“Pranks Very Much” by John & Elaine Johnston


 

Currently there is a trend for posting pranks on social media sites. Some are funny, even hilarious, where as some are sick and irresponsible. Whichever they are it always means that someone must suffer.

For every action, there must be an opposite reaction. The people instigating the prank don’t always have full regard or an understanding of the consequences, which relates to something that happened to me just recently.

Initially I was going to keep it to myself but after thinking it through, I believe it might be of use to those people that like to perform pranks and to let them realise that things don’t always go to plan.

Before I tell you my story, I wish to say that I am not ashamed of my actions or could it be termed as an overreaction. To me it felt appropriate at the time, even seen through the scientific viewpoint of hindsight. Anyway, let me set the scene for you:

My wife Elaine and I are on our way to Ireland. We are scheduled to leave from Birmingham Airport, however the flight has been delayed by 1 hour. Its Friday afternoon and there are several events occurring in Dublin. It’s a packed flight.
one of the events just happens to be a stag party of about 8 lads, which means that they have an extra hour drinking at the Airport.
that’s never a good thing as it means for a lively and noisy flight. Thank goodness it is only about an hour’s flight!

Anyway, the flight has landed and we are in a hurry to get through the Airport as we have friends waiting to pick us up.
as the flight was packed, our hand luggage was placed in the hold. I am on the moving walkway just ahead of Elaine and I am steadying myself with my left hand on the rail. Suddenly a hand is firmly placed on top of mine. What happens next occurs within a few seconds. It’s just my reaction to someone else’s action. Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone I don’t know grabbing my hand. I react by turning my hand and catching his fingers. He pulls against my grip which in my mind signals that he is trying to take control of me.

I am unsure of his intentions towards me but it appears hostile and aggressive, consequently my next reaction is to strike him with my right hand. Fortunately for him, I am holding my kindle which has a padded case. He receives a solid slap to the left side of his face. It wasn’t hard enough to knock him down but good enough to stop him dead in his tracks. I have now turned so that I am facing my assailant who is momentarily shocked and stunned.

I now recognise him as one of the offensive loud mouths from the plain, together with his team of arse-hole mates. It takes a few moments before my action causes a reaction from him.  He starts by protesting that there was no need to hit him, as he was only having a laugh. I point out to him that he had no right to touch me and that I didn’t find it funny. Of course, his mates have now found their voice. I think it is best for me to walk away and ignore them as I know that they are not going to listen to reason. The lad that got slapped is following me after me offering to shake my hand whilst telling me that it was only a joke. I however continue to ignore him and walk away to the haranguing and verbal abuse from his mates. I must fight against my instincts to confront them as I know they would not understand that to touch someone without consent is an offense. And that under the circumstances it is also an act of bullying and intimidation and as such there will always be consequences, as in this case my assailant was extremely lucky. I only used enough force to neutralise what I perceived to be an attack.

He came out of it with the ability to still walk and talk and without any real damage done to him. I however was not so lucky. It cost me the price of a new kindle! As mine was too badly damaged. It is a good job that I didn’t find this out until later.

So why am I telling you this?         Is it to boast?     No its not.
am I proud of my actions?            No.
am I ashamed of my actions?      Definitely not.

I am relating this story so that people can be made aware of the fact that not all pranks are OK.

If its confined to your own circle of friends and doesn’t cause harm or distress and everyone including the victim can get a laugh out of it, then its fine. But to do it to a stranger and not know how it can impact on them, then its just not OK.

To me I think that your life should only impact on someone else’s life in a positive way. It’s nice to be nice.

“I’m only kidding mate”

“Well I’m only kindling”

 

John has allowed me to mention a few things about this incident as I was present.
there was a bunch of rugby players and their sons on the plane on the way back and they were being loud and having a laugh among themselves but never once did I feel provoked or threatened by them.
these lads from the stag party were being very provocative and their behavior was intimidating and the more alcohol they drank the more they overstepped boundaries belonging to other people.

Whilst john and I were sat in our seats on the plane waiting to stand up to leave these lads were shouting to each other at opposite ends of the plane because they weren’t all sat together. The loudest one was standing next to my seat in the aisle, he suddenly sat in the seat next to me (as I was sat in the middle seat with john next to the window) and used me to try and hide from his friend having a joke around. He invaded my personal space. I am very aware of my own self-protection and not allowing my personal space / boundaries to be crossed is part of it and the fact that he was drunk and behaving unpredictably made me feel very uncomfortable.

We were walking out of the Airport very fast because yes, we were late but also, I think because we wanted to get away from this bad situation. (it was disrupting my Feng shui) if anyone has ever been out with john, they will know how fast he walks, anyway I was on a mission to try to keep up with him on the moving walkways. I had to try to squeeze past one of the lads who was further ahead than his mates. I had to touch him slightly and apologised so I could get past. He was a little bit rude telling me to be careful and to steady on.

I managed to catch john up but only because two rather large individuals were blocking any further access. I stood behind john and very soon the lad that I had overtook was standing right behind me. I saw his loud-mouthed mate come up behind john sniggering to his friend who stood behind me saying “hey watch this” and I saw him put his hand on top of john’s hand. I thought “yes watch this” as I knew how john would react. I must be careful around the house myself not to sneak up on him…lol

I have seen John demonstrate grabbing someone’s hand in lessons many times, so I was interested to see how it is applied in reality. John twisted his own hand so that it was on top of his assailants and I saw him grip his fingers then simultaneously whilst pulling the hand towards him, Johns right hand came up and clunked this lad around the left side of his head whilst holding his kindle. It was sharp and to the point and yes, this lad was stunned, well what did he expect? Not everyone you’re going to meet is a pushover. I feared for the kindle! I dared not tell John that he would have damaged it because I knew how angry he would have been. He was really enjoying a story he was reading which is why he had it in his hand as he had been reading it on the plane. I knew that this lad would have been in serious danger if John had known that he had broken his kindle on his head!!

They seemed to be quite apologetic until their mates got closer, then their behavior became abusive.

This was pack mentality at its finest. A large group of lesser men building status among their own hierarchy by creating an environment where they can threaten and provoke other men and take advantages with other women. They think that their large numbers will allow them to go unchallenged by anyone. No one else said or did anything.

I am glad that john did what he did because this lad totally deserved it.

No one should have to be a victim to this kind of behavior.

Busman’s Holiday part 2 by Elaine Johnston


Let me first begin by saying how much I enjoy visiting other martial arts classes just to observe their teaching and training practices. It’s lovely to see good Instructors engaging with their students and I love to see the etiquette and good manners that fellow Karate-Ka emit amongst themselves. Of course these are the things that you expect when visiting other clubs. The saying “always expect the unexpected” comes to mind here because it isn’t always like that.
John gave a very accurate depiction of the events that went down in the South of England but what he couldn’t translate to you was what was happening to me whilst he was otherwise engaged with one of the Instructors. I had gone and sat down because I had also had a large meal and a couple of beers plus I was wearing rings that I could not take off without soapy water. I was told that wearing rings and having had alcohol didn’t matter but it did matter to me and although I had got up to join in happily to begin with, I soon began to feel my hackles rising like they would in any other bad situation. I wasn’t allowed to sit. The main Instructor insisted that I get up and allow him to show me something else which happened to be a wrist lock. One that I have experienced many, many times in my 17 years training in the art of Karate and one that he persistently pertained to use on my wrist for the demo. I am quite certain that the reason he made so many attempts at the lock with each one getting more severe was because I would not show any pain but let me tell you I was a cats whisker away from taking his eye out with my free hand!. I could reach his testicles with my foot from where I stood as well. I had extreme difficulty preserving my manners because my main concern at the end of the day was my own behaviour whilst in this situation and in the presence of my own Instructor. I could not possibly do anything that would disrespect my Sensei. I was told to relax so that he could feel my pain threshold. Mmm ! In a real situation you would not be relaxed and I seriously don’t think that the lock would work for a women like me on a man who was wanting to do me harm. The Chinese hands would not work for me and the lock would not work for me. This man was very pushy in wanting to teach these things to me and I was extremely offended by the fact that he wanted to teach me something that could in fact put my life in danger. I value my life and my own self protection is always analysed and meticulously thought out. I know what will not work for me. I’m OK learning stuff from any Instructor but not under the banner of self-defence techniques for a situation of assault in a way that is ineffective and unrealistic. My own Sensei understands my needs in training and allows me to adapt my techniques to better suit me. I have also trained with wonderful big tough Instructors who have taught me some fantastic methods of defence who have been very realistic with my needs, very well-mannered and courteous so there was no excuse for this man’s behaviour. He said that traditional Karate practices were invalid and not practical which also offended me because he did not have the intelligence to see the value and purpose behind them. He had obviously not learnt the proper codes of conduct that come with hard and correct training. I am grateful to him though because he rated very high on my list of bad instructors. I have written about them before and I know they’re out there and that they exist but I had never met one myself. Not at this level anyway. It was almost as if he was trying to justify himself with his hyper and over the top actions. He ignored his own students to focus on us which was very weird. So a big thank you to him for allowing me to be able to say yes they’re definatly out there amongst us, so beware. I also thank him for that extreme in the wrong direction because I met a fantastic Instructor the other evening who was very spiritual, very powerful, and very dynamic in his Karate movement and a very nice person who I look forward to training with next march. Maybe I would not have appreciated this wonderful mans good aspects if I had not met the lesser man.
The fantastic news is we are always learning and able to learn (well most of us anyway) He only had 4 students. It was a very small town. Out of all the things I could have done I chose not to do any of them out of respect and self-preservation and I feel good about that because my dignity remains intact. My conscience is clear and I overheard my Sensei speaking to someone and he said that I would have been OK to respond any way that I had seen fit. 🙂 There is always a next time!!

Me and my Sensei, but I am under no illusions

Me and my Sensei, but I am under no illusions

Man Maketh Man by John Johnston


Following a training session a short time ago, myself and some of the senior students were chatting about my experiences of training with other Instructors. Over the years I have been lucky and privileged to have been taught by and trained with some of the best. I have a personal policy of attending a training session or seminar with s different Instructor at least once a month. I told them that I would ensure that they had the information of any of the different courses that were coming up. Two of the students had come to me from different clubs and associations. They both tentatively asked whether I minded them attending sessions with other Instructors because with their old clubs this was unheard of and strictly not allowed. I found it strange whilst looking at these two big strapping lads that these were grown men with responsible jobs. My answer to them was that as individuals they had free choice and that they have an obligation to themselves to get the best out of their Karate and that would come from various sources. I like to think that I am a responsible person and Instructor and in being so I have a duty to steer my students in a direction where they have a varied progressive and wholesome training experience. I like them to feel free to actively seek out the best Instruction and to be able to explore whatever dimension of Martial Arts they wish to pursue.
Anybody who thinks themselves as the seed of all knowledge knows nothing.
To keep students trapped, blinkered and isolated for reasons of ego, insecurity and/ or personal financial gain is not only ethically and morally wrong, it is dishonest and irresponsible. It breaks a trust and a code of honour that should be showed towards a student that has come to you and placed their wellbeing and personal development in your hands. As my Grandmother used to say “if you can’t do anybody any good then don’t do them any harm”

Elaine

“Be afraid, be very afraid. Be careful when your spider sense is tingling”


There are times when working on the door when you can spot who is going to get thrown out later. You see punters as they come through the door and you just know that they will end up being ejected. My friend and colleague Joe and I used to have bets on the outcome of the people that we spotted. It would only count if one of the other guys ejected them. I was always pretty good at getting it right.

It’s a sense that would seem to manifest itself at tournaments. I would enter the main arena and be able to sense who I would end up fighting later that day.

I remember going to a competition in Ipswich, we arrived after an early start and a long drive. The last thing you feel like doing is having to start fighting but hey that’s what your there for. You get changed and you find yourself a space to start warming up. You greet old friends, catch up and you start looking around at the opposition making assessments. That’s when I spotted him. I turned to a team mate and said “I bet that’s the one that I get”, “rather you than me” he replies. Oh yeah why’s that? I hear you say. Well I will tell you why! The guy I have just spotted happens to be a 6ft 7inch brute of ebony muscle. He is a Frank Bruno look alike. He is warming up and his technique is very fast and strong He has an amazingly long reach with both arms and legs.

Anyway as the day progresses I manage to win through my pool and I’m due to meet the winners of the other pools. We are called to go to the area for the Semi’s. As we line up he’s on the opposite side and I’m drawn against him. Some days you just wished that you weren’t right all the time. He’s looking very formidable but what the hack I was having a good day myself. I’d had some good wins. You know some days you find that you are just in the zone. We are called up to take our bows and face off. Hajime (start)  was called and we began circling each other. We’re both being very cautious as nobody likes to get this far in a competition just to lose because of a stupid mistake. It’s about a minute into the bout and no score. He’s either just about to start an attack or just feigning. Without even thinking about it, a response is triggered. I drive forward with a really sharp Kizami (front hand jab). I must tell you that in those days of long ago competitions were Shobu Ippon, without mitts or even gum shields. I have hit him hard, right on the point of his jaw. It’s stopped him short and you could see that I had hurt him. Yame has been called and we go back to our marks. He’s looking at me with venom in his eyes and I’m thinking ‘sugar this looks bad’. The judges and the referees are conferring so either I am going to be disqualified or warned and I’m going to have to face his wrath. The referee comes back to his position and he looks very sternly at both of us, then his arm shoots straight up and I am awarded Ippon full point and I am the winner.

I can’t tell you how relieved I felt at that moment. I went on to lose in the final but my day was made up with that one result.

Just be very careful what you wish for

I attended a course and as soon as he walked through the door, I knew who my partner would be!!!

I attended a course and as soon as he walked through the door, I knew who my partner would be!!!

ENOEDA SENSEI by John Johnston


“Enoeda Sensei”. You only have to hear the name and you immediately have your own visions and thoughts about a man who personifies Karate. An awesome, dominant, larger than life figure. There are a multitude of stories about Enoeda Sensei. These are just some of my own.

Back in the day, National Squad training would often be held at Long Ford Dojo in Coventry. They would often be presided with a general training session taken by Enoeda Sensei. The first two incidents occurred on the same training session. In those days Enoeda Sensei could be very hands on with students(pre P.C). A good friend of mine had the habit of sticking his tongue out whilst standing in stance during Kata. Sensei told him several times to put his tongue away. Well if you don’t listen you have to learn the hard way. Sensei must have gotten fed up with reminding him so as he was walking past, my friend had his tongue out, Sensei’s hand shot out and grabbed the offending article and gave it a brutal squeeze. My agonised friend went down on one knee whilst whimpering. Sensei shouted at him ” I tell you put tongue away” he then wiped his hand on the lads Gi and just carried on instructing. It was very hard not to laugh at something of that nature, no-body laughed. It was shortly after that incident, while still practicing Kata that Sensei stood in front of me and whilst he was making a correction to my posture, I must have averted my vision and looked down. ‘SLAM’ he hit me hard with the flat of his hand on my forehead. Next thing I know I’m siting on my backside looking up at him. He just walked away saying ” don’t look at floor”. Enoeda Sensei’s lesson’s are learnt the hard way.
A few years later when I had a club of my own, I took several students to an all grades course in Newark. Enoeda Sensei was taking the lesson. I remember it being a hard but good session. Many of my students had never trained under a Japanese Instructor before. They were awestruck. They were all discussing the training afterwards, telling me how impressed and pleased they were. One young lady was telling me that she thought it was brilliant but could not get the weasel breathing right. She asked if this was right and screwed her face up in the imitation of a rodent and started to snuffle through her wrinkled up nose. When I finally managed to contain my laughter, I told her to remember that Enoeda Sensei is Japanese. What he had actually said was ” with your breathing” not weasel breathing.

Fond memories on how the lesson we need to take away is to listen more carefully.

“KARMA: Some People Just Don’t Get It” By John Johnston


It’s a typical Friday night in Coventry. Friday is lad’s night out and I’m working. I’m a bouncer at a large city nightclub. The club is very busy and the mood is good. I’m in the DJ box chatting to the DJ who is an old mate of mine. The DJ box overlooks the dance floor and is enclosed at the back with a waist high wall, the punters have access between the back of the DJ box and the bar so it is a good place to keep an eye on things only at the moment I’m chatting and not looking. I’m standing with my back to the low wall watching the dance floor talent, ‘as you do’!
All of a sudden my sixth sense kicks in, you know it’s that moment when you know that something is not right or is about to happen. Sure enough as I turn around I spot a guy holding a girl with his left hand around her throat. The girl looks terrified and no wonder because he is lifting a pint pot glass in his right hand.  It seems fairly obvious that he is just about to hit her with it.
I will say this about myself in those days I could react in a flash. I just managed to reach across the wall and grab the guys shoulder and give him a sharp yank. As he was in mid swing about to crack the glass over the poor girls head, my sharp action saved the young lady from possible serious injury. Lucky girl. Unlucky me because as I pulled him backwards, he swung around and hit me with the pint pot just above my left eye opening up a large gash.
Because of the low wall I was able to over balance the twat and pull him into a bear hug and flip him over the wall. This stopped him using the glass again and gave me a breathing space. I had blood in my eye as well as being a bit stunned. I knew that I only had to keep him neutralised for a short while before help arrived.
Sure enough within moments a couple of the other lads were there and quickly had hold of him and he was on his way out. At moments like this there are a lot of different things occurring. Girls are screaming and panicking or being nosey; boys are excited and want to get involved. Emotions are running high especially with any of the parties involved.
As for me, many things were going on in my head. There’s blood in my eyes and I can’t see properly. Adrenalin’s on full revs. People are making stupid comments and asking daft questions. Someone has enough sense to try to get me to go to the toilet to get my eye cleaned up. All I want is to get to the bastard before he’s thrown out so that I can punish him for what he intended and what he did. It wasn’t going to be a happy end for him, but he was lucky, by the time that I had gotten to the front doors he was gone. I had no choice but to let them clean my wound.
After washing the blood away I was able to see clearly and the gash was bad but not serious. However I was told to go to A & E for stitches.
A lift was arranged and I presented myself at Hospital. As usual late on Friday night or in my case early Saturday morning, A & E  was very busy, so before I registered at the triage I thought I would get some fresh air and calm down.
Whilst standing to the side of the main doors in a dark corner, a sort of beach buggy pulled up with three blokes inside. At first I thought nothing of the buggies arrival until the engine was switched off. I could then hear the conversation clearly. I stayed concealed where I was and listened. The guys in the car were arguing about whether to go into the Hospital to find me or wait till I came out. It seemed like they wanted to try and put things right with me so as not to have to face any later repercussions. Myself and my co workers on the door had quite a reputation and these guys were afraid that retribution would be coming their way.
Concealed where I was and listening in on their chatter, the guy that had just glassed me whilst attempting to glass a girl (who I later found out was an ex girlfriend who he had been stalking) thought that he would be able to get away with an apology – “WRONG”
the three lads got out of the car, I stepped out of the darkness and slapped one of them knocking him off his feet. I told him and the other guy to keep out of it saying that it was to be between me and the main protagonist, only my language was a bit more colourful. They chose to be prudent and backed off. That left the glass wielding bully to face me alone. He immediately started pleading with me that it was all a mistake and he didn’t want any trouble. I wasn’t listening or talking, I was just calculating my opening shot. I fired a right foot reverse round house kick which just caught the side of his jaw so as I stepped in I was in prime position for a takedown. BANG he hit the floor right at my feet, need I say more.
I thought it would be best that I left the Hospital. The twat stayed. I heard that it took him 5 hours before he came round.

I’m not proud of what happened; it just was what it was. Do I think what happened to him was justified? YES. Could I have done things differently? YES in retrospect spectacular head kicks are for films and competitions.

Sometimes in life you are forced to make instant decisions. Choices can be limited but may have a bearing on the rest of yours and others lives.

This happened some 35 years ago. I was very fortunate on many counts. In doing my job I saved a young lady from serious injury. I was lucky I didn’t lose my sight, although I still have a scar above my eye. I was lucky that the Police didn’t get involved with the incident at the Hospital, and I was fortunate that he made a full recovery.

A great kick for competitions and film sets but no good for self defence

A great kick for competitions and film sets but no good for self defence