ASHLEY GARD

A former member of the Royal Australian Corp of Military Police, Ashley has over 20 years experience within the law enforcement and security industries. Specialising in personal protection, Ashley has provided protection services to some of the most high profile celebrities, personalities and organisations in the world.  Teaching people how to protect themselves and others for almost two decades, Ashley is dedicated to bringing the best defensive tactics solutions to every sector of the community providing real skills that will save lives.

Aside from teaching physical training, Ash spends the majority of his time going into corporate workplaces assessing, developing and conducting training packages on conversation management, use of force, situational awareness and other topics designed to make staff as skilled as possible when dealing with potentially aggressive situations and everyday conflicts.

1. What were your first impressions of Krav Maga?
No uniforms, no bowing, no tough guys with egos. And that’s before training began. I originally came from a traditional martial arts back ground and at first I made the mistake of expecting Krav Maga, like most martial systems, to be very structured and everyone to be dressed in some kind of matching outfit. Krav Maga does have a uniform however you are encouraged to wear everyday clothing so that you learn any restrictions that your clothes may have. And its true, you don’t see anyone walking down the street in a bright white martial arts Gi, so I was happy to adopt the same mentality.

In the Asian arts bowing is a greeting and sign of respect for your fellow students and instructor which was born from the culture that those arts came from and is still customary in Asian countries today. However, I really appreciated that my instructors (Dennis and Duncan Pattle) took the time to shake my hand and welcome me into the class. I felt welcomed but still a little apprehensive of the unknown. Even today as an instructor I feel rewarded if students approach me after class and shake my hand as they leave, it says, thanks mate, I enjoyed that lesson, see you next session.

2. What were your initial impressions of the training?

Confronting, I think is the word that looking back describes my first impression of Krav Maga. Because of that I think it is a certain type of person that sticks to Krav and continues to train. You will have your discomforts exposed, like someone grabbing you around the throat, or as my wife found out on her first night 6-10 big lads holding her to the floor while she fought to her feet. I found that techniques I thought I knew and had trained in for years, just didn’t work. Talk about a knock to the ego but again it takes a certain type of person to continue in Krav Maga.

Then there is the cardio. Oh my god, that to me was when my ego got a big check. When I first looked around the room I underestimated everyone. They looked like a bunch of white collar joes that couldn’t throw a punch. BAM I got knocked to the floor by a weedy looking guy with a massive punch and these guys were smashing pads for three minutes flat out without even hurting. I remember vividly that at the 45 second mark I was done.

What amazed me the most was how everything was explained. Previous systems I had been involved with simply stated that you will do it like this because that is what I have been taught, but Krav invites questions and explanations as it helps the student grasp the concept. Once the mind understands why, the body will just do it, thus reducing the amount of time required to become proficient.

3. How long have you been training in Krav Maga?
I initially trained in Krav Maga in 2002 and then got serious about it and began training with my wife Anna and good mate Cookie early 2004 in Brisbane with Dennis and Duncan Pattle. We trained two or three times a week. As Cookie and I were in the Military Police together often we found it hard to get to training due to work commitments so the three of us often found ourselves in Dennis’ garage doing personal training for 3 hours on a Saturday morning.

After a few years of training Anna was asked by Dennis and Duncan if she would like to do the Krav Maga instructors course. I said “what about me?” and Dennis, with his normal dry sense of humor, told me that I need to improve my technique before he would recommend me however, Anna is good to go now because she listens and doesn’t just smash stuff.

Needless to say I worked my butt off and Anna and I both attended the Instructor course in 2007. Together we formed Krav Maga Self Defence Solutions and began training on the Gold Coast and soon after also in Brisbane and haven’t looked back since.

4. What other experience do you bring to Krav Maga?
I am the Director of BGI Security Solutions, a Security provider specialising in close personal protection, security event management, asset protection and marine security. I have over 15 years experience working in the Security, Military and Military Police sectors where I have gained significant experience dealing with aggressive and violent people. I am qualified as a close personal protection operative in the Australian Army and have protected various artists, performers, dignitaries, business people and victims of violent crime in many locations around the world.

5. Have you trained in any other combative systems/martial arts type systems?
I had my first lesson in Goju Ryu Karate in 1990 but found that my interest in playing rugby union at that time was a stronger motivator so had a break and started karate again in 1995 while attending University at Otago University in Dunedin New Zealand. I trained in karate for a further few years (7 all up) during which time I attended a civilian European military close quarter combat course through the Todd Group operating out of the School of Self Defence in Dunedin. I went in thinking that I was pretty good and I got flogged. In fact I had never spent so much time on my butt in my life. It made me realize that no matter how good you think you are at something there are a million people better than you, so don’t underestimate. I started training constantly with Tank Todd from the Todd Group before leaving New Zealand.

When I moved to Australia I qualified as a security officer and went through some basic defensive tactics on the course but it was years of bouncing and working as part of the first violence response team at Stadium Australia in Sydney that showed me what really worked and how to deal with violence (e.g. The Bulldog Army).

I joined the Australian Army in 2001 and continued to work security in my holidays. The army exposed me to some fantastic training with weapons and empty hands including tactics for dealing with prisoners of war. When I joined the Military Police I underwent basic arrest techniques and during my service was fortunate enough to be one of the instructors for riot control and defensive tactics where my role was to assist in teaching infantry units how to deal with large aggressive crowds and civil unrest.

I have also trained in other various arts such as Aikaido, with the attitude that how can I stand by Krav Maga as a great system unless I understand the basic principles of other martial arts and self defence systems.


6. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start Krav Maga?

Its self defence!!! You will be put out of your comfort zone, that’s the point. Your training should be self paced, and your instructors should be compassionate to your needs. This requires communication on your behalf to express any concerns or situations that you feel uncomfortable with.

A lot of people that come through the door have experienced something that made them feel helpless and they come to us looking for answers. But say you have been mugged at knife point and then your first class is exactly that scenario, understandably you will freak out.

Conversely you may be coming for a specific answer but the first class doesn’t give you the answer and you feel disappointed. Either way your Krav experience has left you overwhelmed or disappointed, but like anything you have to put the time in to reap the rewards.

Krav is not easy. Yes the techniques are easy, but the training is challenging and that’s what you should get in a self defence system if you are training for violent confrontation. It’s far better to be out of your comfort zone in a safe and controlled environment than get a shock when violence finds you on the street and freeze instead of act.

7. What are your goals for Krav Maga?
My goals are to raise the professional profile of Krav Maga and reach out to people who can benefit from the outcomes of training such as confidence, assertiveness and composure. We specialise in overall preparedness for any situation whether it be violence on the street, harassment at work or just closing a business deal.

I found that the greatest benefit that I have received from my Krav Maga / Self defence training is my ability to operate confidently and safely in my workplace. Considering the contrast of my school days when I would get nervous just being asked to read a book in front of the class. Now I speak in front of hundreds of people and I don’t feel intimidated. I can deal with aggressive people while remaining calm because I know that I can deal with the worst case scenario. Krav is not just about self defence but confidence to do what ever you want to do in every day life. I believe that many people go through life without that sense of confidence or self esteem to achieve goals and more importantly deal with failure so they can learn and move forward. As such my goal in Krav is to give people that confidence to live life.

Krav Maga Civilian Instructor Course 2007
Krav Maga Kids Instructor Course 2008

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