Well it is moving towards the back end of January now and our recent holiday seems so long ago. Yesterday I did a bit of writing for my book and one thought that popped into my head was though last year was tough financially, things happened that I would never have thought possible a year or two ago. The thought was prompted as I reflected on sitting in a park shelter in Leicester on a typically damp late summer day talking with Ed Phillips and Rob Poyton, that was what I was writing about yesterday, not sitting on a bench but their physical training techniques that underpin their Systema training. The next thought that sprung to mind was that my calendar already has some really great things appearing in it, the year ahead is looking exciting, economically challenging again, but definitely exciting.

There was a point similar last year when I told my Sensei, Paul Jenkinson of Abbeydale Ju Jitsu Club, how I did not realise how walking into the dojo one Tuesday night in December fifteen years ago would transform my life, literally completely transform it.

What I did then as a job, hard fought for, as a lecturer in Further and Higher Education and manager of hundreds of courses a year would go, with all sorts of happenings in between I popped out where I am now as the owner of a small company, the Academy of Self Defence Ltd, that is now 4 years old and clinging on in there despite the ravages of what looks like a triple dip recession

The journey metaphor is often used to describe what happened along the way from there to here but that is for another day, assuming anyone would be interested. However, the point of this blog is not that the journey has ended but that it is getting ever more interesting as I go along, in fact it is more like an expedition into previously barely understood territories, ‘beware, here lie dragons’, type territories Instead of encountering mythical beasts along the way I am meeting people who used to exist on my bookshelf and on the DVD and internet.  When I spoke with Paul I told him that one morning when I looked in my email inbox it was like looking at my bookshelf and I was not kidding, Rory Miller. Marc MacYoung, Kris Wilder and Wim Demeere had all sent emails; we were busy setting up seminars in my home town of Sheffield, UK. The fact that I put UK now is because of all the people who read this blog around the world; it is always a source of amazement when I see the flags of so many countries on my stats page, thank you.

So the Academy still teaches self defence and we are now doing so in one secondary school as part of their physical education classes as well as part of the cities Ending Youth and Gang Violence. We are looking forward to being part of a literacy project in Rotherham later this year too as well as pursuing some other exciting opportunities. My book is making good progress, I think, the blog is proving very popular, there is a fantastic line up shaping up this for seminars and I am hoping to go on the road too.

The very best part of my expedition are the people I am making friends with and some of the places I am going, In April Anthony Pillage has very kindly invited me to be his guest at his dojo ‘The Way of the Spiritual Warrior’ in Coventry, I believe it is one of the biggest in the midlands to train with no other than Master Ken.

Master Ken

Sunday 7th April, apparently Rachel is curious about British groins, better take the box then. In August John Miller of Institute of Krav Maga Scotland has invited me to attend Krav Island 2013, another ace experience, I went to observe last year, and it was superb.

Krav Island 2013

In between Rory Miller, Marc and Dianna MacYoung, Wim Demeere, Kris Wilder,  Marc and Dianna again then Alaine Buresse will be staying at mine and am I honoured, on top of this Itay Gil came late last year and we are going to be working together again and hopefully I will get Kasey Keckeisen here if he stops getting promoted at work. This is all work but what sort of work, it is really worth getting out of bed for each day I can tell you. Nothing in life is free everything has to be worked for and that is a process I really love, I am so full of the protestant work ethic I could just burst. On top of everything else I get to work with Mick Franklin, Andi Kidd, Chris Webb, Rob Poyton, Ed Phillips and many more great martial artists and each has added a layer of richness to my life. As I said earlier I walked into a not very warm church hall, received a very warm welcome and began an incredible journey.

We have just had Martin Luther King Day and I heard several times his dream speech and it still makes the spine tingle and I am white. The thing is it is our ability to dream that separates the wheat from the chaff. Everyone has dreams but only a few pursue their dreams. One of the conversations I had with Itay, as we walked on a crisp autumn day in the Mayfield Valley where I live, was how we were wealthy. We were not counting our money or our assets, but our wealth in being surrounded by fantastic families and friends and how fantastic it is when that definition blurs. Looking around the dining table last Saturday night at our Ju Jitsu Club Christmas Dinner, you look at the faces of people you have trained with for so many years and feel the incredibly warm glow that real friendship provides. The day after at my stepson’s sons christening, we posed for a family photo, the surnames involved are like a mini telephone directory, we are an orange juice family, not that we were all drinking it but our family has so many reconstituted parts, but it is a great family that has grown together over the years.

This blog is principally about my work and not family but they are my rock. The foundation on which my life rests, and I love them all dearly. Life is always full of challenges we face them and overcome them or we can go round them. Tactics are best when they are pragmatic and designed to meet the challenge faced and not pre decided and applied to any problem. If life is to be a pleasure and not a chore then we need to keep dreaming and to follow our dream whatever barriers may hinder our journey. A friend of mine, Henk Littlewood, handed in his notice today for a job I know he loved and he has taken a calculated risk to follow his dream and I wish him all the very best, take a look at what he is doing now he is an entrepreneur. http://www.henkswoodwork.co.uk/

It is a big step, it is not easy but it can go anywhere, there is no map Henk and to use a fitting metaphor for a former Ranger, you may have to hack away at the bush in order to find a path at all, but it is there and the determined will find it. I am off now to see what twists and turns affect me today, tomorrow and in the near distant future, one thing is certain, the horizon is perpetually changing and we will always desire to see what is just beyond its curve, do you recognise this? Then start or restart your journey, adjust your own inner compass and start creating your map, and ignore the dragons, dream your impossible dream.


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