Those of you who look at our Facebook page will be aware we have been collaborating in making our own bit of fiction through a student film/scene which we have been choreographing.  Essentially a 4 vs 1 fight scene.  

Well after several late night practices we finally got to do the filming yesterday and great fun it was, and very tiring even though we kept starting and stopping and still managed to get it wrapped up in an hour and a half.

Despite the fulfilling of a childhood ambition to act like Bruce Lee for the day, and my fellow conspirators enabling me to quite dramatically and brutally defend myself from 4 attackers, the key thing i took away from the experience was how even in a controlled and scheduled spate of mock violence – fighting is chaotic, unpredictable and messy.

To make things appear ‘real’ we really had to give it some welly, which got the blood racing and the adrenaline pumping, so actually remembering what move I was supposed to use to defeat my attacker in dramatic style was actually quite hard, and instead I found myself flowing a slightly different set of moves nearly every take.

The timing had to be just right else the predetermined move was either stifled or rendered inappropriate due to range and positioning, thus the need to flow and improvise was made even more necessary.

I came that afternoon with some cinematic and dramatic additions I wished to make to a couple of the set pieces, but when it came to filming the time needed to insert these extra elements simply was not there.  The reality and speed of a multiple person attack limited the ability to add in flourishes and fine detail and resulted in more crude and aggressive core movements and strikes.  Had we been paid celebrities we would have spent the last week at least solidly practising our timing and placement, but we did not have the luxury.

It was a great experience  not only for the fulfilling of a few dreams but also the truths experienced of a high pressure confrontation, the speed, the difficulty in thinking, the need to react and flow, and conversely the limitations on how violent you can be and still expect your friends to make it through to the next scene.

A lot of truth in a fictional piece of work and bloody good fun.  So thanks to Gary the broken armed warrior, Steven the bin banger, Andy the floor dweller and Steve the bicep basher, and to John and Rich for giving us the opportunity and the mysterious girl for running out of shot every two minutes.
Watch this space for the upcoming film!Image


Female self defence class at cda academy cheltenham 11am on 22nd Sept. Releases to chokes and grabs. Life saving strikes and techniques. — CDA (@CDA_MartialArts)

I was lucky enough to have an evening free in London and could pop along to the fantastic Bob Breen Academy in Hoxton.

Due to the Olympics Bob is back in a school hall with home made printed signs denoting the location of the changing rooms – which are teachers offices given up for the evening renters needs.  Not the most glamourous or fancy of settings – yet the 3 hr session split between stick fighting, boxing and grappling (fillipino style) was as busy as the reasonably sized space could take.

About half way through the boxing class the room was really heating up with the effort and exertion, and by the end of the last class the rather hard floor was getting slippy and wet from people rolling around on it.

Now you might think that this does not sound that appealing a place to train at but i can assure you that it was a fantastic 3 hrs – everyone was focused on the training, people dropped in and out as they needed with no mention of a 50 press ups for making it late to class or drawing attention to the fact that they had to leave early in some othersilly and demeaning manner.  The class simply ploughed on with what it was there for – training people to fight.

I was inspired by the bare bones approach Bob has created, really getting down to the core of what the training was about.  No need for fancy uniforms, uneccessarry ceremony or out dated approaches to student discipline or conduct.

Yes you still had to show respect – though there was no conscious effort needed for this as it just demanded due respect from the vibe and quality of the tuition.  Yes you were told what you were doing right or wrong in a clipped and exact manner that lacked in embellished courtesy but was made ever more effective by its direct manner.   The class simply avoided getting hung up on itself, not needing any support through the modern trappings of branding or merchandise – the academy is the people who train and the man that leads them, that is its strength and that is what makes it such a good experience.

On a personal note i found that the material was not wholly new too me (except the stick fighting where i am a complete novice and no mistake) but the extra touches, the little gems, additions, corrections and edges that an instructor of Bob’s caliber can give you makes the experience that much more valuable.

Thanks to Bob and his students, i hope to be over again soon.

Lee Trunks 

Twice in recent weeks i have been discussing self-defence classes with potential students only to be met with the line “Self defence – sounds fun – as long as i don’t have to hurt anyone!”  Now they seemed really keen on the concept of looking out for themselves and ‘learning a few moves’, but when we got down to what that actually entailed the response was less cheery than it had been a moment ago.

Now in one respect it makes me very happy that i live in a world where despite seeing violence rocket into the realms of cool and near on compulsory when it comes to modern movie/computer game production, still every day people, some at least, are repulsed at the thought of doing serious harm to another individual.  These are good people who think violence is bad, even thinking of it as unpalatable, and well done to them, long may their lives be such that they can maintain this view-point and state of stand-offishness with such actions and activities.

Unfortunately though the people  i was speaking with had those very same  unsavoury and frightening elements of the human nature brought literally to her doorstep, and so think and indeed accept that these things exist she had to, and not just in someone else’s world.

The first step to self-defence is a recognition that it is needed, the second step is doing something about it.  Walking through the door of a martial arts club for the first time is a daunting prospect for most, but recognition of the need to do so and then acting on it shows bravery and a willingness for self-preservation that will only make the training that much more effective.

Violence is just all shades of ugly, but it can be managed (not controlled) by the right mindset, and this starts with the big ‘a’ of acceptance, accept the world is ugly, accept your limitations, accept your vulnerable and then don’t accept that there is nothing you can do about it.  Simple techniques, an understanding of the principles of awareness and avoidance, coupled with a strong will to survive, and you might simply do just that, survive.

Don’t live in ignorance but conversely don’t live in fear – there are still nice people who don’t want to hurt anyone, and they are more than welcome in my world. Why not book a private self defence class yourself or with a group of friends

Whilst we have moved away from the very strict discipline associated with traditional martial arts, at CDA we still see the benefits that children gain from a structured and formalised environment.  It allows them the security to accept new and uncomfortable situations such as sparring for the first time, or demonstrating a technique in front of the class, because they feel protected by the discipline and oversight of the instructor and their fellow class mates.

We have seen reluctant and shy children excel at things they would not have dreamed of a few months before they started training.  Repetition, group participation and positive encouragement and acknowledgement makes their confidence, and in turn their ability thrive in such an environment.  They also have fun!!

Since having children of my own my believe in the benefits of martial arts training for children beyond simple self-protection and health, have been robustly reinforced and i would heartily recommend parents to give their children the opportunity to have a go, why not book a free taster martial arts session now – see details at

If you are looking for martial arts training in the cheltenham area and not sure what style or type of training would suit you then look no further than the CDA (Combined Defensive Arts) Academy.  We offer TaeKwonDo, Shotokan Karate, Western Boxing, Kickboxing, Self Defence and our own blend of styles (JKD inspired) Combined Defensive Arts classes, we even have private lessons and fitness classes.

View the full club details at