Interview with Matthew Evans from Martial Arts Illustrated Magazine.

Bob Sykes: Matthew could you tell me just how you got involved in the martial arts, and who was your first instructor?

Matthew Evans: It was my uncle Gary, who got me involved in martial arts, he wanted to go to Geoff's club and asked me to go with him. Geoff was my first instructor.

Bob Sykes: What were your first impressions of Geoff, and how do you view him as an instructor today?

Matthew Evans: I remember thinking what an awesome presence Geoff has and how welcome he made me feel. Geoff has an aura about him and as far as instructors go I don't think I could have a better one then Geoff. It's a privilege to be one of his students, its not just the way Geoff teaches self-defence but also the way he views life and being a good person. This is the most important thing I learn from Geoff.

Bob Sykes: What other styles of martial arts have you studied?

Matthew Evans: The first style I trained in was karate. I also studied in boxing, Free-style wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling and Ju-Jitsu.

At the moment I am trying to put a lot of time in to Judo and I hope to do the same with Thai boxing.

Bob Sykes: Does Geoff encourage this cross training, if so in what ways does he help?

Matthew Evans: Since I started at Geoff's club he has always encouraged cross training. I think Geoff had a lot to do with bringing the cross training into the martial arts in England. Geoff has helped me in cross training by getting me to train with other great martial artists Wayne Lakin, Glenn smith, Neil Adams, Dave Turnton. To name a few this has helped me to learn all the fighting ranges. Geoff gives us advice on what systems would be useful to us, usually systems that he is studying himself, but he always leaves us to choose what we want to do and will always support us with what we do.

Bob Sykes: Can it at times be confusing learning between four and five systems at one time?

Matthew Evans: No not really. I find most systems compliment each other. If you're learning punching one session and then grappling the next you're not really going to be confused. I must admit that I do forget the names to some techniques.

Bob Sykes: I hear that you come from what many people would describe as a rough neighbourhood. How has this influenced the way in which you view your life?

Matthew Evans: Willenhall is not as rough as it used to be. It has calmed down a lot this may have something to do with the police station they have built there. Coming from Willenhall has influenced the way I view my life, it has helped me see the way I don't want to turn out. I'm not saying that Willenhall is full of bad people; there are some great people in my neighbourhood. I have learnt more from seeing both good and bad sides of people.

Bob Sykes: What experience have you had of bullying?

Matthew Evans: When I was younger I was teased for being overweight, this always made me want to do something physical, but I've been lucky as I've never been bullied before. I think this was because I had an older brother who was handy so I got no older lads picking on me.

Bob Sykes: For twenty-one you strike me as being a very deep and thoughtful individual who obviously sees the futility of violence. How does preaching a non-violent message go down in an area such as yours?

Matthew Evans: I believe in preaching a non-violent message. I think everyone should try to make the world a more peaceful place, especially in areas like Willenhall. This is where the message needs to be preached. I will always try to make people see things from a different point of view. I will not be offended if they don't want to listen, as it's their choice.

Bob Sykes: I hear your brother trains too, could you tell me a little about him?

Matthew Evans: My brother Lea is awesome. He's a real heavy hitter and likes to use his wrestling a lot, his grappling is at a real good level, he likes to ground and pound. Lea is also a really great person. I have learnt so much from him and we get on so well and I love him so much. I could not ask for a better brother.

Bob Sykes: Prior to this interview, I spent a few long minutes on the mat with Justin Gray, and he's a monster. How do you manage to go up against him twice daily?

Matthew Evans: Justin is awesome as well; he was actually my training partner for my recent fight. When you train with someone as good as Justin twice a day everyday, anything else is a welcome change. Justin is also a heavy hitter and his grappling is at a real good level. He is always hard work and I learn so much from him. I see Justin as a real close friend. When you train so much with someone it brings you close together.

Bob Sykes: How would you define spirituality within the martial arts?

Matthew Evans: I think with training so physically in the martial arts the mental side comes with it. At first when I trained I wanted to learn how to handle myself but now I want to learn the spiritual side, to become a better person and to help other people. I hope I never have to fight again. I've done all my fighting in the gym.

Bob Sykes: And what about the future, where do you feel its pulling you?

Matthew Evans: At the moment I am not sure what the future holds. I'm deciding whether to carry on competing or considering going into the seminars and doing more teaching. I'm in no rush to make any decisions and I'm really happy at the moment.

I have a great life with a great family who I love. I have great friends, especially Geoff, so I am confident my future will be fine whichever way I go.