Cartwheel Youth & Community Centre - Temperence Building, Huddersfield Rd,, Elland, Nr Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX5 9DW.
Mike Wray has been training in the martial arts since the age of 6. Now at the age of 47 he has amassed a wealth of knowledge gaining black belt or coach/instructor in many arts, with many of the worlds best!
Mike’s path into the martial arts began like many in a local community centre learning Shotokan Karate under his uncle, himself a lifelong martial artist 7th dan Shotokan 3rd dan Aikido (Chief instructor Sensei Enoieda), and professional bodyguard Les Charlesworth.
Disillusioned and much to the dismay of his uncle (even to this day!) with the street application of Karate, At 15 Mike chose follow a different path and studied the art of Thai Boxing under Master Sken and has continued to practise this wonderful art to present day.
After working the doors in Corfu Mike then moved back to UK and resided in Newcastle Upon Tyne, where he met his mentor John Atkin ( 5th Dan Ninjitsu and BCA Senior Instructor) John was an amazing influence on Mike introducing him to not only the world of ground fighting but the very real street fighting techniques of Geoff Thompson and Peter Consterdines revolutionary British Combat Association. Himself becoming a BCA Instructor.
John and Mike also worked together on the Newcastle doors for many years putting into practise many of the techniques and theories of this at the time state of the art association.
After watching the very first UFC Mike then decided to study Vale Tudo training under Lee Hasdell while at the same time practising Judo under Stevie Makin 3rd Dan and Wing Chun under Stuart Proctor and western boxing under Jimmy McClarence (sparring partner for Sugar Ray Robinson) this was at a time in martial arts when many instructors ( the open minded one’s) were swapping trades and also at the same time Mike opened his first fulltime academy. Pheonix MMA. Later to become Team Pheonix.
At this time Mike was writing a regular column for MAI on the topic of urban street defence, also doing some TV work with Channel 4.
During a training session with lifelong friend Bob Sykes (owner and editor of Martial Arts Illustrated) and his brother Tony also two formidable martial artists. Mike met two more individuals that were about to take his career to another level. Those two individuals were Karl Tanswell of SBG, for some the best MMA Coach in the UK and Mr Andy “Stormin” Norman.
Under these two legends of the arts Mike level rocketed becoming an instructor for both. Also gaining his Machado Brazilian Jujitsu belt under Chris Hauter. Andy at the time was teaching the revolutionary Keysi Fighting Method. Under these two pioneering individuals Mike had the opportunity to train with some of the best martial artists on the planet.
A change in circumstances took Mike to Bulgaria. Where he emigrated for 12 years. In Bulgaria he taught the Border Police and run a 5 acre farm. Very different from the life he was used to.
Mike returned to the UK late 2015, saw what Andy Norman was doing with Defence Lab(in his opinion the most state of the art street defence system in the world!) and immediately got involved becoming Lead Instructor, opening his second fulltime academy Defence Lab Hx.
Lastly alongside his martial art career and over 25yrs on the doors Mike has also been a bodyguard for 28 yrs looking after many dignitaries and celebrities.
The future for Mike is to continue to study the DNA Fight system and to build his school to its full potential and change many lives for the better, following not only the martial side of Defence Lab but also and more importantly the principles and philosophies for becoming a better human being!
Cartwheel Youth & Community Centre - Temperence Building
Elland, Nr Halifax