Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored


Watch your instructor’s movements and try to get a feel for how the technique is accomplished. You’ll be given technical instruction however, the feel for technique comes from watching and mimicking.


There is a flow to a lesson just as there is to the skill, in the beginning you have 1 hour to gain as much worth out of the lesson as possible. While I think skepticism (not cynicism) and questioning are highly valuable attributes to anyone’s mindset in any field, you also need to be open to learning. Do your critical thinking after the lesson rather than in the middle of it, approach to listening is a skillset in it’s own right.


What we do is important but why we do what we do carries even more significance. The mechanics of the technique can take a while to adopt, however, the enthusiasm and the mindset required is available now. Attitude defines your approach, get your attitude right and all else will fall into place; this goes for all areas of life.


It is normal to work hard with students on the mat and push their level of skill and understanding on significantly in just one lesson. The student goes away happy that they have improved but then doesn’t practice. Skill requires consistent work, it requires you to take responsibility for its improvement, you are moving your body; don’t rely on your instructor to make you better, you need to make you better.

But here is the exciting part, what if you go away and practice and you are better by the next week. The teachers whole game is about bringing the best out of you, and when they see a glimpse of your best, it’s a powerful thing and justifies the hard work and commitment they have put in over the years.

The best sessions are always the ones where the student steps up and brings their best to the mat.


I look at the other martial arts schools in Bristol and I feel a deep level of respect for many of them. Why? Only those who are passionate about what they do can survive. Of course we all have different approaches, theories, techniques and ways of going about business, but at the end of the day how did they create a club? How did they gain the knowledge? How did they get the student? The answer is, hard work, good strategy, good teaching ability and good martial arts ability as well as a whole host of other skills that are too numerous to mention.

The knowledge that is being shared with you has got to you through hard graft, don’t take it for granted. In my Dojo every one of the instructors has been training for a minimum of 8 years, the teaching team has a combined experience of 52 years; that is dedication.


Convenience is over rated! I have students travelling from all over the country to train, one travels from Winchester! Find the instructor that you have rapport with, and displays the attributes you wish to develop in yourself. Then do what you can to commit to the lessons, this goes for all styles, all schools. Great martial arts clubs aren’t built on turnover and attrition, they are built on dedication and commitment.


Every martial arts club you go to was built for YOU. It was built so you could find out about your potential through the study of martial arts. In this way the martial arts club is yours, you own it and you make it what it’s going to become.

The instructors and the teachers do their best to provide the knowledge, motivation, encouragement and training but your attendance, your attitude and the development of your ability are what make it all happen.

Every student I teach adds a unique quality to the Dojo, each one of them adds to the atmosphere, each one contributes to what makes the Dojo a great place to train. For a teacher to exist they need a student, for the student to exist they need a teacher and for a great Dojo to exist, the student teacher relationship needs to be functioning at its best.

Dan Couzens