Monday, 20 May 2013

The fight for my life....

Dear Readers,

To start I must apologise for my long, long absence. I will tell you the story and how it relates to my beloved Russian All-Round Fighting….

December 26th I was at work when hit with terrible stomach cramps; this is a result of past operations which have caused scars inside my body called 'adhesions'; these scars can wrap around a person’s insides and block the body’s organs. This has happened many times to me in the past, it is treated with bed rest, starvation and pain relief.

It got to 31st December with no lessoning of the pain, so an operation was decided upon and overnight a six hour operation freed all the adhesions.

A week passed with usual hospital life, all friends and family were pleased and it seemed the worry was over. Seven days later I spent the day feeling as doom was hanging over me.

That evening, and I will spare the details in full, after I strained my stomach to vomit a 40cm scar sealed with staples burst open, with contents bursting out!

After some three hours of holding myself together I was put to sleep. I awoke some three or four days later in intensive care. After a time the memory of my life and what had happened came back and I was calmed.

Shortly after, like an apparition, one of my best friends and students appeared. I thought I was seeing things. No, he was there my phone in hand. 'Who do I need to call?’ he said. So everyone who needed to know was told I was alive and had awoken.

They had operated twice to save my life resulting in an open wound that was the size of a dinner plate and so deep that you could see my ribs in my back. I won’t go on about the medical details much more.

Days in, months in… after three months in my original hospital in
Watford I was transferred nearer home to Portsmouth. At the time of writing - April 23rd – I’m home, still a hole in my stomach still fighting the day to day problems.

Six months after the original procedure they will, I hope, put me back to normal. More surgical work, more risk, more pain and more worry for my loved ones.

Why is this RAF? Of course without the strength and fitness I had I would surely be dead. Now that’s easy to read but think about your life?
How would it affect your family if you were to go? So think you don’t feel like training tonight? This can affect not only your performance as a fighter but God forbid fighting for your life in other circumstances.

This is my main point, training, fitness, and strength is a life-long goal not just a few short years. RAF is for LIFE as I hope I proved here.

Thanks to all my family and friends around the world, you also gave me the will to fight on and get better; have no fear after this rest I will be back, bigger and harder than when we last met, so stand back!

My son Tom as always my love

Chest I Slava!

You can contact Darrin at:

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Russian Martial Arts Festival 2012

Autumn is the time for Vadim Kolganov's now famous Russian Martial Arts Festival. Held in Kilmarnock, Scotland each year it has grown and grown. This year is the third time the event has been held and saw fighters from England, Scotland, Ukraine, Russia and more making it a true international feel.

The idea behind the festival is simple: Vadim and I have trained and studied in many styles of fighting from Russia; now that I represent RAF I push our sport side of the system and also support other styles of combat not only RAF.

This year the festival consisted of RAF British championship Weapons triathlon (bayonet, knife and stick); Army hand-to-hand combat and a kettle bell snatch competition with 12kg, 16kg, 20kg and 24 kg weights.

The weapons had a Master’s as well as a senior’s event. This was hard fought and well received with some great battles. The final was won with a one point victory over the three weapons leaving me in silver place to Vadim Kolgonov’s first place; a true close final with the best man winning on the day.

The senior’s too was close fought; my son finding the same result as his father - losing by 1 point. Congratulations go to the gold medallist, Dave Allen. What came across to those that were unfamiliar with such skill was the speed in which the fights took pace.

Tom got his revenge in the ARB with a good fight between himself and Dave winning by points. But again Tom lost out in the final, losing on points himself; he was out boxed by the more experienced champion.

The heavy weight ARB saw MMA's Roman Ship taking the gold in a well measured and clinical victory.

Kettle Bell Sport?

Not something I had looked at before but this was a very popular event. The sportsmen and women chose their weighted kettle bells then for 8 minutes proceeded to see how many snatches they could perform. It was ladies first with men following; this is a truly gruelling sport of skill and strength.

Here are the results; of course there are many people to thank, but for me the people that stand out on the day....

Tom Richardson, my son, competed in all events taking two silver medals and a bronze - hardcore at just 20 years of age.

Roman Ship, who fights in MMA but rarely does mixed martial arts, doesn’t just stay safely within the confines of today’s MMA but is out there testing his skills in all formats. Congratulations on his recent European BJJ gold too.

And of course Vadim Kolganov, who made it all happen; not only did he organise the event he took part, winning two gold medals as well!

Weapons thriathlon, Masters:
1. Vadim Kolganov
2. Darrin Richardson
3. Leigh Till
4. Adam Lindhop

Weapons triathlon, Seniors:
1. Dave Allan
2. Tom Richardson
3. Steve Tang
4. Sean Moore

ARB (army hand to hand combat) - 85 kg
1. Sergie Seleznev
2. Tom Richardson
3. Dave Allan
4. Thomas McConel

ARB (army hand to hand combat) - 95 kg
1.Roman Shipovalov ( Ship)
2. Sean Moore
3. Tomas Tubelskis

Kettle bell challenge - 8 min Snatch lift, 12kg Kettlebell
1. Debbie Wilson (163 reps)
2. Laura Ramsay (122 reps)
3. Tash Walker. (117 reps)
4. Gayle Mclauchlan (111reps)

16kg Kettlebell
1. Terence McGill (90 reps)
2. Laura White (147 reps)
3. Gordon Ross (50 reps)

20kg Kettlebell
1. Vadim Kolganov (59 reps)
2. Reece Evans (135 reps)
3. Leigh Till (90 reps)
4. Tom Richardson (46 reps)

24 kg kettlebell
1. Scott Mclauchlan

Chest I Slava!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Changing times

When I was training as long ago as 25 years in 'mixed martial arts' we simply called it 'cross training'.

At the time the names in the UFC/Pride and so on came from traditional martial arts, kempo, ju jitsu and so on, same as myself and comrades.
We cross trained and added to our knowledge, adapted and evolved. We kept our values and training ethics.

With this solid foundation in fighting, these fighters and coaches went on to do great things, even as far as to change the way fighting was viewed by the masses. However, the underlying factor was good practice and learning things properly from the very start; learning to punch, to throw and basically doing a good apprenticeship. We took years to qualify with gruelling gradings and tests. We travelled 1000's of miles to meet and train, and it cost us time money and relationships.

Then came the next generation of taught fighters and people being people, the fighters often forgot their own history and viewed themselves greater than the history behind them. After few fights and few years they often opened their own schools before they had truly learnt the essence of what they taught.

For example, “We teach techniques from sambo/bjj and thai, freestyle wrestling” and so on, but the arts have not been learnt to the full.

Now there is a third generation teaching 'MMA'. The 'MMA' has changed to two fighters armed with few skills; some stand-up and boxing, double leg takedown and some BJJ; leg locks always are classed as sambo though often they've never trained in sambo at all.

I’m not so much talking of professional fighters, more the average student; the person who trains twice a week, pays his money and leaves with 3rd generation watered down technique.

The big news is MMA is not for the street folks! It can get you hurt or worse. MMA does not help against multiple opponents and does not help against surprise attacks or armed attacks.

Within Russian All-Round Fighting there are answers to this. There is a structured learning system and levels of qualification; Master grades that have to be proven. For example, for 'Master of sport' you need to be a proven champion, not is a single fight in a cage or mat but in international competition, fighting all comers at that event therefore proving that you are truly a master of your sport. No belts are sold or paid for in advance, as in some styles.

If full contact is not for you? Well it’s no problem but your training  has to reflect reality and be tested. Not right away, that would be crazy, but following a proper training program not a series of training being plucked from the air each lesson.

Think before you sign up to a school; just what is it you want to gain for yourself or your child?

Train Smart

Chest I Slava

You can contact Darrin at:

Sunday, 30 September 2012

International Association of RAF welcomes Dave Vickers

This month,

I would first like to thank and congratulate David Vickers.

Dave is quite well known and has 40 years martial arts experience. He comes from a Thai boxing background and later moved into self protection.

He expressed an interest in Russian All-Round Fighting which resulted in many conversations and a two day assessment was arranged.

Dave is a straight talking but nice guy with a good sense of humour. He arrived on the Friday night and with two hard days ahead he went to bed early.

10 am
Fisticuffs: we were on the beach early that day for lessons in Russian boxing. The moves were shown, the rain fell and after some sparring we went home for lunch.

Kick fighting wrestling: along with training with a Russian national champion Dave was able to train with English president, Leigh Till, neither of whom like the easy ride.

In total, training lasted about 6/7 hours I seem to remember.

On Sunday we looked at weapons training:
We trained with the bayonet, a stick and a knife. This was not Dave’s preferred style from the 8 RAF disciplines, but in all fairness he picked them up fast, scoring some great points.

At the end of the day we played some games using different terrain, learning to fall on uneven ground/ fight on uneven ground and many other RAF techniques.

After two days of very intensive training Dave Vickers is authorised by me along with the International Association of Russian All-Round Fighting.
Well done Dave Vickers

Chest I Slava

You can contact Darrin at:

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Try training outdoors....

This month I would like to talk with you about training …

No matter the style you train in I’m sure most of you train in doors in a gym/ sports hall or rented hall. Depending on your style striking or grappling you will be training on mats or a padded floor.

I know many reality based systems that train in such a way and chat about the imagined street conditions or traditional arts that explain what to do if you needed to do this for real.

In Russian All-Round Fighting UK we train outside all the time in all weathers. Our clothing is usual outdoor clothing: normal combat trousers (good strong and practical for hard usage) sports training shoes or boots and depending on the weather a t-shirt/hoodie or waterproof jacket.

It is of course rare you will be attacked while wearing nothing on your feet save wrestling boots or whilst wearing your martial arts uniform. If you are training for reality then perhaps clothing should be taken into consideration while you practice. There is nothing worse than having your coat pulled over your head while swinging punches!

These things need to be practiced as much as practicing a front kick.

The environment you train is a major factor. The break falls that look so graceful in the dojo, perhaps stopping if you’re at the edge of the mat or close to the wall for safety, can leave you a crumpled mess on the pavement. Perhaps It may be wise to sometimes leave the gym and venture to the car park or some open space and feel the slippery ground beneath your feet.

Kicking without shoes is very different to kicking with them on; also bare fist strikes can be as harmful to you as they are to your opponent!

In reality there may be limited space, wet ground or the sun in your face. There are so many things that can’t be done or replicated in your gym; imagination is not and never will replace the real thing.

Russian All-Round Fighting was first and foremost to defend oneself.  The eight sporting disciplines came from testing the elements in the system as far as we safely could. Maxim Shutanov, the world president, has from this very idea developed an international system and sport that can be enjoyed by people of all levels.
Just a thought -  take a day out with your students or training partners and try MMA on the curb side or high kicks on the wet grass.

I will leave you with this video of RAF storm fighting at the recent Russian championships, my son is in RED. The idea is simple: Seven times 20 second fast and furious rounds. You can win with knock out, submission or kicking the opponent in the head while standing. This is as close to real fighting as I have seen. I am sure some will look and mention lack of skill or clean technique? But please bear in mind this is real and training for real combat.

Chest I Slava

Friday, 29 June 2012

Hello and Welcome...

Hi Everyone,

I am happy to say I was invited here to write a blog; it is an honour for me to write my thoughts and for you sportsmen and women to read them.

First I will run through things I have trained in, some to lesser or greater extent. I should add I have been active for 38 years, I am now aged 46.
I began in a type of karate/kung fu called Kong Chang in the 70’s. I then trained in Japanese ju-jitsu and kick boxing.

After a time I joined the then radical and free thinking BCA (British Combat Association). I still have lots to thank them for all these years later. That must have been 20 years ago. Through the BCA I trained in so many styles and met some of the best people involved in those days also I met some of the worst to be honest!

I was indeed lucky to attend a seminar with Vadim Kolganov in Russian Sambo; this was my introduction to Russian Martial arts. I trained with Vadim for many years (he is now my best and closest friend). I was also introduced to Matt Clempner of the federation of Russian Martial Arts here in the UK.

Before I knew where I was I found myself in Russia training and competing. I then entered a time when I fought in all I could. I got to travel to 27 countries winning and losing many fights. I gained lots of knowledge through this. I didn’t keep a count of how many fights I had as there were too many.

Over time I found the RAF (Russian All-Round Fighting). I first saw clips on YouTube and I liked the style from the first. I found contact details and wrote to them. Over a period of time and training my son, Tom, and I gained the Rank of Master of Sport in RAF. We fought in the championships in Moscow resulting in Tom winning his weight.

My involvement in RAF has lead me to teach seminars in Russia, USA and the UK and I have the honour of being awarded Honoured Coach of RAF.
I now spend 1 to 2 hours a day training in RAF and helping spread this remarkable system across the world.

It will be a pleasure to reveal more about the system along with other experiences I have had with the best and worst of Martial arts in the coming editions.

Chest I Slava