Richard Shore, or 'Shaky' to his friends, is founder and head instructor of the Tillery Combat MMA Club in Abertillery, Gwent, Wales. A long time practitioner of martial arts, the BJJ purple belt is also a successful mentor and coach to kids brought in from the Youth Offending Service - turning their lives around for the better. Earlier this month, one of Shaky's students, Mark Marshman, a former young offender, won the prestigious Prince Trust Young Achiever Award and the Tillery Combat MMA club received a runners up prize in the Impact on the Community Award. Both awards were the culmination of a lifetime's dedication to the sport and the power that MMA and jiu jitsu can bring to the community. I was moved by shaky's posts on the Cagewarriors forum so I asked him to explain more about his work...
Q: Hi Richard, let's open up with a brief bit about yourself - your age, martial arts experience, current rank and training status, fight record etc?
A: I'm 39. In the 1990's I trained for several years learning karate and judo with the local doormen in the function room of a pub we worked at. Looking back I never really learned anything effective but the sessions were very physical and certainly toughened me up both mentally and physically.
I started training traditional ju-jitsu (TJJ) in 2002 under Ross Ianacarro's Tai Jutsu Kai syllabus. Unlike a lot of TJJ clubs there were loads of ground techniques as the association had links with Carly Gracie. My instructor at the time was Heath Gait, head coach at Falcons Martial Arts. I remember turning up at my first class and had four or five 14 year-old lads submitting me and I was totally baffled, but became addicted. I started training five times a week with kickboxing, MMA and grappling. From that moment on I travelled everywhere to learn as much as possible.
At present I am a 2nd Dan black belt in Combat Jujutsu and a BJJ purple belt under Brauilio Estima. My BJJ Coach is Dave Coles. I am founder and head Coach at Tillery Combat MMA. We have a full time facility and we teach MMA, BJJ, Combat Jujutsu, No Gi and Muay Thai.
I've competed in over 200 BJJ, sport jujutsu and no gi bouts. I've had 20 MMA fights. 1-1 pro, 3-0 semi pro, 4-2-8 and 1 nc at amateur level.
Q: What's the story being the nick-name Shakus Maximus or Shaky?
A: I picked up the nickname 'Shaky' when I was about 16. When I get nervous I start to tremble quite badly.
'Shakus Maximus' came during a training session: myself and another lad rolled for about 40 mins without either of us submitting each other. At about 20 mins in, the whole class had stopped training and were watching us. The session came to an end and we both lay on the floor exhausted. One of the lads said "Shaky you're a F**king Gladiator." Someone then shouted "Shakus Maximus". lol the rest is history
Q: What is the MMA and BJJ scene like in Wales these days?
A: It is thriving. Wales is producing top talent in both MMA and BJJ. MMA has produced some quality Pro fighters eg Denzil Thomas, John Phillips, Joe Duffy, Tim Newman, Nathan Beer, Jack Marshman, Gareth Williams, Martin McDonough, Ryan Phelps and Kris Edwards to name just a few. All have fought on the BIG UK events. And there is a huge generation of new fighters coming through the amateur and semi pro ranks
In BJJ there is Chris Rees, Greg Creel, Kev Cox who are all quality Brown Belts. Chris, Greg and myself all have very active BJJ teams that are competing and winning medals on a monthly basis.
MMA and BJJ are in a very healthy state in Wales at the moment
Q: Tell me about your work alongside the youth offending services (YOS) - please explain at length the examples of how your role has helped troubled young people improve their lives. I'm keen to know why you feel this is important to you and what drills, activities, techniques you find are key to your success with those from troubled backgrounds.
A: I have a great relationship with the YOS. One of their staff has trained with me for several years. He asked me if I would allow some of the youngsters he had on his books come to the classes and see if we could get a bit of dicipline and fitness into him. The lad came along and fitted in well. I explained that I had a zero tolerence policy with regard to getting in trouble while training at the club. Anyone caught fighting would not be allowed to train. The youngster got the bug and turned his life around - he got a job, gave up drugs and started competing for my team. The succession of referals I have had has esculated due to the success of the first lad.
If the youngster has a spark of interest in MMA/BJJ I feed it and the process goes from there. I explain the benefits of keeping fit and that anyone that learns to fight properly should never feel the need to "prove themselves" unless it is in a competitive arena. They soon find that drink and drugs just don't go hand in hand with martial arts. We have loads of role models at the club that they look up to and soon the youngsters want to be competing like their peers. I don't just teach them martial arts. I also teach them the meaning of respect, hard work, conduct, manners, etc. I work on improving all aspects of their lives. I relate well with them as my background as a young lad was not too different from theirs.
Q: Why do these youngsters get into trouble in the first place?
A: A lot of the youngsters in our area end up in trouble as there is nothing for them to do and they have never had any direction in life or someone to tell them the difference between right and wrong. I am very proud of the progress these youngsters have made both on and off the mats and will defend them against anyone one who criticises them. I say to everyone that asks me about the scheme "try to imagine walking in their shoes" before they pass judgment. I judge them on their behaviour from the moment they join my club not what they did before
Q: One of your young proteges, Mark Marshman, was nominated for the prestigious 'Young Achiever Award' at the Princes Trust Awards earlier this month and on the same night Tillery Combat Academy was runner up for the Impact on the Community Award. As a coach, trainer, mentor, how did that night make you feel?
|Mark Marshman, Princes Trust Award winner|
A: It is arguably my proudest moment as a coach. To see an organisation such as the Princes Trust recocognise the benefits of a club teaching BJJ and MMA is a massive step for both sports. For Mark to win the main award of the evening brought a tear to my eye. I am so proud of how far he has come as a person since we first met. He is the first to admit he was right off the rails when I met him. Without our club he would be serving a very long prison sentence, or be dead by now.
Q: Tell me more about Tillery Combat MMA Academy - I see you offer a very wide array of martial arts - how does it work? Do members pick and choose their sport or is it all inclusive with a member being able to do all of the named disciplines?
I teach an under 16's class twice a week where we cover all the disciplines. We average 25 per class at the under 16 sessions and many of them are competing regular and winning medals on the BJJ and Grappling circuit. My son Jack recently won the British No Gi Tournament run by Braulio.
We are more like a family than a team and the spirit we have at the club is second to none. Our team spirit is what gives us our strength and I'm very proud of that.
Q: As a coach who encourages tournament participation, what's your view on martial arts as a self defence versus as a sport argument?
A: Don't get me started. lol. All the martial arts now teach techniques to suit the rule-set that the fighter is going to compete in. That is fine if the main aim of the club is sport competition. But the problem in my opinion (and it is just my opinion) is that a lot of the techniques that are encouraged would get you hurt in a real situation. One example is pulling half guard - this is great for BJJ but will get you knocked out in a violent situation. Another example is in MMA where we teach the fighter to get double underhooks to initiate a takedown but in a reality situation this leaves you in a position to have your eyes gouged. I could go on but wont. lol
In 95% of occasions a decent BJJ or MMA fighter will beat an untrained attacker but you should always be prepared for dangers that the other 5% can pose. The most important thing though about BJJ and MMA is that your technique is tested under pressure. This sets us apart from other martial arts.
If you want to grade in BJJ or Combat Jujutsu at my club you have to compete. Some people agree with this method and some don't, but I stand by it.
Q: Wow, awesome interview Shaky, let's finish by asking if there is anyone you would like to thank?
A: Dave Coles my BJJ instructor, Darrel James, Steve Jayne and Lee Stingymore who help me with the running of the classes. My students who fly the Tillery Combat Colours with great passion and desire. And my wife who puts up with me not being at home as much as I probably should be.
Q: Thanks so much mate, I can really feel the great sense of pride you have with your club, may you long continue!
A: Thanks for giving me an opportunity to talk about something that I love and is my life.
|Shaky with Dave Coles|