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TT: WLen dId you BrsL sLarL LraInIn and

why?
LM: I saw a Eruce Lee movIe wLen I was
youn, back In LLe earIy '80s, and LLouLL LLaL
learning a martial art would be an extremely
cool thing to do! So I joined a traditional
karaLe cIub, sLarLIn wILL Wado Fyu, LLen
BLoLokan, and BnaIIy KyokusLInkaI wLIcL,
actually, was all that was around back then.
It was also, in part, an attempt to try and
focus my energy; I was a rebellious teenager
growing up in quite a rough part of south east
London and learnt that people only treated
you the way you let them. I experienced
bullying at school and domestic violence
at home, I was moved around from pillar
to post, went to many different schools and
lived in many different places. I never really
knew the security of growing up in a loving,
stable home and was therefore somewhat a
product of my upbringing; I got into a lot of
BLLs and Lad quILe a Bery aLLILude! And so
I guess, martial arts were a way to channel
some of that energy.
TT: WLaL sLyIes Lave you LraIned In sInce?
LM: My earIy LraInIn was prImarIIy
LradILIonaI Japanese marLIaI arLs aL BrsL,
starting with the several styles of karate as
mentioned, and then judo and some Aikido,
but over the following two decades I have
studied and trained in most things; from
WesLern EoxIn Lo CLInese, aEIIIpIno and
Indonesian methods, along with some other
WesLern marLIaI arLs and combaL meLLods
such as shoot wrestling [Editors note: shoot
wrestling is a combat sport that has its origins
in Japans professional wrestling circuit of
LLe 1970s], and 0recoFoman wresLIIn. EuL
I realised that boxing and Thai boxing had
the most to offer me in those early days.
TT: WLaL rades dId you acLIeve and In wLaL
styles?
LM: I always feel a bit cringey when talking
about such things, as grades really mean
nothing to me, but they are useful as a
yardstick to progress, I guess, and so yes; I
became graded to second Dan in Shotokan
and BrsL Dan In judo, aIso bIack sasL In WIn
CLun. Years IaLer I became an InsLrucLor In
boLL LLe ErILIsL CombaL AssocIaLIon (ECA),
and the Self Defence Federation (SDF), also
a CombaLIves InsLrucLor under exUB MarIne
Corp. LandLoLand combaL InsLrucLor
CLarIIe NeIson, as weII as wILL DennIs MarLIn,
wLom my ood IrIend 0eoII TLompson once
said was; ...the most credible instructor of
real self-defence in the world today.
TT: Tell me a bit more about your background
and wLo InBuenced you aL LLe LIme?
LM: As well as my martial art training, at
twenty-one years old I started strength
training too, and over the following ten
years became a competitive strength athlete.
During this time I also started working the
doors and quickly learnt what worked and
what didnt work when it came to using my
martial art skills on the street. Sometime
IaLer LLe reaIILy based seIIdeIense (FEBD)
scene emered wILL 0eoII TLompson, wLo
was Lo become a reaL InBuence Ior me, and
a ood IrIend. WILL reaIILy based seIIdeIense,
I started to realise that this was much more
about controlling adrenaline and emotion
than simply collecting techniques or skills
as wILL TMA. FEBD was aIso aII abouL beIn
'BrsL' and usIn sInIBcanL ImpacL Lo dIsabIe,
and on the doors I had plenty of opportunity
Lo LesL and conBrm LLese prIncIpIes. Bo
I decided to look for a more combative
approach to my training.
As a kid though, I remember reading and
being inspired by a UK magazine called
Fighting Arts, which covered a variety of
TMAs, as weII as oLLer sLuII IncIudIn a
reuIar secLIon by DennIs MarLIn wLo back
then was a Shotokan karate-ka, and is now a
IeadIn UK combaLIve InsLrucLor. He'd wrILe
abouL LLIns IncIudIn WW2 CombaLIves
and Defendu, a combat system developed by
Fairbairn and Sykes [EdILor's noLe: WIIIIam
E. Fairbairn and Eric A. Sykes Defendu was
based on practical experience mixed with
jujitsu and boxing and was taught to Special
0peraLIons ExecuLIve members durIn WorId
War II] Even way back then, I found these
styles extremely interesting. Eventually I
Iound my BrsL combaLIves InsLrucLor In LLe
IaLe, reaL FeLe FobIns wLo Lad enuIne
lineage back to Fairbairn - and then got to
LraIn wILL, and IaLer become a BrsL eneraLIon
InsLrucLor under DennIs MarLIn.
TT: WLaL was IL IIke workIn LLe doors? And
how did it relate to your martial arts and
combat training?
LM: WorkIn LLe doors LauLL me many
things! Firstly it taught me a lot about body
language and misdirection and deception,
and how to read these things in other
people. It also taught me how develop good
communication skills and how to read
precursors to violence. I wanted to learn how
to control my emotions under the dynamics
oI BLL sLress, Low Lo deveIop more seII
control and to forge my character, and the
doors certainly helped me do that! The doors
was much like a training laboratory insofar
as it provided me with an environment
where what I had learnt in martial arts had
Lo be sImpIIBed II IL was Lo sLand any cLance
of working in real-time, and in a completely
non-compliant environment. All violent
confrontations begin and end in your head
and that your mind-set, mentality and pre-
BLL perspecLIve Is everyLLIn! WorkIn on
the doors also taught me the simple lesson
of how; less is more, and that under stress,
the more possible options you collect the
more time youre wasting in trying to make
the right decision during a time when your
cognitive brain is on its way to shutting down
anyway! And then you simply cant think
rationally or react effectively any longer. I
realised very quickly that even though the
rules of engagement in the dojo were different
from the street, the commonality of the need
to develop a small gross-motor toolbox of
skills and techniques which were mentality
driven and adaptable to a variety of events,
was extremely important for positive and
effective outcomes.
TT: Have you LraveIIed and LraIned mucL? II
so where?
LM: Ive trained and taught all over Europe,
as weII as In LLe UB, Moscow, BIberIa, BouLL
Africa and Australia. I love travelling and
networking with others and building Urban
CombaLIves. 0ne oI my mosL memorabIe
evenLs was In NovosIrbIrsk, BIberIa, oIn Lo
a FussIan Eanya [sauna] and eLLIn LLe sLIL
beat out of me with branches of a tree, but it
felt great after! I have trained all over the
world with many great people and just loved
to train and mix it under pressure!
TT: How dId Urban CombaLIves sLarL?
LM: In two ways really. Firstly I had always
cross-trained and have good attributes in
mixing styles and skills, and the guys I both
worked and trained with, saw this in me and
encouraged me to start teaching; initially by
presenting modules on seminars and then
eventually being given the chance to instruct
on my own and beIore I knew IL my proBIe
and reputation started to develop.
And secondIy, aL LLaL LIme, I couIdn'L Bnd
a regular club to train with which had
everything I wanted! So I got a bunch of
like-minded guys together, we hired a hall
and wouId jusL LraIn! We LraIned Lard and
sometimes dangerously - in our own animal
type stuff! It certainly was not for everyone
but there were enough of us for a small club.
0nce I decIded Lo o In LLIs dIrecLIon, 0eoII
Thompson and another combat specialist and
good friend Dave Turton were a big help, as
were many oLLers! Eased on LLe concIusIons
of what we were doing as a club, and along
with the experience I was getting on the
doors and on the street, I then developed a
more formal, structured curriculum. And
that was the beginning! It took me a few
years to really realise that; hey I can do this!
buL I Lad BnaIIy Iound my vocaLIon In IIIe and
I am now on the International circuit doing it
IuII LIme and Urban CombaLIves Is oIn Irom
strength to strength.
TT: Thanks so much Lee, brilliant stuff, and I
look forward to taking you down on the mat
one day soon... or err perhaps not!!
TOUGH TALK caught up with Lee Morrison, close quarter combat
specialist and founder of Urban Combatives; a no holds barred street
system of self-defense. We chatted about his life, the road he took in combat
and martial arts training, his mentors and how working the doors led to
the development of his Urban Combatives.
+WV\IK\4MM5WZZQ[WVIVL=ZJIV+WUJI\Q^M["
-UIQT" lee@urbancombatives.com
.IKMJWWS" Urban CombaLIves roup
?MJ[Q\M" www.urbancombatives.com
Interview: Lee MorrIson Interview: Lee MorrIson
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