From Working in a Warehouse to DL Instructor with 140 Students in 24 Months!


Defence  Lab

The Story of How a Guy Went From working in a Warehouse to Living His Dreams by Teaching Martial  Arts

I hear it all the time- there is no money in teaching  martial arts, yet those in Defence Lab know  this simply is not true.  Then you get the others who say “the only people who make a great living in martial arts training teach kick boxing”.

Again those involved in Defence Lab Know this isn’t the case.

However, as much as we know the truth sometimes we need to show people that with the right product,  the right processes and of course a lot of hard work you can earn a good living teaching not just martial arts but self defence. Imagine that, teaching people how to keep themselves safe could actually be a career!!

​So this week the Shape Shifter team went on tour and travelled up to see a man that has changed not just his life but also the lives of his students.

Mikey Wright is the lead instructor at Defence Lab Leicester and today you will learn how he went from working in a warehouse to having 140 Defence Lab students in just 24 months. This is a true story and you will also learn how you can  achieve the same level of success.

DL Leicester- Its like Being In Enter the Dragon! 

​It was Tuesday when the Shape Shifter team departed for Leicester, I have to say I was looking forward to catching up with Mikey’s team because having met them before they are seriously motivated and fun to be  around.

I actually got through the traffic and arrived at about 6.45pm and managed to catch Mikey Wright teaching his  DL Kidz clas. Here was my fist glimpse of  the professionalism that makes not just Mikey but Defence Lab stand out. I walked into the door of not a dojo,  but a school hall​ and see 20 children all lined up, they then go through a range of striking drills and DL shapes that would put adults to shame, all  the time Mikey was buzzing. His energy was amazing, the kids were having fun whilst learning a great system of self defence. Parents were all watching too and this was half term week and I know afterwards that it was a quiet session compared to normal.

I was really impressed from the approach of Mikey Wright but what happened next after the class  just made my jaw drop.  

The adults class was due to start at 7.30pm and Mikey told me that it would be busy. I’m usually quite reserved about this as busy to most would be about 15 to 20 students. ​Then it started to happen………..

Students started to arrive, and they arrived fast. All kitted out in their Defence Lab black  and green clothes and they were of all  ages. We had men and women, a family of 4​, and a group of young girls, 18 year old lads along with 40 year old men and women.

The sheer variety of people coming through the door  was overwhelming, then what hit me was the sheer atmosphere. People were just wandering around the room saying “hi” to people they knew and those they didn’t. ​New students were welcomed like old friends and people really seemed to be buzzing. But it didn’t stop! More and more people just kept flooding through the door and at one point it seemed like we were going to  run out  of space! I later learned that this is the second venue for the Lab as  they outgrew their last one.

​Mikey got the class to stand in line for the salute and suddenly I  was beamed into  the famous Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon. Line after line of students all ready to train, I was waiting to hear someone shout ‘Bolo’.  Look at the photo above and you will see exactly what I saw.

The Class​

The class began and and I was treated to a DL self defence spectacular and Mikeys Team of Instructors helped me to train. It really was a great session, Mikey Wright is a very talented martial artist and a great instructor. However it was afterwards that was truly magical.

The class were so happy they just had smiles ear to ear. I mean these are people  who just had a tough session yet they were all happy and almost elated!! The whole class atmosphere was amazing and people went  around the room  thanking each other for a great session.​ People come to Defence Lab to be part of something and you totally saw this in action here.

But just who is Mikey Wright? And how has he developed such a class. ​ I assure you this story will blow you away

Mikey Wright The Man the Teacher​

​I was keen to speak to Mikey to learn more about him and we sat down after the class to discuss things.

 I soon learned that Just over 2 years ago Mikey Wright was a part time martial arts instructor with a handful of students and working in a factory. Then a chance meeting with Andy Norman at Seni changed his life. Mikey  went on to  tell me:

 I was first introduced to Andy Norman and what was then KFM by my close friend Anthony Pillage, whilst I was teaching at Anthony’s spiritual warrior martial arts academy in Coventry. I was invited to Malvern to attend a seminar with Andy and Paul Strauther.
On first impressions I was blown away by Andy and Paul’s ability and movement I had never seen anything like it before! I was also intrigued by the obvious comaraderie amongst the senior guys, needless to say I was instantly hooked, and I have to say very intrigued….

Not long after the seminar I was asked to help Anthony run his stand at SENI 2012 as he was responsible for organising and running the seminars over the two days. It was at SENI that I was fortunate to spend more time with Andy and i vividly remember him asking me the question, “what’s your direction Mikey?” My response, no idea!! “I’ll be in touch” he said, and the rest… Well as they say is history!

Over the following months Andy kept in touch and at the same time we saw the disbanding of KFm and the creation of what is now Defence Lab. I think I was one of the first non KFM instructors involved in Defence Lab.

​It’s 2015 now and Mikey has 140 students,12 assistant instructors/ instructors in training and is growing each week.

But how did  it all happen? Just how does a guy go from a zero students to 140 in 2 years? ​

​The DL Business Process

Mikey is a normal guy, he is 32 years of age married to Sara and has 2 children-a girl aged 4 and a 6 month old baby! ​Anyone with children will know just how hard  doing anything is when you have kids that age let alone growing a new business. Sometimes getting out of the house seems like a mission in itself. Bottle check, Nappies check, pram check..

So ​I was keen to see how Mikey had achieved all of this and he was happy to explain to me that its all to do with the Business processes of Defence Lab and the hard work of his team that without their efforts he could not have achieved the success he has. Mikey has done a lot of martial arts and has a background in Systema and also kick boxing,  but he wasn’t part of Andy  Normans  old KFM team. Mikey Wright is a great example of someone who was new to  Defence Lab but has fast studied its techniques to become an expert in the system. 

Mikey is clearly a hard worker but he knows that Defence Lab is a great product. Supported by Liam Neeson and there are Law Enforcement officers  from the UK, Italy, USA, and Spain that have chosen DL as their personal system of self defence, DL is clearly an effective method of self defence. He is also very clear that none of this would have been possible without the team from Defence Lab who have trained him in the business systems that create the growth of his Lab.

“From the beginning We were introduced to a lot of education, very alien for a lot of us in the martial arts, firstly BUSINESS! I’d never really considered what I did as a business! “

​Within 12 months  of opening his Lab Mikey had achieved 30 students and as his own business skills developed his Lab grew and he eventually won the heavily contested Defence Labs “Franchise of the year title!” Within 2 years his journey had gone from warehouse worker to award winning  business owner. 

What Do the Students Think?​

One of the aspects that keep the students coming to a class is how they feel about the service  they  get, how the training makes them feel. Often this is a really neglected aspect of martial arts business. Instructors seem over concerned about delivering the system and forget about their students. However in Mikey’s class they were all very happy, I asked a few  of his students to stand in front of the camera, totally unscripted and tell me what they thought of their Defence Lab experience, here’s what they had to say: 

​I could have shot  videos all night long, people had nothing  but positive things to say about Mikey and Defence Lab. 

I asked Mikey what his  biggest challenges were in developing such a fantastic business.

“I think  the biggest challenge was the mental shift from being a part time ​martial artist to a full time professional”

However what was Mikey looking forward to?

“I’m looking forward to growing my business and also helping others​ in my team to reach their own goals and help them to grow businesses of their own”

​I think it shows just what kind of person Mikey is when already he is thinking about helping others,  But having been involved with the DL instructors they all have this same attitude almost embedded into their souls. It speaks volumes about the types of people involved in DL.

It is clear from my visit to DL Leicester that Mikey Wright is fast becoming one of the best martial arts and self Defence Instructors in the UK and he should be really proud of what he has achieved and the team he has developed. No matter how good Defence Lab is  ultimately it requires lots of hard work  and effort from a person to grow a business. Mikey has put in this work, and without  this none of this would have been possible. His  business didn’t just drop out of  the sky, it is clear that Mikey has grafted to build his business from nothing to the size it is now. 

Mikey Wright- The Shape Shifter blog salutes  you.​

Is Defence Lab the Business for You​?

​There are a lot of martial arts instructors, especially self defence instructors out there struggling. Perhaps their product isn’t quite right, perhaps they lack  the business skills to get their schools growing? 

Whatever the reason you aren’t living your dream, Defence Lab could be a solution for you. Every one that becomes a franchise owner with Defence Lab gets not only amazing training on Defence Lab techniques, they get the business training and branding support that helped to take Mikey Wright to 140 students! 

If you want to learn more then go to www.Defencelab.com​ and perhaps you might be a future  winner of the Franchise of the Year title!!