Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born in Woolwich and grew up in Stoke Newington, so I am a born and bred London boy!
Moved out to Essex in my early 30’s.
My background in martial arts is quite extensive which started originally for fun but I went through a hard time personally with bullying, so I think I carried on my journey due to wishing to protect myself.
I have dabbled in most arts but probably the ones I took to the most were boxing, Thai boxing, MMA/Pancrace and Kravmaga.
What differentiates MMA Krav Maga from other MMA clubs?
We have MMA techniques mixed with Krav Maga as a self defence system where MMA is all the arts mixed together as a fighting sport based system.
Both are great but MMA have rules and ours is self defence.
What made you choose to make MMA Krav Maga a self defence system rather than typical MMA club?
To be honest when I was training MMA I was lucky enough to train with some of the best clubs around. London Shoot fighters… Pancrace with Fred Rado/ Bas Reuten.
So I felt that there were plenty of good MMA clubs out there but there was a lack of real fighting self defence clubs.
My real passion was and still is trying to reach the people that weren’t brave enough to go to Martial arts clubs and also those who lacked in confidence as I did when I was younger.
Often people don’t want to compete they just want to learn how to take care of themselves and their loved ones.
I’m always looking for the growth in everything I do and I was drawn to that naturally, hoping to help others find growth in themselves.
Who are your classes aimed at?
We have family classes where parents are able to train at the same time as their children.
Ladies only classes which are run by a very capable Lady Instructor, Shiza Benjamin.
We have classes for people suffering with disabilities which is taught by an Instructor who’s suffers from disabilities himself but refuses to let them affect his life. He is a true inspiration.
How many instructors, classes and students do you have going at any one time?
Presently we have 8 classes running all over London and Essex. With 2 more opening in the next month and growing all the time. We also have about 20 instructors who are able to teach courses and privately.
This is expanding all the time.
We are looking at opening our first club in Canada and Thailand this year and South Africa in 2017.
How can someone become an instructor with you?
To be honest it’s quite an easy experience.
The techniques are easy to learn and very effective, so that part is easy. I don’t ask for anyone to be a blackbelt but they will definitely need standup experience both punching and kicking. That is something you cannot learn overnight.
They then complete the course and start a probation period where they continue to train with me and teach in the class at the same time. This gives them the opportunity to improve their confidence and teaching skills.
Our federation is known as a family where we support each other’s growth. We will be with you every step of the way.
You’re a well-known advocate of the industry – what would you say is your biggest achievement?
I suppose in the commercial sense people would say the clubs. However I think it’s more that people can now see that with martial arts there is more than one way & you shouldn’t be afraid to add or adapt. If I have had a role in that I am very happy.
You’re also involved in numerous other projects that are mentioned below but first what does your role as a Head Co-ordinator at UFC involve?
I basically head a team of guys who coordinate every fight related thing the athlete does from the moment he/she turns up at the event, which is often for about a week until they leave.
So if you were the athlete at an event, myself and the team will do everything from checking your weight, being there for any personal issues, helping with weight cut, getting you to the weigh ins and fight night, right up to walking them to octagon side.
Our role is to alleviate as much of the stress that the athlete will go through as we can. We are with the athlete every step of the way.
What one thing do you know now that you wished you knew 10 years ago?
To dream bigger. We all have dreams and aspirations but I now dream massive and I don’t give any thought to the how. Believing in what I want 150% will make the how happen. I consider myself very lucky but I am a great believer in the harder you work the luckier you get.
What was it like doing the safety and security at 2012 London Olympics?
Really cool, the atmosphere was great and everybody was very happy and wanted to be there. It was a pleasure to work with all involved.
Apparently I naturally look around a lot so I am pretty aware anyway. So that helps with the security work. Though I am very picky with it now and only do the work that excites me or if I like the people I am looking after or working with.
What would you most like to accomplish next?
That’s a great question, I like to set goals.
I have a couple at the moment; one to create a real base as a Centre of Excellence for MMA Krav Maga and also to spread the word of what we are doing all over the world.
What effect do you think the Internet is having on people’s lifestyles?
I think it opens up the world for everybody. Yes there are people who will use it for bad reasons and people who would use it for good but the beauty of the Internet is that you can find anything and everything.
You can see anything from martial arts to how to take a car engine out!!
Tell us a little about MMA Krav Maga iPhone App.
This came out about 6 years ago and did really well. When I last checked, it had reached number 1 selling on one particular day in 10 countries and top ten in dozens more.
I think it’s a bit old now but it did have some great stuff on there.
The company who made it with me are not making them anymore so I am looking at making a new or online version with regular updates.
Any plans to release it on Android?
I will make the new one available to everyone.
What apps do you use most in your daily life?
Probably sat nav maps and airline apps as I travel a lot and all the social media stuff, Facebook etc.
You also work with schools to teach Anti-Knife and Anti-Bullying with the “Your words have power” campaign – do you have any tips for parents who think their kids may be getting bullied?
Great question and to be honest I could talk way more about this than about me. My whole life journey came from being bullied and then turning into a bully myself.
I’m going to try and keep this short but if anyone has more questions or needs help please don’t hesitate to contact me or an anti bullying website, there is a lot of support out there if you need it.
Remember and this is very important, we are never alone unless we choose to be.
First thing is always try and have non judgemental open communication with your child. They pick up immediately if we are preaching at them or listening. That way it’s easier to see the signs and react accordingly.
This is a very emotional time for both the parents and the children and we are not born with the skills to deal with them, it is something we can learn and get growth through for everyone.
Also perception is everything, what may be nothing to one child could be everything to another. Listen to each child as an individual.
Teaching your children that it is the bully who has all the issues is very important, so now they have the power back. Then make sure you’re using all the help you can get through teachers, anti bullying associations and even the police.
My daughter was bullied and as a parent there is only so much you can do. The school has to be pre emptive and reactive when dealing with this situation. If they don’t, which happened in my case, I had no problem with removing her from that school. It is not my job or politically correct to teach another people’s children how to behave or to correct their behaviour.
I would talk to the school and in a non aggressive way to the parents of the offending child and try to work together for a solution.
If this does not work I would let them know I was ready to leave the school, letting the parent and the school know why.
Al least they could not pretend they never knew.
My job is to protect my child and in doing so set an example of the correct way to communicate with other people, for my child to learn from.
And any tips for kids who are afraid to tell their parents?
For parents this is where the open communication would kick in. If you have not got this you will always be the last to know. Sometimes too late.
For anyone who feels they can’t reach out to their parents, your job is to find someone that you can talk too. Don’t get caught up with not being able to talk to your parents. They are only human and that’s something you can work on later.
If your bike was broken you would take it to someone you knew who could fix it.
Don’t let emotions get in the way. Go to the right person for the job, teacher, headmaster, family member, even an anti bullying websites with their own counsellors. There are a lot of people out there who care.
What rule do you live by?
To see the positive in everything that happens to me in my life, as there always is one. I’m happy to fail at something as I know it will help me succeed down the line.
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
A little bit predictable I suppose but it would have to be the ability to fly..
I have dreams about flying and it suits my character of feeling free, also a big bonus it will keep me on time!
Thanks to Ricky for doing this interview, UB Fitness wishes him much success with his new clues and Centre of Excellence goal. Be sure to follow MMV Krav Maga below:
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