New fighter and martial arts instructor Matt Stait wrote about the training session organised in his South Wales gym in November 2015.

After attending a few training sessions at Nottingham HQ on the farm and having a very enjoyable
time Mark and myself decided to organise a training session here in South Wales at my gym Modern
Samurai Martial Arts. We are based right on the border between England and Wales and we are surrounded by castles and historic buildings. Although my gym is fully equipped for martial arts practice I wasn’t so sure as to how well it would cope with guys and girls  in full armour going full contact!

The morning of the 21st November arrived and slowly but surely as the day progressed people started to arrive. First came Dan with a vanload of stuff which was duly unloaded.Next came Abi who was going to be the official photographer for the weekend and took some amazing shots of us all.

Mark, Sofie, Moose and Gruff all arrived and each one unloaded the vehicles and spread out across my gym. A makeshift workshop was set up in my reception area and outside in the courtyard the anvils were set up for armour repair.

After the inevitable few hours lost chatting and catching up we decided to make use of the day so while some of the guys focused on kit repair and cleaning ( Gruff cleaned everything in sight and really seemed to enjoy it) myself and the others had a training session looking at incorporating some martial arts moves and striking into the arsenal. First we worked on clinching and stand up grappling then moved on to generating force with short range striking. Dan had great success with this technique the next day in the one-on-ones dropping Moose to his knees and forcing him to halt the match. Then we moved on to low level kicking and sweeps for destabilising opponents. Moose seemed to be a natural at this and again in the one on ones used these techniques with a lot of success. Finally we ended with a basic throw; one that could be performed in armour. Everyone worked hard at perfecting it and the next step would be doing it in kit. Maybe that’s something to continue with at the next session to get it natural in full armour.

As I’m sure you can appreciate my gym is full of “toys” such as punchbags, striking dummies and crash mats so the playing continued into the evening where everyone seemed to have fun messing with them. The evening was rounded off with a few hands of poker and a drink or two late into the night where eventually everyone finally started to settle. Everyone had brought bags and just crashed on the gym floor. It looked like a refugee camp.

Day 2 began and we were greeted with a clear crisp morning and a cloud free blue sky. Given the terrible weather of the past week or so this was great news as it meant we could armour up and use the courtyard for practice. I had arranged to do a little open demonstration for the public after lunch so we all put on our armour ( or in my case borrowed Gruff’s. Thankyou for the loan mate,it really is appreciated) and had a few one-on-ones while working on some of the drills from yesterday. Some people started to arrive including some kids who are students at my club and my mum. The kids had an absolutely great time trying on the helmets and having their pictures taken with the swords and axes. The one-on-one battles raised a few eyebrows as the public were not expecting “full contact” to actually be “full contact”. When Sophie and Moose hit my large metal gates at full speed bending the holding rods and forcing the gates to fly open and the two of them to spew into the street a few “aaahhhs” could be heard. Kergan became the bad guy for the audience when he tested out his new kit on Sophie’s head. As always the sound of the clanging as blade bounces off helmet is interspersed by giggles so when Mark suggested some two on ones the young women watching all shouted and pointed for Kergan to face two opponents.

Eventually the afternoon came to a close and the light faded to a point where we could no longer
practice. The weather had been kind,the response from the public had been good and even the car
wash next door to mine got some great photos even if they were completely baffled by the whole
thing. Everyone packed away and apart from a little drama where someone’s car keys nearly took a
300 mile trip without the car everything went away smoothly. Again a few of us ended up saying we
were leaving and then talked for another two hours but eventually everyone went home safe, happy,
tired and with no injuries.I would like to personally thank everyone who came and made the weekend a success. I would also like to thank you all for being so welcoming and helpful with everything and if anyone is interested in getting involved in this area then please get in touch.

Matt

UK Fed on the run – Training in Wales