‘I can teach you to help yourself’

Colin Lee Berry is teaching self-defence in Hemel Hempstead.
Colin Lee Berry is teaching self-defence in Hemel Hempstead.
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A self-defence teacher who was called in by worried parents after a teenage girl was attacked in Berkhamsted has now launched a class for everyone.

Colin Lee Berry, who has trained London police officers, doormen and A&E nurses, showed young girls how to handle themselves after a schoolgirl was grabbed by a man as she made her way home in 2011.

Luckily she escaped by hitting the pervert with her lacrosse stick – a course of action Colin said was perfectly right. “Use whatever you’ve got,” he says.

“As soon as that happened it got parents thinking.

“Every parent wants to know that their kid can do a little bit if they need to do it.

“It’s a bit of piece of mind for a parent to know that they know something to handle themselves.”

Since then Colin has taught in schools across Dacorum and the personal trainer to the stars – he puts former footballer Jamie Rednapp and his wife Louise through their paces up to four times a week – wants to bring the art of self-defence to the masses minus the intimidating tag that some martial arts disciplines have picked up.

“It’s an intimidating subject but there’s no reason for it to be intimidating in the class,” he said. “I teach a guy in his 60s who has never done anything before, I have older women do it, kids at schools.

“I train a whole family in their living room – but we close the curtains. It’s just trying to open it up to everyone.”

The 32-year-old believes the first rule of self defence is learning to be aware of what is around you.

“The best part of self defence is observation and awareness,” he says. “Sometimes you can avoid a situation. Some people don’t think about the way they walk home, but if they did they could avoid a mugging.”

He believes that everyone can benefit from some training. “Everyone really needs a bit, even if it’s for just walking to your car or on a night out.

“Sometimes even though you’re not looking for trouble it comes to you.

“Sometimes it is the nicest people that get attacked. They are seen as vulnerable, those are the peole who are picked on.”

Colin has been a personal trainer for 12 years and has been teaching a wide range of self-defence since 2007.

He started his own business in 2009 and launched a class at Warners End Community Centre late last year.

“I ended up going my own way because when you teach a system that someone else has put together you feel quite restricted,” he said.

“I wanted to teach my own thing. It constantly evolves rather than having a system that stays stuck.”

Classes at Warners End Community Centre, held on Thursdays from 11am to midday, cost £10 and newcomers get to try out a class for free. To find out more contact Colin on 07919 350290.