Matt Furey Unleashed in the U.K.
by Alan Orr
For some time I have been interested in Matt Furey's methods of fitness training and grappling. Even though I have spent many years training in Wing Chun and Eskrima I have always maintained an interest in the ground game. I have spent time playing with grappling methods and know the game, but have never personally felt the passion to develop it much further than ground defence and control within a stand up environment.
After reading Matt's Combat Conditioning book, I realised that this was what I had been looking for in terms of my physical training programme. I then thought that if his conditioning training is so good and also in many ways against the grain of what is commonly taught, then what would his grappling method be like? Well, I ordered some of his instructional tapes and was blown away. Matt's "catch-as-catch-can" wrestling was just what I was looking for as it suited the way I train and integrates into my programme of ground work with ease. His no nonsense, true-seeking style was very similar to that of my Wing Chun teacher and mentor Robert Chu. Both have to put up with a lot of criticism from people who do not know or even understand what they are teaching. So I decided I would talk to Matt and invite him over for a practical demonstration of his ideas in a number of seminars. More about that decision shortly.
Finally, after many months of exchanging emails and making plans, the time had come. The Furey had landed! On meeting Matt at the airport I was pretty excited as it was his first trip to the UK and I wanted him to enjoy himself. We hit it off like a house on fire and it was clear from the outset that it was going to be a great trip. We had arranged an open seminar in Huddersfield and a semi-private London seminar at the famous Peacock Gym in east London, hosted by Tom Enright, who runs the Peacock Karate Club. In addition to these two seminars, Matt taught a private workshop for my apprentice instructors, in keeping with my philosophy that they should have access to practitioners who are at the top of their discipline.
I always talk to my students about the mental aspects of their training, especially intention, motivation, visualisation and so on. So it was great to talk with Matt as I realised we had many things in common, including our belief in positive thinking and focused intention.
On Matt's first day we started with a "short" walk around London to stretch our legs. After about 12 miles of walking we had been there, seen it, done it! Matt told me much about his background and his training with Karl Gotch, "The God of Wrestling," as the Japanese called him. I soon discovered that you could write a book of the stories Matt has about his training with Karl!
Day two started with a small group seminar/ workshop for my apprentice instructors. Matt took my guys through the inner ideas of his Submission Fighting and catch methods. It was one of those days where you felt like you had been away from the normal world and something had changed. My understanding of groundwork had evolved!
The guys had a great time with Matt, who communicates his knowledge in a way that can be absorbed very quickly. I was not only surprised but also impressed by Matt's overall knowledge of the ground game. He really is not just a pure wrestler in his mindset. He demonstrated a complete understanding of many types of grappling and grappling strategies, which for me is the kind of thinking I like, as often it is in knowing the strengths and weakness of systems that help you understand them. Spurred on by my guys' level of enthusiasm, Matt really got going and expressed his love of the art and his happiness at spreading it in the UK.
Tom Enright has been a good friend for some time now and has often come to LA with me to study with my teacher Robert Chu, so it only made sense to bring Matt over to treat his guys to a day of Furey in East London.
"Furey" was the word as Matt went through his Combat Conditioning exercise for the first two hours. Lucky for me, I have been training this way for quite some time and did not have the same wake up call as others. My guys were still recovering from the day before and I don't think they had an idea of what they had let themselves in for. We had some fun!
As we got started we did about fifty Hindu Squats (a type of squat used by the Hindu wrestlers, which builds great strength) and then twenty-five Hindu Jumper Squats.(this one's even harder) Matt asked me how many I did the first time I read his book, when I told him I went straight in and did the five hundred reps he was shocked and said that not many people could do that first time around. I then confessed that I couldn't walk for five days! We laughed, as we all know what that's like. On New Year's eve 2000 Matt and a few others with the same interests or problem (depends how you look at it) did 2000 Hindu Squats - now that is a number!
The seminar also covered Catch Wrestling: toeholds, neck cranks, take - downs and so on. Each time Matt showed a technique it was always in some way different to anything I had seen before in other grappling systems. The small details made all the difference and the whole day was a real opportunity to learn something new.
The main open seminar was held in Huddersfield. This was a really good day as the people who came were excited about meeting the by now legendary Matt Furey. As always he did his best to get to know everyone. Whilst Matt took the students through his gruelling two hour conditioning programme, I took the opportunity catch up with Bob Sykes and Karl Tansworth. After all, a guy has to know when to rest! Meanwhile, the seminar class were taken through a range of friendly (or devastating could be a better word) quick finishing moves that would seemingly come from nowhere.
I remember someone at the seminar asking me, had all the work arranging the seminars been worth it? My answer was, of course! Sometimes opportunities come along for a reason and they are once in a lifetime, therefore when it feels right you must go with it. I know the timing of bringing Matt over was just right. Why? Well, because I wanted it to be. Yes - intention - will cause that thing to come to be. So, instead of waiting for it to happen, make it happen! If you always wanted to train with a certain teacher then do. It may be hard, it may take time, but if you really want it then it's just waiting for you. My teacher, Robert Chu Sifu, is in LA, so does this mean I cannot go to learn from him? Absolutely not! Rather than thinking it would be good, I think it WILL be good. That's the difference!
This article initially appeared in the U.K. based Martial Arts Illustrated. For more information on Alan Orr's products and services go to www.alanorr.co.uk