-I had the fortune of being one of Darren's students for several years and unlike some other clubs that I've investigated, there is no hiding of secrets that only "the chosen few" get to learn; no bowing to a picture on the wall, no subjecting students to unnecessary pain to show machismo. Things are very casual, though still respectful towards one another. If you have the patience to learn, Darren has the patience to teach you all that he thinks you need to know.
-Unlike some clubs which simply try to teach skills, Darren teaches how to put those skills into context. It's one thing to learn self-defense skills; it's another matter not to end up in jail for acting in self-defense. Darren teaches to use our heads to attempt to first work around conflict rather than simply forcing our way through it, unless no other options are available.
-Many other clubs will attempt to force you to learn according to the way they teach because of "tradition" or because they think their way is the best way. In my experience, Darren attempts to teach his material with concern for how his students learn, because he realizes that people learn in different ways. There are no pushups or berating a student for failing to perform a skill, which I found resulted in a less stressful environment, one better suited to learning.
-Some clubs demand absolute loyalty and seem frightened to step "outside the box" when it comes to alternate approaches to deal with a situation. Part of the strength of Darren's instruction comes from his diverse background—He welcomes new insights and a diversity of backgrounds in his classes rather than simply demanding that his is the best way or only way. If it turns out, there seems to be a better way, he'll adapt it.
-While some martial arts styles seem to have better utility in a sporting environment, Darren teaches material that is more useful for "real life" situations where there are can be multiple threats, no referee and no soft mat to fall back onl
-He teaches to "be aware of your surroundings" (forgive the cliche) in order to become more aware of hidden assets (i.e. improvised weapons) if you know what to look for.
-Of all of his considerable skills, Darren's greatest asset is his mind. He is able to sum up his options quickly and think his way through self-defense problems with due concern to everyone involved who might be at risk. [am thinking of the knife incident with your family here] This combined with using psychology, his skill on the ground, on his feet, with weapons (—especially with weapons!) and empty hand all make for a formidable self defence system.
-Darren has not yet (as I am aware) mastered the art of the "no touch knockout", where one throws an opponent across the room with a snap of his fingers—but he's working on it!
Personal Trainer & Student of Civilian Preservation Technologies
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada