In 1998, Jeremy Whiting-Huntsley began the Defence Training Volunteers in the Forest of Dean area. The society initially took shape in the form of small group classes in the heart of the forest. A long-time visitor of the area, Jeremy loved to be amongst the trees and liked nothing more than showing visitors around its wonderful climes. After attending a series of quarterstaff self-defence workshops in Somerset, he felt inspired to become an expert in the field and start holding classes of his own. Jeremy saw the wonderfully peaceful tranquillity that practising martial arts amidst nature could bring and felt compelled to share this experience with as many people as possible.
At this time, adults and children were gripped in Kung Fu and Karate fever. Films like The Matrix and Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour movies had helped to inspire a whole generation of would be martial artists – however Jeremy did not agree with the methods and training schedules of these Eastern imports. He liked the idea of people staying active and learning self-defence, but the notion of training inside and without the implementation of rudimentary weapons seemed ludicrous to him. In reaction to the rising popularity of Asian and Mixed Martial Arts, Jeremy wished to raise awareness of the benefits of British forms of self-defence and bring his new found hobby to the forefront.
After completing his coaching qualification at the start of the new millennium, Jeremy began to tour music and dance festivals across Britain. For many festival goers, and especially dancers, the physical act of practising quarterstaff combat was extremely satisfying. The simple footwork needed, alongside the basic attack and defence moves, made the sport incredibly accessible to newcomers and soon popularity, back home in the Forest of Dean, started to rise.
Now, over ten years since its establishment, the Defence Training Volunteers are comprised of a handful of experienced martial arts specialists. Their disciplines range from Archery to Broad Sword Combat and, of course, Jeremy is still teaching the basic principles of the Quarterstaff. All of the training, sparring and competitions still take place in the beautiful surroundings of the Forest of Dean. This site has been made as a record of the Volunteers’ activities and plans, and will also be a place for opinion pieces and debate.