Those Old People and their “easy” lives. – Bob Davis

The brief ramble below is an unedited Facebook post I made a short while after the UK’s recent E.U. Referendum (Brexit). It doesn’t pertain to the issues of the referendum itself but more to a (one of many) posts blaming the “older” generation for destroying the future of the young who are already having to “struggle so badly” to get on in life in the modern world.

I know lot of this may be U.K. centric but from what I read I suspect the generational attitudes demonstrated are reasonably consistent in pretty much all of the Western world. I also understand that, like the young gentleman who was pointing the finger in the first place, I am making some sweeping generalisations here about the younger generation but, as has been said before, “Sweeping generalisations exist for a reason!”

A few of the things said were intended to be tongue in cheek (although none the less true for that) but the emoticons have been removed for the printed page.

The original complaint was based upon a poll published breaking down the leave/remain vote by age group and showing clearly that the older you were the more likely you were to have voted to leave the E.U.. What the complainant failed to take note of (or mention by the way) was another poll that showed, with an overall U.K. wide voter turnout of 72% that only 36% of 18-25 year olds actually bothered to vote at all (which says a lot in itself I think), hardly a surprise then that the views of the older generation held sway.



This cropped up during a finger pointing session on the EU earlier by some “young people” but I thought it’d be good to de-couple this from that emotive subject (and start another one)

The comment was along the lines of us “old people” once again having shat* on the younger generation despite us having had it so good (in our time) with our “free education” and “affordable housing”.

My story is nothing special but it may be reasonably typical of the time so for what it’s worth here it is.

I left school in 1974 at the age of 16 and entered the workplace (I know, by modern standards that makes me a failure and a no hoper). This wasn’t due to lack of options but a personal choice. I left with 10 ‘O’ level passes (2 of which I took a year early), this was in the days when 4 passes was considered a real success (because at the time it was an exam system you could actually fail at).

I could have stayed and done ‘A’ levels and gone on to university and this was in the days when maybe only 1 in a hundred had that chance. However, I didn’t have a goal that would be served by further education i.e. I was of the opinion that it made sense to go to University IF you had something you wanted to do rather that spending an extra 5 years in education because “I don’t know what I want to do”! (and, of course it’ll be a “bit of a laugh”).

Now the reality is the choice was full time education or work, because I was in the work place for those 5 years I was earning a wage that I wouldn’t have done had I stayed in school. The upshot of this being in current terms that my “free” education would have cost me the current equivalent of £90-100k (assuming I hadn’t wasted another potential £20k+ on taking a gap year). I did go into further education but did it at technical college evening classes whilst working for a living!
(Just an aside, does a potential extra £120k sound like a good step onto the property ladder? just a thought)

I bought my 1st house in 1980, when interest rates on a mortgage were running at 16.5%. If you take my mortgage payments and the money I had to repay for having borrowed elsewhere to top up the deposit that accounted for approximately 75% of my income. That left me the remaining 25% to pay for food, household bills and running a car (so I could get to work and back). I used to be in the situation of putting petrol in the car 2ltrs at a time, because that was all the money I had, in the hope that it would get me to work and back until the next payday. I used to buy (when I was feeling particularly flush**) a 1kg factory farmed chicken for a £1, that would be a roast dinner for 2 days, a curry or pie from the scrapings for another 2 days and then stock for soup or gravy.

I didn’t have a piece of furniture that wasn’t something someone else was throwing out for probably the first 10 years of my married life. Holidays consisted of going to live with my parents for a week a couple of times a year.

Having got married at 22 and having 2 children to raise (both of whom went to Uni BTW) I would estimate that I first got to the stage where I had “disposable” income at around age 40 and maybe “comfortable” by the age of 50.

What I didn’t have was the latest iPhone, or Netflix, or a Snowboarding holiday and 2 weeks in Thailand with my mates each year, I didn’t have £20-40k to spend on a wedding because “it’s my special day”, I didn’t have the dilemma of “should we send out for pizza again tonight?” I didn’t have to have a TV in the bedroom and one in the kitchen, or a new sofa every 3 years etc.. etc…

What I also didn’t have was the mentality that I should be able to have everything I wanted whenever I wanted it and if I couldn’t then it just “wasn’t fair”, instead I worked diligently for the stuff I’ve got and improved my lifestyle as and when I could afford it (and I still know I had it a damn site easier than my parents or grandparents did!).

But there, that’s what happens when you come from the generation that “had it all so easy” and don’t understand how the young ‘uns struggle these days

Of course, I’m also about to become a burden on society drawing a pension (that I’ve paid into for the last 42 years) and not doing the decent thing and dying within 6 months of retirement like my grandfather’s generation.

Just sayin’

*Shat – colloquial English, past tense, “to have shit upon”
** Feeling flush – to have spare cash

Walking the Walk – Bob Davis

I have written a short article on the back of a Facebook post I made a while ago based on the idea of a MA/Self Protection instructor having had to have “walked the walk” to have anything valid to offer. To be honest I was only trying to rattle a few cages and see what popped out at the time but here goes.

Firstly (as no one will have any idea who I am) just a brief intro’ to myself, it is not just to talk about me  but is to clarify the position I’m coming at this from.

I have been involved in MA since 1978 (with some breaks), mainly via Karate but with some short forays into traditional Jiu Jitsu and more recently the Gracie style JJ. Over the last 5 years or so I have also spent a significant part of my training time searching out instructors who have “Walked the walk” to expand my knowledge of the “real” world. Having said that I have succeeded in reaching the age of 57 (in my adult life, at least) without ever having been involved in a conflict that has turned physical. I am your typical bog standard karate instructor that you’ll find in any town with no pretentions to be anything more (I just happen to have an interest in the more pragmatic side of self-protection).

There seems to have been a move (at least in the UK) over the last 5-10 years towards practical martial arts, or perhaps I have just become more aware of it, and on the back of that there has been a big growth in schools offering “street lethal” martial arts. As a part of this there has been a lot of talk about having to have “been there” or “walked the walk” in order to be able to teach anything worthwhile. The general statements being that if you haven’t regularly faced violent confrontation then nothing you say can be in anyway valid and this is used as a stick to beat us (the non-fighters) with if we dare to teach martial arts with any sort of self-protection element. The upshot is that the picture that is being painted is that we are a complete waste of time and only they (the fighters) are worth training with.

Now I am not trying to be disparaging with the “fighter” label, I do understand that a lot of people have to face violence, or the threat of it at least, on a virtually daily basis as part of their work and I have a great deal of respect for those willing to do that. It is just a differentiator for the two classes of instructor.

It is commonly stated that “If you’ve never faced real violence you don’t know how you will react” which I fully appreciate, pressure testing (not matter how hard) will never fully replicate real violence, you always know that apart from a few bumps and bruises and maybe a few cracks and breaks (now I have been there and done that 🙂 ) you are basically safe. You can go a long way towards replicating the physical but the mental side never really approaches the real thing (and if it did I very much suspect that students wouldn’t train for more than 5 minutes and that you’d never see them again).

We are also told that “everyone is different” in these situations which again I fully appreciate.

This, however, is where I start to struggle with the logic of the argument, if you “don’t know how you’ll react” and “everyone is different” then how can the experience of the fighter  tell them anything other than how THEY THEMSELVES will react.

The logic appear to indicate that they can’t really pass on this knowledge and so are no better able to transmit this understanding than the rest of us. It also, if you follow the logic, means that training with them is of no value to the instructor who wants to pass on this knowledge to his own students as, even if he teaches exactly what he has learned in the same way as he (or she) has learned it, their lack of real world understanding makes it a “waste of time”. I don’t really believe this to be the case, if I did then I wouldn’t spend so much of my time seeking out these people and training with them, I’d much rather piggy back off of their experience and learn as much of the theory at least as I can. I’m quite happy to spend the rest of my life without ever having any real world experience if that is at all possible.

I am well aware that there are many schools, including those who profess to teach self-protection, who teach fanciful fairy tale self-defense (10 minutes on YouTube will provide all the evidence you need, in fact they seem to be in the majority there) but there are also many of us who take the subject seriously enough to do proper research so we can avoid passing on bad advice and comic book techniques.

I think it’s more a question of honesty (on either side of the argument) and just being open about who you are and what you teach. My promotional line on my website is:

“Does this mean I can turn anyone into a “lean, mean, fighting machine”? No, obviously not. The unfortunate truth (or fortunate, depending on your world view) is that not everybody has the nature or potential. Can I give you a set of physical skills which will much improve your chances in a physical confrontation? Almost certainly.”

Not the snappiest tag line and probably not really what potential students want to hear but it is what I do.


My final word (in as much as I’ll ever stop talking 🙂 ) would be to question that, given that 90% of self-protection is in avoiding physical conflict and that a physical response is what you fall back on when all else has failed you, then would you rather learn your self-protection from someone who’s had hundreds of fights or from the guy who’s had none?

Just a thought 😉