September 3, 2015

Interview with Urban Escrima student – Al Overdrive

by Urban Escrima Charlie UE in Martial Arts

Here is our latest student interview with Al Overdrive 🙂

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hi, my name is Al Overdrive and I’m a full-time photographer, and part-time picture editor. When not working, I mostly enjoy wearing black, coffee, trashy movies and drone music.

What self defence / martial arts experience have you had previously and do you currently train in any other martial art/self-defence?
As a kid I trained in Shotokan Karate, then for a year I lived in Cambridge and trained in Wing Tsung. After nearly a decade of not training, a friend persuaded me to check out UE and this is now the focus of my training.

How long have you been training in Escrima Concepts?
Only 2 months, maybe even less, but it feels like I’ve known the instructors and my class mates for years. It’s really cool how welcoming and friendly everyone is. Some classes I’ve tried have been full of people who think they are tough, better than everyone else, overly macho or want to spend the whole session talking about fights, instead of training. These guys and gals have a totally different attitude ; The sessions are jam-packed with training and everyone is supportive and works together to improve technique and share knowledge.

Why did you choose to train in Escrima Concepts and how does Escrima differ to what you have done before?
I’ve lived in London for a decade now, and been quite lucky when it comes to violence or intimidation, compared to most people I know. There are many practical reasons why I chose Escrima Concepts over other systems ; Most systems seem to rely on brute strength and power to overcome an opponent… I’m a super skinny guy, so the fact that Escrima is based on body-mechanics, tactics and not grapples, is a plus. Escrima Concepts is really practical and direct ; A lot of martial arts moves I’ve seen look great, but I can’t see how they apply in reality when facing a aggressive drunk guy who goes boxing and wants to pick a fight with someone unlucky enough to get in his way. Escrima Concepts is a system which aims to give you a greater understanding of the realities of ‘street fighting’ and expand your options in a fight scenario, so that you are more likely to be able to defend yourself.

I used to work with law enforcement and am aware that weapons are becoming more common on the streets of London, and not just being used by gangs and organised criminals to sort out their own problems, but being used on unsuspecting targets. Even in the two months I’ve been training under Nigel and Charlie, I’ve come to have a lot more fear and respect for knives and other bladed weapons. I got stabbed nearly 15 years ago and totally handled the situation wrong, but was really lucky and only have a scar on my arm. Now with the Escrima training I am a lot more aware of how dangerous knives are and how incredibly lucky I was. Through the training we get at Urban Escrima, I have a deeper understanding of the importance of getting out of the way of a knife, and also starting to learn ways to (hopefully) keep out of the way of a knife if one gets pulled on me in the future. Training with weapons has totally changed my approach and understanding of defending myself and has made me more aware of my weaknesses. Within the safety of the class, it’s actually quite fun to train with other people and fight with the sticks. All of this sounds rather serious, and it is, but the feeling of being in class is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone in the class is enthusiastic and supportive, so I look forward to each training session and improving my technique as well as reflexes.

A short reply to this question would simply be – Escrima Concepts is not about being the toughest, or about thinking you are a ninja, it’s about survival against someone who sees you as an easy target. Escrima Concepts is the system that is most suited to me, as it is practical and developed to give you a realistic understanding of being attacked and how to defend yourself.

What is the one thing you most enjoy about Escrima Concepts?
There are so many reasons it is hard to pick one that stands out over the others. As a self-employed freelancer I am really enjoying the structure class gives me : The classes and gradings gives me something to work towards and focus on, away from a computer and technology!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to train with us for the first time?
It is always nerve-wracking to go to something like this for the first time and be the ‘new kid in class’, no one wants to be the new guy or gal who knows nothing. Don’t worry about this, everyone here is welcoming and non-judgemental, you’ve earnt your place in the class by simply making the effort to turn up!