My name is John Smyth, Co-founder of Team Fight Back


A little about me and my background


  • I've trained in MA for 35 years

  • 3rd. dan with Brit. Combat Assoc. in submission wrestling and self-defence,

  • Completed Geoff T's 'Masterclass' course.

  • 1st. dan Northern and Southern Shaolin kung fu with Hine Institute.

  • Plus 2 years judo. 

  • 55 years weight training

  • Last thirty years training as adjunct to MA. Govt. qualified in teaching MA to disabled students.


My main influence has been Geoff Thompson, whose friendship has been a blessing, and whose instruction has been the basis of my S/D training for 30 years.


I started MA after having been threatened with a knife as a young man. Blagged my way out of that one and realised that it was time to learn SD. [I'd been stabbed before, but I was too dumb to get the message.]


Why my specific interest in PTSD?


A young woman came to me to learn self-defence many years ago. She wanted to learn how to protect herself against brutal domestic abuse that had hospitalised her on several occasions. She was a good pupil and when attacked for the last time by her abuser, she gave him a salutary bashing and escaped his clutches forever.


Julie and I have now been happily married for 30 years. Because of abuse both as a child and as an adult, she has battled PTSD for many years and now has put most of her demons behind her.


It's been a long, hard road, but she personifies courage and determination, proving that PTSD CAN be beaten. She is my inspiration.


Some years ago, a chance meeting with an Afghanistan veteran, built like battering ram, missing both legs, but training hard in Brazilian jiu jitsu, led us to the idea of starting a project to bring MA as an 'in the moment', training pursuit for servicemen and women who were also battling PTSD.


I like to think that one day I'll meet that man again so I can thank him for giving me the seeds of Team Fightback.


My plan to train specifically alongside forces veterans with MA as an adjunct to other PTSD therapies has never changed , and now, with the invaluable help of people like yourselves, whose passion for the project matches my own, and whose MA accomplishments and life skills, we can forge ahead with the project, under the banner of 'TEAM FIGHTBACK'.


Our confidence in the project has been greatly increased, and that success, we believe, assured, by our teaming up with the go-ahead, dynamic, forces anti-PTSD organisation MINDS AT WAR.


With their powerful commitment and equally impressive wealth of experience and expertise as our ally, we'll roll out Fightback nationwide and bring much-needed help to veterans the length and breadth of Britain.


PTSD has cursed folks lives without adequate resources to combat it for far too long. For many, it's been an unequal battle. But that is abvout change and Team Fightback is leading the way!




Hi, I'm Matt and my story begins long before martial arts.


I grew up in a single parent household that moved quite a lot. I was the victim of family abuse and relentless bullying from the other kids.


I struggled with communication and just didn’t fit in, I would rather my own company than the company of others. I then saw martial arts on the TV and my young mind reached out to it as a lifeline.


Here was a superpower that was achievable. I didn’t have to wait to be bitten by a radioactive spider or be raised by a troupe of gorillas in darkest Africa.


This was a chance for me to fight back through training, hard work and dedication. But my passion for the arts had to wait and my early childhood was filled with domestic violence, drunken family members and local bullies in every new town we went to.


One day when I was still just a young man my father took his own life. I won’t go into all the details here suffice to say he planned it meticulously. He gathered the things he would need and formulated a strategy. That night he arranged what he was going to do and without telling a soul executed his plan.


He was found around 6am the next morning by the local paperboy. I learned that day that suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to the people you love. In my late teens, I was diagnosed with PTSD.


I found myself in a very dark place and ugly thoughts would drown out any sunshine that tried to break through the clouds. I would numb myself with alcohol and drugs believing that no feelings were better than the feelings I had.


It was then that martial arts came back into my life. My passion for it had never left, I had just forgotten it for a while. I immersed myself in it, I trained constantly. Every hour on the mats was an hour away from my brain.


Training meant you had to be in the now. This became my therapy, and I seized it with both hands.


Surrounded by people who didn’t care about who you were, just who you were right now slowly began to change my perceptions of both myself and the world around me. I had re-found the family I had lost within those walls and a sense of purpose took over from the explosive rages, mood swings and feelings of helplessness.


Martial arts became my anchor in the storm, and I clung to it. Over the years I have gained multiple black belts in a number of disciplines, met some wonderful people and traveled to beautiful places. I have gathered many instructor licenses and hold recognised qualifications in teaching, conflict management, and understanding violence.


I spent many years working in security learning how to confront my fears and this is where I met many ex-service men and women.


In the quiet early morning hours, I would listen as they would echo thoughts and emotions just like mine. Our stories were different, but we were controlled by similar demons.


My hobby became my passion, which in turn became my job and I am now privileged to teach and train many people from all walks of life.


I owe martial arts everything, and I understand the power it holds. My journey has shown me that we change peoples lives, and together through the Team Fightback project we can all work together to make a platform where others can rebuild and find a new community.



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