We are a small, not-for-profit group of friends teaching and practicing fighting and weapons skills in the South West of England and South Wales. We were founded by Damon Smith and Brett Gallaway from Cornwall, Derek Williams from South Wales, and Glen Board and Ben Palmer from Somerset.
Damon has been practicing martial arts for over 40 years, studying under native Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian teachers. He studied and researched on the ground in both China and Japan, exploring the roots of the martial arts in the esoteric and shamanistic traditions of the Far East, and in 1994 was awarded an MA in East Asian Studies by the University of Leeds. Damon is the editor of both the Western White Tiger I-Ching and the Concordance to Ofudesaki, is the author of the book Xing Yi Bear Eagle, co-hosts the Woven Energy Podcast on Shamanism with Joe Sykora, and holds the Yongquan Martial Arts Association's highest teaching certification.
Great-grandson of the famous bare knuckle boxer Kid Gallaway, Brett is ex-military and trained in martial arts since age 12, including Kempo, Xing Yi, Baji, Jujitsu, Karate, Taekwondo, Lau Gar, Wing Chun and Mongolian Wrestling. Brett always had a strong interest in martial arts, but never found his calling until taking up cross-training with Damon. Brett has an honours degree in Sports Performance Coaching, and a postgraduate degree in Sports Psychology. In addition to martial arts, he also teaches outdoor adventure sports and runs our first aid courses.
Derek is also ex-military, and has studied Martial Arts for 30 years, grading to 3rd dan in Shotokan Karate with Shihan Kanazawa. He also graded to 2nd dan in Shito Ryu Karate, Matayoshi Okinwawan Kobudo (Sai, Bo, Nunchaku, Kama and 3 Section Staff) and in the Matayoshi White Crane system, Pressure Points and Meridian systems with Paul Bowman 9th Dan, Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido, and Huo Diange Baji Quan. Derek is also a Hoplologist (the science that studies human combative behaviour and performance), and has built an extensive library with many rare books. He is also a master of Chinese cookery - renowned for his superb noodle dishes.
Glen studied martial arts from age 12, including Xing Yi, Choy Lee Fut, Baji, Dorjee Lam, Karate, Wing Chun and Baguazhang. Glen works as an engineer, and has studied the martial arts and eastern spiritual traditions for more than 20 years. He was Damon's student long before Damon moved to this area, regularly travelling up to Yorkshire to train, and the two have been training together for more than 15 years.
Ben's father boxed for the army and trained him from an early age in the art of hand to hand combat. After repelling an attempt on his life at the age of 13, Ben began training harder, and gradually expanded his martial arts repertoire. Over the last 27 years he has studied Boxing, Dorjee, Wing Chun and Karate. He has spent the last 12 years training in Xing Yi, Kempo, Choy Lee Fut, Baji, Mongolian Wrestling and others with Damon. Ben is medically trained as an osteopath - a useful skill in the world of martial arts. He also has expertise in medical acupunture and chiropractic biophysics.
Graham began studying Tai Chi in 1993 with students of Sifu Raymond Rand before meeting Sifu Rand himself at the turn of the millennium and being accepted as his student in Tai Chi Chuan, Choy Lee Fut and Chi Kung. His enthusiastic interest in Chinese martial arts led to him reaching out and connecting with Sifu Damon Smith in 2001 and starting the practice of XingYi under his tutelage. In 2011 Graham was looking for a new challenge and decided to start a new martial art from scratch. He enrolled in his local Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school, run by Professor Salvatore Pace. He received his black belt in the art from his teacher seven years later and he continues to practice and teach at Gracie Barra Bath. Today Graham does his best at juggling these diverse martial arts and runs a couple of blogs called The Tai Chi Notebook and The BJJ Notebook He also co-hosts the weekly Heretics Podcast with Damon Smith. You can follow his adventures in BJJ on his Instagram account.