Harry considers it his vocation to help you recognise the potential within yourself, be it mental, physical or otherwise, and as a result, improve your performance. Over the last decade, he has begun to formulate his own philosophy around each of the areas that he teaches within, which is comprised of his own findings and lessons from others he has met / learned from along the way.
“No (hu)man has the right to be an amatuer in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a (hu)man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his/her body is capable.” – Socrates
Harry has been more or less obsessed with strength training since the age of 12, when he discovered a chap named Bruce Lee. Since then, the art of expressing the human body and by default, understanding it as much as possible, has been a pinnacle point of focus for Harry over the years, and still is to this day.
Harry believes the mind and the body are inextricably linked. Therefore, training the body has a carry over to the mind, and training the mind has an impact on the body. Strength training is a fantastic medium for training both body and mind. Why?
“What you can track, you can manage.” Strength training is trackable and quite simple to record. Over a given period of time, if records are kept, you can see if you are progressing or regressing, getting stronger or getting weaker. In this way, strength training is an objective activity and quite an easy one to remove the bullshit from. Unfortunately, as with most things, the industries surrounding it tend to pollute the activity, but in its purest form, strength training is about applying knowledge in the form of action to yield a measurable result. Harry feels that activities that are measurable are valuable as they provide proof of progression.
Strength training requires a stimulus to challenge the body in some fashion and in order to overcome the challenge, discipline is required. Discipline to not give up without good reason, discipline to perform the activity regularly and consistently in order for the body to adapt to the stimulus, discipline to pay attention to the activity in order to perform it correctly, etc. You could argue that this is called ‘Self-Discipline’, as really it all revolves around self-control. Harry believes that Discipline is strength training for the mind, and that this carries over into every day life in a very useful way.
Harry believes that programmed correctly, strength training is vital for corporal and mental health. Since working with clients on a one-to-one basis, he has observed time and time again how muscular weakness has been a regular culprit contributing to their aches and pains, and how intelligently strengthening those weaknesses has been able to significantly improve their discomfort, if not remove it entirely. He also found this to be the case with his own body during his debilitating back injury. The cause was due to a lack of mobility and a whole plethora of muscular weaknesses which formed a terrible foundation for an activity that required a surplus of mobility and muscular strength. Of course, there are situations where improving muscular strength will do nothing for someone’s ailments or ill health. But as a starting point, Harry looks at how someone trains their body and if they do at all, as it can often be an indicator towards reasons for the problem in question.
In essence, strength training is very simple. It is not necessarily easy but it is simple. By definition; Strength – the ability to exert a force against a resistance. Training – an organised system of instruction. Strength training – organised systems of instruction to improve the ability to exert a force against a resistance.
You stress the body in a certain way, repetitively, and over time, the body adapts. It’s a simple process and often follows the path of logic.
Gradualism is a pace familiar to nature. Over short periods of time, changes are difficult to notice. A tree does not grow in a week. Over longer periods of time, changes are slow, constant and consistent. Strength training obeys the law of gradualism. Muscle fibres can only adapt so fast. Soft tissue can only regenerate itself at its own pace. The beauty of strength training is that it can’t really be rushed, per se. It obeys the laws of nature if performed organically. Harry believes strength training continues throughout one’s life, it’s a constant process of maintenance, improvement, learning and adaptation.
Living in and of itself requires various forms of strength. The body is not exempt as it is the very shell one remains in whilst alive. Harry believes that the body should be trained according to the requirements of the individual, as a standard for everyday life. Living makes demands on the body; pushing, pulling, carrying, etc. It seems logical, then, to prepare the body for life’s requirements if one is inside a body during their time on the planet.
Bruce Lee summed it up very well; “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
Also known as No Gi Jiu Jitsu and Submission Wrestling, the world of Grappling is one that fascinates Harry in much the same way it has fascinated man since time began.
Harry’s own martial arts journey began at age 14, starting with a very brief stint in Judo at the local school hall club primarily to learn how to fight as he was finding himself in conflicts growing up and was simply tired of being punched in the face and having no answer. From there, he moved into Wing Chun under Kevin Chan, who created somewhat of a hybrid system, mixing in elements of Muay Thai clinch work and western boxing to create a version of Wing Chun that was not bound by tradition. Street fights started to go his way, surprise, surprise, and finally he started to grasp what this chap, Bruce Lee, had been going on about in his writings.
Kevin Chan’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teachers, Mauricio Gomes and his son, Roger Gracie, would be the catalyst for Harry getting into BJJ, too, alongside his Wing Chun. After going deeper into the world of combat, Harry had decided he wanted to try his hand at Mixed Martial Arts and so his path transitioned more towards focusing on boxing and BJJ. At aged 19 he had his first amateur MMA fight and although the experience was valuable, he quickly realised that this was not a career path he wanted to follow but instead an experience he felt he needed to go through. In a similar fashion, he also worked as a bouncer in the UK and New Zealand for 3 long years and realised just how important it was to know thoroughly how to handle yourself in a conflict situation, both mentally and physically.
After taking a good 5 years out from the combat world, Harry eventually came full circle and realised that from all the training he underwent, submission grappling was his favourite, and so his training resumed. 2 years later and he began to get approached by stuntmen and women who were looking to learn how to ground fight, in order to add to their skillsets for their work. The feedback was good, so Harry simply continued to blend his approach he developed from teaching slacklining with the subject matter of submission grappling. Now, Harry continues to teach the basics of the ground game to beginners and also trains himself multiple times a week in the never ending pursuit that is physical chess.
Why Submission Grappling?
Primarily, submission grappling is about controlling your opponent. From there the ability to submit them with a variety of chokes, joint locks and cranks becomes available. A fascinating element of control on the ground is that strength, how strong you are and how strong your opponent is, does not have as much of an effect as one might think. Instead, the law of mechanical advantage and leverage become far more effective and can overrule a solely ‘strong’ opponent. Harry believes that because of this, grappling is highly effective for women and should be pursued as a form of self-empowerment, if nothing else.
Problem solving under direct pressure from another human. That is essentially what submission grappling is, learning how to manage a stressful situation with ultimately dire consequences in a way where you come out intact. This ability to compose yourself and decide your future under pressure is a skill many are not willing to practice nor explore and yet it is arguable that there is a positive carry over into the pressure of life, if one is willing to apply the lessons learned on the mat.
Nothing humbles you quite in the same way as being controlled by an opponent who is able to do with you what they will, despite you trying your hardest. Grappling is fascinating the further your progress up the skill ladder, as the more you think you know, the more you realise you are just getting started. There is something very special about getting sent back to school once or more times a week in way that grounds you and lets you know you’re not as cool as you thought you were. It keeps your ego in check.
‘Jiu-Jitsu is designed to make you quit.’ Grappling is the same. It really tests your mettle when you are getting squashed, pinned, contorted and feel seemingly helpless because of it. A certain kind of person keeps coming back to improve and get better when those are their options and as a result, their character is fortified.
Due to the absence of striking, submission grappling ends up being a fun pursuit with an infinite number of ways to win and to lose, and so it never really gets boring. Those that get in to it often become immersed, as the combination of strategy and technique and learning how to perfect them can be highly addictive.
Currently, Harry’s biggest influence in the world of submission grappling is John Danaher.