Interviews & People

Jim Uglow Interview 2001 – Chap Sau


This Interview was conducted around 2001

In all old mystical systems there is the hidden art of “direct transmission”.  This is often alluded to – but in most cases never revealed. Many modern so called “masters” often deride it as “hocus pocus” but on investigation never studied under a genuine master or if they did, didn’t stay long enough or possess the necessary talents to receive the “family” transmissions.

The thing is, you only have to look a some masters to see that they possess that certain kind of “magic”, not only in their Martial Arts movements but in everything they do.  They are happy, contented, sociable and incredibly powerful and fluid in everything they do.  Invariably they never boast of having received the transmissions, those that boast and advertise, invariably haven’t.  The Kung Fu world means that the students have to search and work it out for themselves.

The Martial arts are littered with clues, the Japanese call it “Jikiden”, the Iaido style that I studied is called “Muso Jikiden Ryu” meaning “visionary style of direct transmission”.  So the idea was not unfamiliar to me, in western magic you undergo  “initiation” with rituals and symbols with a high priest or priestess where you “yield” to their manipulations so that they can increase your links to the higher power or energy.

I came into contact with “Chap Sau” in my lessons with Jim Uglow in the UK and Ma Lee Yang in Hong Kong.  My experience really was quite profound, Jim would manipulate my hands to “soften” my elbows get my shoulders to “sit” on my lats, and “settle” my back, hips and legs until I found the energy line from hands to feet.  He would “fiddle” until everything came alive.

So I figured who better to talk to on your behalf to try and get the best idea of how it worked……….

Jim was “Chap Sau’d” by none other that Kong Pui Wai, the current Chairman of the Hong Kong Martial Arts Association and lineage holder of Hung Gar Kung Fu.  Kong Pui Wai was Chap Sau’d through the famous lineage of Hung Gar master Chan Hon Chung who in turn was Chap Sau’d by the Master Lam Sai Wing who in turn was Chap Sau’d by the famous Wong Fei Hung.  In Tai Chi he is Chap Sau’d by Ma Lee Yang, the head of the Tai Chi Yang family and daughter of the famous Yang Sau Chung.

Chan Hon Chung alluded to Chap Sau when he said “I have a special way of training, I require perfection in every single movement in every single style, that’s why I often spend over two hours on one single movement when I practise it.  One of the basic requirements of teaching is to require correct hand movements, if you yourself cannot achieve this perfection, then you certainly will not be able to teach others to do so.”

SR  Jim, how would you describe Chap Sau?

JU  It’s not easy, it’s a method of putting the body into it’s most natural state to be able to produce power and health.  It involves getting the secrets of the art into the body from a generation that holds the lineage and secrets to pass down.

SR  How would you describe the results?

JU  Extreme relaxation of the mind and body, increased health and incredible power.  You then have the responsibility to absorb the knowledge into your body with hard training and intense study.  Chap Sau gives you your first “guided experience” and you then have the task of recreating it on your own…….but the power is not guaranteed.

SR  To your knowledge, who now uses “Chap Sau”?

JU   Kong Pai Wai, has the full Chap Sau passed down through the lineage from the originators in Hung Gar (described above) and is able to Chap Sau to highest level.

SR  What about in Tai Chi?

JU  My personal experience is with Ma Lee Yang who received thousands of hours of Chap Sau from her Father (Yang Sau Chung) studying with him on a daily basis for twenty nine years!  He in turn received it from his Father the most famous Yang Chen Fu and his uncle Yang Shao Hu, Yang Chen Fu’s elder brother.

SR  Do many schools still possess this system?

JU  I don’t know, one of the results of this system is that the school becomes relaxed and the students happy with each other, but they train and study hard.  If the students and teacher can’t socialise with each other and train hard together, then the “Chap Sau” probably isn’t fully realised.

SR  Would you say that there are many instructors around in the Kung Fu world that haven’t ever experienced this?

JU  Probably, I have been training “in the system” for over twenty years and although it was being done to me from day one, it was only “formally” done on me in ’92.  I started in ’85 with Chan Hon Chung “Chap Sau’ing” me and I didn’t know what it was!  So it’s possible that you are learning it and don’t know what it is until someone decides to tell you and “formalise” it.  Of course the teacher has to have the lineage and the full transmission otherwise you only get a “form” of it.

SR  How would you describe you own personal experience of Chap Sau?

JU  It’s crazy!  First I experienced extreme temperature changes, hot in mid winter and freezing in mid summer!  (see pictures)  Then the body’s temperature starts to adjust to the Chap Sau and the tissue and blood alter changing your mental and emotional state.  If you see some of the pictures of me being Chap Sau’d in Hong Kong you can see the agony, my body screamed in extreme pain until my mind managed to let go of it and the body “settled”, then I felt ten times stronger than before.  You feel really powerful, but then you’ve got to get the feeling back when you’re on your own………

SR  Can you tell the readers the story of how your entire school came to be Chap Sau’d?

JU  For twelve years I was inviting Kong Pui Wai over to England to visit my school and he would always say that he was “too busy”.  Then on the twelfth year he formally announced to everyone in Hong Kong that he was coming over to “Chap Sau” my entire school!  You can imagine the shock in Hong Kong and to me!  Teaching for money is normal, “special” people like Kong Pui Wai cannot be bought and as he has the full Chap Sau formula, he has spiritual and moral obligations with regard to it’s teaching, so this really was a special event!  The words “Chap Sau” can mean many different things and the entire formula goes into the parts that nothing else reaches!

SR  How did it effect your school?

JU  We didn’t have a miserable school in the first place, but it’s acted like a healing formula, everyone feels happier and more settled.  They all come in and study to “remember” the internal guidance that he gave to them individually and as a group.  To have received this guidance individually from such a high level master has changed them all.

SR  How did the Chinese view this?

JU  It’s a great honour and extremely rare to receive this from such a high level master, so I think they were quite surprised!

SR  What’s your experience in Tai Chi with Ma Lee Yang?

JU   Very similar really……..  The sessions are very hard on both mind and body there’s only you and the teacher with a job to do, she knows what she needs you to understand and you are struggling to understand with nowhere to hide!  She is constantly manipulating for days on end and although you struggle you come out with an incredible sense of well being………

SR  To receive it from Ma Lee so quickly, did it come as a shock?

JU  Did it!  To have waited so long in Hung Gar and then receive it directly from Ma Lee was a shock.  I received it orally first to get the idea of each posture in the form and then had it manipulated by finger pressure to confirm it.  She accepted my twenty year “apprenticeship” and knew that my Hung Gar school was well known to have the full Chap Sau formula and to teach it so she knew that I knew what she was doing.  It was easier for her because she didn’t have to teach me the concept, however she still had me as raw material!

SR  How would you describe the necessary relationship between instructor and student for the Chap Sau to take place?

JU  You have to enjoy each others company or there’s no chance of ever getting anywhere.  You have to have faith in the teacher and be able to confirm that the posture that they have shown you is better than the one before.  You have to realise the suffering, practise and study that they have put in to get this ability and be prepared to do the same………..  often hours in one posture!

SR  So you would say that you need to have established a long tem relationship before it can happen?

JU Well in my case it was many years, it was being done to me and I didn’t know!  I just felt good and kept returning to Hong Kong for more!  It was only when it was formalised that I realised what had been happening………

SR  So what’s your advice to any Kung Fu student looking for that kind of teaching?

JU  Look for the right teacher, with the right lineage and the right time spent with a famous master who has received Chap Sau, look at his/her ability, ensure that you can establish the right kind of relationship with them and then be prepared to yield to the teachings and work very, very hard!

SR  Thanks Jim.


Inside Out…

about to draw

Are your techniques YouTube friendly?

Do they follow the ‘fashion’ of the day?

Do you ‘train’ or do you ‘study?

Do you pay lip service to meditation?

Or do you assiduously study it?

Are you the person that everyone thinks you are?

Are you your grade and qualifications?

Are you your career and car?

Are you how attractive you appear to others?

Are you the ‘good guy’ everyone says?

Are flattered by others?

Do you go with the ‘zeitgeist’ of opinion?

Do you work to ‘fit in’ and be popular?

Do you culture yourself to be accepted and praised?

Are you always looking for acceptance?

Then you have not followed the Warrior Way.

Or has your meditation and study made you a real person?

Do you work everything out for yourself?

Are your opinions properly considered and truly yours?

Do you understand the skills that really work?

Have you discarded the culture that others gave you?

And worked to find out who you really are?

Are you prepared to go against the grain?

To upset the ‘popular’ crowd?

To think and act from the inside out?

Have you become a true warrior of life?

And a ‘’real’ martial artist?

Interviews & People

Doug James Interview 2003


This interview was conducted in April 2003

I have known Doug for around 20 yrs from the days we were both in TERA Karate Kai and shared some lessons with the late Toru Takamizawa.

It has been a pleasure to watch the quiet and dedicated Doug grow from strength to strength.  He is a prime example of how dedication to the Art of Karate coupled with resolve can positively affect your life and that of those around you.

From the small beginnings at Middlesbrough Budokan Karate Club in 1967, Doug has risen to be a World Class Referee and Kata Judge, Chief Instructor and Founder of an Association with 600 students, Director of an influential Martial Arts Video company, Director of the English Karate Governing Body and author and “star” of the most prolificly sold “definitive” Wado Ryu video tapes.

It was my pleasure to conduct this interview and “catch up” with an old friend.

SR  Can you tell the readers a bit about your background before you started studying the Martial Arts?

DJ  I was born in West Hartlepool on Teesside in 1946 and in my early teens played rugby for the local club youth team.  On leaving school I worked as an apprentice engineer and then moved into the drawing office and trained as a draughtsman in Middlesbrough and this is where I met my wife Rita in 1966.

SR  When, where and how did you become interested in the Martial Arts?

DJ  On leaving school, I joined a local Judo club and enjoyed the training for about a year, but stopped  when it got in the way of Rugby training and night school.

When I was about 17, I watched a Karate demonstration in Hartlepool given by Walter Seaton who was starting a club in the town,  I was very impressed but didn’t take it up due to my other commitments at the time.

SR  When, where and at what club, in what style did you first start training?

DJ  When I was aged 20yrs and working in Middlesbrough, a fellow draughtsman told me about the Karate club he attended and invited me along to a session.  It was at the Budokan Karate club within the BKA, practising  Wado Ryu, it was situated in a very old area of town above a small garage.  My first impression on seeing the facilities was – what have I let myself into? However, after  my first class I was hooked.

SR  Who was your first Instructor?

DJ  Fred Kidd, he was in his late 40’s at the time and was as tough as they come. He had received his 1stDan from Tatsuo Suzuki along with Bryan Crossley and also others from the Budokan, such as Walter Seaton, Trevor Overfield and John Sparkes. I did not appreciate it then, but I had joined a club with a lot of pedigree. Fred was from the old school of survivors, boxing in his early teens, then army boxing, then coaching after which he took up Judo and Karate.  He was a big influence on me.  My wife Rita and I called to see him three years ago, just before his passing, when he was in his early 80’s and his health was starting to wane.  We spent hours talking over old times and looking through photos and scrap books.  He even had a list of grading results from a 1968 local newspaper, which had my name listed as passing my 6th Kyu.  He gave me a copy of a 1967 group photo picturing me as a white belt and I could still put a few names to faces, two of which are still very active in Karate now – Cliff Richmond in who’s still in the North East and John Gittus who emigrated to Australia .

SR  What was training like then?

DJ  Everyone who is asked this question and trained in the late 60’s will say it was hard – well I can tell you  it WAS.  The Japanese influence was still in our training, we did basics, basics and basics, assisted stretching techniques that are now regarded as very unsafe, sparring without padding, we constantly picked up cut lips, bleeding noses, etc..  Many a day at work I cautiously walked around nursing bruised and often cracked ribs.  We knew no different of course, so got on with it and oddly, thoroughly enjoyed it (the participation, not the pain).

SR  Why did you choose the style that you did?

DJ  I didn’t choose it, it just happened to be the style taught at the club.  There wasn’t the choice in those days.  Wado was the style in the North-East, except for Sunderland where the KUGB had a club, although Colin Edwards later started Shukokai with Tommy Morris and pioneered it in the North East.

SR  Have you trained in any other styles?

DJ  Yes, with Tommy Morris, he came to the club on numerous occasions to do general weapons and Shukokai courses .  He was very impressive, dynamic with powerful punches, he was the first full time Instructor I had met, I liked his professionalism, he inspired  me to have the confidence to eventually teach full time.

SR  Have you trained in other Arts?

DJ  I dabbled in Aikido on a few courses and as I mentioned earlier had trained in Judo, but for me Karate was the Art that encompassed everything I needed from a Martial Art – technique that worked, speed, agility, power, together with self control and confidence.

SR  How did you come to train with the late Toru Takamizawa ?

DJ  After I had moved with my family (we now had two sons) to Carlisle to work from Teesside in 1974, I had started my own clubs and after two years built up a group of clubs that enabled me to teach full time in 1976.  Although within the BKA, I had no Sensei as such, and I had met Toru at the BKA North East Championships late 76, so I rang him up and asked if I could go to his Dojo in Birmingham to train with him, we later joined Tera Karate Kai with around 300 students.

SR  I remember we shared a few “private lessons” with him in those days.  How did you find his different “style” of teaching ?

DJ   His style suited me perfectly. I had trained on courses with Peter Spanton in the Budokan days and still travelled to London for the occasional private sessions, but I could relate to Toru easier. His stature helped, as I was slightly taller than him as opposed to Peter who towered over me, I don’t mean in a menacing or overpowering way, but I could identify more with Toru.  In the early days all I wanted to do was spar and enter kumite competitions, I started to enjoy Kata training under Toru’s guidance, because I understood it better, I started competing and was rewarded for my efforts ,winning the Tera Nationals in both Wado and Open categories in 1980.

SR   What did you feel about his rejoining the Japanese hierarchy?

DJ   In 1982 we formed our own Association, The British Karate-Do Chojinkai and therefore was no longer involved with Toru, so I can’t really comment.

SR  How did you feel at his early passing ?

DJ   I knew he had been ill, we had spoken on the phone sometime before, but when I think back it was probably a year or so before his passing and I found it hard to believe when I was told. I drove to his funeral and back in one day, (around 800 miles) and then taught a Karate class that evening. Toru was an Instructor who had influenced me greatly and I shall always credit him with that.

SR  Why did you get involved with VMA?

DJ  VMA, which stands for “Video Martial Arts” started in 1988 after I had made my first Wado Ryu video in 86 and the Vic Charles video in 87, with a local video producer called Tim Eyrl.  Tim and I came up with an idea of producing a “martial arts magazine on video” and so we formed a company to do this and 15 years on have developed “VMA International” into a major producer and distributor of specialist programmes with over 120 titles and still growing.

Our Website is working very well, increasing our trade ( and we are now developing the major titles onto DVD.

We have recently re-structured, Tim and myself have moved away from the day to day operations, Stuart Eyrl who has been running the office part time,  has now taken over the retail side through our new sister company ”VMA Distribution“.  Tim is still involved with selective production projects within VMA International, with myself working in an advisory role.

SR   Why did you decide to make the Wado Ryu videos?

DJ   I decided to put  “on record” my grading syllabus for my own students and then the idea developed into a full detailed programme which was titled “Beginner to Black Belt”. It has sold extremely well all over the world for 15 years, and last year at the age of 56 I re-recorded it all again, bringing every detail up to date, demonstrating all the basic and combination techniques, Katas with Bunkai, and  pre-arranged sparring techniques myself.  This time it is over three volumes, six hours in total and going by recent sales figures this is also going to be very popular.

SR   Are you surprised that many people use them as the “definitive” version?

DJ  No, not at all.  I have spoken with Club Instructors and even Association Heads who have told me they first learnt Kata like Nai-hanchi or Kushanku originally from my first video many years ago.  My version of Wado Ryu – “Chojinkai” is my development and interpretation of what I have learned over the years.  It is up to the students to use this as a guide, pick out what they want, check with their instructor the Associations preferred way of performance and then it will have achieved its aim.  It is a nice feeling and it makes me proud to know that it has helped many people.

SR   How did you get into Refereeing?

DJ   Initially within Tera Karate Kai stimulated by Toru; and then with Barry Tatlow when he took over the refereeing/coaching role.  In 1982 when I had formed Chojinkai as an Association, I joined the Governing Body coaching programme under Brian Smith and qualified as an England official in 1983.

SR  How difficult have you found the path to World Class Refereeing?

DJ  Quite a slow process, I gained my European Judge qualification in 1986  and Referee in 1989. Around this time Terry Pottage took over the helm and I gained my World Judge in 1992 and then Referee in 1998.  That is a span of 15 years hence the “slow process” comment.  At that time there was a set time limit between qualifications so one could gain experience, however it has been very enjoyable and as long as I keep enjoying it I will continue.

SR  How did you get involved in the politics of Karate?

DJ   Reluctantly initially, I had been asked over many years by Association Heads and Referee colleagues to stand for the EKGB Executive and eventually decided to do so in 2002 as I felt I could offer a balance of opinion on the Committee.  It is now a Board of Directors as the EKGB is a Company Limited by Guarantee, however I do not see myself as a politician, rather a Manager of EKGB affairs.  When I address an issue, I will not be swayed by other ideas I think are not genuine.  I suppose that is the referee in me, striving for the correct judgement and being fair.

SR  What do you think of the progress of the EKGB?

DJ  We are moving along very well, each Director has a particular role or responsibility, mine is Refereeing and therefore I work closely with Terry Pottage.  Along with Abdu Shaher and Peter Allen we are spearheading the new Regional Structure that I honestly think will benefit everyone down to the grass roots membership of Karate, which is much needed.

SR  How do you envisage the future of English Karate generally?

DJ  Very optimistic.  We have a Board of Directors many of whom are new to the role, they are pursuing new and old ideas with enthusiasm, commitment and have the will to succeed.  “The future is bright – the future is the EKGB.”

SR  How do you see your future?

DJ  Semi-retirement – My working time is divided over three areas, my Karate clubs and Association, VMA and the EKGB Board .  With regard to Chojinkai, my role is that of  President and Chief Instructor and that will continue until I drop. The Senior Instructors at my clubs are now more involved in the day to day running, so I am aiming for more leisure time, particularly with my family.    Regarding VMA I have covered this in my comments on the re-structuring and with the EKGB, a lot depends on my re-election as it is a yearly appointment, but I would like to see the new Regional Structure along with other projects come to fruition before I leave the Board.  This year is the 30th Anniversary of my first club starting in Carlisle and therefore the start of Chojinkai as it is now, a strong group with around 600 members and a dedicated team of Senior Instructors. We have many special events planned throughout the year both training and social – which I am quite looking forward to getting involved with.

SR  I hope you have a good year Doug, thanks for the interview.

DJ  Thanks Steve.

Interviews & People

Dave Courtney Interview 2010


This interview was conducted in October 2010

I never judge anyone until I’ve met him or her in person.  In my experience a person and their reputation rarely match, the story from others is always going to be subjective and often it’s only repeated rumour and gossip.  Dave Courtney is a controversial character and draws opinions from all manner of people.

The first thing that struck me about him was his genuine friendly manner and the fact that he obviously valued friendship and his long-term friends.  That says a lot about him.

Dave ran a security company with over one thousand staff, minding clubs and debt collecting and has spent time in the notoriously hard Belmarsh prison.  He has also been around all manner of Martial Arts and martial artists at many martial arts events and on the ‘front line’ of security work for over 30 years and therefore has opinions that are of interest to MAI readers.

Dave came to the notice of the general public and became a ‘celebrity gangster’ after he ran the security at Ronnie Krays funeral in 1995.  He has certainly led a colourful life and has written six books, made six DVD’s and been in many films.  These days he’s interested in deterring youngsters from a life of crime and his charity work.  It was in this way that I met him through the ‘Free Spirit Live’ charity working for young people in the Medway towns.

SR  Hi Dave, before we get into the Martial Arts aspects of the interview, can you tell the readers what a ‘celebrity gangster’ is?

DC  First of all, there is no such thing as a ‘celebrity gangster’, the two words don’t go together, you can only be one or the other.  The more famous you get, the less ‘naughty’ you can be – as everyone knows who you are!  You can only write books about your life as a gangster once you’ve retired.

SR  What made you give up and become a celebrity as opposed to a gangster?

DC  It was doing the security for Ronnie Krays’ funeral.  I was the owner of one of the biggest security companies in Europe and I thought it would be one of the best bits of advertising I could have – and it was, the problem was that it bought me to the attention of the public and the authorities as the ‘heir to the Kray twins throne’ and as a ‘hard man’.  I had 1000 men working for me, but for this event I took 150 of my best and it was seen as a ‘private army’ and so it appeared that the authorities wanted to close me down.  Fame and fortune don’t always go hand in hand, believe me, you can be infamous and skint!

No one is as big as the myth – and certainly not Dave Courtney!  Being in charge of a large group of doormen meant that I took the credit and blame for a lot of things that had nothing to do with me.  I’m not saying that I’m whiter than white, but I’m also nowhere near as naughty as I’ve read about, some of the things that I’ve read about me means that even I don’t like me!

SR  Can it be that they haven’t met you?

DC  I don’t know anyone who has met me and talks about me in that way.  The fact that I decided to retire and that I haven’t been shot or spent a long time in prison others don’t believe I’ve finished with that lifestyle.  My home and phone is still under 24 hour observation and I can understand that, but I’m a writer, a filmmaker and on the celebrity circuit.  I’m now trying to stop youngsters from taking up that life – crime doesn’t pay!

SR  One of the first things that struck me about you Dave is the fact that you value your friends highly.

DC  Yes I do.  The moment you stick your head above the parapet in life and say – “here I am” you come in for a lot of stick of all kinds, if someone claims to be my friend they often come in for a lot of stick that they didn’t need to, so I love them even more for that.

SR  What kind of involvement have you had in the Martial Arts?

DC  In the last 30 years, I have had every kind of martial artist and fighter you can think of work with me, for me and against me.  From the football hooligans to the Bruce Lee era to cage fighting, from all the wannabe’s there’s always been the few that really stand out.  Many fighters fight with a strong heart or incredible bravery, some see the ‘red mist’ and just go berserk, but there’s always been the martial artists that are well trained, cool, calm strategists with techniques that work – and they are the most scary of all!

I’ve had them work with me and as enemies – and I have to say that I’d much rather have them on my side!

In the beginning it seemed to me that black guys took up martial arts more than white.  Boxing taught how to fight one man at 3 minute intervals, but martial arts taught how to fight many assailants at once!  In those days whites were by far the majority and blacks were the few suffering discrimination and martial arts were a method for them to defend themselves.

SR  You’ve always been seen as a ‘scary man’ though Dave….

DC  You know Steve, I may be perceived as a hard fighting man by some, but the scariest thing about Dave Courtney is his telephone book.  If you want to be a good martial artist I’m aware of the huge sacrifice you have to make in your life to train properly, not to do drugs, not eat those burgers and fries, not go out for those beers, go to bed early and train every day – it is a huge sacrifice.  If you’re prepared to put in the effort, you’ll get the reward.  I’m too weak willed to make those sacrifices, but I always had a lot of people who worked for me that did and I’ve always admired their dedication, training and ability.

I’m also aware Steve, that there are those that train physically but don’t put in the time and dedication that you have into the mental and philosophical aspects as well as the physical side of the Art and I understand that’s why you’re still here and respected after 40 years training and at 60 years of age, and can still give me a good kicking if you wanted to.

I ‘m a realist and wouldn’t consider myself a good enough opponent to a highly trained martial artist without weighted gloves, a baseball bat and knuckledusters, luckily, most of those people are on my friends list and that’s why my phone is scarier than me!

SR  You’re often seen at Martial Arts events giving out trophies etc….

DC  Yeah, I’ve been to a lot I’ve given out trophies to people like Ian Freeman, Mark Epstein and most of the top MMA, Kickboxing and Muay Thai fighters, I’ve also attended many martial arts tournaments, events of different styles and seminars and given talks at their places of training. I’ve done interviews and shows with Mike Tyson, Ricky Hatton and Dolph Lundgren. You name the art or style and I’ve done something for an event for them.  I don’t discriminate in any way or think that any way is best.

SR  It’s never the art or style, always the individual.

DC  Exactly.  It’s not the ‘art’ – it’s the ‘heart’!

SR  That’s the quote of the day Dave – and going to be the title of this article!  In the talks that we’ve had, we’ve found a lot of common ground in our philosophy, mindset and experience strange that two people from the same roots with different paths in life can come to similar conclusions?

DC  It’s because of our age and experience and we can both appreciate the foundations of what’s required to live in a ‘proper’ way.  If we were both twenty five year olds we’d maybe have differences that we’d probably want to resolve physically.  Age and experience has given us wisdom.

Having that age, patience, experience and wisdom and being able to teach it are two entirely different things – and that’s your gift.  The work and patience required to be able to do what you do has no obvious glory.  If you preach philosophy on the nightclub door you get ‘pussied off’ for it and in my day only violence was respected and acknowledged.

Over the years I’ve had dealings with all the premier ‘hard’ and ‘naughty’ men you can think of, but I’ve never connected with any of them in the way that I’ve connected with you, and that’s because we’ve come from the same roots, taken completely different paths in life yet finished up with remarkably similar views and philosophies, plus you’re the only bloke I know with more weapons hanging on his walls than I have!

SR  Which brings us neatly to your new television channel and as a result the work we’re going to do together…..

DC  For most people, learning the mental strength and philosophy doesn’t come into it when they first take up Martial Arts.  They’re in a rush to get fit and learn how to fight.  It’s some time before they realise that if they really want to learn properly they have to study those aspects.  Learning the physical movements is only half the Art, often the student has to go backwards to go forwards.

SR  Absolutely, they have to learn how to think, sit, stand, breathe and move before they can really know Kung Fu.

DC  It’s only now that I’m post fifty years of age that I realise this.  If you’d told me this at twenty five I wouldn’t have believed it!

SR  At twenty five I don’t think I would have believed it!

DC  No – you would have hit me!!  (laughs)  The security of nightclub life all over the UK has been a major part of my life and I’ve watched the ‘back street culture’ and the methods of fighting change for over thirty years, we’re currently in the process of the changing of another era.  The days of the ‘Lenny Mclean’ style ‘stand up straightener’ is past and it’s now more Martial Arts influenced.  It used to be how hard and how many punches to the face could you give and take and still stand…

SR  When I first learned Karate people used to say “why are you learning that ‘dirty Jap fighting’  and ‘only girls kick in a fight’….  If you had a fight in the school playground the teacher used to take you to the gym and make you both put on the boxing gloves to resolve the problem…  Mind you, in the fifties the Teddy Boys started to change the methods of fighting with razor blades…..

DC  There’s your ten years on me!  I still sing Elvis but I don’t remember him…. (both laugh)  The intervention of the authorities in child discipline in my mind is one of the worst things they ever did.  Banning the cane and boxing and smacking children has taken the final disciplinary measures away.  As much as most people don’t want to hear it, some people need pain to stop them from being naughty, and to stop parents from smacking their children has taken all their authority away.

SR  Back to the television channel Dave…..

DC  Oh yeah…. There’s a new digibox on the market that gives a lot of new free channels.  I realise now that my reputation is influential over the youth of today and I want to use that in a positive way, I want to say to people that I am ashamed of some of the things that I have done but I have also accumulated some wisdom in that I can tell the youth what to do and what not to do and that’s also where I need your wisdom, help and experience.  I became famous because of the wrong things in my life and the art of life is dedication to the right things.  The art of good management is to use the right people for the right job and I’m not the right person to teach the skills that you have – you are.  When it comes to modern forms of combat and self defence in the broadest modern sense they need to learn from Steve Rowe – and I can deliver my street wisdom alongside it.

I want to be genuine in my television channel and if there’s someone like yourself that through your hard work and dedication in those areas can deliver something better than me, then I want you to do it.

SR  How is the channel going to work?

DC  Advertising will pay the costs for the channel, so we have to produce the viewing figures.  I want to appeal to every genre of person that finds Dave Courtney appealing and inspiring.  There will be all manner of combat on the channel, including gladiators, boxers, pirates, streetfighters and so on, in a historical context and it will all show how in modern times it’s moved into the Martial Arts era.  The next ten years will be very influential in how modern man will learn fighting in the ‘oriental’ way and will also learn the lifestyle and calming influence of Arts like Kung Fu.

Lenny McLean and Roy Shaw didn’t talk about diet and meditation – they just hit you!  When I was a kid the hardest man in town was Mick McManus – a fat man in a pair of speedos!

So times really have changed, now it is a total lifestyle of diet, training, meditation and character building, that’s what I want to reflect.

SR  What are your plans for the future?

DC  I’m afraid my plans for the future mean me leaving the country because as much as I’m an Englishman and love the country very much, I’m afraid the authorities here in England don’t see me as retired and appreciate that I might be of value to them in deterring youngsters from crime.  I’m very popular in the States at the moment and as it’s an English speaking country it looks like I’ll have to move over there.

What hurts me is that I have given up my previous life and am in a good position particularly with my celebrity status, to help the authorities deter youngsters from crime, it seems silly that I wouldn’t pass a CRB check, but I’m the one that can talk to youngsters from an experienced background as to why crime and violence doesn’t pay.  They won’t listen to someone that has no previous experience in those areas, as it’s them that they are fighting against.

Teaching is incredible, when you see the results that you can have in the development of a young life that feeling is worth its weight in gold.  There is not enough money in the world to replace that feeling.

SR  You’ve brought some Doorman weaponry with you Dave, can you talk a little bit about that?

DC  Weaponry is almost a naughty word when you talk about combat and it is often seen as cheating but in real life you need at least the same level of weaponry as your attacker.  The doorman is law enforcement and is on the front line and needs to be prepared.  The idea is that it will end the fight quickly.  I’m a great advocate of the knuckleduster, I’ve had a variety of weapons used against me from the knife, cosh, extending baton, gas and electric cattle prod and none of them stopped me.  Some hurt, and I didn’t even know that I’d been stabbed until after the fight.  The gas hurt my eyes but didn’t stop me; the cattle prod shocked me momentarily but didn’t stop me.  I’ve also been shot and I’ve got to say, That did hurt!

The only thing that stops you dead in my experience is a good smack in the mouth with a knuckleduster.  I’m not pro weapon, but if you have to, do not carry a knife, because it doesn’t end the fight any quicker, what it does is to guarantee you fifteen years in prison.  You have to be prepared to do the prison sentence that your choice of weapon carries.  Most people carry a knife because they don’t want to use it, they want to frighten an attacker and make them run away.  Once drawn, if the attacker continues to attack you have to stab, that normally wont stop them so you continue stabbing until you kill and then you are up for murder.  You can’t cry ‘self defence’ if you stabbed your attacker 13 times!

When you’re inside and someone has ‘murderer’ on their door, they’re not usually a naughty person, I know ‘naughty’ when I see it – it’s in the eyes.  A naughty man knows a naughty man in the same way that a heroin addict knows another heroin addict, a killer knows another killer and a gay man knows another gay.  These were just people that picked up the wrong weapon on the wrong day.  If you get into the habit of taking a weapon with you – make sure that you are using the one you are prepared to serve the prison sentence for.

Doorman need to wear a stab proof vest and if anything will carry or use a knuckleduster, weighted gloves or baseball bat, because for the reasons stated above, they need something that will be effective but not kill.

If all else fails, you need a good pair of trainers so that you can run away fast so that you can come back another day – and I’ll readily admit that I’ve done that on a good few occasions that has enabled me to sit here and talk to you today!

SR  What about the bible Dave?

DC  That comes for the luck, we all need to pray sometimes, even if you’re not religious there will always be the day that you will!

SR  Only one problem Dave……

DC  What’s that?

SR  It’s a Gideon Bible, you must have nicked that from a hotel…….

DC  Shhhhhhhhhhhhh……………  trust you to notice that!  Stop it! (both laugh)=

SR  If you could give one good piece of advice to the readers Dave, what would it be?

DC  It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice…..  people will do more for you if they like you than if they are frightened of you.

SR  Nice one Dave…


My Immortal Soul..


Most of us are worried about what will happen to us when we die.
When all we have to do,
Is remember what we were before we were born.
What we are now, have always been,
And will always be.

Where is you immortal soul?
Why can’t you feel it now?
Of course you can, it rests in your stillness.
Stand tall, breathe deep, focus your mind,
When the words stop and the body is still,
‘You’ cease to exist – and there it is.

It has no name, it permeates everything,
Everything within it rises and falls in time,
Hurt any part and you only hurt yourself,
Be kind to any part and you feel the reward.

This whole creation, this whole theatre,
Has but one purpose;
The reason you have 5 senses and a reflective conscious mind,
Is so that the universe, your immortal soul,
Can experience itself…


The Stopped Breath…


Between breathing in and out,
And between out and in,
There is a magic Zen moment,
A moment in which we can access infinity.

We stop our breath to concentrate.
To draw a straight line freehand,
To listen intently,
Before we pee or poo,
And even before we vomit.
A moment of perfect Zen.

When we meditate, these are our magic moments.
Like the pauses between waves rolling in and out.
We learn to extend our Zen from these pauses.
And how to extend and deepen our breathing.

When in combat we can’t match breath to technique.
So breathing has to be natural.
When we collide with the opponent,
Or when we need to focus,
We momentarily stop our breath.
For perfect concentrated Zen.


The Best Martial Art And Teacher…


Watching a variety of YouTube Martial Art instructional videos I was struck by the extent of what I would call unintelligent reasoning going on.  What the Coaches were saying sounded like structured teaching, but in fact they were focusing on unimportant points in the technique – and how they were explaining them meant that, in my opinion, most students would not be able to perform the movement with any efficiency.

Some students will get better despite the Coach and they will go on to teach in the way that they have been taught and more often than not students with ‘something that looks like’ a good technique end up being graded, making up for the loss of power with heavy breathing, foot stomping, shouting and pulling agonised faces.

Application to Kata can be like a ‘101 things to do with a dead cat’ scenario.  No one knows the true reasoning behind the original structure of the techniques and therefore they end up trying to make educated guesses with scanty historical facts that can end up being twisted to suit the answer the researcher wants; they would have been far better to restart the whole training structure from scratch by working backwards from real situations.

Then there’s always the pseudo science, which sounds okay until you start to work it out for yourself – it sounds logical at first but the problem is that there are so many factors to take into account in one movement that you would need more volumes than an Encyclopaedia Britannica to fully analyse how the science behind the movement works – and one bit can easily negate another.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as Bruce Lee said ‘boards don’t hit back’ so hitting a squashy pad, ether foam pad or bag being held by an acquiescing student is not like hitting a human being – and certainly not like hitting one that is trying to hit you!  Choreographed pairs work is the same.

So how can you judge whether a Coach is delivering the goods?  You need to work out what it is that you want from your Martial Arts training and source the best Instruction in that area.  Start from the end product and work backwards looking for a syllabus that is well structured to achieve those ends and has synergy.

Do the basics do the job?  Do they teach you good postural alignment, breath control, use of the core muscles and a proper functional mindset?  Are these skills taught in balance?  Do the basic techniques work in application as they stand?  Can the Coach explain the ideas and principles behind them and show how the instruction in them progresses through the training system?

Do the basics match the pairs work and form (kata) at each grade?  Does each grade intelligently move you forward in a skillset that builds on the previous grade? Many systems are simply  ‘cobbled together’ with no synergy and made up of unrelated movement and techniques with no underlying principles.

Take away all the noise, culture, acting, and surrounding BS and apply your own critical thinking.  Does this training system and Coach deliver what you want?  Look at the evidence, the experience of the Coach and the quality of those that he/she has trained, do they have the qualities what you are after?

Take responsibility for your own progress, constantly health check what you are learning and know exactly why you are practicing what you are doing.  Never be afraid to politely question or challenge what you are being taught.  A good Coach always enjoys working with an interested student.

Remember that only you will make you good at Martial Arts – a good Coach and system will be invaluable but you have to choose them and then put in the work yourself to make it happen.