BBC Sheffield Interview on the “Nowt So Strange As Folk!” Show
We were recently asked to appear on the BBC Sheffield “Nowt So Strange As Folk” Show. Steve and Tom were more than happy to appear and had a fantastic time talking to Sam and Leesh about Martial Arts and what we bring to people.
Below is a video transcript of the show – all rights are credited to the BBC, and permission for us to use the audio has been granted. We added the transcript to make things easy for people – and a full text transcript is shown below the video. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Many thanks once again to Sam, Leesh and all of the BBC production team who helped make it an incredible time on the show 🙂
PRESENTER: You’re listening to Sam and Leesh on BBC Radio Sheffield. This is Nowt So Strange As Folk.
PRESENTER: It is indeed, and we’ve got two live guests today and one’s called Tom and the other one’s Steve and they are the co-founders, and there’s four co-founders which they’ll tell us about in a bit, called Marsden Martial Arts. Is that correct?
STEVE: Absolutely. Yeah
PRESENTER: Lovely. So, tell us what is martial arts either one of you?
STEVE: Okay. Basically, it’s more about the mental approach because how many times do you really, physically, get bullied? I’m hoping not very often. But how many times do you mentally get bullied? So martial arts is about having respect for yourself and then you can respect others and that’s what we teach and that’s what it’s based on. So, the martial arts people generally fight if they’re scared, but if you know you can defend yourself, and you have a strong mental structure and you know, you’re a good person then chances are you’re not going to fight you’ll be able to protect yourself. So, it’s about the mental side that we focus on.
PRESENTER: I mentioned Jackie Chan earlier because I obviously know nothing about martial arts. Is it anything like what I’ve seen in the films?
TOM: Exactly. It depends on what martial arts you are looking at and what your focus is. There are lots of martial arts like Jackie Chan martial arts. Yeah, we’re slightly different now.
PRESENTER: So, what qualifications and are their levels in the belts and stuff that can be done?
STEVE: Yeah. Absolutely. So how the belts kind of work is they start off with, they’re based on a Japanese system a Kyu. So, if you’re a white belt your ninth Kyu which means ninth child and then you work all the way up to a Dan. So, when you’re a Brown belt, you’re a first Kyu which means, Kyu that’s spelt, which means you’re a first child. So, it’s all based on the family the belt system.
PRESENTER: So, when you get to, is it Black Belt is a tough one?
STEVE: That’s a Dan which means adult.
PRESENTER: Ohhh I see.
STEVE: You can look at it as if it means adult.
PRESENTER: So, when does it go from Dan to, I mean go from the child to the adult?
STEVE: From Brown to Black? That’s it. That’s the thing. Yeah, we’re register with the World United Martial Arts WUMA, but there’s lots of different associations people can be members of.
PRESENTER: Is there anything after the black belt?
TOM: If you think about Martial Arts, it’s, I’ve been a Black Belt a long time. I’m 26 now, I’ve been doing martial arts for 22 years.
TOM: Yeah long time and I learn something new every day. And that doesn’t matter whether it’s one of my mentors, whether it’s something on the mats or from a five-year-old just giving me a new perspective on the day.
TOM: So, you’re just always learning every day.
PRESENTER: And you work with a lot of children who have autism and ADHD. Can you tell us a bit about that?
TOM: Yes, so I myself was diagnosed with ADHD when I was young and struggled to find an outlet. My parents did martial arts at the time and found something for me to do and that was martial arts. And I got thrown in at the deep end of lots of different things from kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu and just carried it on until today really.
STEVE: As a parent, it is difficult, all of a sudden they say right, your child is this and what do you do and you try and read all the books and always remember talking to, because they’re dyslexic as well, talking to the head of Dyslexic Association, and he said I took the local authority to court to try and get him more education and then my son tried to commit suicide because he felt like his dad had gone through all this pressure for him
PRESENTER: My goodness.
STEVE: So, we thought about well, what’s a different approach to this because it’s about self-esteem, what we want for our children? What do you want for Jadon? You want him to be able to leave school, be happy but be likeable. And it’s difficult for autistic people and ADHD sometimes to be likeable, because they’re either withdrawn or they’re over-the-top. So, it’s about we say, the children are like three different children, Orchid children where they need special sunshine and care and attention and love. Rose children, which would be like your ADHD which are beautiful but they need pruning back a little bit and then you’ve got your Dandelion children where you just put them anywhere and they just survive.
PRESENTER: Awww, because my son is classed as nonverbal, but the only reason they call him……he’s actually classed as selected mute.
PRESENTER: But the reason why that is, it’s not actually I don’t think they should have he should have been labelled with that with that condition really, because his anxieties are just so high that anywhere he goes, he just can’t talk. He just, he’s freezes up and can’t talk. And so, would something like Martial Arts, like what you do, would that be able to help him, do you think the anxiety levels?
STEVE: Yeah, we get that a lot. So, I remember my first lesson, my parents took me because I say, they called it social retarded in those days
PRESENTER: Because you’re autistic aren’t you?
STEVE: Yeah, well we didn’t discover until I was in my 40’s, but I was the same, so I clam up, and my first lesson I saw through a wall of tears because I just cried all the way through, but my mother and father persevered with it. And so, what we do now is we bring every new student, everybody, and they have to do about an hour and a half, but it’s just with them, so we can get to know them, and some children won’t talk for an hour, and they might not talk at all. I’m thinking of Barrington today, and he’s now on the mats running around really smiling, in fact Barrington ‘s going to do, at St. Peter’s and Paul’s, his celebrating success in front of the whole class, Martial Arts.
PRESENTER: Awwww, that’s wonderful.
STEVE: But his dad’s persevered, Barry, with him, he’s sat at the side until his child actually got on the mats. But it takes time, it’s a marathon not a sprint. And you have to earn the child’s trust and you can only do that through time and letting them learn at their own pace. So, they don’t have to go for gradings, there’s no pressure on them. It’s when they’re ready and like, you know with Jaden, he’s strong-willed.
PRESENTER: Oh, yes, extremely.
STEVE: He knows what’s wrong if he’s decided he’s not going to do it, he’s not going to do it. So, it’s like Socrates said, you can’t push information into a child, you have to draw it from within, when they’re ready when the timings right.
PRESENTER: It’s perfect. I have to say as I was very clear earlier, I know nothing about Martial Arts, but in my head it was maybe something more violent and hearing you talking is absolutely changing my mind. Do you think people have a misconception around Martial Arts?
TOM: Massively and I have been to dozens of gyms growing up, Martial Arts Gyms. And there’s, is gyms that give that stigma of “There is no pain here, you hit harder or go home” and, that’s the attitude that they’ve got. But with how everything is at the moment, of the pressures children have and adults have, I have adults coming to me that the only time that they have to them, is at Martial Arts. So, the big stigma that you go in and the bigger guy wins and you have to be strong and if not, there’s no point in turning up, is just ridiculous, it’s dormant, doesn’t exist anymore. With us, we’ve created an environment that’s inclusive, everybody can do it, whether, we’ve got three-year olds all the way up to 91 year olds training, happily and comfortably. We’ve got 126 lessons a month. So, people can go exactly where fits them. So, we’ve got people that fight and want to fight in competitions and we’ve got a class for them. But also, we’ve got the inclusive class of people that want to defend themselves and protect themselves with fun and friends. And usually we end up going out after for, well, I’m teetotal , I don’t drink but we go for an orange juice and sit around and chat for another hour after classes.
PRESENTER: Amazing. We are going to be talking more to Tom and Steve Marsden after this …
[MUSIC INTERLUDE – removed]
PRESENTER: Oh and that was Toni Braxton Unbreak My Heart. I love that song. You’re listening to Sam and Leesh on BBC Radio Sheffield. This is Nowt So Strange As Folk.
And we are talking to Tom and Steve Marsden from Marsden Martial Arts. Honestly, we’ve just been nattering all the way through that and now we’ve got to share this with everyone. Can we talk a bit about discipline? And can we talk about what you were telling me around the amount of people that you actually turn away.
STEVE: Yeah, the stat last year was one in eight people and basically people come along, and we have an introductory lesson to see if they like it or not. But it’s a two-way thing. We also are very keen on respect and if people swear or tell say racist or sexist things or if they’re stinky, that they’ve not washed properly, we will make that point and we’ll say Gee come back another time. And typically they’ll come back in two or three months time and they’ll say gee, you know, we realize it’s not good thing to swear in front of our kids, you know, we tell our kids off for swearing and is because we’re doing that but then again they’ll qualify it by saying well my mum and dad did it so, where do you break the cycle?
PRESENTER: That’s amazing, because that is exactly the kind of discipline that has been lost over the years, I think. I think respect in a lot of ways is lost somewhere and I’m so proud that you’re bringing that back in that way. So how can people actually get involved in Martial Arts?
STEVE: Find your local Academy, go and visit a few, because every Martial Arts Academy has its own ethos and its own giss. And it’s what suits you the best. We made our stall that it was about the respect. So, in order for a child to grade the parents have to sign, or the carers have to sign, that the child is listening at home. And we give four levels of listening. Level One is you have to shout at the child. Level Two is you ask the child to make eye contact and then they do it. Level Three is they do it first time and then Level Four will be doing it without being asked. So, it’s 7 o’clock that child goes to bed, so they should be brushing their teeth without being asked. And then, well it’s called blackmail really, every parent needs it, you can’t grade if you’re not listening. Here we go and the world record is nine months. And then how to make a, how to make a friend.
TOM: Tidy your bedroom. My eldest is eight. We’re on the tidy bedroom thing at the moment, and I do love that one.
PRESENTER: So, does this does this work with autistic people as well? Because you know in terms of an autistic person, there looking at people can be really difficult for them. Do they have to go through exactly the same procedures as everybody else?
TOM: So, my eldest is autistic.
PRESENTER: How old is he?
TOM: He’s eight. Although you’d think he was 30? And he’s autistic. The thing is with Martial Arts, is it carries on afterwards? So, we will go and do like the Tidiness Form, and it doesn’t just stay, the Tidiness Form states that you have to keep your bedroom tidy for seven days. And every child that gets the certain belt has to do this. And each belt has a form. So, it could be tidiness, listening, respect, courtesy and we’re on the tidiness belt. So, he’s got to keep his bedroom tidy. But you’ll notice, that will migrate to the living room. That will migrate to the kitchen, and all of a sudden, he’s just picking up after himself and that grows and it’s the same with everything. So, the fact that he is autistic, it is improving his life outside of the dojo but also on the mats. His dexterity has improved 100%, his confidence has improved so, so much.
TOM: A massive, massive amount.
PRESENTER: That’s brilliant.
TOM: We say the hardest belt to get in Martial Arts is the White Belt. That’s your first belt, by far. Black Belt’s easy. All you have to do, is keep coming to class. Keep showing up, turning up and you’ll get a Black Belt one day. But going from nothing and having them fears of anxiety, or thinking people are going to be aggressive. It’s very scary and very daunting and we’re here to make that as pleasurable as possible, so that you can see that child shine.
STEVE: Because, what’s the most difficult thing for autistic people and ADHD children, but more autistic people, is the fear of failure, fear of being embarrassed. All of us. It’s the biggest fear. When Gallup did the poll, the biggest fear was public humiliation. The third was fear of death. So, most people would rather die than be publicly humiliated. So, it’s given the autistic person the confidence to get on the mats and make mistakes. And that’s what Martial Arts teaches you. It’s good to be the best you. You don’t want to be the best Sensei Tom, or the best Sensei Steve. You want to be the best Sam or the best Leesh, and Martial Arts allows you to do that by educating us how to fail, which we’re not really done. If you’re not getting 10 out of 10 at school you’re not doing well. Well just a minute, if you get one out of ten you got one right? Let’s focus on that and build from there and that’s the whole idea behind self-esteem.
PRESENTER: And can anybody try this? If somebody’s listening thinking I’d like to try this, but I’m not very fit, I might be a bit embarrassed if I can’t do anything. Can anybody give it a go?
TOM: Everybody? It’s like saying to somebody, before we go to school, we’re going to make you clever. It’s, you get fit, you get confident at Martial Arts. We’ll take everybody and turn them into the best version of them possible.
PRESENTER: I think that’s an absolutely brilliant place to end this. Thank you so much for coming in. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I mean my level was down here before you came. It’s still got a way to go. But thank you so much, Tom and Steve. I will definitely be bringing Jay.
STEVE: Thank you for making us feel welcome.
PRESENTER: Thank you so much.