Petts Wood dojo shows street-wise way to beat muggers

PUBLISHED: 10:52 02 May 2013 | UPDATED: 10:52 02 May 2013

Simon Palmer teaches his self-defence classes to groups of women and children.

Simon Palmer teaches his self-defence classes to groups of women and children.


Despite having swords, batons and nunchucks lining the walls of his Petts Wood dojo, Simon Palmer claims the best weapon of self defence is confidence not to be a victim in the first place.

Simon believes confidence is the key to beating would-be attackers.Simon believes confidence is the key to beating would-be attackers.

Having trained in a variety of martial arts for 32 years, he and his teaching partner David Baker have acquired a wealth techniques and tips that they’re looking to pass on in a series of classes aimed at women and children.

Whether it’s to make yourself feel safer walking home at night, or to keep fit, the classes he runs at Basement Budo, in Chatsworth Parade, are starting to prove popular with groups of friends and work colleagues.

“It’s mainly street awareness that we teach,” said Simon. “For ladies coming back from work late or nights out, we show how every day objects can be used to protect yourself – whether it’s a phone, lipstick or credit cards.

“People are scared when they see how easily they can be hurt, but then you can see the relief in their faces when we show them just how easy it is to defend yourself.”

Simon displays his array of weaponry at Basement Budo, in Petts Wood.Simon displays his array of weaponry at Basement Budo, in Petts Wood.

Builder Simon, 39, takes no money from his classes and instead re-invests the costs back into the dojo, where he also runs classes in jujitsu and kickboxing.

Through his decades of training he has combined his martial arts knowledge to provide defence techniques for a number of scenarios that include strangers getting into your car, or attackers pouncing in quiet roads.

But despite his extensive training, Simon has never had to defend himself on the street and puts that down to confidence – an attribute he hopes his students leave the dojo with. “A huge amount of being a victim is a lack of confidence,” says the instructor. “People who lack it are easier targets, especially when they cower and put their heads down.

“I was the same when I was young, I started martial arts early and would fight adults thinking ‘I’m no good at this’. But when I got into my teens I realised what I knew and I was able to stop situations by being confident enough to tell people to go away.”

Simon has been teaching for 12 years and says he filters his defence classes to just the “best bits” of each discipline he is versed in.

His classes are filling up through word of mouth, and he has recently delivered a series of children’s self-defence classes to Scout groups where again they learn how to defend themselves using objects they may find in their pockets.

Sarah Griffin, 45, of Bexley, attended Simon’s self-defence class along with her colleagues and says the classes not only taught her how to handle herself, but also how to avoid becoming a victim.

“They run through lots of scenarios like someone coming up behind you or having your hair pulled,” said Sarah. “It’s all simple things that you wouldn’t think of like how to twist your hand free if someone’s grabbing you.

“I feel more confident now and more generally aware of my surroundings and they teach you how to avoid being targeted too – like not walking around with your phone in your hand.”

To learn more about self-defence classes, or to sign up for kickboxing, karate or jujitsu at the Basement Budo, visit

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