Spirit Combat

Martial arts from a different perspective.

By Andrzej Marczewski
Student of Spirit Combat

Soke Brian DossettTwo years ago, at the tender age of 22, I made a decision. I wanted to get into martial arts. I had been reading about martial arts and messing about with friends who did Karate and Kick Boxing, for many years. My own father, who had done Judo, would show me things that he knew, but I had never had a lesson.

After making my decision, I had to find a good club and instructor. Using the Internet, the phone book and some legwork, I found my local clubs. There were a lot to choose from-- Wing Chun, Kick Boxing, Judo, Karate, Tae Kwan Do and Ju Jitsu were just a few of the arts on offer. I had lived in the same area for 22 years and never noticed the wealth of clubs available to me!

After much research, I concluded that Ju Jitsu was the way forward for me. It offered so much, a combination of Karate, Judo and Aikido. (I later discovered that the common understanding is that the all of the above forms evolved from Ju Jitsu).

The first club I visited was held at a sports club just a fifteen-minute cycle ride away. When I got there, I was greeted by the sound of children laughing, mixed with the occasional thumping sound of bodies hitting the floor. In the centre of it all, directing traffic was a grey haired man in his late fifties wearing a gold gi, who possessed an air of confidence and control that emanated from him.

Once the children’s session had finished he came over to me and asked why I was there and what I wanted. We spoke about the fitness benefits of martial arts and the self- defence possibilities and responsibilities. I felt like I was in an interview. After about ten minutes, he asked me to grab him. I did as I was told. One second later, I was on my knees, being bounced up and down like a ball as he pressed a pressure point in my shoulder every time I tried to stand.

That was it for me. I had found my martial art. I had found Sprit Combat. I had also found the instructor for me.

That was my introduction to Soke Brian Dossett.

From the very start I became interested in who this man was. Larger than life, full of energy and a fountain of knowledge (not to mention bad jokes, many of which I am still falling for).

40 years ago, Brian Dossett, already an accomplished boxer, started his journey in martial arts. At the time, there were fewer martial arts available in the UK, Judo and Karate being the most popular. The problem was that finding a good instructor was very difficult. As Soke once said to me,
“An oriental instructor could get on the plane in Japan a black belt first Dan and get of it in the UK as black belt sixth Dan! No one would argue with them because they were from the Far East, a mystical place where all instructors were good. This is not to say that there were no good instructors from Japan, but you had to be careful.”
Brian soon began to discover whom the fakes were when he would challenge them to trap his left jab. They knew that they couldn’t and if they could the right was going to follow it too quickly. He also discovered the problems that many instructors had with the bobbing and weaving that a boxer employed.

Brian learned what he could from instructors in many styles such as Judo, Karate and Aikido, attaining black belts in most (and in some cases actually turned them down). He was cross training nearly 40 years before it was ‘invented’.

He had many jobs over the years, from model to singer, but it was during his time in the merchant navy that he began to learn about the practicalities of the martial arts. As entertainment the navy men would have fights on the deck, no mats no ring. He soon found out what techniques worked and what didn’t, learning from the others and then showing them a thing or two.

After a while, he started teaching people what he knew, not realising that he was showing them things in ways that had never been done before. Soon his own fighting system developed, Spirit Combat.

A blend of Ju Jitsu and Boxing/Kick Boxing (One of the earlier names had actually been Kick Jitsu). He now has the title of Soke (Founder) an honour bestowed upon him by his students. He also holds a Black Belt tenth Dan in Spirit Combat (again awarded by his students). Over the years he has belonged to different organisation and been recognised at different levels by them all. He currently holds black belt sixth in Ju Jitsu according to the British Ju Jitsu Association the “official” Ju Jitsu governing body in the UK, which he has since left due to politics.

It is well documented that over the years Brian Dossett has started many

martial arts organisations, and watched them all fall when he left them. It is also well know that he has had many battles with the “Official” martial arts organisations in existence, and is still battling, over the way that things are run.

Now he is the head of his own organisation. MAAS, Martial Arts All Styles, an organisation that promotes forward thinking in martial arts, where the energy is spent on bringing forward health and safety regulations, child protection and many other modern day considerations, rather than on who is in charge of what and who should belong to what.

It is an organisation that promotes affordable martial arts, with maximum safety and the highest standards of instruction. Many of the people involved in the instruction of students are volunteers, me included. Such is the character of Brian Dossett that he can make all of these things happen.
He has never been a man to do things the way they were expected. At a recent seminar, he told us how he entered a weapons competition with a garden fork wrapped in paper and tinsel. On being asked what he thought, he was doing, he said,
“I am entering the weapons competition”. This was of course challenged with comments such as, "It's not a Nunchuck or a Bo." His reply, “Nunchucks are just rice flails, farming tools used by the Japanese, this is a garden fork, a farming tool used by the British”.
Un-able to fault his logic he was admitted and came second in the competition.
It is this attitude that has gained him many loyal supporters, and more than a few disapproving adversaries.

with a belief so strong in what he is saying and doing, that it is hard not to be infected with it.

Now, two years into my training under him, I have achieved blue belt and am now an Uki (Honoured assistant) in one of Soke’s clubs. I have been given the opportunity to train as an instructor and am enjoying every moment of it. To me Spirit Combat offers a modern approach to martial arts. There is no need to learn the Japanese for all of the moves, there is a fun and friendly atmosphere and the instruction is second to none. That is not to say that the traditions of martial arts have been ignored. People, like me, who are interested in the traditions, are encouraged to learn them. Respect is always shown in the Do Jo and to the sensei’s. However, the art is taught in an approachable way. The emphasis is on learning how it works for you, with no katas to speak off, just forms and techniques that we endeavour to perfect.

My journey has just begun and under the guidance of a man such as Brian Dossett, I know it will be an interesting one. I have learned so much about martial arts and life in general, and know I have much more to learn. I have learned that I should not strive to achieve black belt, but should strive to achieve knowledge and understanding, that when I do achieve a black belt it is the beginning of a journey not the end.

Having not been with the organisation long, I do not know the Brian Dossett who 40 years ago took on the system. I know Soke Brian, a man so full of a passion for martial arts and for teaching that you can’t help but learn from him. A man who is fantastic with children and who makes Ju Jitsu fun for them. A man who tells terrible jokes and fascinating stories. A man who we all respect and enjoy learning from.

Soke Brian Dossett’s Spirit Combat shows us martial arts from a different perspective, one that makes it accessible to everyone. Let’s hope that we all learn from its example.

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Please send any comments or article ideas to Andrzej at andrzej@spiritcombat.com

© Spirit Combat International 2003

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