Martial Arts; Why The Piper Needs Paying.

For professional tuition you need to pay professional fees.

For professional tuition you need to pay professional fees.

Would you like fries with your roundhouse kick?

A debate that has raged through Martial Arts for many a decade (and I suspect, will do so for many more) is the matter of the McDojo and the ‘giving away’ of belts but I am of the opinion that this is a two edged sword.

My own experience is that students want the best training, facilities etc but at rock bottom prices but this is as unrealistic and as feasible as a 15 year old Tae Kwon Do yellow bet winning the professional Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World. Let me explain from personal experience (and without trying to sound big headed).

I have trained for over 36 years now, fought all over the country and have been successful in many aspects of Martial Arts/Personal Security, winning multiple awards and authoring six books. My work is featured worldwide and so if you wish to train with me and learn from me it comes as a cost. The amount of time and money we have invested in my journey have decreed that this is now my full time profession.

In keeping with that profession and my skills, we run a first class facility in North Wales. Fight Fortress has two training areas, each equipped with high quality training aids (punchbags, attack dummies, focus pads, strike shields etc). We have changing facilities, a spectators lounge, shop and car park with easy access from the main expressway not North Wales.

Just a few mile away. There is a young gentleman whose skills I am sure are on par with his years in training. He is a low grade Black Belt and teaches once a week in a church hall. No facilities as such, no equipment and no real time experience.

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How Sweet Is Your Tea.

Simon, very much at home training to fight.

Simon, very much at home training to fight.

Whilst what is written here is on the subject of Martial Arts, the advice on offer can be applied to all walks of life by people wanting to better themselves and achieve the achievable…because it’s all achievable. There is nothing we can’t do if we are willing to face our ‘Shugyo’. I was talking to a student of mine recently who had an important belt test coming up. She confessed to me that as she was getting higher up the grades, she was really feeling the pressure. She also confessed to having taken a dislike to sparring. After listening to her carefully I gave her my opinion. “It’s difficult isn’t it?” I both asked and stated. The student looked at me like I had two heads but it was difficult to say anything different because quite simply it is difficult. “The better we get at something the harder it becomes to progress”. I told the student and let it sink in. Then I gave her the good news. “The thing is, the harder the tests, the bigger the rewards. Some people will get to your stage and that’s that for them and they are fine with that, but by the very fact that your are asking me questions about your next step means you must really want to find out what it is like to move up the ladder. It means that you aren’t done yet. I’ll tell you shall I, the tea up here is a lot sweeter.”

My good friend again started counting how many heads I had as I was clearly making no sense so I told her about my cup of tea. “Some years ago, surprisingly enough after I obtained my first Black Belt, I was accepted as an instructor into a leading Martial Arts Association (The BCA). Once I was accepted I was encouraged to travel away from home to train on Instructor’s courses. When the date was sent for the next one I would be excited at the prospect until the Friday before the Sunday’s course came around. I would suddenly develop a cold or an old injury would flare up. Come Sunday morning I would be unable to travel. Instead I would console myself with a cup of tea and a movie for the Sunday afternoon. Whilst the tea was sweet, it could have been sweeter. I would spend the afternoon fretting and trying to convince myself that I hadn’t bottled it. As five o’clock came around I would feel regret as this would be the time I would be arriving home should I have made the journey. I would chastise myself by saying ‘it would have been all over by now and I would have another string to my bow by beating my fear’.

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Giving Up

                                       Giving Up

Despite some time ago being  overwhelmed with fear I have always given 100% to what I do, to what I try to achieve in life, be it Martial Arts, writing, attempting to break into film making or any other walk of life I choose to tread. Occasionally it is a struggle but several almost life ending experiences taught me we have a short span on planet earth and must make the most of it so my ‘adventures’ are many. This can bring annoyance to some but I can live with that as I know it also brings hope to others and this to me makes it all worthwhile. I know this attitude has influenced my children and they too give 100% so my determination is just.

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Never give up. My dreams of being a full time writer only came with determination.

Now herein can lead to a problem. The positive exposure my path brings also bring exposure to many people and not all of these people have desirable ethics. In fact some have the exact opposite and wish to remove you from money, ventures and ideas quicker than a kid in a theme park. It stands to reason the more people I deal with the more percentage of Captain Crooks I am going to meet.

I have worked with Martial Artists who have sat and listened to my ideas of a joint venture only for them to disappear, removing all ties with me and then resurface months later claiming ownership to those same ideas…mmm?

I have employed book agents who promised me bestsellers and then I find out they were more scam than smooth, one of the bigger ones ending up in jail for his antics. Then there was the possible business partner who flashed big ideas of cash in front of me if I sold my soul to him. Well when I say soul I actually mean the rights to my books and life story. Luckily I smelt a rat and walked away unscathed. His mocking emails claiming I was to amount to nothing as he took Hollywood by storm just bounced off my head as I knew him for what he was. Last I hear he was packing fish in a factory…more Holyhead than Hollywood.

An exasperated friend asked me “Why you Simon? Why do you fall foul to these people?” The answer is simple; I am willing to take the risk. You see for every crook I have met you can double that figure (at least) with the number of decent people I know. “Lifters,” they are called.

People so decent, strong and honourable that they lift you toward your goals, sometimes at their own expense. I’ve been trained by World Champions as I drew near my Martial Art dreams and they listened as I poured out my fears. With a pat on the back and the occasional strong word they lifted me to said goals.

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Don’t let this be you.

I have been mentored by award winning writers who sometimes put aside their own projects to show me the way to write, spelling mistakes and all.

I have friends who believe in my ideas so much they take a chance and put them to influential third parties who may be an even bigger stepping stone to my eventual beautiful rewards.

People have helped nurse me back from serious illness and sat with me as I cried then stood and watch as I laughed…better.

So for every deviant there is a Saint, a hero, a friend. There is a lifter. That is why until my last breath is drawn I will never, ever give up. I will always have faith in myself.  Please be the same. Seek out your own lifters and with them will come your dreams as the fish packers stand at the roadside watching your parade go by.

With Courage Comes Hope.

Never give up. My dreams of being a full time writer only came with determination.

Simon Morrell is the author of From Bullied to Black Belt and An Everyday Warrior. Both tales are true stories and tell how Simon overcame crushing adversity to become a successful fighter and writer. Visit him here

My Beautiful Fear

My Beautiful Fear

This is for the people who are struggling with bad things happening in their lives or they simply aren’t where they want to be at the moment.

It is said everything that happens to me is good. At one time I simply did not believe this to be true…now, now I am not so sure. In early 2013 we made contact with a supposedly top public relations expert, a Mr Bruce Lynn from New York City. Mr Lynn, in his words promised to make me a huge star in the USA through my books and teachings. Of course there was a fee to be paid and I thought that fair enough. After all the promise of live appearances on the Today Show and reviews in the New York Times along with a launch party at a top New York restaurant followed by a tour of talks was everything I had hoped for and so the fee was paid. The arrangements were made for my wife and I to fly from Manchester to New York and our excitement and hope was at an all-time high. Then Mr Lynn went AWOL. His promises turned out to be bogus, he turned out to be a liar and our hard worked money disappeared in a puff of smoke. Mr Lynn stopped taking my calls and any emails to him were a waste of time as he had neither the decency nor courage to answer them. The twenty or so books posted to him at his request to his fancy Manhattan apartment may well have ended up in the trash bin as none of the media outlets he claimed to place them with ever acknowledged receipt of them. Mr Lynn it would appear, turned out to be a fraud.

Our level of disappointment reached the same pitch as our previous level of excitement and we were left licking our wounds. Myself I felt extremely bitter at the coward. My wife could see I was struggling so we regrouped, raised funds and travelled instead to Orlando, Florida to source a location for a possible dojo we wanted to open and possibly meet with film-makers with a view to having one of my books turned into a movie. I felt unwell and tired but hoped the sunshine state would cheer me up. It always had on our many visits there before. Two days into the trip that replaced New York in terms of timing and all seemed okay. I was lethargic and bitterly disappointed that we had been conned but was determined to put it behind us and move forward. And then the biggest disaster of my life occurred.

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Without doubt the darkest days of my life in Florida Hospital, Orlando.

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Looking for an old friend in a tough city. A true story , April 2016

cityCoventry, a city in the East Midlands United Kingdom, was once polled the most violent city in Europe. With renowned gangsters, hard drinking hard men, a violent night scene and a community of fighters and martial artists known through the world it was indeed a formidable place to visit. It was also, I found, full to the brim of ladies and gentlemen of the true meaning; heartwarming, kind, sharing souls who would give you their last penny. On my visits there I was to experience both.

The purpose of my penintulam visit was to find someone. I had been looking for him for many, many years but he had escaped my grasp,mourning heels and running. My search had taken me far and wide and I was told upon authority that I would find him in Coventry.

It started with a phone call from a friend six months earlier. Martial artist and former doorman turned writer Geoff Thompson called me to invite me to his Real Fight Academy to take on two European All Out fighting champions in a full contact match for my 2nd black belt. Having already gained my 1st from the equally formidable Alfie Lewis I knew there was still a piece of the jigsaw missing. Did Coventry hold it?

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Standing Toe to Toe with Fear So You Can Walk Hand in Hand with Triumph

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Our fears can at times threaten to disable us, put us down, keep us back and many more negative reactions. The same fear that shackles us also shows itself in many different forms such as “I can’t train I have leg cramps”, “I am giving that job interview a miss, what with this flu I am liable to make myself worse,” and of course “I could do it, I just don’t want to.” All reasons why we fail…and all reasons why we should succeed.

We should argue with these negative impact statements until we are blue in the face, recognising them for the charade that they are. They are just fear by any other name. Before the reader cries foul and rises up in arms against your humble writer (I usual get things thrown at me such as ‘it is easy for you, you are a black belt’ or ‘yes but you have achieved all you set out to achieve’ (not true, not by a long stretch,) please listen to my brief tale of a long journey with fear as my accomplice. Then we can get to your fears and how you can knock them out of the park. Continue reading

642 Things to write about.

For my 50th birthday my wife Julie bought me a wonderful book called 642 Things to write about. In it 642 authors give the reader a prompt and they must write accordingly, fiction or fact. Here are some of my responses. I hope you enjoy!

 Prompt/ What Can Happen In a Second;

 A lot and then then some. A doctor could make the decision to pull the plug. Or he may make the decision to be brave enough to operate and save your life, changing the course of your family’s lives forever. It may take more than a second, possibly many agonising hours to arrive at that decision but there will be only one atom of a second when he draws his final conclusion. His word is final, you better hope he concludes in your favour.

 Prompt/ A Houseplant is Dying. Tell It Why It Needs to Live;

 “Come on man you are giving up to easy! All your ancestors and all your future siblings as well as you are important. Didn’t I read somewhere you guys make oxygen? If they all gave up just like you are doing what the hell are we going to breath? Dust? Plus you keep my wife occupied. What is she supposed to care for now the children have gone? What is she going to water? The oven? Don’t do this to me man, don’t make me breath dust and live with a cranky broad. Get better!”

 Prompt/ The Worst Thanksgiving Dish You Ever Had;

 Jeez an easy one. Ma and Pa were at it again. The old man drinking too much watching the game before the bird is even out of the oven. Ma sees red and pulls the plug… The bird freezes to death. No point even setting the table as we hear mum in the kitchen yank out the corkscrew on her third bottle of Blue Nun. Before we move to the next level I spare my kid brother the blushes of hearing her curse under her breath. With that kind of language Blue is the only Nun she will ever be acquainted with. I steel a glance at my snoring, farting pop. He is out for a least another three hours. Turning to my baby bro (huh, ‘baby’. He is ten and has seen enough for a fifty year old).

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An Apology and Forgivness

An Apology and Forgiveness

From the age of five I was bullied and beaten right up until my early twenties. All manner of boy and man would, could and did hit me at will but by far the worst of the bunch was a skinhead I’ll call Joe.

Joe had the works. Bad attitude, grudge, chip on his shoulder, the lot. But what Joe had most importantly was a knife. A gleaming, sharp, shiny life ender hidden in the coats of his jacket.

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He didn’t need it at first. Why would he? My frightened, skinny frame and gentle nature was no match for his aggressive, muscular being and so when I dated his long gone ex-girlfriend then I became fair prey in his eyes.

His first ‘go around’ was to ambush me and slam me against a wall with a warning; “I’m stronger than you Morrell, you should know that.” But of course I already did. Me weak, him strong, no doubts.

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An excerpt from An Everyday Warrior.

This excerpt is taken from Simon’s book An Everyday Warrior (a true story) and tells of one of the first times he truly had to answer for his father’s sins when at the age of just 17, after a gig with his band he received a chilling late night call to say men were coming for his dad. Simon writes as he remembers the incident some 23 years later when in an almost identical situation, he is told people who his dad has upset are on their way to the family’s factory to deal with the situation.  Simon sits alone in his office and recalls the encounter from many years ago.   

In the hour that I did wait, fear and I sat together again, and we looked back at the amount of times this kind of event had happened to me. And then I remembered the first time I had picked up a baseball bat with the sole intention of using it to protect myself and my family. I reminisced as I sat there, waiting;

I was seventeen years old and was becoming more and more aware of how my father’s world worked. I wanted little part of it and was happy spending my days working and my nights drumming in a local band. On the evening in question, we had played a gig at a local nightclub and it had gone well.

It’s fair to say I was happy arriving home late that night, a couple of pints inside me and the accolades of a small crowd ringing in my ears. The next set of ringing I heard would stop me dead in my tracks and send a cold shiver up my spine.

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The Worse Thanksgiving Dish Ever

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My wife Julie bought me this beautiful book as one of my presents for my 50th birthday. It is for writers and gives 642 one line sentences or questions and you have to do the rest…write about it. At first I didn’t know how it worked. Do I write as a third party? The answer was just write. Do I write as myself? Just write. Do I write fiction or fact? Just write. And so I wrote. It is the most beautiful gift I have ever been given and I really enjoyed my first page. It stretched my imagination and capabilities. Here is the third thing ‘I wrote.’

The Worst Thanksgiving Dish You Ever Had;

Jeez an easy one. Ma and Pa were at it again. The old man drinking too much watching the game before the bird is even out of the oven. Ma sees red and pulls the plug. The bird freezes to death. No point even setting the table as we hear mum in the kitchen yank out the corkscrew on her third bottle of Blue Nun. Before we move to the next level I spare my kid brother the blushes of hearing her curse under her breath. With that kind of language Blue is the only Nun she will ever be acquainted with. I steal a glance at my snoring, farting pop. He is out for a least another three hours. Turning to my baby bro (huh, ‘baby’. He is ten and has seen enough for a fifty year old).
“Come on kid, I’m buying.” He doesn’t reply, just zips up his parka and we hit the cold city streets in search of nutrition.

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