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Trevor Roberts Iron Man of Bolton
Trevor Roberts

Carl Fisher corners the ‘Iron Man’ of Applied Ju Jitsu for a long awaited second interview

trevor roberts

What will you be teaching today Trevor?

Trevor Roberts : Self defence Ju Jitsu - there is some quality teaching going on here today; as we are sat down here there is Matthew Clempner teaching Greco-Roman, Steve Crutchley teaching Kali and grappling, Alan Carlisle will be on later teaching Judo and Steve Barnet has travelled over from Harrogate to watch and show a few Ju Jitsu techniques, so it’s going to be a really good day for the students.

What are your thoughts on Greco-Roman Trevor, as there doesn’t seem to be a lot of it about in the UK?

Trevor Roberts : I have only seen it from afar, but I think it’s a tremendous power sport and there should be more of it in this country and I don’t know why the Olympic Wrestling Association don’t take it on board as there are medals to be won in the Olympics and it looks like a great sport to me.

Is grappling still enjoying resurgence in the UK?

Yes I think it is very healthy with many people getting involved, but things go around in circles, I mean one time kicking’s in vogue, then it’s punching and so on; grappling however is a vital part of anybody’s make up in martial arts and has to be taken on board seriously and anyone who touches on this area are robbing themselves of a lot of techniques and skills.

Has the level and intensity of training changed a lot over the years?

Trevor Roberts : Personally I have slowed down a lot as I get older and I get aches and pains that I never had ten years ago. I don’t know if it was a good thing but back in the early days I had people spewing up at the ends of the mats; I don’t do that nowadays, just have a good sensible warm up and get down to business. It was a macho thing back then with older guys; we tried to keep up with the press ups and sit ups and running on the spot and all that and inevitably we threw up - today I think that people will learn more if they are comfortable in the environment they are working in, so I am training with a more intelligent outlook these days.

What’s your views on the bad press that crops up from time to time regarding MMA?

Trevor Roberts : People are always going to wonder ‘would this work’, ‘would that work’ and the only way they can really find out is to go out and have fights on the street and go and work on the door or compete. These days however, you are limited to what you can do on the doors; in the past and speaking with thirty-three years experience on the doors, I have got away with a lot of things in the past that you wouldn’t get away with today. If it’s done right and with safety and integrity of the competitors in mind then yes it’s a good thing - if it’s done with a lot of hype and sensationalism and the lads are getting hurt then it’s a bad thing. The martial arts magazines are coming forward but the national press are way behind. In 1984 I went over to Canada to compete in the World Championships we were told we could not do full contact martial arts in Ontario, yet they could do professional boxing and they hit harder than we do so why couldn’t we do our sport - I could not see the sense in that myself as we weren’t hitting as hard as a pro boxer hits although we could get a good dig in, but the martial arts is surrounded by a lot of bullshit unfortunately. UFC, NHB, yeah it’s awesome but you watch the average fight in one of these formats and they don’t last longer than five minutes, the referee is there to stop the fight and are looking out for the fighters so I am all for it.

You were doing this type of fighting years before they coined the MMA phrase?

Trevor Roberts : Yes I was but I’ll tell you who really opened my eyes to this type of fighting; Jack McKeown, an old friend of mine was doing Thai and Ju jitsu twenty odd years ago and I was asked to go and teach for Jack, and I kept my wrestling and ju jitsu separate, but when I saw what he was doing I thought it was bloody good and to this day I think that Thai and Ju jitsu is an excellent mix and Jack did very well with it. We also had Jimmy Godridge who did the Western Boxing and my ju jitsu has a bit of everything in it; catch as catch can, Sambo, Thai, street elements, Su Wong Qu which was Chinese boxing that I picked up from Wong in Salford.

How’s the business side of things progressing Trevor?

Trevor Roberts : It’s doing very well at the present Carl, we are expanding and gaining a few more doors along the way and we are starting a new door next week so I will be there at the beginning like I always do to get the feel of it and put a bit of a stamp on it, let them know whose door it is. I am also trying to expand the static side so we are taking on board a salesman and we want to progress with the keyholding as well.

Do you ever feel fear Trevor on the doors?

Trevor Roberts : The last time I was scared in a street fight was years ago when I had a fight with Jack Heywood, a big pro boxer and I destroyed him and I haven’t been really bothered since then. I think I have become de-sensitised to a certain degree because I have been doing it so bloody long - I was more nervous competing you know; butterflies in the stomach, I had bloody fruit bats in mine before I entered. You were sat there all day, waiting to go on and fight within rules; on the street you go and do it, bang, it’s over before you know it.

What would you be doing if you were not involved in Ju jitsu?

Trevor Roberts : I’d have been a gigolo! I am sure there’s a niche for small fat gigolos somewhere

What are your goals for the future Trevor?

Trevor Roberts : I would like to set up Applied Ju jitsu as a limited company and ensure financial rewards to the people who have stayed and been loyal to me and to myself as well. I would like to bring ju jitsu to the masses and in a way that does not intimidate people, an atmosphere of friendship and relaxation.

What do you think turns women away from ju jitsu?

Trevor Roberts : They come along and see big sweaty fellows like us slamming and throwing all over the place and I puts them off. It needs to be tailor made for women - it’s a bespoke self-defence system and has to be done within their abilities. There’s no point someone trying to teach me to kick to the head - I need to stand on an orange box first - it has to be tailored.

What are your thoughts on training holidays?

Trevor Roberts : Fantastic they really are - we used to travel down to IBF summer camps every year and had some fantastic weeks training. I really miss it, I phoned Martin Clarke to see if he would re start them but unfortunately he has got something else going with Pro wrestling which is a shame. The benefits are amazing as you are training intensely all the time and you meet so many people from other clubs and make many long lasting friendships - even as an instructor your skill levels improve over the week.

Have the lessons you have learned in martial arts spilled over into your personal life and vice versa?

Trevor Roberts : Without a doubt Carl and I think it’s very hard to separate them these days - its become a way of life and you tend to look at things through the opinions developed through the martial arts, so everything blends in these days. I apply it to the business and in everything I do; there’s a book called Hagekure and is a collection of writings by Sunatumo a scribe for a Samurai clan and one of the things written in there was a saying that said ‘most important moment in your life is the one you are living in right now’ - you have to live the moment you are in now and that’s a fantastic philosophy and if you live that way then you will get somewhere in life and achieve many things. You have to have discipline in your life and I have to feel that I am right in what I do before I do it - I won’t hurt someone weaker than myself as I could not live with myself.

Has the street changed much over the years?

Trevor Roberts : It’s more gang orientated these days, and if you take someone out of a club more often than not you’ve got his mates to contend with as well, and they don’t think twice about picking a bottle up as well. I think these alcopops are one of the worst things to come along in years; everyone’s drinking them and they all drink from the bottle and have a ready made tool in their hand, very dangerous. On Bank Street at Christmas there were nearly fifty people throwing bottles all over the place and how anyone didn’t lose an eye or more was a miracle.

Final words from the Iron Man?

Trevor Roberts : If you are just starting out in martial arts, then get a reputable instructor who is not going to fill your head full of bullshit - if they are teaching competition get some who competes and with street get someone who’s been on the doors. Get an instructor who isn’t going to get you ten years inside and I wish you all the best and God bless.

Thanks Trevor for another top interview

My pleasure, I really enjoyed that

Trevor Roberts : To arrange seminars and to train with Trevor call 07989 879943 or 07748 900334 or e mail

by Carl Fisher - "the European voice of MMA news" 10 May 2001



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