There is a view that self-defence situations start with a stranger attacking you in an alleyway and while this can happen it is rarely the truth.

In fact, the most common reason self-defence situations occur is communication ego.

Here is an example;

You are walking down the street with your girlfriend, and a group of lads is across the street. They shout at abuse at your girlfriend, and you look at them, and you shout something back.

They run across the road and are straight in your face saying to you “What did you just say to me.”

You have two options here; you can say ‘sorry’ to the man who just abused your partner, or you can repeat what you said which is going to put you in a self-defence situation.

It is these situations that are far more common than the attack in the alleyway by a random ‘mugger’.

So it begs the question what do you do in these situations?

This article will address the communication triggers that ignite situations into full-scale violence and how to avoid using them.

1. The Bar/ Pub Situation

I love going to the pub; nothing quenches the thirst like a nice cool lager; I actually love the whole Belgium beer thing now as well.

However, alcohol can cause aggression and ‘loose tongues’, so people end up arguing. The most common of situations are the ‘what are you looking at’ and the ‘Bump into you’.

The ‘what are you looking at’ situation happens when someone is looking for trouble.

So you have a few options here.

  1. a) “I’m not looking at anything mate.”
  2. b) “I’m not looking at much.”
  3. c) “What’s it got to do with you.”

As we see the responses cascade downwards, each one offers a different type of response. Option A is a great response because it is genuine and provides very little aggression.

Option B is an aggressive tone which is designed to challenge the person. Option C is a straight challenge back.

What you say in these situations will dictate what happens next. We aren’t here to wipe your nose, what you do is up to you, but the ‘Trigger’ here is the challenge.

If you meet a challenge with a challenge, it will escalate until someone backs down, there is an interruption or it goes violent.

2. The Street Challenge

For this, we go back to the original example where your girlfriend has been shouted at. You have a two options here:

  1. a) Shout back
  2. b) Ignore them and carry on

The thing you need to realise is that people are shouting to get a reaction. That is their goal, and it is likely that if you react, then you will be playing by their ‘script’.

It is up to you how you handle this type of situation, but if you shout back then, there is a likelihood that they will escalate the situation.

Personally, I live by the ‘sticks and stones’ method. Words across the street are exactly that; I have no desire to fight people so I will control the situation by not being a part of their ‘entertainment.’

3. The Kebab House/ Chip Shop

Back in the day when I as a policeman you could bet your money that most of the night’s action would happen in a  kebab house/ chip shop.

Why? Because everyone suddenly wants food after a night out and they squeeze into a very confined space.

Food to a drunk is like water to a man walking in the desert, and people will push and shove. Also, there seemed to be an abundance of idiots that had failed to meet anyone that night and were just angry.

What usually happens is that someone will say something offensive and because of the close proximity of the people the situation turns violent very quickly.

So what can you do if someone is abusive to you?

The simple answer is just to ignore them unless they try to get in your ‘way’/ path.

Trying to reason with a drunk at 2 am in the morning is like speaking to someone in a foreign language. You will not be able to make them see sense.

If however you have to answer them just turn and say ‘listen I just want my food, and I’m going home.’

What a drunk says to you has little relevance to your life so ignore them.

The trigger for violence here is ‘engagement’. The more you engage with someone like this the higher the chance they will confront you physically.

4. The Classic Robbery

The classic robbery is the thing we all hear about, yet in truth rarely happens.

Just a quick scan onto YouTube and you will see more knife disarms based on the ‘mugging scenario’ than you ever thought possible.

So what do you do if some crack addict pulls a knife on you and demands your phone, wallet, and car keys?

What do you say? Simple:

“Here you go.”

If someone is demanding money from you, this is a because they want the money, they are not looking for trouble. They want to get the cash/ belongings and go.

The second you start to challenge them you enter into a situation where you start to ‘increase the timeline of the encounter’. By creating friction, you start to increase the chances of them being caught.

The advice here is simple, give them what they want because money, wallets, and phones can be replaced, lives can’t.

The trigger in this situation is ‘disruption’. If you disrupt the plan, you may force them to take action to ‘get their plan back on track’.


We can end up in situations where we are faced with people who want to confront us.

How we react can add fuel to the fire or put water on it.

If you understand what ‘triggers violence’ you can respond tactically, and this will give you the greatest opportunity to keep safe.

Thanks for reading


If you are interested in martial arts and self-defence, you will notice an abundance of one thing.

Haters and trolls

And in this article, we will give you a sure fire system to deal with them, so they never bother you again.


How To Be Productive In The Face Of Abuse

At some point if you are to create content for the martial arts community you will face abuse.

It doesn’t matter if it is a video, a system or even an article people will be quick to jump on the bandwagon and criticise you.

But why?

In essence, it comes down to tribes.

In martial arts, we tend to join ‘organisations’ and this means we become part of a ‘tribe.’ Therefore, it becomes easy to see the way of ‘the tribe’ as being the best and only method.

So when you create content or join another tribe that goes against their views people will very often attack this as they see it as an insult.

Although it can seem personal, it is simply a case that you conflict with their view of the martial arts world. However let me be clear it still stings!

But that doesn’t mean you should give up.

Should You Put Your ‘Stuff Out There?’

I know a lot of martial artists that are simply amazing.

They are great teachers and are highly skilled. However, they WILL NOT put their material out there for public consumption.

It is not because they are not good at what they do, rather it is a case of fearing the critique.

And yes they are right to worry about commentary because it will come and sometimes it will feel as if you are being mauled by a pack of wolves.

So here is the truth:

You should not let this put you off from sharing your art, your system or your style.

You simply cannot please everyone, and it is essential that you do not let other people impose their will on you, even if it is online.

Let me explain why.

Why You Should Never Give In To Online Bullies

I once knew someone that gave into online bullies. He put one video up and got ripped apart by online trolls. He never posted again.

It was a tragedy because his goal never was to have a team of instructors and students underneath him.

Instead, he just wanted to share his art with his friends. The very people who should be standing against bullying jumped in with a range of abusive comments.

I saw this going on and checked out the instructors making these comments and noticed on their websites all were heavily focused on teaching people to deal with bullies.


People who are teaching others how to deal with bullies are bullying people themselves. It is really sad, but this is the world we live in.

So here is the thing…..

The vast majority of people who are abusive and vile online will have major insecurities about what martial art or self-defence system they teach.

Sure, they like what they do but deep down they still have doubts such as ‘will my stuff work?’

So when people post things online that don’t resemble what they do, they will question it (sometimes in a healthy way but more often not).

The comments are attempts to force their views upon you and seek social proof about their ‘way’ against your own.

So How Do You Deal With This?

When people hate you or abuse you, it is going to hurt, but you need to dig in and remember these five factors to get you through  it.

1. Their opinion Is Worthless.

The ever-growing debate about what works and does not work in martial arts will wage on for eternity. The only time it will matter is when you have to use your skills.

So if some guy tells you that your art, skills, and the system are worthless, it is pointless to stress about it.

2. Realise That It Is Natural To Get Angry

Whenever people have abused me online, I have had many say “don’t listen to them’ or ‘don’t let them affect you.’

In fact, it is OK to get angry about these people. If you weren’t annoyed and hurt about this, you wouldn’t be human.

3. You Cannot Change Them

This is something that I have come to understand more and more.

The people doing the ‘abuse’ on the internet are at the mercy of the people they allow to influence them.

The only way this will change is when they decide to change or they remove the people who influence them from their lives.

4. Understand They Are Not Wrong

OK, so this is a tricky one. The simple fact is THEY ARE RIGHT!

Now you might not agree with this but in their mind they are right, and you are total rubbish. They think you are a con man, a fraud and a waste of time.

However, you must understand that they have made this judgment having never met you, so once again it means nothing and amounts to just opinion.

5. Do Not Let Them Impose Their Will On You

Just because they don’t like your stuff, does not mean that they are right!

You have every right to show your knowledge and skill to the world and if they dislike it, well it is their problem and not yours.


So by now you might be thinking where this is all leading to?

Well here it is….. you should be proud!

You worked your ass off to get the skill you have and if you want to share it with others then do so and be proud!

The web is full of trolls that go around and start write negative comments that make ‘them feel better’ about their lives.

The fact you are prepared to share your work for free shows you are an artist, and that is what the martial arts is all about!

Do not fear sharing your martial arts skill for fear of the trolls. If you want to share your ability you can and should!


Thanks for reading

The Shape Shifter Team


It sounds kind of crazy eh?

What could Disney teach us about self-defence?

However, you are about to learn how you can start adopting a few of the business practises of Disney to become a better self defence instructor and a more profitable one as well

The Giants Of Media

Disney is huge, make no mistake about it but it all started with a mouse and the young animator named Walt Disney, and the company is now estimated to be worth £88 Billion.

They own Marvel, Star Wars and have theme parks and hotels all over the world.

In fact, business leaders from across the globe go to Disney’s business school ‘The Disney Institute’ on a regular basis to learn how they can bring the same practices into their business.

However as you will see Disney can teach us about both physical self-defence training along with business practices.


Let’s do this.

It Is All About The Experience

People come to self-defence classes to learn how to protect themselves?


They train in self-defence to feel safer, more secure, stay healthy and meet new people.

These are some of the most compelling selling points in business today. You are tapping into the human desire to feel connected and safe. But do you make sure this factors into your training experience?

If you have ever been on holiday to Disneyland, you will know that it is very much an experience.

From the moment you buy the tickets you are involved in ‘The Disney Experience.’ A great, interactive website, holiday tips, a variety of options and choices to make your holiday special, even before you have boarded the plane.

They have a process called ‘wowing’ where they aim to ‘wow’ the guests.

So what happens when you manage to get a new student? What process do you use and do you aim to ‘wow’ them?

If you charge around £50 per month, a student is worth £600 a year to your business.  So what did you do to make them feel happier about their purchase?

A huge mistake in martial arts schools is to think that they are selling a service when it is an experience. Yes, you are teaching them to protect themselves. However, the student wants so much more than this.

Here are some ideas for you think about:

  1. Private Facebook group
  2. Membership Pack
  3. Bi-Monthly social events
  4. Enhanced Website Experience (blog articles, videos)
  5. A Club Newsletter
  6. Student of the month
  7. 1 hours free private tuition every month

If you focus purely on teaching self-protection, you will quickly find your students leaving once they ‘feel’ capable. If you concentrate on delivering an experience  that they will talk about to their friends, you take your school to a different level.


Disney thrives on safety.

From the security checks on the way into the parks, to the safety of the rides and attractions.  One accident could be a disaster for the company.

If you were to ask people what they fear about martial arts and self-defence training, then most would say ‘fear of injury.’  People are coming to training to learn and not get severely beaten up. For this reason, you need to ensure that safety is paramount in your training.

At a recent Defence Lab seminar, Andy Norman gave a speech on training safety which went along these lines “Be careful with your partner because they are giving you permission to train on their body.”

In 20 plus years of martial arts training, I have never heard anyone send a message as clear as this regarding safety.

The martial arts can be dangerous, and injuries do occur. However if you focus on making safety a key part of your teaching, this will help alleviate fear and also reduce injuries.

If people are injured, they do not often come back!

If you are a student who is reading this, then you too play an important part in the process of making sure people are safe.


People are lazy.

Sometimes this is not because they mean to be, but in a  world where attention is heavily contested, you need to make life as easy as possible for people.

If you take a look at how Disney structures this approach, you will see the true magic.

Inside the park, you have a system to pay for everything without needing to carry cash or a credit card. The same ‘Magic Bands’ are used to book onto rides and even enter the park.

What can you learn from this?

The role of efficiency is applied to both your business and your training/ teaching.

Look at the customer journey from start to finish and you see a range of opportunities to improve.  How easy is the joining form? Can you edit it online? Can it be filled in on a smartphone? Is your website mobile responsive? Do you have a ‘chat’ feature on your site?

How can people pay? Is it direct debit? What details do they need to give you? Can you send a link to their email which makes the process faster?

Where is the training venue? Is there parking? What are your class times? Would a student hit rush hour traffic getting to your lesson?

There is always a way to make a business more efficient.

But what about your physical training?

This again is an area you need to focus on. Too often classes will be filled with an instructor talking too much, or talking too often about the harsh realities of violence.

On the technical side, we often see, either techniques that are too complicated to learn or too simple to be of interest.

Then you need to consider how the lesson flows. Do your lessons start slow and build up or are they motivating and energised throughout?

Do you even make lesson plans?

Again these are areas for you to spend time and think about.


Hopefully, you will have seen how your self-defence business can be improved if you only focus on a few elements from a company such as Disney.

Now you can do this yourself. However here at Defence Lab, we have a proven system of business that has seen our schools grow year after year.

If you run a self-defence business that you want to see gain better results and for those who want to learn more about the business strategies of Disney be sure to check out their book ‘Be Our Guest’ By Theodore Kinni

Thanks for reading.

The Shape Shifter Team


You train several hours each week.

You can punch and grapple, and your awareness levels are on par with Jason Bourne.

And then it happens, the moment you have to protect yourself, and you get your ass handed to you.

You wake up with a crowd around you, and your jaw hurts like hell.

But hold on, what went wrong? You were sober,  you had a strategy and had read more on martial arts and self-defence than the average bouncer.

Like it or not you made a mistake, and it was quite possibly a training one!

In this article, we will look at the mistake that most people make in self-defence training and how to fix it.

Are you ready? Let’s begin.

The One Training Mistake That Will Get You Hurt

Ok so you are wondering what the mistake is, I will get straight to the point.

It is a lack of training feedback!

Confused? You won’t be by the end of this article.

When I say training feedback I do not mean filling in a sheet of paper after class; I am talking about the feedback your body receives in its training.

If you take Defence Lab, for example, you will see that we use drills with the focus pads. We often have a student in their first-week, training against 3 or more attackers, and they get hit by the pads.

They don’t get hurt, but the ‘feedback’ is through contact on the body. It is a bit like that board game ‘Operation’.  The one where you get a little shock as you remove the parts of the body.

You need feedback like this in your training because if you don’t get any then how will you ever learn?

One of the things that are ever so common in self-defence training is the misuse of padded suits. What is a potentially great training tool is seen as some kind of ‘uniform.’

However if this is overused, you lose the feedback.

Now I know people will rush to defend their use, and this is great but ask yourself why boxers don’t use them? It is because boxers need to be able to get caught. If you think about it, if the boxers were sparring and never got hurt they would go into the ring with really weak defence. This, of course, could lead to a quick knockout.

The human body has it’s own system of feedback, and we call this ‘pain.’

We developed our pain system through evolution because it is like an ‘alarm’ that something is wrong, and our body is being damaged.  Pain allows us to take action.

We also see over compliance in self-defence training. This is when someone just does as you ask and gives zero realistic feedback. You can usually see it when someone holds the focus pads for their training partner.

Rather than move the pads around, using footwork to change angles and force your training partner to adapt, instead we see the pad holder with their feet stuck in place.

So why would a lack of feedback cause you to be defeated in a street altercation? Well in truth feedback shows you the holes in your game and forces you to fix them.

The attacker, on the other hand, is looking for an opening or an opportunity.

When I was boxing, I used to hate to spar in head guards. My vision would be restricted, and I struggled to move my head quickly. More importantly, I could get hit but not feel anything. There was no discomfort in my training and without this, we will not grow.

Feedback does not have to be full on sparring where you try and knock out the training partner. It can be light, just enough that your body ‘feels’.

Boxers do not ‘spar’ hard all the time. They control their power because they are there to learn. So when they get caught by a punch, they need to figure out ‘how they got punched’ and fix the issue.

Head Guards, shin guards, padded suits and other such items have their uses. Yet your body has a central nervous system that allows you to feel pain, impact and discomfort.

If you do not embrace the need for feedback in your training, you will leave gaps in your defence and trust me when I say that, the average street thug is highly skilled at exploiting vulnerabilities.

Just try and give them as little to exploit as possible.

Thanks for reading.


It happens suddenly.

One second you are walking home with your significant other and the next you are jumped on by a group of attackers.

Your face is getting smashed with a fist, and suddenly you see a flash of light, you have never felt it before but in your head, the world feels fuzzy.

For a second the world goes sideways and only the grazing sensation from the concrete on the side of your face tells you that you are on the floor.

The sound is muffled, but you can hear your partner screaming. Then like a dark cloud a shape appears in front of your field of vision and your head rocks backward. It was the attackers big boot kicking you in the face.

You start to feel numb but the trickle of blood goes into your eyes but your vision is clear enough for you to see the attackers foot swinging once more towards your face…… and then nothing.

You are gone.

It is the moment that anyone who trains self-defence fears. The moment our skills were tested and they failed us, or more importantly we failed our loved ones.

But what went wrong? How did our years of training fail us? In this article, we will show you 5 factors that will cause you to lose a self-defence situation.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is a part of society, and I enjoy a drink, however, alcohol affects the brain and body. Many people who drink on nights out do so because it encourages confidence and reduces inhibitions.

From the self-defence practitioners point of view, it dulls your senses and situational awareness.

You will struggle to see attackers approaching, and you will fail to assess the situation correctly.

There is a saying in Jiu Jitsu that if you hit a black belt in the head, he become a brown belt.

Well if a black belt has a pint of Stella Artois he  becomes a brown belt and after 6 pints he falls asleep!

2. Under And Overestimation of Skill

A quick scan of Facebook tells me one thing. The guys that are doing a lot of talking about self-defence and how ‘easy’ it is have had few real altercations.

The biggest factor in modern self-defence is the ridiculous underestimation of the skill of an attacker and the overestimation of the skill of the student/ instructor.

Everyone has a view of self-defence that is entirely dependent on their experience and that is their reality.  And everyone thinks they are better than they are.

The ability to stay grounded in self-defence training is the key to success because out there are people with little or no training that are dangerous.

They hit hard, are strong and have zero respect for you. They have not grown up, they were dragged up and have seen violence their entire lives.

They do not over complicate training; they have a few devastating techniques which are straightforward, and they have a high success rate with their attacks because they are cunning in their set up.

Do not underestimate people. No matter how good you think you are and this means always look for a peaceful solution to any situation.

3. There Is No Substitute For Power

In boxing, people say “A good little guy will never beat a good big guy.”

There is a reason that sports like boxing, Judo, Kickboxing, and BJJ have weight divisions and sadly a lot of people forget this.

I see a real common issue with self defence students in that they cannot hit with force. Their strikes are really poor and lack power and this will cause you issues against a bigger attacker.

Sure smaller guys can be effective, and I have seen this a lot but if you face a bigger opponent that has skills you are in for a serious issue.

But this again begs the question how do you know if a big guy has skills?

You don’t.

So you need to be careful about biting off more than you can chew. However, you don’t have an option of picking the size of an attacker so what do you do?

You need to be able to hit as hard as you can!

There is no substitute for power, and this is an area that we see so many neglecting in martial arts. Invest in body mechanics and the cultivation of power in your strikes and this is an investment which will pay off in the long run.

So if you do get attacked by a bigger and stronger attacker, you make every strike count!

4. Clothing

You train in comfortable clothing,  shorts, Trouser, T-shirts, rash guards, and hoodies.

You get attacked while you have your nice clothes on, shoes that have hardly any grip, jeans that make it difficult for your legs to move and bend.

Fashion is great, and no one is saying you should go out for drinks with your training kit on. However, you need to understand that your clothing really affects how your body performs in combat.

And more importantly, your attacker’s clothing makes a difference to how they perform.

Rings that look and work like knuckle dusters, steel toe, capped boots

even kevlar gloves with knuckle protection can be seen on the streets these days.

So what is the answer?

Think about mixing fashion with performance. When you pick a pair of jeans in the shop, you need to ask yourself if you can bend and flex in them? Or when you choose a new pair of shoes to make sure the sole of the shoe has decent grip.

People rarely consider that attackers actually dress to help them to achieve their goals, so you need to make similar choices.

5. Lack of Strategy

This is the weakest area for most people. Having little or no strategy.

So a person comes to you and threatens you, what are you go to say?

Or a group approach you and demand money. What do you do? Same if a guy pulls a knife or a bat on you. You need to think about strategy.

Think about what you are going to do and say. What would your first strike look like, what is your most effective entry technique?

If you wait until the time of the attack to think about strategy, it will be too late.


You may be training at a club or school that talk as if the attacker is someone that is easily dispatched.

In truth that is not correct, the attacker is often very determined, very aggressive and has the deck stacked heavily in their favour by their design.

The best solution to self-defence is to look for a non-violent solution. The second you enter into violence you might lose.  This is a truth you need to accept.

By choosing to realise that the attacker may be better than you, less intoxicated, more skillful and stronger, you instantly make looking for a non-violent solution more appealing.

Avoid at all costs but always be prepared.

Until next time.