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TOUGH TALK writer and well-known photographer of the tough Mike Holdsworth
chats to Steven Timperley, former UK military specialist instructor, Founder of KEWAP
(Knives & Edged Weapons Awareness Programme), and PST (Personal Safety Training).
Steven is also the President of the UK Martial Arts Alliance, a unique network of martial
arts instructors and personal safety trainers.
MH: Firstly Steven, thank you for taking the
time to speak to me, and for sharing your
experiences and thoughts with the readers of
TouL TaIk MaazIne.
ST: TLank you MIke. IL's my pIeasure!
MH: How dId you BrsL eL InvoIved In combaL
sports and reality-based training and how
Ion Lave you been LraInIn now?
ST: At the age of 13, I was introduced to Wado
Ryu Karate by a friend of mine from school
who had told me of this great club he went
to in Beeston, a small town on the outskirts
of Nottingham. The club was situated
above an oId pub and IL Lad abouL a dozen
or so members. The instructor was what I
would class as borderline insane by todays
standards, in that his training methods
were draconian and spartan. Perfecting
techniques, physical and personal discipline
were at the very core of our weekly routines.
As Ior Low Ion Lave I been LraInIn? I've
been training now for over 33 years and
instructing for over 25 years in combat
related pursuits.
MH: When you say spartan what do you
mean exacLIy?
ST: For starters, at the beginning of our
karate sessions we would often go for a bare-
foot run around the town in our GIs, and in
all weathers. Im sure the locals must have
thought we were all barking-mad. I mean,
seeing all of these people dressed in white,
chasing after one another must have looked
crazy! EuL In LLose days LLaL's Low we used
to do business. Personal discipline was an
integral part of our training in that, whilst
our InsLrucLor was demonsLraLIn and/or
talking, you just dared not move an inch or
BdeL. II you so mucL as BIncLed or appeared
remotely casual, you had to pay a physical
Bne' oI say LLIrLy pusLups on your knuckIes.
Nowadays I see so many students adjusting
their training kit, moving about freely and
even talking whilst their instructors are
talking. That would have never happened
back LLen!
MH: Would you say martial arts clubs and
LLeIr pracLIces In LLIs counLry Lave cLaned?
ST: In short, from my experience and from
what I have seen in recent years, I feel that
respect for others and self-discipline are
certainly two values that are no longer
central to training in many clubs. However,
it would not be fair of me to make a blanket
statement by tarring everyone with the same
brush. Old-school clubs with old-school values
still do exist, but I feel the old-school in the
main is in decline and has been for some time.
I also struggle to accept the fact that there
many instructors out there who are obviously
overweight. For me personally, people like
this do not convey the real appearance
oI someone Lo aspIre Lo be IIke, and BrsL
impressions certainly count in todays
society. I mean, if I took my lad to a club
and the instructor was fat, then to me there
cannot be much going on by way of physical
activity, which is so important to a childs
development.
MH: What styles combat activities have you
pracLIsed over LLe years?
ST: When I started training at the age of
LLIrLeen, I BrsL pracLIsed karaLe, and dId LLIs
for about two years. I then took up Taekwondo
wILL Tony VoLra, wLo Lad a Iare InBuence
on me at that time. Tony also had a military
backround, and I IeeI, LLIs InBuenced Lo
a degree how he conveyed Taekwondo.
However, when I enlisted into the Infantry
aL ae nIneLeen, I Iound IL ImpossIbIe Lo Bnd
a club where I could regularly train. This
was because we were either on operational
deployment, on training courses or on
exercise, and so for a time this halted my
development.
MH: So how did you overcome this and
move Iorward?
ST: I suppose, looking back, my form of
learning could be compared to those who
founded many martial arts systems and styles
dating back generations. Upon arriving at my
parent regiment after basic training, I quickly
found who in the regiment were combat
sports orientated. However, the problem for
me aL BrsL was as a 'new' boy In a 'LeeLLarms
regiment nobody took me seriously, and
those who did train and instruct would not
take me on. So I used to go and watch them
LraIn as I LraIned In LLe corner oI LLe ym!
EuL aILer a wLIIe I was BnaIIy accepLed by
my seniors, and I eventually got to train with
some formidable boxers, ex-England team
judo player Jim Brown and other prominent
karate stylists. We would train in the gym,
outside on the grass or even in the drying
room if it was raining - but we always made
LIme Ior LraInIn!
MH: What does your training and lessons
consIsL oI?
Bummer 2018 tough talk magazine 35 34 tough talk magazine Bummer 2018
Interview: Steven Timperley Interview: Steven Timperley
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ST: These days I tend to cross-train albeit
more InLeIIIenLIy LLan I dId BILeen years
ao because I am eLLIn oIder! 0ccasIonaIIy
I will do hill-reps, bag work, swim, light spar
and muscular endurance weight circuits.
Of course, depending on who I am teaching
will have a bearing on the content of the
session. For instance, when I was instructing
military personnel, I would conduct high-
impact sessions and group pressure testing
I.e. KIn oI LLe FIn and IasL man sLandIn!
And if I am instructing middle-aged females
for example, the warm-up will be low impact
and the physical skills sets will be pragmatic
and relevant to their overall ability as a
collective. For me, one of the best things
about teaching is that those I instruct come
from such diverse backgrounds. One day I
might be delivering a modulated instructors
course, and the other day teaching high
school students. Having taught thousands of
people over the years has certainly educated
me Lo be BexIbIe and IaIr one suIL never
BLs aII.
MH: You have developed several self-defence
reIaLed concepLs, LeII me abouL LLem?
ST: Bure! TLe BrsL sysLem I deveIoped many
years ago was Trident Self-Defence Training
(TSDT). The key word here is; Trident, a three
pronged concept of learning. This concept is:
LLe conBdence Lo conIronL an aressor, LLe
ability to apply realistic techniques; and the
development of character through pragmatic
instruction. In recent years, due to the
increasing content of Trident, I renamed
the physical skills wing of Elite Response
Training (my main business name) to Trident
Safety & Intervention Systems (TSIS). TSIS
now delivers the highly acclaimed Knives
& Edged Weapons Awareness Programme,
otherwise known as KEWAP. TSIS also
delivers the new Personal Safety Trainers
course (PST) which covers soft skills and
generic break-away techniques. One of the
BrsL deveIopmenLs oI TrIdenL was CombaL
DeIence and LLIs was raLIBed by a resIdenL
UK Grandmaster.
MH: Considering your lean towards reality-
based training, is Combat Defence a fusion of
oId meeLs new?
ST: DeBnILeIy! EIrsLIy, I IeIL IL was ImporLanL
to include traditional techniques, old school
values and practises. By doing this Combat
Defence students gain a baseline physical
understanding of traditional techniques. In
essence, traditional techniques and practises
are the foundation of Combat Defence.
However, in order to make the overall
syllabus more pragmatic than aesthetic, I felt
it was important to ensure that techniques
beyond the foundation stuff had an actual
value regarding modern day violence.
Combat Defence students train in traditional
karate attire, but every so often we might
train in jeans, trainers and a casual jacket,
and pressure testing is not uncommon.
MH: So do you feel that the practical applica-
tions of traditional martial arts as a whole
are slowly becoming redundant in a modern
worId?
ST: MaInIy yes! TLIs Is noL jusL because I IeeI
that most traditional techniques are dated.
Its mainly because today more and more
students seem to be engaging in street-based
skills training, hence the rise of MMA and
seIIdeIence specIBc cIubs. MosL LradILIonaI
styles stick religiously to the old ways and
sadly fail to evolve. Surely, did those, who
developed their respective styles many
years ago, do so to combat relevant threats
aL LLaL LIme In LIsLory? II so, wLy Lave so
many become Bxed and IaIIed Lo evoIve
IurLLer In LIsLory? I IuIIy undersLand LLaL
tradition has its ritualised and aesthetic
content, but traditional styles should not
become redundant in their respective
applications. Surely wouldnt new techniques
incorporated into existing styles in time
become LradILIonaI ones? EuL In aII IaIrness,
there are instructors who, nowadays, furnish
their students with additional techniques
which are better suited to combat modern
day violence.
MH: Are there any other issues about martial
arLs In LLe UK Loday LLaL annoy you?
ST: I suppose the same old same old topic
of black belts. Years ago, when I started
out, black belts were few and far between,
but nowadays it seems that black belts are
ten-a-penny. The standard of some black
belts is shocking and if these people were
graded thirty or so years ago, they would
noL make orane beIL! UnIorLunaLeIy, many
club instructors are now motivated by
income and numbers. Whats happened to
the principle of turning out quality martial
arLIsLs? BLandards, as a wLoIe, Lave IaIIen
and I BrmIy beIIeve many oI LLe oId vanuard
would agree. Nevertheless, on occasions,
I have witnessed some exceptional young
martial artists coming through the ranks,
promIsIn and reIresLIn!
MH: Is there anything else that you feel is
wron wILL marLIaI arLs Loday?
ST: TLere Is, Lowever, a smaII Issue / nIIe
for me regarding contractual matters within
some organisations. A few years ago, I went
on an instructors course and was presented
with a contract. It made reference to the fact
that unless I attended the next instructors
course a grade higher within twelve months,
I would not be allowed to continue teaching at
my present grade. So, every twelve months
LLe oranIser/s sLood Lo make anoLLer LIdy
sum out of each instructor. However, by all
means, have a policy that promotes refresher
training, i.e. a two-day course, as this would
allow instructors to remain active at their
present grade and avoid skills fade, but I dont
agree with organisations enforcing ridiculous
in-house policies regarding their instructors,
and the fact that they cannot cross-pollinate
with other stylists and organisations.
MH: How have you sought to improve yourself
as a combaLanL specIaIIsL over LLe years?
ST: Serving twenty-two loyal years to the
Crown helped me to develop my combat
Bummer 2018 tough talk magazine 37 36 tough talk magazine Bummer 2018
Interview: Steven Timperley
pursuits and these, in turn, served to
enhance my application to military life. To
daLe I LraIn Bve days a week and I am In LLe
gym at around 6 am Monday to Friday. I eat
healthily - within reason - and I try to live a
ood IIIe and be a ood person. AIso, I BrmIy
believe that, as an instructor, you must be
prepared to be the student from time to time
and be enthused to learn new skills. If not,
how can we, as instructors, be in a position
Lo enLLuse oLLers Lo Iearn? EquaIIy, LraInIn
with different combatants has helped me
to develop a wider understanding of other
BLLIn and deIensIve sysLems. II someone
trains in a different discipline to mine, then
I want to learn some of this, and I feel more
and more martial artists are adopting this
philosophy.
MH: So, have you had to use hand-to-hand
skIIIs In LLe pasL?
ST: Yes, and something I am not completely
comfortable talking about. Like many, I have
read sLorIes oI LLIs BLLer and LLaL BLLer,
and many in my opinion - but not all - are
stories told to bolster egos and reputations.
But a few references I will make are about a
couple of bare-knuckle matches I had with
two Iraqi policemen, and another when
several Iraqis tried to take me hostage. The
bare-knuckle matches occurred because the
opponents wanted to test the Brits metal
wLen we Lurned up In Easra In 2008. And
bare-knuckle because basically we had no
Ioves! TLe BrsL opponenL was noL mucL Lo
write home about, and he was dismissed
within seconds. The second was, however,
a damn good boxer; his stance, style and
movement conveyed an opponent of some
experience. He caught me several times and
so I reverted to a combination of punches and
low kicks which paid off after about three or
four minutes.
As for the hostage situation; I was unfortu-
nate enough to be in a position where I was
somewhat remote and on my own away from
the lads. Six, maybe seven Iraqis made a
grab for me in an attempt to drag me into a
small room. Their intention was clear; grab
the Brit. At the point of realisation that I
was about to become a statistic, my legs all
buL ave way and Ior a second or so I Iroze,
after all, this was no Friday night fracas.
Fortunately the thought process of I WILL be
going home with a pulse became - shall we say
a creaLIve process. No Bner deLaIIs needed
on LLIs, I'II Ieave LLe resL Lo your ImaInaLIon!
And, over the years, there have been various
situations when some drunken idiot had
thought that I would become their sport for
the evening; again a desired outcome for me
- was achieved.
MH: In life, who have been your greatest
supporLers, and wLo do you Iook up Lo?
ST: Well I do not idolise anyone in particular;
for me theres too much back slapping going
on these days. However, I do have a very
healthy respect for those I instruct because
they have motivated me to seek further
knowledge and self-enhancement. In turn,
I have much respect for the likes of Peter
Consterdine and Geoff Thompson from the
British Combat Association, and certainly
karate legend Mr. Aidan Trimble. Most of
all though, I owe a lifetimes debt to Mr.
Mark Dawes of the National Federation for
Personal Safety. Mark Dawes is the Founder,
Director and the Lead Master Training of the
NFPS. In recent years Mark has encouraged
me to develop my skills and believe in myself;
hes a true gentleman and friend to many. In
general, there are others who I have much
time for too, for example: Tony Davis and
Stuart Harris from Total Dojo, Tony Hughes
from Kent and the Face-to-Face Combat guys
from London.
Of course, my upbringing and family certainly
forged the way ahead for me. My father was
a hard-working market trader and shop-
keeper, and a former RAF boxing champion
Irom LLe 'S0s. He was a reaI Lard man and
had a rough upbringing during the war as a
fostered child, so the harsh lessons he learnt
became mine as I was adopted; Looking back,
my cLIIdLood was a prIvIIee!
MH: Steven, thanks for your time. I am
looking forward to seeing how things develop
for you and please keep the readers of Tough
Talk informed and up to date regarding your
endeavours!
ST: Cheers Mike, I shall and thank you for
taking the time to talk....
*****************************************************
Steven Timperley
******************************************
T: + 44 (0) 7917 798 784
W: www.eliteresponsetraining.co.uk
UK Martial Arts Alliance
******************************************
W: www.ukmaa.org
E: info@ukmaa.org
Photography & interview
by Mike Holdsworth
******************************************
W: www.mikeholdsworth.com
E: photo@mikeholdsworth.com
Bummer 2018 tough talk magazine 39 38 tough talk magazine Bummer 2018
Interview: Steven Timperley Interview: Steven Timperley