Archive for Muay Thai

10 Questions with Samir “Sandman” Seif

Posted in 10 Questions, Jiujitsu, Martial Arts, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2015 by hybridfightingmethod

Samir Sandman Seif

Take a moment to tell us a bit about your training and professional backgrounds
My professional background began at Red Lobster, ironically enough. I was working tables, washing dishes and cooking, trying to pay off my Police Sciences degree – that course now is called Police Foundations.  I had done some “bouncer” type stuff at parties for cash, on account of my martial arts background, yet nothing too serious. One day as I was serving a table, a man named Randy introduced himself to me, and complimented me on my people skills. He asked if I had ever thought of doing security.  I told him I wanted to be a cop, and he said this would be a perfect start.  That was the start of my security education and the end of me ever being a cop.  I worked the hardest, grimiest bars in Hamilton for 2 years.  It was a security temp (Ranton Security) agency, so I was sent to the bars no one else wanted to work.  In 1993 two things happened, I began training in wing chun and I met a bartender who introduced me to the Canadian Division head of Griffon Group International who trained and hired me.  I went from being a bouncer/martial artist to a professional in executive protection, close protection, and casino security.  Training took place in Toronto and Windsor Universities.  These were my formalative years transitioning from a martial artist into a professional Law Enforcement/Security specialist trainer.  Working the travelling casino’s, protecting clients and training correctional/Law Enforcement in baton, handcuffing and pepper spray use-of-force programs.  The training was based on effective communications, prevention and prediction.  That lasted until 1997 where I went on my own and began training people under the Samirs Combat Reaction name. I continued training in Pain compliance and control systems under Stay Safe President Steve Summerville.  I learned how to be a true professional and legally articulate use-of-force.  That brought me to the next level of teaching and applying Law and Security in my professional capacity as a trainer and operating in the field.  I was hired on full time as the use of force trainer at a large security Company in Hamilton.  Doing work protecting Liberal assets (insured persons), fleshing out RCMP details, and running large security crews for multiple night clubs.
Who have been your major influences in training and teaching?
Major influences in my training and teaching has been Wayne Wells of Griffon Group International.  If you look him up, he has a long line of martial arts qualifications himself.  Ironically he was the first that treated my black belt in jiu jitsu and black sash in wing chun as only a small part of the greater subject when it comes to combatives, close protection and security/law enforcement.  His socially acceptable techniques, politically correct nomenclature and proper training heavily guided my own hand when I began designing programs.  His experience also played a factor in my development as he had committed so many years of his life to training trainers as professional, with himself having trained with the best in the world.  For locks and holds- specific to control and restraint, and with corrections experience my next major influence would be Master Robert Krantz and Master Alex Andrews.  I was a member of the CJC, and CJA during the 90’s.  Master Alex taught me small circle ju jitsu and Judo that would work specifically for Corrections and Law Enforcement.  The timing was perfect, as I was able to apply my skills as a trainer for Wayne’s company and use the skills myself as the head doorman at several clubs.  Master Robert actually graded me in one of my jiu jitsu black belts under the WKF.  He has a no-nonsense style of locks, and with his correctional back ground his method was invaluable.  Between the two, I tightened up my physical locking game, and brought a very high level game to handcuffing and grounding subjects.
The greatest striking influences was Master Chris Hader for giving me the gift of wing chun.  The only martial art that allowed me to assimilate every physical course I have learned and apply it within a solid theory and concept.  He was an old school, hardcore Sifu that put his stamp..and his foot on my spine.
The last phase of major influence in training and teaching has been Grandmaster Bram Frank and Shuki Drai.  As much as I had been doing weapon training throughout my entire professional and martial arts life, a fundamental and moral pillar changed. From a young age I trained with known weapon experts like Grandmaster Rudy Timmerman, Master Robert Doiron and Guru Brian ‘Buzz’ Smith.  All three are traditional martial artists.  Gifted,respected and in the Kuk Sul Wan, Hap Ki Do and Kuntaw world very well known.  They trained me to strike to kill.  In the sense, how most martial arts train..the kill shot.  Meaning that my use of weapons was literal, with no thought to the law and the consequences of armed combat.  I was a martial artist ,with a martial artists mindset.
Meeting GM Bram Frank and then continuing my work with Shuki taught me a new world of reality. How society views weapons of gun, stick and knife. How I view it as a tool like any other item you might find in a tool box. Knowing case law, applicable law of use and defense.  My teaching ability and success by using GM Bram’s “train the trainer” methodology and gross motor skill progressive training under pressure has swelled the curve of skills and attributes.  I can teach and learn new skills or refine old skills in 1/10 of the time it used to take me.  Thats how we get our troops ready-in months not years.  My understanding of anatomy, nerve systems and use of modern day weaponry (firearms) has made me a much more evolved combatives instructor and practicing combatant.  Bram in particular introduced me to many men and women that either had seen or yet remained in active duty in the war theatre, active duty as a police officer or form of duty that included weapons.  It forced me to reevaluate my martial arts training, and get to the range ,and work with skilled shooters.  The impact of reality training, experience in the field coupled with my own experiences has made me search and continue to develop realistic skill sets for modern Combatives.
Lastly the literature of Bruce K. Siddle and Lt.Col Grossman along with the translation and interpretation of Book of 5 Rings by Steven Kaufman have influenced me since I was old enough to pick them up and study them.  They are constant companions to all my combative efforts.  Their work is influential and in my personal opinion iconic.
What systems have you trained in that you find applicable to the kinds of attacks you see in your profession?
The systems that I have trained in that have been most applicable to the kind of attacks in my profession as a security specialist, and close protection specialist has been Wing Chun, Kali, Muay Thai, wrestling and Jiu Jitsu.
Wing Chun has allowed me to deal with the conversation that goes bad.  Most people speak with their hands.  They point, they grab and push.  Welcome to hundreds of hours of chi sao (sticky hands).  If it’s standing and arms are in the touching or within the intimate zone of personal space wing chun has been the answer.  Then the use of KALI becomes equally important as weapon sense from bottles, ashtrays (back in the day), stantions and anything else a person could grab comes into play.  The relationship between wing chun and Kali is synergistic and they complement each other in the CQC area.  If wing chun didn’t have the answer, my Kali filled in the blanks and vice versa.  When it comes to subjects that are actively resisting and striking back, I have to say Muay Thai is the most applicable and has been personally the best “show stopper”, in the arsenal. The neck-tie up (plum), and the devastating elbows conclude any form of aggression very quickly. I have personally had great success with single strikes to assaultive subjects using the elbow, the knee and the round kick. Wrestling tie ups and takedowns go hand in hand with Muay Thai clinching skills; its never my first choice to fight on the ground, yet it’s my first choice for anyone I’m trying to control.  Wrestling allows me to apply that pressure when number of people, size and strength come into play.  A hard head snap or duck under and boom down they go.  Saying that, brings me to the last art I find applicable to my profession.  Bjj/Jiu Jitsu.  Grounding a subject and skillfully lifting them back up with minimal effort and damage to oneself and them.  The controls gained by vascular restraints, joint-locks and come-a-longs are invaluable.  When it comes to mitigating collateral damage, liability and negligence the system of Jiu Jitsu is hand crafted for my profession.
What role does MMA play in your training?
It’s the pressure tester of the weeks drilling, training and specific sparring.  MMA training allows for learning, growth and adaption under real or closely simulated combative pressure.  Resistance to submission attempts, and being stuck in a pound-and-ground position.  Basically have full resistance with protective equipment to see how everything works, and improve the next weeks drilling where the holes were found.
Does MMA prepare someone for street violence?
That really depends, as does the last question on what you define as MMA and how it’s being trained/taught.
If your “MMA” training does not include the following variations of multiple opponents, weapons, hostile environment and role playing I do not believe it will fully prepare you  for street violence.  An example is on several occasions I personally have taken out high level MMA fighters, and watched even my own staff of guards take out good  level MMA fighters for drunken and disorderly.  Their mindset prepared them for the one-on-one, and in that they won hands down.  It was the follow-up of hostile environment, tables, people, hard surface, wet surface and multiple opponents that quickly overcame them.
MMA only prepares you for resistance and pressure. Cardio under battle stress, elevated heart rate and blood pressure.  Exertion and blunt force trauma.  It does not prepare you for pre-indicators of violence, violent confrontation through words. Threat cues, prediction and prevention.  The anatomy of violence and street confrontation can be markedly absent from MMA training.  For the record I would put my money on a well trained MMA fighter to survive a confrontation better than a traditionally trained martial artist.  That being said, as the variables increase, so does the MMA fighters advantages decrease if he is trained in MMA rules, single opponent training.
How can martial artists alter their training to make their system suitable for the street?
As previously mentioned I believe to street-proof any system the following fundamentals must be included.  Multiple opponents, weapons (stick,knife,gun), hostile environment and role playing.  Then all of these need to be trained with progressively increased pressure of resistance.
This is just the physical aspect.  One needs to learn the physiology and phycology of violence to oneself and to others.  The ability to prevent, predict and proactively train.  Confrontation does not just happen.  There are cues and steps that are not part of the regular martial arts training program.  These have to be taught and trained.  It’s a science and must be treated as such.
What are some common traits you see among unprovoked attacks?
The common traits I have observed that unprovoked attacks carry are the attackers are 99% male and under the age of 40.  My reports and court cases would average late 20’s.  They include intoxication or drugs.  They involve criminal elements, meaning that person or persons doing the unprovoked attack have either been through the criminal system or associated with a criminal element.  The person being attacked almost always have their hands down, and are not in control of their intimate zone. It’s like they don’t realize they are in an argument or that the other person could actually hurt them.  The number one has been the attacker was prepared to fight or attack, and the victim or victims were not.
Among the ambushes you’ve seen, what tactics have the defenders employed successfully, and what tactics have they been unable to employ successfully?
I have seen many ambushes via cctv in my years of working security. Among the ambushes the defenders have had success or failure dependent on the reaction to the attacks.  I use the  3F system (First,Fast,Furious) to measure success or failure.  If the attack is first, then the counter-response must be fast and furious.  In all cases of success the reaction time from the subject not simply becoming a victim is they retaliated fast and furiously.  They grabbed a weapon and closed the distance instantly.  If no weapon was grabbed they gave up no room and instantly grappled.  The most successful move is to crash the attacker, hug and hold the attacker and not allow for repeated blows of the dominant hand.  They also covered up initially as they moved forward, blunting whatever attack was coming in.
The reaction that failed almost every time was moving backwards or away.  The environment did not allow for unimpeded movement.  That means they tripped or fell and damaged themselves more on the way down, were continued to be attacked and mounted in most cases.  Ironically it’s not the first reactive block that fails, it’s the fact that time and time again the victim has continued to try to block without any counter.  In one case I watched as the first block worked to stop a knife, and that the person being stabbed had not realized they had been ambushed with a palmed knife.  They continued to back away from “punches”, and was stabbed 3 more times still trying to block the same angled attack in the same manner.  They at that point collapsed, and the ambushed escaped.  In another example, the ambush happens perfectly, but someone behind the ambusher flinches and the victim reacts by putting out their arms.  The knife is blocked barely and the victim slips to one knee, where they are “nicked” in one artery and nicked in a vein,they barley survive and take 6 months to come out of serious condition.
Blocking and not moving forward, blocking and repeating the same block allowed for the ambusher to gain momentum,timing and distance .
Successful defense against the ambush has been that the reaction has not only been fast and furious,but also that the furious included striking and defending.
Failure has come from being slow to react ,creating too much distance that allowed the ambusher momentum and increase in number of attacks.  They also were not being struck back, as the victim was too busy concentrating on defense and not counter attack.
The ambush attack in all cases was missed,as it was clear watching the videos that all threat cues are missed. Clenched fists,blading of the body, puffing of the chest, lifting of the chin..all for naught.  In one case I remember watching in awe as a male takes their jacket off and makes like he is turning away.  He takes off his does one miss this..??!!
If someone could do only one thing to defend themselves successfully from an attack, in your opinion what would that thing be.
Be First, Be Fast, Be Furious.
That’s my one thing.  You feel it coming, you see it coming, you predict it’s coming..Doesn’t matter.
Be FIRST!  Thats a concept and that’s a technique. Eyes, Groin and Neck.
Smash it, bite it, kick it, slap it, stab it, bring blunt force trauma..Just make sure your FIRST.
Being first makes you FAST. You will be at the right place, at the right time to bring on maximum force, with minimum effort.
Which brings you to a place of momentum.  When the engine is rocking and rolling, it brings a furious energy.  Chain your attacks until no one is standing.  Bring an element of controlled passion and anger and rage and even cold tempered steel.  BE FURIOUS.
No matter what reaction you have, nor the style you train you need one method to withstand a seen attacker and the unseen ambusher. BE FIRST, BE FAST, BE FURIOUS.
Where do you see the martial arts as a whole in ten years?
In ten years I see the same evolution of what UFC did for martial arts, blending and merging the best techniques and concepts to create the MMA era happening in the Reality Based Self Defense and Combatives.  The difference will be the best technologies will be brought to simulate weapons of modern and traditional origins.  We will see swords, knives, bats, guns, explosives and multiple persons.  We will have simulated gang attacks, and small armies battling.  We will know how the sword works against the axe, and crossbow against 45 pistol.  The martial will be brought back, and it will become an arena for true to the death combat between not just two dueling combatants, but a plethora of situations that will include multiple simultaneous attacks.  They already have multiple opponent MMA in Russia.  They have prototype weapon and at our dueling in Australia.  A decade from now we will simulate injury, pain and trauma to find the essence and truth of combat which is death on the battlefield without actually killing anyone. That is I’m sure until someone wants to try it for real.  Then we may even return to gladiators and the true arena.
– Interviewed by: T.J. Kennedy
Hybrid Fighting Method
Samir Sandman Seif

Master of Goshin Ryu Seif Jiu Jitsu

Peace and Love/Strength and Honor

Low Kick Defense and Counters [Video]

Posted in Muay Thai, Techniques, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2015 by Combative Corner

Chris Clodfelter profile picI love getting the opportunity to do some videos for.Sean Fagan and Muay Thai Guy. Here is good one on evading leg kicks and firing right back. Dont forget to check out for even more solid muay thai info.

Chris Clodfelter, Eight Points Muay Thai


An Interview with T.J. Kennedy ||| HFM

Posted in Miscellaneous, Self-Defense, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2014 by hybridfightingmethod

T.J. Kennedy

Hybrid Fighting Method

CombativeCorner is now on INSTAGRAM

Improving Your Muay Thai with Sparring Drills

Posted in Muay Thai, Training with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2014 by Combative Corner
Chris Clodfelter Kick 1One of the best ways to really improve your overall Muay Thai is through proper Sparring and Sparring drills.  Proper Sparring is used to develop timing and distance and should focus not so much on power but on attacking and defending with good Muay Thai technique.  It is NOT a competition were you are trying to ‘beat” your partner to a pulp or show him how good you are.  It should be positive learning experience were both you and your partner are improving together.  Sometimes when your new to sparring you might draw a blank soon as the bell rings and then spend most of the time dancing around occasionally throwing a jab or leg kick.  One way to really help the “newbie” and “experienced professional” alike get the most out of each sparring session is through Sparring Drills, actually putting yourself in different situations where you take the “thinking” out of it and you just “react”.  There are tons of really good drills that a good Instructor can help you with, but today we’re only going to cover a few and hopefully give you some ideas on how to really jump start and improve your sparring sessions.  Enjoy 🙂
Teep vs Boxing:
In this drill each person has a “job”.  One person can only box or use hand techniques and the other can only Teep or Push Kick.  As one guy steps in to Jab or throw a Cross the other guy lands a Push Kick to the leg or body.  This is an EXCELLENT drill to work on timing for the Teep.  It can also be helpful to the other person cause it forces them to learn how to use their boxing effectively with out getting caught with a pushkick on the way in.  Try this drill for a couple 3 min rounds switching “jobs” each round so both guys get to work the Pushkick and the Boxing.Three for One:
This is a really fun drill that helps you really learn how to attack back in combinations opposed to only throwing single techniques the whole time.  One person can ONLY throw ONE technique (a Jab, a Cross, Teep, Round kick, ect), the other person must defend the one technique and fire right back with a 2-3 punch combo followed by a kick.  For instance, one person will throw a jab then immediately the other person defends the jab and fires back with a Jab/Cross/Round Kick.  They continue this for the whole 3 min round then switch every round.  One big rule with this one is that NO MATTER if you get hit or defend the ONE Technique you HAVE to fire right away with your Three Technique Combo so you get used to firing right back in a fight.  This is a great drill that really forces you to attack back with combinations!Round Kick vs Jab/Cross:
In this drill one person throws either a Jab or Cross and the other person counters with a round kick.  If a Left Jab is thrown it is countered immediately with a Right Round Kick to either the leg or the body, if a Right Cross is thrown it is countered with a Left Round Kick to the leg or body.  Kicking can deliver a much more powerful blow in a fight than punching but the key is finding your proper distance and timing and thats exactly what this drill will work.  In the beginning go slow and as you get the timing better you can speed the drill up a bit.

Tit for Tat:
This is by far one of my favorite drills for developing proper Muay Thai technique while also working on getting hit and firing right back.  In this drill one guy throws a 2 to 3 punch combo followed with a leg kick or body kick defends and fires right away with his own 2 to 3 punch combo followed with a leg or body kick.  This drill should feel the most like actual sparring with both guys moving around and throwing techniques like they would in a “live” sparring session.  This takes all the guessing and wondering out of it and allows you to turn your mind off and just react.  This is also a great drill for developing your combos.  When firing your 2-3 punch combos use a variety of different techniques so you don’t get stuck doing the same combos every time in “live” sparring.

With all these drills it is important that you be safe and HAVE FUN and take care of your partner, because without them YOU wouldn’t be able to train.  Every time you step out there to spar you should be learning something so relax, put the ego aside, and really work on getting better and improving.


Posted in Mixed Martial Arts, Muay Thai, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , on August 21, 2014 by Combative Corner

chris conditioningThe Empire State Building is one of the tallest and most historic buildings in the United States. For decades it has towered high above the New York skyline and stood as a testament to the innovative spirit of our culture, but this American “giant” could not have stood the test of time if it weren’t for one thing, a secure and solid foundation. Before you can build something that will last you must first lay a strong foundation to build upon.

This rings true to many things in life, especially in the Martial Arts. Most often when people think of “laying the foundation” in any Martial Art, they immediately think of basic stance, footwork, techniques, etc, but there is one huge building block that many forget about. In fact this “building block” should actually be the corner stone that supports the rest of the building. This building block is Conditioning. Conditioning refers to the fitness of the body, but more importantly the bodies ability to adapt and perform particular strenuous activities with relative ease over time with the proper sport specific training. Having and, more importantly, maintaining a proper level of fitness and conditioning is imperative to excelling in any martial art or combat sport. You must have the strength to throw punches, or the gas in the gas tank to throw kicks when you see an opening. It is even important in basic self defense. A person who is in shape and conditioned, will be much less of a target to an attacker. If attacked, they will have the speed to run away to safety, or worse case scenario their body will be stronger so they can survive the attack. Improving your fitness and conditioning is the first step to anyone’s journey in the martial arts.

Chris Clodfelter Knee Muay ThaiThere are many ways to improve your fitness and conditioning but one of the best ways to really improve your actual “fighting” conditioning is through “fighting” drills. The first drill is fast/hard drills. You can do this drill with a partner holding focus mitts/thai pads or by yourself on a punching bag. Start in a fighting stance in front of the bag or your partner holding the mitts, and throw continuous jab/crosses for 30 second intervals. The first 30 seconds throw the jab/crosses fast with little to no power working speed, then the next 30 seconds throw the jab/crosses slower and harder really working on your power. Repeat these 30 second intervals back and forth for an entire 3 minute round. You can also do this same drill with kicks, throwing fast round kicks for 30 seconds working speed followed by slamming 30 seconds of slower, harder kicks for power, then repeat. Another really good “fighting” drill to work your “fighting” conditioning is mixing exercises such as jump squats or push ups in with your bag work or pad work. Stand in a fighting stance in front of the bag or partner holding pads, then throw a hard Jab/Cross/Round Kick then drop down and pump out 10-20 push ups as fast as you can, then immediately jump to the feet and throw another hard combo, and follow it with 10-15 jump squats, then back to throwing a combo on the bag. Repeat this for an entire 3 minute round. The last conditioning drill is a popular drill all Muay Thai fighters use to build the stamina needed for a hard 5 round fight, Skipping Knees (Running man knees) on the bag. Stand in front of the bag, grabbing it with both hands at head level, and drive your knee straight into the bag, then skip and drive your other knee hard into the bag. Continue skipping and alternating your knees into the bag for the entire round. This drill is often called “Running man” knees because it resembles the “Running Man” dance.

Here is a sample workout you can use to really help jump start your conditioning routine. The work out consist of 5 rounds of anywhere from 1-3 minutes, depending on your current fitness level, incorporating some of the drills we’ve talked about. Beginners should do this work out in rounds of 1 minute, those with decent fitness should do the work out in rounds of 2-3 minutes.

Remember to always consult your doctor before starting any kind of conditioning program.

Round 1: Fast/Hard Punches
-30 seconds fast punches/followed by 30 seconds slower harder punches
-repeat for 3 minutes (1min for beginners)

Round 2: Fast/Hard Kicks
-30 seconds fast round kicks/followed by 30 seconds hard power round kicks
-repeat for 3 minutes (1 min for beginners)

Round 3: Jab/Cross/Kick/Jump Squats
-Throw Jab/Cross/Kick on the bag, perform 15 jump squats
– Repeat Combo and jump squats for entire 3 minute round (1 min for beginners)

Round 4: 10 Punches/10 Pushups
-Throw 10 hard fast alternating left/right punches on the bag, followed by 10 push ups
-repeat for entire 3 min round (1 min for beginners)

Round 5: Running Man Knees
-Throw alternating left/right continuous knees into the bag for the entire 3 min round (1 min for beginners)




10 Questions with T.J. Kennedy

Posted in 10 Questions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2010 by Combative Corner

The Combative Corner is proud to introduce to you (if you didn’t already know), Mr. T.J. Kennedy…a martial artist with an array of talents, such as: Krav Maga, Irish Stick Fighting and Muay Thai.   T.J. Kennedy is the chief instructor and founder of the Hybrid Fighting Method™ (HFM).  Apart from teaching this unique system, he also serves the public as a self-defense instructor through SAFE International™, an organization that teaches youngsters (from high school up), private groups, and corporations, valuable lessons in personal self-protection.  T.J. lives and teaches in Ontario, Canada.  For more info on T.J., visit his website [here], his blog [here] and/or his YouTube channel [here].  Those who want to be updated by email on his newest articles/posts, workshop dates, etc., should also sign up for his newsletter (located on his blog).

Now… let the interview begin!


(1)   What’s your martial art background?

I started with Tae Kwon Do in high school.  For the entire duration of my childhood, I so badly wanted to take martial arts, that after years of pestering my parents, they finally signed me up at a local school.  I spent just over 2 years there.

After that, I learned Krav Maga, the self-defense system used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).  I have also trained in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Karate, Bujinkan Ninjutsu, some Jeet Kune Do, and various pressure point systems.

If I were to boil it down even further, I would say that a majority of my background is Krav Maga, with significant Muay Thai elements – peppered with the rest.

(2)   Did you know always know that you wanted to teach self-defense professionally? If not, what was your direction/job and what got you onto the path you’re on now?

Well, for years I was a devout Pentecostal Christian (I am now an atheist…and much happier), and I went away to college to study for my Bachelor of Arts in Theology.  I spent 3 years in this 4 year program, with an intercultural focus, and travelling to and from Southeast China and Hong Kong teaching English to all ages.  My goal was to travel/move to China and become a Christian missionary.

In my third year, I got engaged to be married, and decided to take a year off of school to work and save money for the costs associated with my engagement.  My fiancée was a Chinese national, and we had plans of getting her a Canadian citizenship.  So our process was to first bring her to Canada and get married, work and live here in Canada until we were able to secure her a Canadian citizenship (in this time I would finish my final year of school), and then move back to China and work as missionaries to the Chinese people.

It was soon after my return from China to Canada in 2002, alone, that I gave my head a shake.  I realized that at only 21 years of age, I was nowhere near ready for marriage.

To make a long story short, I broke off the engagement, and got a job as a security guard to pay the bills.  During this time, I was looking to start training again in some kind of martial art (I had just over 2 years of Tae Kwon Do in high school).

I had discovered a martial arts school local to me that taught Krav Maga.  I booked a trial class, and on a fateful Saturday morning, on a mere 3 hours of sleep, I laced up my shoes and stepped onto the mats with 3 other guys and our instructor for the day.

I felt like a fish out of water.  I accidentally poked one of these guys in the eye…twice I think.  I also quit halfway through, running to the bathroom to puke from the amount of knee strikes I was absorbing through the kicking shield.  I was about to dip out the door when the instructor encouraged me to get back on the mats and finish the last 20-25 minutes of class.

I did, and ultimately decided that if that 60 minute class could do to me what it did, but all these other guys could handle it – then it was something I needed to invest my time and money in.  I signed up immediately.

Fast forward 6 months of training 3-5 days a week, and I knew I was in love with self-defense.  I knew in my mind that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I told my instructor this, and a year later I was in my first instructor certification course in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The more knowledge I attained and the more I trained, the deeper in love I fell with self-defense and martial arts as a lifestyle.

I took a part-time job as a bouncer in January of 2004 to help pay my bills, as I was at the time not working as a security guard, but as a self-defense instructor.

I got “the itch”, wanting to try my hand at combat sports, so I started training in Muay Thai, Boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  In 2007 I had 2 Muay Thai fights.  The first one I got knocked out cold at about 1m30s into the first round.  My second fight, 3 months later, I won by split decision after a hard fought 3 rounds.

At this point in time, I was passionate about fighting, and passionate about self-defense.  I sat down one day and challenged myself to be excellent at whatever I set my hands to.  I realized that for me, I could be fantastic at fighting, or fantastic at self-defense (and the teaching of it) – but I would have to dedicate 100% of myself to one or the other if I was to be the best I could be at it.

So, on that day, in that very moment, I chose to pursue my dream of teaching self-defense with unwavering focus – and I haven’t looked back since.

(3)   What is the biggest obstacle for you as a self-defense instructor?

For me, the single biggest obstacle as an instructor of self-defense is getting people to be proactive about their own safety and the safety of those close to them.  Some puny percentage of the general population takes any kind of self-defense training, but the need for this kind of training is undeniable.

I think people never really think about what would happen if they were attacked violently.  It’s always something they hear on the news, but not something they think about happening to them.

However, the frequency of violence doesn’t really matter, because all it takes is once.  To be sexually assaulted once, shot once, mugged once, stabbed once, kidnapped once – is enough to scar someone for life (both emotionally and physically).

(4)   Is there a style of martial art that you haven’t gotten an opportunity to study yet, but would like to (and why that style)?

There are many arts or systems that I am aware of that I have not formally studied yet that I would love to.  Capoeira, just for the fitness aspect of it.  Kino Mutai, the Filipino art of biting, gouging, and pinching.  Sayoc Kali for its vicious use of knives.  Tom Patire’s Last Resort Tactics (LRT) and Hom Do (his lethal force system).

As the creator of the Hybrid Fighting Method (HFM), I always have my eyes and ears open for new ideas, and old ideas that I haven’t heard yet.  If there is something of value in them, I like to take what is of value and incorporate it into my system.  For this reason, I will always be a student of many arts and systems.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” I think our learning as people and as self-defense instructors should never stop.  The very moment we think we’ve “arrived”…we haven’t.

(5)   I know from your bio that you do Irish Stick Fighting. Probably one of the lesser known arts from your list. Can you explain to us what it is and why it appeals to you?

Rince an Bhata Uisce Beatha (pronounced: rinkan batta ishka vahaa, which translates to: Dance of the Whiskey Stick) is a Doyle (Dubhghaill) family style of traditional Irish stick fighting which was common place in the faction fights of the 18th & 19th centuries. While most Irish styles used the one-handed methods (much like fencing), the Doyle style evolved from a one-handed style to the much more effective two-handed style when a family member fused the principles of pugilism into the motions of the stick. Passed on from generation to generation, this two-handed style was only taught to individuals with the surname Doyle.

A much sought after style, Rince an Bhata Uisce Beatha was thought to have derived its name from the fact that the style’s creator rented his stick fighting services out to guard illegal distilleries from rival whiskey makers.  ‘The Whiskey Stick’ soon found its way to Canada via a Doyle who left Ireland to start a new life in Newfoundland in the early 1800s. From there, the style found itself passed on from father to son for generations and finally to the current keeper of the flame, Sifu Glen Doyle.  Breaking with tradition of only teaching Doyles, Glen has spread the popularity and tradition of Rince an Bhata Uisce Beatha to anyone with the intensity and desire to learn it.

I first heard of Glen and of Irish stick fighting in Inside Kung Fu magazine years ago (it was before 2000 for sure).

Last year, I had an opportunity to meet Glen, and so I jumped at it.  We met for coffee and talked for an hour or so, and then he took me to check out his training studio.  We hit it off, and Glen struck me as one of those rare human beings that has a heart of gold.

We exchanged numbers and emails, and shortly thereafter I received an invitation via email to a training and certification course run by Glen on April 10th-11th, 2010.  Not really knowing what to expect, but deciding to check it out, I went and learned the fundamentals of his system of stick fighting.  I was immediately blown away by the system’s simplicity and efficacy.  I was surprised that without changing a single thing about this system of stick fighting, it could be used for real and practical self-defense.

It is a very simple system to learn, and it is brutally effective.  It is the only stick fighting system that I am aware of that WANTS to be close quarters (there may be others – but I am not aware of them).  The more I learn of it, the more I fall in love with it.  I have decided to offer instruction in it alongside the Hybrid Fighting Method as I believe it is invaluable.

I am currently a Level 1 Instructor in this system, which has 8 levels to it.

(6)   We spoke a little over Skype regarding the message that we are trying to spread to the public about self-defense. In your opinion why do you think people should take self-defense?

For the same reason they should put on a seatbelt every time they get in a car.  For the same reason that they should wear a life jacket when they are on a boat.

They may never get in a car crash; they may never fall off of a boat; they may never get attacked by somebody.  But if they do, they will be thankful they had taken the precautions to save their life.

Literally every person that is drawing breath can, and will, benefit from self-defense training if they take it.

(7)   Who are some of the people that you look up to in our industry (and this includes the traditional martial arts as well) and why?

Well, there are plenty of people that have influenced me one way or another over the years, but the ones that immediately stand out are:

Richard Dimitri – I love guys like Rich.  Very cerebral, and constantly analyzes what he teaches and his own motivations for teaching it.  I think human beings are still evolving, and Rich is one of those guys at the crest.

Richard Grannon – As a bouncer, I was one day watching YouTube videos on bouncers, and came across a video of Richie Grannon.  Listening to him talk about how he was hurt badly as a doorman, how he dealt with fear, and how he now worked as a “self-protection instructor” – I was immediately drawn to this guy.  The story he tells is very similar to mine – and so I felt a strong connection to him.  After watching his videos, I really bought into the concepts he teaches.  I don’t think anyone can go wrong listening to Richie Grannon.

Tony Blauer – Tony, in my mind, is probably THE guy when it comes to self-defense; the same way that U2 is THE band when it comes to popular music.  He’s not a god or a grandmaster or a mystical ninja – and he makes that abundantly clear in his videos and courses.  I really respect that.  Demonstrating the ability to be human and make mistakes in public view is ballsy…and admirable.

Shawn Zirger – This guy is a Senior Instructor under Paul Vunak for Progressive Fighting Systems.  He is the founder of the Zirger Academy of Jeet Kune Do (

I don’t think there is any single human being that I have had the pleasure of spending time with that has a comparable depth and breadth of combative knowledge to rival what Shawn has.  And the really cool thing about him is that he shares that knowledge freely, completely, and passionately to any desiring to learn it.  He doesn’t know it, but his influence on me has led to significant changes in the Hybrid Fighting Method.

Tim Larkin – I really dig Tim for two reasons.  One – for doing his thing regardless of support or opposition because he believes it is right.  Two – for taking the time to field my questions and offering his experience to help me grow as a person and as an instructor.

Gord Wood – Gord…he has been a tremendous friend since I met him in 2003.  He really showed me how to teach martial arts, and out of everyone, is probably the largest influence on me from our industry.  He and his wife, Ashley, run a school out here in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada called Evolution Martial Arts (  If anyone comes out this way, you owe it to yourself to train with Gord.  He’s an outstanding instructor, an amazing friend, and a wonderful human being.

(8)   What has your experience as a (former) bouncer taught you?

Being a bouncer has been a great experience (mostly) for me.  I have learned how to read body language very quickly, how to talk to people to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation, and I have also developed a keen sense of awareness of my surroundings of any place I walk into based on my experience as a bouncer.

On a physical level, I have learned through experience (some good; some not so good) what combative techniques/tactics/strategies are effective or ineffective.  I have been fortunate as a bouncer, having never been seriously hurt, save one time.  I have been shot at, knives pulled on me, hit in every way imaginable by fists and feet; but the one time I got hurt badly will stick in my mind forever.

I was a bouncer in a downtown Toronto nightclub.  On May 3rd/2009, there was the largest fight I have ever seen in my 7 years of bouncing.  The call came over the radio that something was going down, and so all of us security ran to the part of the club where the fight was happening.  I’ve never seen anything like it – a brawl/riot among 2 or 3 VIP tables.  So, all the ingredients were: 30ish people, 12 bottles of vodka, 12 glass pitchers of juice/pop/etc., about 50 drink glasses, about 50 shot glasses, unknown amount of beer bottles, and 3 large flower vases on the windowsills.

When I got there, there were already 3 or 4 security inside the pyramid of bodies trying to break up the situation.  Glassware and bottles were flying everywhere…it was chaotic.  I stopped on the outskirts of the fight and covered my head due to all the airborne glassware.  A guy in front of me was standing on the couch and he threw a vodka bottle at another table, so I grabbed him and threw him to the floor.

As I did this, one of his friends came from behind me and smashed a vodka bottle over the back of my head (brand was Belvedere – at least it was the good stuff…lol).  I saw a flash in my eyes, my ear was ringing really loud, and my legs both instantly gave out.  I dropped like a sack of potatoes.  After I fell, I tried to get up, but my legs just wouldn’t move.  I sat there for a minute covering my head trying to gain composure.  As I tried to move again, the guy smashed another bottle off the front of my head.  I pulled myself away using my arms, as my legs were still jelly.  As I turned around, that same guy stomped right in my face.  I managed to stand up after this, but I could barely keep my balance.

I had no strength in my limbs, so as much as I wanted to clobber the guy, I made the decision to get the hell outta dodge.  When I saw myself in the bathroom mirror, the entire right side of my head, face, ear, neck, chin, chest, and stomach – were completely painted with my blood.  My jacket and t-shirt were also soaked in my blood.  I grabbed some towels, wet them in the sink, and applied pressure to my head wounds.  I made my way to the staff area at the back of the club, along with 3 other bouncers that got hurt, and we waited for the police and ambulance to arrive.

We all took the same ambulance to the hospital and by 7 a.m. I was out of the emergency room, with 4 staples in my head for one of the cuts, and a nice little gash on my forehead where the 2nd bottle hit.  The rest of my scalp has some small cuts and scrapes and one more gash from the broken glass from the bottles.  As a guy with a shaved head, I am still to this day discovering scars from that night…lol.

I thought I was on the outskirts of the fight, but clearly I wasn’t – as the guy that clubbed me came from behind me.  Sometimes my ego hurts because I didn’t stay and fight, but when I look at it, and the fact that my body wouldn’t respond to what I wanted it to do (it took all my effort just to stand up and to stay standing), I realize that I made the right decision to bail and save my skin.

After the fact, I was told by my coworkers who were working that night that I had knocked out 2 guys before I got to the one who threw the bottle – which would make sense as to why I was targeted.  But I don’t remember everything from that night.  Having had a concussion before being knocked out in my first Muay Thai fight, I know that there are blocks of memory that are lost.

I am thankful, and lucky to be alive to tell the story.

(9)   I know that through SAFE International, you get a chance to talk with young kids all over the country and abroad. Is there an underlining message that you make sure that they understand regarding their safety?

I am always sure to communicate to them that although they can’t control who attacks them, or where they are when they get attacked, or how they’re attacked – the one thing they CAN control is how they respond.  I tell them that if they forget everything I ever teach them, to at least remember this one thing: Ask yourself what you have available to cause injury to the attacker, and what targets on the attacker are available to injure.  Then do everything in your power to cause that damage.  What weapons are available to you (hands, knees, elbow, bites, etc.)?  And what is available to injure (eyes, throat, groin, etc.)?

(10)  What is your method of training to prepare yourself for a violent attack (mentally, physically or both)?

I first start by training a specific technique slowly and in a very controlled manner.  I go through several incidental options that are a by-product of attempting the specific technique.  I do this with all techniques I am learning.  Then I pick up the intensity and get it to the point where I can perform it at full speed and full power.

After this, I allow my training partner(s) to attack me in any way he chooses, starting slowly again until I am proficient, and then I amp up the intensity.

After I am able to confidently defend myself in this context, I add variables of role play, scenario training, etc., to really ingrain the training into my psyche and muscle memory.  That way, when an attack happens, I don’t have to think about what to do (because with all the physical and chemical stimuli I can’t anyway).  I just react according to the principles and techniques I have developed.

Bonus Questions: What are the future plans for Mr. Kennedy?

On November 27th I have an Irish stick fighting championship match that will prove very challenging.  My opponent is a good friend of mine, Colin Simpson, who has been training for years longer than I have in this system.  I am glad that we can be friends now, beat the hell out of each other for 5 rounds, and still be great friends after the fact.

Sometime in early 2011 I plan on having Hybrid Fighting Method instructional DVDs and downloads available to purchase.  The quality is phenomenal!  I’m not just saying that because their my DVDs, but because I was fortunate enough to secure an amazing filmmaker, Mark Hemstock of Hemstock Films ( to film and edit them.

Beyond that, I look forward to preparing and running instructor certification modules in HFM, hopefully by this coming summer.

But before I do any of that…I need to catch up on some sleep!

Thanks for conducting this interview with me Michael; I really do appreciate you taking an interest in what I do.  It is an honour when someone asks me to share my knowledge and experience with them, and I don’t take that lightly.






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