with Danny Wallace, instructor at The Colleseum in Leigh
- by Widge Milward.
Widge : Danny can you tell me a bit about yourself
and your background in martial arts?
Wallace : What can I tell you? This is going
to take you a long time taping this yÕknow because I'll
just talk a load of bollocks through it all. Ok, I started,
I mean like most kids and that I went through all the
various sports trying this and trying that and none of
them really answered what I was looking for, none of them
gave me what I was looking for in a sport. Then I met
Danny Rushton and we started going to the gym, he was
already doing martial arts and I was just going to the
gym. He asked me to come and have a go at this, so I said
OK, I think ive always fancied martial arts in some form
or other, no specific style ever particularly appealed
to me. I think I was just waiting for somebody to ask
me to go along with them so the first person that asked
me to go along to a class I went and ive trained ever
: Who were your early influences in martial arts?
Wallace : Well, I think ever since I was a
kid I have always had a level of respect for martial arts.
If anybody ever said they did martial arts I was always
interested. You know kids at school or what ever; I was
always taken by it. When I actually got going in martial
arts I read all the magazines, all the books and everything.
People like Terry OÕNeillÕs name props up. Who else was
about when I first started? I donÕt know anybody really;
everybody who was involved was of interested. Everything
interested me. I wasnÕt like a Bruce Lee clone or anything;
I was always taken by it all. It all impressed me. In
the early days everything in martial arts impressed me.
YouÕd ask me to do anything and I would think it was great.
: When you were younger did you compete much?
Wallace : I havenÕt done much competition circuit,
the reason for that was, because when I got the hunger
to compete I was still training kickboxing and karate
and stuff. There werenÕt the open martial arts circuits
we have now, it wasnÕt available then. So rightly or wrongly
I went into door work. Which, for the few years I did
that, gave me what I was looking for from competition.
It wasnÕt really the right environment to do it in but
I think you reach that point in your life where you do
want to compete and test yourself. For me the fight circuit
wasnÕt available so I turned to door work. That gave me
the challenges what I was looking for. After I did that
for a few years it satisfied all my needs so I was no
longer, I had no hunger to compete, going back however
many years it was that hunger was very strong and I was
looking for somewhere to feed that hunger. Which is why
when anybody comes onto the competition circuit from the
Collesseum and their competing and doing great, they cool
off and are suddenly not bothered anymore, I appreciate
that because ive been there and I know what they mean.
The fact that you might be really, really dying to get
in the ring and have a go with someone doesnÕt mean that
five years down the line you will still feel the same.
Danny Rushton no longer competes because he seems to be
satisfied with himself and thatÕs fine.
: So what actually got you started in MMA? And what made
you start up the colosseum?
Danny Wallace : Erm,
I mean the original style I started doing was shukokai
karate, was my official original style. Although it was
taught by Dennis McColgan who gave it a somewhat of a
Scottish taint shall we say. So I started of as a stand-up
type fighter yÕknow karate, kickboxing type stuff. But
I think I always had a natural leaning towards grappling.
So I think I was a natural grappler doing stand-up. So
I had the natural feelings towards it so it just seemed
the obvious progression. The obvious thing to be doing,
After youÕve done four or five years of karate I went
doing other stuff as well, but your level of development
slows down a lot if your still doing stand up arts. So
my next flood of interest was on groundwork. It was possibly
the time when the UFC came around as well. So we seen
the first couple of UFCÕs and we was like, "right then
whereÕs the nearest ju jitsu club" we went down, but me
and Danny Rushton was teaching ourselves anyway. So we
had a free reign and we just started doing stuff you know?,
we started bringing in submissions weÕd watch a submission
on a UFC, yÕknow, re wind it, see how they done it, try
it on each other, then discuss it, see how it hurt, see
when it hurt and tried to teach it.
when it was originally being taught in class it wasnÕt
like, we are now doing submissions as well. But we said
do you normal kickboxing sparring but if you go to the
floor, have a mess about and see where it goes. DonÕt
just stand straight back up; wait till you get a submission
or till you get to a negative point where nothing is happening.
So it was just a natural progression.
we had been doing stand-up martial arts for a while and
none of the associations available to us satisfied our
needs so we joined the British Combat Association, which
is Geoff Thompson and Peter Constantine. One because we
didnÕt have a direction, where to go or what we wanted
to do. So we got involved with them because they presented
people with directions. It wasnÕt so much that Geoff and
Peter would give you the directions but they would bring
in people to the club, like Neil Adams, Rick Young and
the other one was Lee Hasdell.
Lee came down and did a seminar, me and Danny Rushton
were there and we thought, yeah thatÕs what we want to
do, and being involved with Geoff and Peter because it
was just brilliant yÕknow. That was excellent, they presented
us with Lee Hasdell who showed us what he did and that
gave us the direction what we were looking for. From there
we got involved with Lee and Total Fight Forum and then
we were involved with MMA properly.
: What do you think of the UK MMA scene at the moment?
Wallace : I think itÕs still very small. I
think its still the same people and the handful of clubs,
and we still have the traditional martial arts doing all
their traditional stuff pretending this isnÕt happening,
its just not grown to the extent it should. We have the
people just doing karate, just kung fu, just ju jitsu
and still just doing their style. They have just stayed
within their style, their area, they havenÕt moved on,
their still, yÕknow they havenÕt moved on at all.
: How do you think the UK scene can be improved?
Wallace : I donÕt know, because the problem
is all the traditionalists their ignoring it, thinking
it isnÕt happening, their all standing there, their all
saying they can do this and the other in all the magazines
but, staying within their own clubs and their not prepared
to put their style on the line.
: What fighters on the UK circuit do you rate or even
like to watch?
Wallace : Mark Weir is brilliant, Michael Johnson
is brilliant, and I like to watch any of the fighters
I know, because with it being such a small circuit you
get to know a lot of them. So there are people like Andy
Cooper, I like watching Andy and seeing him do well. Anyone
really. Its still so small so its good to watch any of
them really but there is a couple of the guys there that
are really special and their doing very well.
: Do you think any of the fighters in the UK are good
enough to test their skills in some of the larger MMA
events abroad in the US for example?
Wallace : Mark weir and Michael Johnson again,
Erm, they spring to mind, there is a couple of the big
lads now coming through. Jon Thorpe's doing well. I donÕt
wanna upset anybody by leaving them out or anything but
I donÕt remember any to well * laughs *
: You're one of the coachÕs at the colosseum, what attributes
do you think makes a good coach? A coach?
Wallace : Errm, he doesnÕt necessarily have
to be the best fighter in the club, but it helpÕs if he
is pretty near, he has to be good within himself. Plenty
of good coaches donÕt fight to well though. He has to
be able to learn quickly and easily and has to understand
what works for one guy and what works for another. He
has to see the strengths in a fighter and the weaknessÕ,
what they should be doing well and wheat they should be
avoiding. So when they get into a fight they will be using
the right tools for the job.
: So whatÕs next for Danny Wallace and the fighters at
the Colosseum in the upcoming year?
Wallace : For me, I'll just carry on training
and enjoying myself. I'm not looking for anything more,
I've done what I wanted to do in regards to fighting,
I'm very content within myself so thereÕs nothing there
for me. I'm quite happy helping, training anyone that
comes along. The lads in the club, if they want to fight
, I'll do everything I can to help them fight. If they
donÕt want to fight and just want to come and train thatÕs
fine too. I've got a very easy approach on it. I ain't
bothered what they do. If they want to train and they
want to go places like Holland and Russia I'll do everything
in my power to help them. If not thatÕs fine by me.
: Thanx for the interview Danny
Wallace : Thank you,
interview was originally taken in August 2001 - and posted
on SFUK 14 February 2002