September 2017 Newsletter

Hi everyone, Hope you all had a great time over the summer, the remainder of Club Grading’s have now taken place and in September, we will start working on the material for the new levels. There is also going to be a new class starting in October.

Following on from the great feedback I had around my article on the Hiki-Te I have written another here for you to take a look at.

Hope you enjoy the read.


  1. Update of classes
  2. Upcoming Seminars
  3. New Class
  4. My Approach To Self-Protection Training

Update of classes

So after the successful grading in July for those that passed we had a little fun during the August during the August month and looked at sparring drills, take downs and the similarities between all the arts that I teach. Some of the junior students even stayed on occasions to train in our adult’s class. It was great to see the enthusiasm from everyone.

The adult’s karate classes focussed around flow drills relating to their kata applications, and again the cross over between karate and the other arts taught at ARMA. The adults mixed arts class looked at single stick Hubad and we held an edged weapon workshop looking at sensitivity drills disarms and follow-ups with takedowns and joint locks.

Upcoming Seminars

Andrew Rheeston – Mixing Arts Seminar – Sunday, September 17th at 11:00–15:00

Following on from the great feedback of the seminar with myself and Iain Abernethy earlier this year I have arranged to continue the theme and teach another seminar which will focus again around the similarities between Karate and Kali Motions.

As well as the empty hand motions we will also take a look at how these can be used against blunt and edged weaponry. Also, we will see how the motions can be translated to impact equipment.

During the session we will be using focus mitts, Kali stick and training knives. For attendees that don’t already have this equipment, there will be spares available on the day.

The cost of this seminar will be £30 per person and can be paid via bank transfer (contact Andy to arrange payment), via cheque made payable to Mr A Rheeston and sent to Mr A Rheeston 106 Piccadilly Close, Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, B37 7LQ. Payment can also be taken in cash on the day once your space is booked.

Brendan Westwood Seminar – Sunday, 1st October 2017 at 10:00-14:00

Our friends at Lee Taylor Karate are hosting MKG UK Director Brendan Westwood who will also be visiting us later in the year. Details of the seminar are here:-
We have the honour of hosting Brendan Westwood who is the UK & European Director of MKG (Minnesota Kali Group) for the first time here in Wales. Brendan ( is also the owner and head instructor of MKG Bournemouth with an impressive martial arts career spanning over 20 years this will be a special seminar not to be missed!
This is an open seminar for 15yrs + covering various arts under the MKG banner.
Seminar Details:-
Time: 10am-2pm
Venue: Memorial Hall, Station Rd, Presteigne, Powys. LD8 2LB
Cost: Adults £30 per person
Payment: PayPal use email to pay and state Brendan Westwood Seminar / Bank cards can be used on the day if required along with cash but reserve a place in the first instance / Bank Transfer ask for details

Rick Faye UK Seminar 28th & 29th October 2017

I mentioned this seminar in last weeks newsletter and the details have now been finalised and can be found below:-
Guro Rick Faye – the owner and head instructor of the world-renowned Minnesota Kali Group – is back in the UK for a weekend full of martial arts goodness!
Sessions run from 10am to 2pm on both Saturday and Sunday – for anyone with an interest in martial arts (not just MKG students).
PLUS, there will also be an additional instructors’ only session from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on each day – so a great way to get your hours in with Guro Faye.
Tickets start from £60 per day, and there are additional deals for accommodation. Visit the MKG UK website for details, and to reserve your place (£20 deposit).
This will be Guro’s last Seminar in the UK for 2017 – so don’t miss out!
Follow this link for more information and to book your place.

MKG UK Seminar with Brendan Westwood – Sunday 3rd December at 12:00–16:00

Following on from last year’s successful seminar I have the pleasure of hosting Guro Brendan Westwood the UK & European Director of the Minnesota Kali Group for another seminar around the MKG arts. The session last year focussed around stick and knife training, hubad (a sensitivity drill to feel pressure from a partner or opponent to manipulate them into positions where they are off balance and easy to hit) and impact work on the focus mitts. Was a great session and sure this years session will be just as fun!

The seminar will be held at Team Black Belt Dojo, Lode Lane, Solihull, B92 8NU. The cost will be £30 for the seminar and can be paid by either cheque or cash on the day. In the first instance please book and confirm your place with Andy prior to sending payment, as places will be limited for this event. Contact details for Andy are tel: 07929989720 or e-mail

New Class

From Monday 2nd October, I am starting a new ladies only Kickboxing class. These classes are purely fitness based and will include fitness training, pad work and glove drills. The training will include methods taught from my Jeet Kune Do system (The art of Bruce Lee), Muay Thai and Panantukan (Filipino Boxing). At only £5 per class this sure to fill up quickly so please contact me as soon as possible to book your place.

My Approach to self-protection training

The article below is something I wrote in preparation for my 3rd Dan grading. I hope you enjoy it.

Self Defence / Protection Training

This article has been written to explain the way I address the issues of self-defense/protection in my classes, it is not written as a definitive instruction and I am in no way saying my way is the only and best way of addressing this issue of self-defence.

Self-defence can be a very emotive subject with everybody having their own opinion of what is and is not good self-defence. During the classes, that I trained in before opening my own whenever self-defence techniques were taught they were always in the format of “the attacker does A, B or C and you as the defender then do X Y or Z to counter the attack”. It was not until I started my own classes that I questioned that approach.

The first question I asked myself when deciding on how to structure the self-defence requirements of my class was “What would I want my children to learn?” Mr first thought was not about teaching my kids to defend against different types of attack but rather about how I would not want them to be in a position to be attacked/bullied in the first place. I thought about some of the techniques that I had been taught from previous classes and a few things came to mind which I thought needed to be addressed.

• If the attacker is presenting a physical attack then they must be in a position close enough to do this.
• In order to get into that position the attacker must have approached the defender before engaging in a physical attack.
• Before approaching the defender, the attacker must have first selected them as a target.
• Before selecting a target, the attacker must have already thought about attacking someone.

With those things in mind I looked at ways each of these situations can be addressed leaving the physical defence as the last resort, rather than a ‘go to’. Obviously, the skills to physically defend your self should be taught but I do not believe that the whole of self-defence training should be geared just towards that. This is why when I train/teach I make a specific reference between self-defence and self-protection. To me personally, self-defence starts when you physically have to defend against an attacker whereas self-protection is everything you do before the physical actions.

Now I will go through the list above to show how I structured myself defence and protection training. We will start from addressing point number 4 and work down to point number1, the idea being if you can address each of the stages in that order the chances of the next one diminishes.

Number 4 – Before selecting a target the attacker must have already thought about attacking someone.

When teaching the sections of self-protection I always start with the statement that “In order for anyone to be attacked the attacker must have thought about attacking someone”. It’s very common to hear people in interviews or discussions once they have been attacked say ‘I never thought it would happen to me’. By thinking in this way they are unprepared should a situation arise and in some circumstances may even act in ways that attract an attacker because of their lack of preparedness.

I always make a point of saying that we cannot control what people think and we must avoid thinking that we are not going to get attacked. I am not trying to incite paranoia with this statement but ensure the students understand and accept that there are people who may think of them as an easy target. I then explain some errors of the ‘it will never happen to me’ mindset as noted below.

• They are not prepared should someone choose to see them as an easy target.
• They will not be taking note of the environment or people around them.
• They make choices, which increase their chances of becoming a victim such as walking down alleyways when out alone instead of staying to the well-lit main roads etc.
At this point, I produce a chart taken from the concept of the ‘Cooper Colour Code System’ as seen below.

I then have a discussion with the group and talk about the differing colour codes and what they mean, a brief description is given next to each picture.

As stated above when thinking you are never going to be a victim you can inadvertently place yourself in a vulnerable position due to not being fully aware of your surroundings and I state that this is what the code white situation indicates.
3. Before approaching the defender the attacker must have first selected them as a target.

After this discussion when the students have understood what the white colour code means we then look at the next step in the list. We discuss what makes people an easy target and what indicators attackers look for when choosing the person they want to attack.

A few of the common indicators the students have mentioned are:
• Someone small/skinny.
• Someone that is not paying attention (e.g. looking at the floor, mobile phone etc.).
• Someone that would be perceived to be weak / easily scared or intimidated.
• Someone that is perceived to be unable/unwilling to fight back (in the case of a physical attack).
• Someone who appears to be wealthy or have a valuable item on their person (in the case of a robbery).
• A person on their own.

We then discuss these indicators and what we can do in order to reduce our chances of becoming a target. Some of the advice given and discussed is to:
1. Keep your head up and eyes open so that you can see what is going on around you and evaluate any potential dangers.
2. If you have any valuables keep them out of plain sight (e.g. mobile phones, wallets kept in pockets).
3. When outside stay with a group or if making a journey on your own avoid alleyways and keep to the well lit main pathways.
4. Do not go to places where trouble is known to happen. Such as a pub/club with a bad reputation or for the younger ones avoid the places in the school grounds where bullies are known to be.

I go on to explain that this is what the yellow portion of the colour code chart is indicating. If we can be alert and aware then while looking around there’s more chance of us spotting potential dangers. As a side effect, the fact that we are walking tall with our heads held high this gives off the impression of confidence which can discourage a potential attacker. As well as the above by having your head held high you can also spot the good things around such as police officers, security guards etc. which can help with you escape strategies should you need to escalate your awareness to the orange (making a plan) colour code which is described below.

Number 2 – In order to get into the position the attacker must have approached before engaging in a physical attack

Once an attacker has selected their target, in order to get want they want from them they then have to approach the target. Generally the approach is made when the attacker feels they have the advantage and element of surprise to scare and confuse the target into doing what they want, after all, whatever it is the attacker wants they want to get it in the easiest way possible and do not want to have to ‘fight’ for what they want. This is where the yellow (being aware) and orange (making a plan) colour codes cross over and come into their own to secure your protection.

If the attacker has identified their target just by having your head up and by taking note of what is going on around you, you should be able to spot them trying to close the distance and approach you. Just by making eye contact with the attacker at this point could be enough to deter them from continuing with the approach. By making this eye contact you’re showing that you have acknowledged the person is there (whether or not you think them to be a threat) and this takes away the element of surprise that they want. If you feel threatened after noticing the approach you would then escalate to the orange (making a plan) colour code.

I explain to my students that this colour code is like a scenario building exercise, if you have spotted someone you are a little concerned with then you will need to think of an escape strategy. For example, if you are walking down a road and notice someone a little further up who makes you feel uneasy (you may have seen them look at you a couple of times) you may think if that person starts an approach I will cross over the road so that they cannot get to me. Or, if that person approaches me then I will change my route, I have just seen a police officer walking in that direction so I will go that way. For the younger students, I make a similarity to crossing a busy road. We teach our children to stop, look and listen which effectively is what they would do in the code yellow, if a car is heard or seen they then need to decide if it is safe to cross or if they should stand still and wait for the car to pass by which I attribute to being the code orange state of mind.

Once the plan has been made, should the approach continue we need to execute our plan of action.

Number 1 – If the attacker is presenting a physical attack then they must be in a position close enough to do this.

Once the distance has been closed and the attacker is presenting a physical threat it is as this point we need to be prepared to execute or plan made earlier. I explain that at this point we should have already spotted the situation and tried to escape but that has not been possible, I also explain that if our awareness wasn’t as good as it should have been then the attacked could have approached without us realising (although I stress our earlier training should have given us the tools to spot this threat).

We then discuss certain methods to help with the safety and execution of the plan, I also explain that it is at this point we should consider a physical response. Up until now, the attacker may not have shown an intention to attack they had only approached us after all, but now that our chances to escape the situation have failed and the attacker is not allowing us to leave the situation we should be prepared to act how we deem necessary.

I stated earlier that attackers/bullies do not want to ‘fight’ for what they want, so if there are no avenues of escape available we need to have methods to try and dissuade the attacker and try to get them to give up on their attack. Firstly I demonstrate how the students can control the distance between ourselves and the attacker with both our own physical (hand) and environmental (cars, tables etc.) barriers. By acting in this way it gives makes the attacker/bully think about getting these obstructions out of the way taking their mind slightly off what they actually want to get from us. I also encourage the students to use a verbal distance control command such as ‘Stay there’, I get them to practice shouting this as loud as possible so that people around can hear and be drawn to the situation. Again, this is something that a bully/attacker would not really want. In the case of a school bully, by acting in this way you could draw the attention of a dinner lady/teacher or even other students that may go and tell someone about the bullying. For older students, if this occurs in a pub, club or even a shopping centre you may attract the attention of security guards whose job it is to end these kinds of confrontations.

This slight distraction of the bully attacker gives us time to prepare ourselves to execute whatever plan was devised. If the attacker is still presenting a threat then I indicate that at this point physical self-defense comes into play we have tried everything we can to avoid the situation, have put barriers in place to try and discourage the attacker from continuing and tried to attract attention from passersby. If the attacker is still presenting a threat then we need to deal with this as effectively as possible. I hold a discussion around pre-emptive rather reactive striking in order to secure our safety, I explain the problems with the ‘traditional’ approach of, you stand there and when the attacker punches, kicks etc. you defend and counter attack.

We then look at various targets and strikes to district the attacker so that we can escape and seek help. These are then practised both solo ‘in air’ to develop the technique under control and then on impact equipment to ensure the power generation and solid impact with the intended target. Following this, we then look at what the defenders can do in order to have maximum impact with that strike, for example making the attacker/bully think we are unprepared and give them no indication that we are preparing to strike them. This can be something such as telling them ‘I don’t want a fight’, ‘Please leave me alone’ etc. also our body language tells a story not just to the attacker but any onlookers or CCTV cameras. I explain that standing in that confrontation with clenched fists gives off the impression that you are preparing for a fight, so any onlookers may mistake you for being the attacker. This also shows the attacker you are getting ready to fight so they will also be preparing for this at the same time.

Finally, I discuss the issues of personal fitness and the role that has in self-defense/protection, I explain that in order for a successful escape we need to able to spot and get to a ‘safe zone’ as quickly as possible. I explain that should we decide to strike and then run to find safety or help then we should be fit enough to make that escape, we would not want to have our escape options thwarted as we were physically unable to run away. This could give the attacker chance to catch up to us and pursue the attack all over again.

We then get involved in various scenario training where these skills can be practised and evaluation given to the students so that they can learn from the training and better understand how they would act in a given situation.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I will have more content added from next month if there is anything you would like to see in these newsletters Kata performance or bunkai videos, the link between karate and kali etc. please let me know and I will do my best to get any question included in the next newsletter.

If you would like to host me for a seminar, are interested in any of our classes or if you would like to have to some private training I can be contacted at or by telephone on 07929 989 720

See you all again soon and take care 🙂

Andy Rheeston
Telephone or Text: 07929 989 720