Archive for January, 2014

10 Questions with Lee Morrison

Posted in 10 Questions, Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2014 by Combative Corner

Lee Morrison Urban Combatives

Lee Morrison is (in our opinion) one of the top instructors in the world when it comes to self-protection.  His no-nonsense approach, as well as his rich background in Combatives make him a favorite among many martial art and “combative”/RBSD students.  Lee is the owner and founder of Urban Combatives (link on the above image) and instructs both in his native UK and internationally.  It’s a real privilege and honor for us, so without any further ado… 10 Questions with Lee Morrison!

When was the moment you realized you wanted to teach Combatives?

Initially I didn’t want to teach – I considered myself first and foremost a student and still do. I use to train with lots of Combatives guys, the late Peter Robins and of course Dennis Martin, among others, and they obviously saw something in me and always asked me to teach or present a module at our frequent events. So initially I’d travel to Combatives seminars and present my take on it.

Then I realized there was nowhere around training, in the way I wanted to so I hired a hall with a few like-minded training partners and we’d pressure test everything. Word got out then more people started to come and before you know it I was actively teaching a group class. This is how I started out but the real reason I decided to make it a career is because I found the main thing, above all else, that I could really do well and enjoy.

Obviously you’ve had some great influences and had the opportunity to learn from some amazing guys. Which individual had the greatest impact on what you are doing now and why?
Everyone I’ve trained with gave me something. In Combatives my main influence was Kelly McCann, particularly his early stuff. It was the immediate ‘in your face’ explosiveness, backed up with serious attitude that really suited my personality in regards to violence or counter/violence. Even as a kid I’d hit first and motor as fast as I could move to get it over with as soon as possible. I like the precision with which he presents material – also he is always totally prepared.

To be honest if your are talking about who has had the most influence on me that led me to my conclusions regarding ‘dealing with violence effectively’ that really in main came from the people I worked with on the door and also from those I’ve dealt with on the door and in the street. You want to learn how to deal with a predatory profile then study a predatory profile. My life, for better and worse sometimes, allowed me to rub shoulders with many such individuals and trust me when I tell you, I paid attention!

What is your background as a bouncer? (when did you step away from it, and for what reasons)

At 21 years old I went on the doors for the first time. Several reasons really, first I needed to earn extra money for my family, but I also like many, had questions with regards to dealing with the whole violence thing, in spite of the experience I had gathered growing up, I still found the feelings relating to violence, horrible and at times hard to deal with. Adrenaline can hit you hard and I wanted to get a handle on that.

I knew that frequent exposure would help so I got the chance to work the doors and continued to do so for the next 14 years. I left in the end because I realized I had the conclusions I needed. I worked with some really great people of veteran experience and learned a lot from them. My goal or end game at that time was to make a living teaching full-time, so as soon as I made that possible via profile and consistently working the International circuit, I left.

What was the worst situation that you can remember when working the doors?

There were many that I considered myself truly tested. I’m not really a war story- kind of person; I only use live examples when it is relevant to the module I’m teaching. To be honest those that talk a lot about this kind of thing with a smile and a yarn give the impression of glorifying violence, to me I always found that distasteful. The truth is I have always hated violence, I just learned how do deal with my share effectively enough to share my conclusions with others that maybe need it.

As an instructor/coach/teacher, what (in your opinion) is the most important concept to understand when it comes to self-protection?

Avoidance where possible, along with the cultivation of awareness and early threat cue recognition. Also the importance of developing a confident body language profile.

There are lots videos in which you talk about the approach, the tools at your disposal and intent behind your attacks.  What is your method when dealing with a knife-wielding maniac?
That’s a silly question really, if you are unlucky enough to meet such a person the advice is clean cut, fucking run! If you are totally unable to escape and now you are facing anyone armed or unarmed that represents a significant threat to your existence, the most important thing before anything physical happens from your end, is where your head is in that moment.

You’ve got to cultivate the kind of mentality that absolutely refuses to be victimized. How you think or train your pre-fight perspective is EVERYTHING! In a physical sense once the total acceptance and willingness to engage with everything you have is present, shut down his head/main frame with as much impact as you can muster and keep fucking going until it’s over! Do so with an attitude that dictates your very life depends on it!

It is obvious to many that women are the most “in need” of this material- does your teaching approach or methods change when you address a different gender (and how)?

My teaching in the main will adapt when I’m specifically working with a women’s-only class. Even if there are women present in a group class or seminar I will often adapt certain specifics for them. Before offering solutions to any student regardless of age/gender it is important that you understand the problem. So if I am teaching Anti-grappling for example I would first talk about how we got here before any counter response – do you see?

So with any subject it is the same. If we are looking to teach women, we must understand that the main threat to women comes from men! Then understand how the threat is two-fold as most assaults on women take place from men known to them within a relationship/family circle. Of course street attacks from those unknown to women also occur, as do blind dates that suddenly turn bad. But the fact is such situations are less frequent than what was previously mentioned.

In terms of physical skills, women can innately rip, claw and tear effectively, thus creating possible tissue trauma injury which may indeed lead to the option of escape or a follow-up with something more significant. So I focus first on making them better at what comes naturally before giving them more impactive tools such as elbows and knees. Not all women can generate enough power to shake the brain into unconsciousness with a palm strike alone.

So I will adapt the tool for impact and tissue trauma. I will also focus more on primary targeting especially the eyes/throat and groin as opposed to the more generic targeting of hit the head hard to shake the brain in the more male-orientated classes. But eventually both methods will be employed.

America has and probably will always maintain a fascination and obsession with guns.  What is your stance on guns, their use, and/or gun laws?

Well I agree that it is people that kill people, take a gun or a knife and lock it in a safe for fifty years it won’t hurt anyone. It takes INTENTION to turn any said tool into a weapon. To be honest I love to shoot and do so when abroad at every opportunity. With that said sanctions on gun law are of course necessary but let’s be honest there are enough black market weapons around for those of bad intention to lay their hands on. In the UK everything construed as a potential weapon is outlawed but this simple fact does not apply to the criminal, who will of course carry regardless.

Personally I think all women in the UK should be allowed to carry OC spray for Self Defence but of course that will never happen and I think that if you are stringently checked and checks are maintained, and you have had proper training which is maintained for skill retention, then you should be allowed to keep a firearm under correct conditions of safety for home defence, but again that will never happen here.
What are some of the things you dislike about the self-protection industry today?

Internet forums full of “keyboard Commandoes” with absolutely no experience of dealing with violence, then slating others. Also wankers that bitch and whine about whose using whose material.  Bottom line is if you pay for the training, you drill it under testing conditions until you own them – how you use anything is your fucking business. No one owns anything – it’s all been done before by bigger and better people so deal with it!

When Lee Morrison isn’t teaching or traveling for work, what does he like to do for fun/recreation?
Spend time with my kids, family is very important.

Bonus Question:

If you could pit any two athletes together (in their prime – dead or alive), who would you like to see fight?

William Wallace and King Leonidas of 300

Published:  JAN. 20, 2014



Lee Morrison Urban Combatives Profile PicLee Morrison is the owner/founder of Urban Combatives, one of the top internet resources on Combatives.  Having trained under Dennis Martin, Kelly McCann, Geoff Thompson and Charlie Nelson (to name a few) – there is no doubt that Lee is the real-deal! For more info, click his pic on the left.

*Pic courtesy of Neal Martin’s website CombativeMind.Com

Why Practice Tai Chi? By: Sifu Herb Parran

Posted in Health, Internal Arts, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2014 by Combative Corner

Herb Parran Tai Chi 2Tai Chi is practiced by ten percent of the world’s population and is vastly becoming the most popular exercise in the world. Tai Chi is a valuable tool for improving health in a corporate setting. Companies see that Tai Chi improves productivity by helping employees to be happy, relaxed, and creative.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese art, in the beginning it was purely used as a martial art. It was also a guarded family treasure passed down from generation to generation. Now many all over the world practice Tai Chi for health, relaxation, stress reduction and a state of well-being. There are many styles of Tai Chi, the most practiced is the Yang style. Other styles include Chen, Sun, Wu and Wu Hao, however the principles are the most important. Tai Chi is an internal art practiced slowly to gain balance, endurance and flexibility. Its form is a continuing motion from one posture to another.

Herb Parran Tai Chi 3Tai Chi differs from most arts because people of all ages can practice it. Many people with disabilities and illnesses practice Tai Chi as therapy. No one is restricted from practicing Tai Chi, and yet Tai Chi can benefit the fittest athletes, just as it benefits elderly arthritis sufferers. Tai Chi has no belt or ranking system because the benefits of Tai Chi can be felt and not seen.

By practicing Tai Chi’s relaxed movements every day, we allow the muscles to release tension on the bones. Tai Chi recognizes that the body always wants to be in most healthy posture possible.
Guidelines about fall prevention in older people from the American Geriatrics Society recommend tai chi balance puts less stress on the body throughout the day and you will find that you have more energy as Tai Chi practice improves your balance. According to a balance study conducted by Harvard and Yale University, Tai Chi practitioners fall and injure themselves only half as much as those practicing other balance training. For aging Americans, the simple act of falling can be fatal; it is the sixth largest cause of death for older Americans.

Other Benefits of Tai Chi:
• Boosts the immune system
• Slows aging process
• Lowers high blood pressure
• Increases breathing capacity
• Reduces asthmatic issues
• Alleviate stress responses & stress level
• Aids senior citizens to improve mobility
• Improves balance & coordination

Sifu Herb Parran

Tai Chi Will Make You Soft

Posted in Internal Arts, Martial Arts, Taijiquan, Training with tags , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by chencenter

Michael Joyce Tai Chi TaijiThe title is a bit provocative, and carries with it a double meaning. One being the ‘softness’ that is implied when someone normally speaks about Tai Chi (i.e. yin).  The other (viewpoint) being ‘softness’ as it is implied by many non-taijiers – especially those practitioners that put emphasis on physical strength.

What may infuriate many taiji players is that, in my opinion, both are true.

What many teachers will have you believe is that internal energy will improve internal health and thus, foster physical (external) strength.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve noticed tremendous gains (over the past year) in fluidity, balance, coordination and power when supplementing my taiji training with jiu-jitsu, inversions (yoga), and various body-weight exercise (movnat).  These supplemental methods of exercise provided me with a mirror that showed several imperfections, the two most notable being; strength and control.  With these reflections, it allowed me to see that my so-called “perfect practice” was quite “less-than perfect.”

The late Grandmaster Feng said:

“If you are physically strong but can also work on internal strength, then that is the real strength.”

(Tai Chi Magazine, vol. 25, no.5)

Michael Joyce tai chi 2If you exercise using the tai chi forms, a strong standing practice and occasionally engage in pushing hands – how can you develop sufficient strength?  Why wouldn’t tai chi practitioners supplement their training with other methods if by doing so it: enhances your feeling of progress, improves confidence and body image, keeps the mind engaged & growing with new skills and movement patterns, aids in the management of pain and in the reduction of common injuries?

[We welcome your comments! Please let us know what you think.]


Many practitioners refuse to change focus, adhering to the classic myth of “A Jack of all trades, a master of none.”   Many studies have shown this to not be true.  On the contrary, those that dabble in different activities show more creativity, broaden their field of understanding and are generally less likely to become bored and/or unhappy with their life/practice.  Doesn’t this play into what GM Feng meant by “striving to reach the Big Tao?”


Many choose not to supplement their art because they fear it will ruin the ‘purity’ of their practice.  If the masters of the past reached their level of skill because they did the form “X”-number of times, then surely I too will excel – right?  Well, we know this is not true either!  Taijiquan masters like Feng Zhiqiang and Hong Junsheng (teachers of Chen Zhonghua) are just a couple who have gained this ‘high skill.’  They had the genetics, strength and psychology to excel.  If you are missing just one thing, you are a thousands miles off course.  Could you practice and reach their level?  Would that be a futile chase?  Would you even want to try?  Not to be pessimistic, only realistic.  Remember though, it’s choice that pulls us through.  If we convince ourselves that ‘mastery’ is bleak, it’s easily done.  But if we take it as a challenge and proceed to take the strides with the pitfalls, and continue to progress towards our personal goals we are 100% assured of success. Agreed?

Another teacher of mine, Master Yang Yang said this at our Blowing Rock, North Carolina workshop (2004):

(Ultimately) Find what works for you & change… adapt.  Only stay true to the principles (of Taijiquan) while doing so.

The New Year

Michael Joyce tai chi 2

To start of the New Year, I would like to urge everyone, especially those people who diligently plug away at one style; internal or external, to add movement, more movement, different movement.  I know it’s cliché, but Life is about balance.  If you consistently practice tai chi form (without any supplemental strength training), I can guarantee that your overall fitness will diminish.  If you train in gymnastics, weight-lifting, wresting, parkour / freerunning, etc, you will likely wear your body down and thus, be more prone to illness and/or injury.  My advice to them would be to adopt a supplemental program that deals with internal development, i.e. yoga, qigong, transcendental meditation… maybe even some taijiquan.

I end with Chen Xin’s Song of Meaning:

With your entire being, develop your Life.

Health & Happiness Everyone!

Coach Michael Joyce


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