It’s Not About the Violence
By Simon Morrell


Sometime ago I answered what I thought to be an emergency call. A local high school had a class of 20 or so 15 year olds who were out of control. All sorts of sanctions had failed and it was decided to try a different route. I was called in and two hours later found myself standing in front of angry young men and women.

My approach was to be friendly and reasonable and it would seem this disappointed my new crowd. “We were expecting a meathead,” commented a youth with a yawn.

I ignored his remark and set about my task even though the headmaster hadn’t set me one. “Cuff it,” he remarked walking away. So cuff it I did and the group reluctantly set about my warm up. Running, conditioning and stretching, they half-heartedly participated but I saw more than one of them glancing at my sports bag.

“These?” I asked holding up a pair of focus pads from said bag. “Week three if you are lucky and work hard.” Not sure what it was one of the youths muttered, but it didn’t sound good. I smiled, might even be week four.

As the breathless crew sat down I spoke to them. I spoke to them, not at them, and in doing so saw a spark of interest. “Why are you all so angry?” I asked. Grunts, shrugs of shoulders and diverted eyes. It was going to be a long term.

I started with basic Martial Arts, stance, punches, etc. I showed them respect and in return I gained respect. Week three arrived and the focus pads were given out. By this time I had forged a healthy relationship with the group. The term “Sir” had been replaced with “Simon.” They would meet me at my car and help carry the equipment, always with a smile and a hello to my wife, Julie. She smiled back.


Showing them a punch on the pads and being aware of some of the youths’ history, I was at pains to explain the consequence of misusing the techniques. “Don’t throw them in anger,” was a term I really tried to get across until one of the guys totally took me by surprise as he declared to the class, “It’s not about the violence, it’s about the technique.”

Wow! His words stopped me in my tracks. Here was a group of “dysfunctional” and potentially dangerous young people and one of them had put into words what we were trying to achieve more than I ever could. His peers nodded and set about the task at hand.

I was so moved by the young man’s words I realised that his thoughts could be put into anything. The violence he spoke of could be anything that stops us in our tracks, our fear. The technique he referred to could be tools to beat that fear.

Your violence could be the inner voice that mocks you. My father’s words to me as a frightened 15 year old trying for his first Martial Art’s belt: “You can’t do Karate.” Proved him wrong.

My violence was him mocking me, my technique was the determination to succeed, to prove I was not a loser. Later in life I developed terrifying panic attacks and fell to agoraphobia. Again my violence was fear, but my technique was self-talk. Talking myself into leaving my house. “Hell, what was the worst thing that could happen?”

As I continued my technique (self-talk) and plucked up the courage to walk the 100 yards to the local shop my confidence grew. My “violence” shrank. Three years later I made a three-hour drive to fight a European Kickboxing Champion. “What the hell happened?” I remember asking myself with a grin on my face.

And so years later on when my violence seemed to have been kicked into touch, an angry but beautiful youth put it all into place; it wasn’t about the violence it was about the technique. Where there is courage there is hope.

About Simon Morrell

Simon Morrell is one of the United Kingdom’s leading Martial Artists and Inspirational Speakers, but his success was come by hard. As a young child he was badly bullied, and that evolved into violent assaults as he got older. An attempted stabbing took place by a vicious youth during a particularly frightening period, and further beatings followed. Morrell became agoraphobic and suffered from life-changing panic attacks before deciding he had endured enough. He entered the world of Martial Arts to gain confidence and quickly surprised himself and his loved ones by excelling in it. Today, he holds multiple Black Belts, including 6th Dan Karate and Dan Grade Krav Maga as well as being a two-time Hall of Fame winner. He speaks throughout the UK about his troubles and victories and his story is currently being made into the film “From Bullied to Black Belt” in the United Kingdom. He has spoken in the International Press and on the BBC about his experiences.