I have been training martial arts since I was aged 8 (about 29 years).

I did karate, Jeet Kune Do, Judo, Ju Jitsu, Boxing, BJJ, Vale Tudo, Wrestling and even Aikido.

Also, I spent 17 years as a police officer.

So you could say; not only have I seen a lot of martial arts I have experienced and seen real violence.

Yet, one Defence Lab seminar changed my life so much that I now teach my son the techniques from Defence Lab.  In this article, I will explain exactly, what happened and why I now choose Defence Lab over every other self-defence system.

This is an in-depth article, and I make no apologies for this, it is designed to closely examine Defence Lab and what it offers.


The Martial Gap

If you have ever trained for the competitive sport you will know there is a basic premise; the training should be as intense and as close to the real competition as possible.

If you sprint 100 Metres, you won’t be running marathons to prepare. If you play football, you don’t practise Rugby throws.

This is evident in all sports except in training martial arts for self-defence.

If you go to any martial art, you train in the actual art.  In Judo, for example, we train in Gi’s, and practise breakfalls, throws and other techniques that are part of the art.

Self-defence is rarely addressed in Judo. There is a sort of ‘expectation’ that training in Judo will cross over and help you protect yourself.

The same applies for Aikido, Karate and a whole bunch of other arts. You go to a martial arts class and practise that art, in its form.

So, you train in martial arts for a lot of reasons but clearly an expected goal is that it should help you protect yourself. However in my experience, the real world of violence is a far cry from any martial arts class, and this creates a huge issue.

I call this ‘The Martial Gap’ and it is a real problem.


Reality Bites

I spent a lot of time in the past training in what many call ‘Reality Based Self Defence’. However, while much of it is still relevant, the world has evolved.

Skill levels are higher now than ever before due in part to the global explosion of things like the UFC, K1 and submission grappling. Yet at the same time, we saw the rise of combat sports we also saw the rise of what in Britain we called ‘The ASBO Generation’.

ASBO was a term coined by the government for Anti-social behaviour orders. A court ruling that placed restrictions on people whose behaviour was utterly appalling.

This generation came with an attitude and sadly it was often one well versed with violence. In my experience, they were often children that had suffered a ‘shitty’ upbringing, but unlike the MMA fans they often developed a style of fighting that was ‘pack like’.

With little training, they would surround people and without spoken tactics, they would each play a role in bringing stronger adversaries down to the floor where they would stamp and kick the opponent into a hospitalised state.

It was during these years of reflection and education that I realised there was a huge gap in my training.

Both in terms of the martial gap and the reality gap. My training just did not match the current ‘real’ world.

This is why I ended up trying Defence Lab


The Defence Lab Feeling

I had previously tried Keysi Fighting Method (the other system co-founded by Andy Norman) however I had found that KFM was too rigid for my uses.

Without a doubt, it was excellent however the world was evolving fast and based on my experiences I felt that the old KFM was a few steps behind the curve even if it was several steps ahead of the rest.

So I went to a seminar put on by Andy Norman to experience his exciting new system called Defence Lab.

From the moment I tried DL I realised that this was not a Keysi upgrade or copy, nor was it like anything that I had seen or trained before.

At first glance, people will, of course, see similarities between KFM and Defence Lab but anyone that trains in DL know that the similarities soon vanish.

The technique side fills ‘the martial gap’ by the fact that the DL team have reverse engineered combat. By this, I mean that they have addressed the common and worst of situations and then worked backwards.

Imagine the worst scenario? A group of lads trying to kick your head in on the floor. Well, that is Defence Lab lesson one.

Two against one in a nightclub with music on and lights switched off, well that was also covered in the seminar.

What impressed me more was the disappearance of the old ‘Thinking Man’ head cover which was replaced by an extremely fluid and natural ‘shape’ system.

Now I have to say this… Had the Defence Lab seminar not delivered the goods I would never have come back.

Like I say, I am no fool. I do not train anything that I do not think has value and since that seminar I have of course trained a lot of DL classes and seminars.

Those on the fence might still be wondering exactly why or what makes it so good.


What Makes Defence Lab Special


My son is at an age where he naturally explores his relationship with violence. This is no different than what I did and the combative and playful combine to make for exciting games of wrestling and boxing between father and son.

In these games I have been very clear on the guard position I introduce to him, this is of course shape one from the DL training.

The shape itself is a basic yet solid biomechanical structure that protects the head and is an easy movement to apply even under stress. If a 6-year-old can pull it off, anyone can.

If you are not using this structure in your system or training, you are missing out. It is perhaps one of the greatest revolutions in combat training to come about on a large scale.

Those that are ready to dismiss it do so largely because they try and apply/ copy it without understanding the other associated movements and techniques that go along with it.  To do this would be like learning an arm lock and saying that grappling was rubbish if you couldn’t get it to work.

Shape one is of course just a building block of a very intricate system that has depth. There are a lot of other aspects that make DL so special that are beyond the scope of this article, but I will try to address a few.

My primary concerns in self-defence are simple.

Is the opponent trained?

Is the opponent strong?

Is the opponent armed?

Are there multiple attackers?

When you examine a variety of martial arts, we see that they seem to fail in one or more than one of these areas. Some arts never address if the attackers are trained and there is an assumption they are an averagely skilled attacker.

Defence Lab deals with all of these aspects.

I am at a skill level and point in my life that I do not NEED self-defence training, so anything I do is a choice. My children, on the other hand, will need training, and they WILL be training in Defence Lab.

Whenever I tell people this, they seem to think there could be a hidden agenda or some ‘deal’ going on. I assure you that as a parent, I want what is best for my children.

I want my son and daughter to be able to defend themselves and offer resistance to an attacker should they choose to.

This is the thing; self-defence training gives you options. It places you in a position of strength.

Other people have had the same experience as a result of a Defence Lab event or seminar:

Constantine “Doc” Theoharis went to an event put on by Tony Torres in America and here is what he had to say about the event:

“Okay everyone, we’re gonna warm-up with a scene where

you are in a disco and a fight has broken out,” Tony said.

Thus the seminar started.

With a bar-fight.

In a disco. As our warm-up.

I stood there, as happy as I could ever remember being

and thought to myself:

This DL stuff, this is the sh– !”

Mikey Wright was an experienced martial artist long before he tried Defence Lab and this is what he had to say about DL:

“I was blown away by Andy and Paul’s ability and movement I had never seen anything like it before”.


It took just one seminar for me to decide DL was the right martial art/ self-defence system for both myself and my kids.

There is nothing else like this anywhere in the world today, and I urge people to not only look at it but either invest in sessions or online training so that you can see what I mean.

You can watch a thousand clips on YouTube and still not ‘get it’.

You need the components; you need to be trained, and you need actually to try it.

You might love what you train now and love your art. No one is saying ‘give up’ what you do, but we are saying that by keeping an open mind you might not only learn something but also enjoy it.

Defence Lab works with any martial art because it never seeks to replace an art but it compliments your skill set.

Thanks for reading




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