Christopher Lee Matthews is a writer and blogger from the city of Stoke-on-Trent, England. He is a self defence and martial arts enthusiast. He is a former professional wrestler, wrestling coach, and promoter. He also is a former nightclub doorman (or bouncer).
In his blogs Chris writes about a variety of subjects. His twenty five year career as a pro wrestler, spanning from coast to coast, all over the UK. He writes about his unique martial arts background, including his own personal take on the subject of street self defence …and his six plus years working on the doors in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Chris also has achieved recognition in the mainstream media. He has appeared in martial arts publications including Combat Magazine and Kamppailija Magazine, and the pro wrestling publication WOW (World of Wrestling) magazine.
Please scroll down this page to read Chris’ latest blog, or chose a subject from the menu located at the top of the page.
As I promised a while back, I’ve started uploading more catch wrestling/ submission grappling videos to my YouTube channel. I started uploading tutorials over a week ago, and will try to upload a new video everyday if my schedule permits. Here is one that I uploaded recently. If you want to stay up to date, head on over to my youtube, smash the subscribe and notification buttons. There’s more coming soon!
Hey guy’s and Gal’s I just wanted to let you know that after a very llloooonnngg break from posting martial arts videos to my YouTube channel, I’ve decided it’s time to come back. This time I’ll be focusing on striking arts like boxing and I’ll be revealing some tricks of the trade from my fairground boxing days. Stay tuned. head on over to my channel and subscribe to catch the latest uploads.
In the meantime here’s some footage from a catch wrestling semibnar, for those of you who like their grappling arts.
An old pal from across the water was kind enough to send me this footage this past weekend. It was recorded back in 2011. There’s some nice, very basic – but effective catch wrestling and dirty grappling techniques being demonstrated here. Happy days! Please Enjoy! …and subscribe for updates.
Some people say that the straight bladed ninja sword never existed in feudal Japan. That ALL swords were curved, and that the whole straight blade and square tsuba look was created for the Sho Kosugi ninja movies during the 1980’s. However, there was such a weapon used by the Ashigaru. The Ashigaru were foot-soldiers throughout feudal japan. They were not of Samurai class, but rather the paramilitaries of their day. They specialized in guerrilla warfare. Some became mercenaries. Assassins to the highest bidder. Doe’s this sound familiar?
Asigaru Wielding Straight Bladed Swords.
Asigaru Wielding Straight Bladed Swords.
Samurai Wielding a Naginata.
The Ashigaru had the skills and the intelligence to fashion their own crude sword-like weapons from pole-arms such as the naginata. Crude as they were – they were effective weapons.
If you check out the graphic (below) you may be able to spot the similarities between the naginata (pole-arm) and the chokuto (straight, single edged sword). This supports the theory that the Ashigaru may have produced their own improvised weapons.
Here is the latest addition to my collection. The Hand Forged Ninja Sword that I purchased from the Blades UK Clearance Facebook page. This item was reduced in price to only £26 – due to some small dents on the saya, but you can hardly see them at all. It’s hand forged with carbon steel. It has a real ray skin tsuka, and it’s ultra sharp. The blade itself is unblemished. Immaculate. It is NOT the exact same size as the commercial ninjato that are available over the internet. It’s blade length and handle length is the same as a standard katana. If anything its more Ashigaru than it is ninja! A more appropriate name for this sword would be the chokutō instead of the ninjato.
Hanwei ninja swords can cost anything from £240 – £448. They do have shorter straight blades and a square tsuba – just like the movie ninja sword. It may be made of a higher grade carbon steel than some other brands of ninjato. If you are looking for a bargain I can recommend a visit to the Blades UK Clearance Facebook page and don’t forget to click the like and follow buttons.
I don’t buy cheap swords – I buy swords cheap!
Please practice responsibly, and enjoy your budo.
Sad news for British Wrestling in 2017. It gives me great sadness to announce that Brian Dixon’s All Star Wrestling will not be appearing at the Butlin’s Holiday Camps for the foreseeable future.
The Camps were a great place to work, learn, and refine your craft. It was a great way of gaining further experience. It gave myself and so many other individuals opportunities to work and learn from a successful peer group. Experience is the greatest of teachers, and successes breeds success. That’s a fact of life.
Being around a top notch team of workers to critique and advise you in your early days as a pro was (and still is) crucial to any aspiring wrestler’s development. It chiseled away the rough edges. It refined you in a myriad of different ways.
In the past I’ve worked up to six days a week – all up and down the country on “the camps” for Brian Dixon, and also for the Knight Family’s WAW in the Norfolk area. I will always be thankful to these individuals for the lessons and opportunities that they put my way. The camps could be fun, but at times hard work. You could be wrestling in a different city or county everyday. There were many miles and hours of traveling, but that’s all a part of the job and lifestyle that goes along with it.
At the present time I can not comment further on the situation as I’ve herd many rumours as to what may have happened. One source alleges that another promotion/ promoter may have a deal with Butlin’s but whoever it is will not have the experience to pass on to the next generation and I believe that will compromise many a young inexperienced workers further development. I believe the situation may become a case of the blind leading the blind. It’s bad news for the British wrestling business as a whole.
Personally, I can’t imagine anyone else having the experience, manpower, and finances to make this a success.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Brian for all the opportunities he gave me on the camps, and wish all involved with All Stars luck and success in the future.
Pete Evans had this habit of making grunting sounds and non-existent words during a match. Utsah, cha-ho, cha-ho-ah, gianah. It was a bit like watching a karateka do their “kiai” or something like that. He just went on and on doing it – all the way through a mach, like a broken record. It’s strange how you never forget these little things. At the time nobody seemed to even notice it.
One day, I was on the road with Mike Weaver and Keith Myatt and I started to do impressions of Pete while we were traveling in the car. It was hilarious, and I must have kept this up for at least an hour and a half.
Mike and Keith had trouble keeping their faces straight whenever they worked with Pete after this. They just wanted to bust out laughing during the match. The harder you try not to laugh – the harder it seems to not to do so. At first they couldn’t even make eye contact with him in the dressing room because we would have all been laughing like hyenas on nitrous oxide!
There was another time when a few of us from Stoke were traveling back home from a show and I decided to play a rib. We noticed a car up ahead towing a trailer with what looked like a wrestling ring. As we got closer, we noticed that it was Dave Reece’s wrestling ring. No points for figuring out who was driving the car… I asked Mike to slow down a minute while I put my wrestling mask on. I asked Mike to overtake them while I proceeded to lean out of the opened window as we passed them by. I grabbed my nunchaku and held it together so it would look like a double barrelled sawn off shotgun. Here I was leaning as far out of the car window as humanly possible. Mask over my head and holding what looks like a firearm. Doing 70MPH on the M6. Dave Reece is driving and Pete Evans was the passenger and they both shite their pants. Nearly crashed their car.
One time when I was working as a professional shooter at the infamous Horseshoe Bar, Blackpool Pleasure Beach – there was myself, Vic Powers, and Shak (Kashmir Kid) standing on the steps at the front of the bar. Simon Charles was on the microphone asking for challengers. He was about to say his little promo speech. It went something like this…
“To my left, the Kashmir Kid… To my right, the masked (whatever he called me on the day) …and centre stage, Task Force 1 – Vic The Body Powers”…
I can’t remember who’s idea it was, but we all kept switching places on the steps …and it really gave him the needle. Pissed him off big time. 🙂
I remember many years ago wrestling on the holiday camps for Brian Dixon. I was travelling with Mike Weaver and Vic Powers. After the show we were getting changed in the dressing room and Vic Powers noticed some award medals. Gold looking finish and a nice, fancy ribbon. Vic took one and handed it to me. He told me to keep it and tell punters that I’d won it in a wrestling tournament. I though to myself why not? I didn’t believe in buying into my own publicity or believing my own hype. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how many people I could work.
After the show the 3 of us went to a cafe on the A5 near Cannock. It was a very popular meeting place among the pro wrestling community. Vic told me to wear the medal. I felt a bit of a knob walking in there wearing it, but I was up for anything back then.
While we’re ordering some food one of the girls behind the counter asked me about my medal. Both Mike and Vic were nudging me with their elbows. Trying to egg me on.
I told the girl that I had won it in a wrestling tournament. That I’d wrestled four matches and won them all.
…and then Vic Powers just opened his mouth and said something like “No. That’s a lie. He has been wrestling, but he hasn’t won it. He’s stolen it from a holiday camp, and now he’s going around telling lies to everyone, telling them that he’s won it.” I could have crawled up my own arse!
The Shinobigatana / Shinobi Katana is “allegedly” a sword carried by the ninja of Feudal Japan. It is fashioned with the intention to deceive the opponent into thinking that the ninja – or shinobi were caring standard sized katana, or a similar blade. However, the blade length was allegedly much shorter than that of a katana – thus, allowing the swowd-man to execute a faster draw than his opponent. The shorter blade makes the sword much easier to use than the standard katana in tightly confined spaces. Say a small corridor -for example…
Mine is NOT the official Bujinkan one. It’s not made to the exact same sizes and specifications, but I consider it a damn good near match. This bad boy was custom made by an EBay seller (Samurai X) – who was selling hand a forged wakizashi. The seller was offering to customize the sword for no extra cost. You could chose your own color of saya, rayskin, type of hand-guard, and so on… So I asked the seller if he could remove the standard sized handle (tsuka) and add a larger nodachi sized handle. Also I asked if they I could change to a katana sized saya. …and I’m more than satisfied with the result.
If you wish to purchase the official “Cheness Oniyuri Katana” from oriental-weaponry.co.uk this item will cost you the pricey sum of £332.30 / €448.61. …and some of them don’t even have the bo-hi (blood groove)! …Anyone who knows their swords – knows that a blade with a blood-groove is far more effective for stabbing applications. I guess the purple haired punk-rocking pensioner Masaaki Hatsumi must have had a “senior moment” or a “brain fart” when he designed the original model.
If you wish to go for something more affordable (and effective) – I recommend that you visit the eBay link and contact the seller. I found the seller would always reply to my messages within 24 hours. He asked me to “please wait patiently while he assembled the sword”, and I received it in the post in just over one week from the date of purchase. It cost me ONLY £83 in total. This sword is excellent value for money. It looks deadly awesome, and feels great to handle and maneuver.
Martial Arts should be affordable in my opinion.
Please practice responsibly, and enjoy your budo.
It was a Friday or Saturday evening at The Albion, in Newcastle-Under-Lyme. I was working the Door with tall Scottish guy called Ross. He was a tough ex rugby player, and he used to work on the doors in Glasgow. The guy was tough cookie, I’ll give him that. For some reason, one of the door staff didn’t turn up for work, and the other doorman had to go early because of a family emergency. So, there was just the two of us to work the door. That’s suicide!
Anyway, we couldn’t just go home because that would have made us both cowards in the doorman world. Quite late on in the evening one of the bar staff reported a commotion in the beer garden. We both went along to investigate. There were two males literally nose to nose ready to kick off. We had a serious word with them both about their behavior. One guy was quite reasonable. He didn’t want to get banned from the pub. He was very cooperative. The other guy wasn’t having any. He wouldn’t shut up. He kept making threats. He was jumping around and shouting. There was no way on this earth that he was gonna calm down. If you ask me – I think he came out looking for a fight. …and his eyes! There was something about a look in his eyes. I couldn’t tell weather he was insane, or if he was taking some kind of psychotic drug. I KNEW it was one or the other. …Maybe both of the above?
While he was threatening Ross, I did my usual trick. I went to face his back and slapped a chicken wing on him like lightning. Then something rather bad happened. Ross started to punch this guy in the head. Repeatedly. I could hear this sound. It wasn’t like the special effect sounds that you hear in the movies. It was a snapping, or a breaking sound. Ross was punching this guy so hard that he was breaking his own fingers and knuckles. …and this guy just laughed at the top of his lungs and shouted out to Ross “Is that all you’ve got?” I still had him under control in the chicken wing and told Ross to open the beer garden doors as quickly as. We had a real fight on our hands. …and I could tell this was far from over.
“Ross, you cover the right front door, I’ll cover the left. Quickly. I don’t want that fucker back in here” I shouted. His response wasn’t good…
“Chris, look at my hands for fucks sake. I need to go to the hospital, now”…
“Go on then, fuck off and get yer hands fixed up. Do me a favor. Go the front left door way, and lock it for me on your way out”
I shouted Brandon, the bar manager over and told him that I was closing the bar down with immediate effect. I wasn’t asking – I was telling. Then I went straight to the kitchen. Grabbed a Jif Lemon, kicked a brush handle in half and hid it up my right sleeve. The Jif Lemon was held in my left hand. I got to the only door that was left unlocked just in the nick of time. This nut job came charging at me and I had to do something to stop him in his tracks. A short sharp squirt of Jif Lemom in the eyes is just as effective as any C.S. spray. The acidity in the lemon blinds you, it’s effects last a while, but it’s not permanent.Besides Jif Lemon Juice isn’t a weapon – it’s a food seasoning. What could the police do??? While he was temporarily blinded, I gave him a terrific right backhanded strike to the throat with the broken piece of the brush handle. Then I just whaled him as hard as I could across the temple with it. He was incapacitated. I wasn’t taking any chances with this one. I couldn’t afford to.
The pub was starting to empty really quickly. I had to drag him up the alleyway, and delete the CCTV footage to cover my tracks. It turned out that this guy wasn’t only a big power drinker – he was into some recreational drugs big time. Speed, cocaine, PCP/ angel dust to name but a few… When people have cocktails like that they they can become very dangerous individuals. They have no fear, but can become paranoid at the same time. High pain threshold too. They are hard to hurt. So, you gotta knock em out, or put them to sleep. Sharpish!
There was a meeting with all the staff the following evening, and everyone agreed that I did the right thing. I was never one for calling the police. That’s seen as grassing in our world. However, the guy wasn’t banned because one of the co-owners, Jamo was friends with him. That really pissed me off, but the guy rarely frequented the bar after that, and he remained on his best behavior.
During my time in the wrestling business I had plenty of opportunities to work as a masked wrestler.
Working in a mask is something that I really enjoyed. A mask conceals not only your face, it conceals your whole identity and gives you an aura of mystery.
There is one element to maintaining that mystery. You never cut a promo. You never talk on the microphone, and you never grant the media an interview. Silence is the key! One excellent example of maintaining mystery and keeping kayfabe was Kendo Nagasaki. He would drive to a secluded spot near the venues where he used to wrestle, and put his mask on. He would enter and leave the buildings with his mask on, and he would never talk to anybody.
I know that the masked lucha libre wrestlers talk over the microphone and cut the odd promo, and I’m cool with that because it’s their culture. Their style. Even in the USA masked men talk over the mic, cut their promo’s, and shout insults to the fans. I get it – it’s the superhero alter ego thing, and I’m fine with that …but in the old days, here in British pro wrestling masked men never said a single word. It was all about the mystery.
In recent years I’ve noticed dozens of so called masked “professional” wrestlers walk into a building full of fans with their case full of wrestling gear in hand and walk to/ from the dressing room before, during, and after a show …and they can’t be bothered to make the effort to keep the mask on. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to work out that he/ or she is the masked wrestler. No wonder the job is so screwed these days. If you are one of these individuals – please do yourself and the business a favor – either wise up, or retire and burn your boots, and please close the door on your way out. Thank You!
There were masked men who were blue eyes (baby faces) and some who were villains (heels). Back in the day most masked men were villains. The mystery created suspicion. Think about it. The armed bank robber in the balaclava. The terrorist with the tea-towel over his head. The scrotes who wear scarves and hoodies. They are doing something criminal, and they wear a mask to avoid being identified.
Whenever I wrestled a masked man I would take him to the ground, secure him with a submission or restraining hold, and try to unmask him. If you get the mask pulled up to his mouth the punters would be shouting and cheering me to rip his mask off. If I got it further up to his nose they would be standing up out of their seats screaming. Cheap heat as we used to call it, but it was minimum effort – maximum effect. It’s easy. Simple. You would get massive amounts of heat from the audience without taking a single bump.
Less pumps. Less injuries, and probably the best heat you’d ever get for doing next to nothing. You see, everybody in the building really want to see that mask ripped off someone’s head. They want to see what that person looks like. That’s good psychology.
I always tried to go that extra mile whenever I wrestled in a mask. I would do things like wear a pair of ladies stockings under the mask – just to black the eye holes out. I would visit fancy dress/ costume shops and buy fake pony tails and have them sewn to the inside of the mask. It was all to deceive the punters into thinking that I had long hair. Anything to throw them off the scent. Fake ponytails and stockings – makes me sound like some cross-dressing sexual deviant. Let’s move on…..
I’d never take someone’s mask completely off. I’d lift the veil of secrecy just a little, but I’d never open that veil completely. Tease the audience, and always leave them wanting more. Somehow they managed to scramble to the ropes and the referee would have to break it up. Spoilsport…
Sometimes I could successfully unmask someone, but the victory could be short lived as they could be wearing another mask underneath. Occasionally I would chase them back to the dressing room and run back into the audience with the mask. The idea was that I had ripped their mask off backstage, and I’d come back to the ring to show it to the audience. However, they never got to see who’s face was behind that mask. Maintain the mystery…
Sometimes it’s best to leave the fans in suspense. Then they will happily buy a ticket to the next show just to see that bugger get unmasked. It’s good for business. It’s worked for decades. Generations. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!
Both myself and Mike Weaver were wrestling less and less for Max Crabtree. Dave Reece had gone under. I herd a story that Dave’s wrestling ring had been seized by bailiffs for unpaid bills. I don’t know if it was true or not, but all of a sudden Dave was out of the game.
Max was doing well at the time. He was running every night with Davey Boy Smith at the top of the bill. I don’t think Shirley was working at that point. Davey Boy drew money everywhere he went. He was fresh out of the WWF/ WWE. He came back to England to evade a lawsuit. He was being sued for allegedly putting someone in a Grovit and causing them brain damage. By then Max restructured his team, and we weren’t getting as many bookings.
One evening, Mike went to watch the All Star Wrestling at Victoria Hall, in Hanley. I think Klondike Kate (who also lived in Stoke at the time) introduced Mike to Brian Dixon. Brian showed an interest in booking Mike, and Mike put in a good word for me. Mike telephoned me to ask if I’d be interested in working a few jobs. Well, naturally I jumped at the chance. At first I think Brian booked us because of logistics and economics. Klondike Kate was a huge draw, but she couldn’t drive a car. It was easier to try and use either myself or Mike for transport, and if you can book three, or four people to travel together in one car – the petrol expenses are more economical.
It was a fantastic learning experience. I got the chance to work with people who were not working on Max’s team. Experience is the true teacher. Brian had a stronger emphasis on tag team wrestling. He had some great working teams like “The Liverpool Lads”, “Task Force 1” and “The Superflys”. All of them were fucking awesome workers!!!
I remember one day, wrestling for Brian in a tag against The Superflys. It was at a place called “Cornerstones” and I think Brian was paid “bill money” to provide a show there. The only uncomfortable thing was that the place was an institution. A mental asylum. That was a very surreal experience to say the least. The Superflys seemed quite at home there though…
Brian starting to book The Dynamite Kid – Tom Billington. Tommy looked like a shadow of his former self. I’d say he weighed 11 stone when I first met him. It wasn’t long before he beefed back up again. A few weeks later and he was looking awesome! You could see a few tell tale signs of his injuries, but he still had the same work ethic. He did all his knee drops off the top rope, his snap suplex, his dropkick off the top rope, and his his diving/ flying headbutt.
There was a young Japanese worker who was on tour for Brian. I remember Dynamite Kid having fluent conversations with the guy in Japanese. Unfortunately I don’t remember the Japanese workers name. Brian just called him “jaaaaappp”. He had a good physique, a mullet and a bum bag (fanny pack) …but then, who didn’t back then?
It’s a pity Tommy and Davey Boy couldn’t reconcile their differences because that would have been like printing money for any promoter. It would have been awesome for business.
Instead, they went their separate ways. Davey Boy was working with Max Crabtree, and Dynamite was working for Brian Dixon, and both promoters went head to head with each other every night.
It was a fantastic time in my life. Not only had I worked for Max Crabtree for a couple of years, I was now working for Brian Dixon and getting even more opportunities, and I was working at the other end of the spectrum.
Max liked very traditional old school technical wrestling. Brian Dixon had the same appreciation, but he liked the odd big bump and the occasional high spot. Just a few months before starting with Brian – I recorded some lucha libre off a satellite TV station. I showed the old VHS tape to Mike Weaver and we worked out a few short high spots to put in our matches. We were the first guys on the scene to do this. I’m not being big headed but we had something a bit new or unique looking. Also, we had been watching some pro-wrestling from Japan called UWFI Bushido. It was a stiff worked MMA style, but marketed as a legitimate sport. Mike used a lot of big bump power moves on me like the German Suplex.
I’m not bragging about it because it takes two workers to have a good match. It takes two to tango! It was luck more than anything else. We saw something that little bit different and just infused it into the traditional British style. We capitalized on it. We saw the right thing at the right time. OK, honestly? …We stole Mexican and “Japanese” moves – but we did it when nobody else had even seen it. Right time – right place. …and sometimes you just have to be an opportunist and jump on it before no one else does. The important thing was that it got us over that little bit more. Variety is the spice of life.
Nowadays everyone throws a bit of lucha in their matches, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The UK has now become a multi cultural melting pot of different styles. There’s more variety to a match, or a show. I like the idea of adding to our unique scientific technical British style – I just hope that over time we don’t dilute that style, because it’s our heritage. Our culture. Once something is lost – it’s lost. Gone forever, and you’ll never get it back…
One of the best things about working for Brian is the infamous Brian Dixon impersonations that some of the wrestlers do. Robbie Brookside was so good at this, that he could telephone wrestlers and they would be convinced that they were talking to Brian. Now there’s arib for you. …..Eeerrrrrrr fuckin’ ell – as Brian would say.