Hard-hitting video series to put survival tips in the palm of your hand - via Grimsby

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 17 Jan 2019

HARD-hitting help with self defence is being brought to the small screen by a Grimsby entrepreneur.

Pete Drinkell is one of a tight band of business backers behind Engage Academy, a project that builds on a passion for “ruthless” martial art Krav Maga, with the plan to put survival tips in the palms of millions of people worldwide.

And the significant social media marketing campaign is being driven from the Kent Street base of his Vogue Plants business which itself has become a global entity.

Starring former Israeli Defence Force captain Dr Itay Gil, a series of six short documentaries based on real-life events are in the final stages of production, with filming undertaken in Manchester.

Late February to early March is being eyed up for release, with a feature-length follow-up to be shot in the USA later in the spring.

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Having looked into distribution, Engage is pursuing an app-based download model, described as “unique”.

“This is a new route. We expect to have 100,000 people sat there waiting to download,” Mr Drinkell said. His six-strong team is being beefed up to ten to build the demand and anticipation, with a free view and pay model.

“It is taking shape, I am new to this business but it is quite incredible,” he said. “It is a significant investment, but the opportunity is here. Itay is a global brand in self defence, we needed a figurehead and we got him, and convinced him this was the right thing to do. He is probably the biggest name in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, he is known all around the world.

“I have a strong business partner in the North East, we have all got a few bob each, and we are using this to then build further. We are confident it will work. It is hard hitting and very relevant.”

Peter Drinkell, second left, and Itay Gil, centre, with the Engage Academy social media team members Emily Ireland, Kieran Willis and Archie Fox at the office on Grimsby's Strand Street.

Mr Drinkell’s investment comes after more than 15 years of importing high-end artificial trees and selling online. In 2014 he went to the US, setting up in New Hampshire, with distribution depots also established in Australia and South Africa, building on the initial Grimsby base for European sales.

Sharing space with his former employer, print company Willsons Group Services on Strand Street, the team are working for his parent company, C&M Trading Ltd, with Dr Gil paying a visit to inspire them as the hype prepares to hot up.

The pair met when Mr Drinkell went to Israel for a week’s training at the suggestion of his Hull-based instructor Gheorghe Husar, having practised Krav Maga for the best part of a decade.

That was in 2015, and the concept has been worked up between a small group including a former high ranking police officer and a paratrooper.

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Dr Gil, who was selected to be part of Israel’s elite counter-terror and hostage rescue commando unit “Yamam”, and has served as head of training for the security of the Israeli President’s Office, said: “Our goal is to try and educate people to be aware.

“Many people may think this is something promoting violence, but we are promoting ‘be prepared, be ready’. We hear everyday of something happening to someone. Our job as a business is an educating platform. We want to change society’s mindset to be ready and prepared to protect themselves.”

Honorary Distinguished Professor at Aspen University, former Director of Counter Terror, Homeland Security and Intelligence for the Magid Institute/ Hebrew University and currently at Ariel University, in his academic field he has specialised in human behaviour and performance under stress.

“I always recommend people take some action, learn something that can protect them in life,” he said.

“If it was up to me I would make it mandatory in schools. People do some time on physical fitness in the schools, but I’m not sure it is being done well enough because society is overweight, and doesn’t have enough resilience.

“Even if you look at police forces around the world, entry criteria has dropped, society has become softer.

“This is a series of encounters that happen in daily life, on a daily basis.”

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