan Karate when I was 21 and by this time I had served my building trade apprenticeship and moved to London to start my own business, I married my lovely wife Tracey and bought a house in Tottenham.
One day when making our way to our car after shopping at Tesco, we got mugged at knife point by two young men, my wife was pregnant and I felt poorly equipped to deal with the situation fortunately a security guard turned up at the right time and they ran off. This I think was the start of my interest in reality self defence.
The early 80’s was the time of the Broad Water Farm riots in London, the day after PC Blakelock was murdered we decided to move back to Birkenhead, due to the extreme racial tension in the area at the time.
I have trained with the same karate club on and off for a 25 years or so and really love karate, my Sensei and long time friend is Mark Darcy 6th dan BKA Chikara Karate. Mark has always supported me when I felt the urge to train in other systems and actively encouraged me to go and find what I needed.
I have been running my own businesses for 31 years from roofing, Construction, internet parts supplier and painting factories and offices. For the past 12 years or so I have been involved in the gas heating and plumbing industry.
I had always resented being trapped inside a school as really I just wanted to be on another adventure some place, any place except inside a class room, however I later returned to education as a student to gain higher national qualifications and diplomas in Building, Business ,Teaching and Psychodynamic counselling.
As you have seen my childhood was somewhat traumatic and as an adult I had struggled to come to terms with some of it. This led me to explore my relationship with God.
My family had a life changing traumatic event that led me to make a decision to train as an Interfaith Minister, I was ordained in June 2010. I do my work in the dojo as opposed to a church, organised religion is not for me, I am looking for God in people not in a building.
I have always been fascinated by fear and how it holds us back or motivates us to strive forward. This fascination has been responsible for many wonder lust type adventures, mountain climbing, sailing across oceans under sail and training in Canada and Europe but I guess the decision to go and train with Pathfinder UK and jump out of airplanes in Holland was for me a real test of confronting and finally overcoming my fear. I was awarded the Dutch Military B Wing in April 2010. The point in mentioning this is that after completing the 5 static line jumps, I looked at the world very differently.
I have worked as a doorman in Liverpool and I did this as a means of exploring both my own communication skills and my ability to deal with aggressive people whilst under pressure. I have written extensively about my exploits and my efforts to remain non- violent and peaceful in the face of other peoples aggression.
q. As we have discussed before the standard of Krav Maga instructors really varies but you took the huge step to go over to Israel to get your training. Could you tell us why you took this massive step and was it worth it?
I am sure the standard of different instructors varies both in skill and attitude to what they teach. It is difficult to get the essence of what someone teaches if they have no real connection to the subject. Although with out doubt there are many great instructors here in the UK, I wanted to go to the source of Krav Maga. That’s why I decided to go to Israel not only to train at the birth place of Krav Maga but also to meet the people and immerse myself in the culture and history. I stayed in a Jewish household and ate with Jewish people in Israeli resturants.
One day I was standing in a que waiting to pay for my meal in a canteen and behind me was a female soldier from the IDF with a grenade launcher slung across her shoulder and a salad and humus on her tray, a surreal experience for me but a way of life for the Israelis.
When I was in Israel I fell in love with the country, its people and culture, I was accepted into the synagog as a gentile but felt a great warmth shown to me whilst inside, my instructor on the trip was Moshe Katz who is a past top student of Itay Gil. Moshe runs Israeli Krav International.
I think people these days get hung up on styles and ways of doing martial arts, it is also the same with KM, this style is the real one and better than that one and so on. it’s all become very political and I am not interested in politics I have only ever been interested in what really works for me.
I expect there’s something for everyone in every style or organisation it is really up to the individual to go out and see what fits.
What attracted me to KM was the concept of continually moving forward , moving inside the incoming attack, and the application of simple large motor movement in continuous and perpetual motion to overwhelm the opponent.
Krav Maga is like life in a way, we have to keep moving forward. Faced with adversity in KM, one moves forward , I mean isn’t anything that we find difficult all about moving forward and facing the difficulty full on in order to get what you want out of your life. Once we are on the back foot we are losing the initiative.
I have always been attracted to the underdog and I am a person that supports those that struggle and I see that KM is founded in the struggle of a people to survive against overwhelming odds. Let’s face the facts here, Israel is a master of the art of survival they have been fighting since the time of the Pharo’s. Krav Maga goes back along way.
My Krav Maga is simple I call it Applied Krav Maga Its not fancy and it is not pretty but anyone who has been in the middle of a real situation knows that there is no romance and roses to be found in the reality of violence. Of course there will always be purists out there but I make no claims to this or that, everything in AKM is what suits me and what I know works from my own experience.
Going to Israel was a very worthwhile thing to do, I will never forget the day I flew out, as earlier the same day I had just graded for my black belt in the Real Combat System with Geoff Thompson. Unfortunately I had sustained a few injuries from the grading which did not help matters but obviously my fitness level was good so I managed to limp and groan through the intensive training that sometimes went on till 10pm. The instructor grading on the second to last day was interesting fighting against 3 opponents at once, all of them trying to stab and beat me up, great fun. I really enjoyed training in Israel and I will be going back regularly.
q. I am aware you have also took the decision to train with Geoff Thompson, can you tell us how that is going and what are your thoughts on the Geoff Thompson course?
I actually sought out Geoff Thompson first as a spiritual mentor, this was whilst I was in my seminary training back in 2009.I asked Geoff if I could shadow him because I have great identification with the man in many ways, so initially it was not about the combat training I just saw God in him and was drawn to find something I needed.
So I asked Geoff to help me and he emailed back saying he would be delighted to help me any way he could. It followed that Geoff invited me to also train with him so I have trained with him every month pretty much for the past 5 years or so.
Even though it can get very physical it has never been about the physical for me, Geoff has been a massive influence in terms of on me expanding as a human being, I can say that Geoff is a very good friend, the type of bloke that say’s it how it is.
I am presently training for my 2nd dan with GT in the Real Combat System and hope to grade again in June.
In terms of Geoff’s courses what can I say, I have seen many people fall along the way for whatever reason but also witnessed people fly like eagles as a result of training with him. My daughter Stephanie did a master class and so did my son in law Mark. Both have grown expidentially from the experience
Geoff Thompson has been ahead of the game for years and remains so, his ideas about metaphysics and personal development through self exploration are being listened to by captains of industry and testimony to this is the success of his self sovereignty courses. I recommend Geoff completely, check him out at www.geoffthompson.com
q. one of the things you are doing right now is an amazing punchathon for charity where you are throwing a million punches. Tell us more about this and what made you decide to take up such an amazing challenge
I had the idea of throwing 1 million punches in 1 year as a result of Geoff Thompsons 100,000 punch challenge. Geoff would set people at the beginning of each master class for the new students.
I didn’t think too hard about it really I just divided 1 million by 365 and came up with the number 2739. Doable I thought so announced it same day. Whilst the iron was hot.
Of course it is a mammoth task as it takes a minimum of 2 hours a day to bang out the punches into a bag, I mainly do right upper cut or cross and left hook.
q. what does the charity you are doign this for mean to you?
There is a Childrens Hospice near where I live and I have always sort of turned a blind eye to it because it is such a painful thing to see youngsters with terminal or life threatening illnesses. I decided to man up and do something for this amazing organisation called the Claire House Childrens Hospice. So far I have raised over £1000 and have set a target of £10,000 by the end of the 1 million punch challenge which is due to finish in November 2014. Please check out my donation page at www.justgiving.com/Tony-Preston1
q What does the average day of Tony Preston look like and how do you stay in shape?
An average day for me involves all things business, of course I fit in a couple of hours in my dojo hitting a nice tear drop maze bag 2739 times. I am pleased to say my long suffering wife of thirty years supports me no end, so it’s not such a great burden. However when it came to light that I will actually be spending around 750 hours punching the bag over this 1 year CHALLENGE, she did question my sanity.
q. I am aware that you have trained in Russian Sambo. Could you tell us more about this and why you chose Sambo?
Yes I was training at the excellent Gracie Academy in Bradford with Sasha King for a year and running a Gracie garage, Geoff always talks highly of Russian Sambo so I looked in to it further and realised that there is a Sambo Master called Georgi Georgiev training out of Congleton in Cheshire, which is half the distance I was travelling to Bradford.
I have been training most weeks 1 on 1 for the past 2 years with Georgi Georgiev. I can say without a doubt that Georgi is the best coach I have trained with. He is the current Russian Sambo champion for the Uk and past Bulgarian national judo champ. The art of Sambo is a beautiful thing but devastating with an all round solid game consisting of standing, striking and even head buts, throws and a very dynamic ground system of leg knee and arm locks. Georgi and I are working on no gi moves at the moment and this fits in very nicely with my own club training when we do our groundwork.
q. Finally whats in store for the future of Tony Preston and how can people train with you and support your charity event?
What’s the future for Tony Preston. I will continue to train with Geoff and Georgi as long as they will put up with me and I will continue to seek out great coaches to learn from elsewhere, I believe the key to being successful is continued education and positive application.
I have recently qualified as an executive Business Coach so I feel that I may be moving in a different direction in the future, as a business coach.
I have built up a really good Krav Maga club and have my own dojo in Birkenhead I am blessed to have really great students who are very committed to their training. I will continue to teach and develop Applied Krav Maga .
I love teaching 1 2 1 and I’ll continue to do this however I am very short on time these days.
My mission is to keep what I do as simple and effective as possible, I believe that we should as teachers first teach love and that the real battle is with our self. Real self defence is never entering the arena by having a superior self awareness.
We have a motto at AKM which goes “ you are either all in or all out there can be no in between”
My club site is www.kravmagawirral.com
WOW A GREAT INTERVIEW NOW PLEASE SHARE!! CHEERS FOLKS