“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.

In The Eye Of The Beholder


I often feel that people misinterpret Kata’s such as Tekki/Niahanchi and perform them in a fast and flicky fashion with hand techniques that start from the elbow rather than from the floor and with leg techniques from the knee not from the supporting foot and through the hips.

It seems to me that there is a disconnect from upper and lower body instead of a unification. My feeling is the Kata should be very robust in nature and the techniques are for short range power generation and close quarter delivery.

The Kata has the potential to be able to use grappling and manipulation, so if you think you could control and move someone’s body weight with just the use of arms you must have forearms like Popeye’s. There is a common principle in MA that if you wish to move someone’s body you must move your own body.  I fail to see that principle being applied with some of the static performances of Tekki/Niahanchi.

You would be in for a shock if you think that the technique you have just applied to a compliant opponent in the Dojo would work in a real situation. Remembering when you practice Kata as a solo exercise you have no real feedback, you must use intention along with genuine belief and understanding of your ability to apply your technique. Practise a technique that wouldn’t work is practicing to fail.

For me I prefer function over form. It boils down to two questions

1 Does your Kata look good (you don’t need to answer that)

2 would you care to be on the receiving end or hit by one of your techniques (you needn’t answer that either)

Very often you see Instructors making minor adjustments to a student’s stance or arm position, this is after they have finished moving. More importantly is how they transitioned to that position. Kata is about movement, not a series of still photographs. No point telling a student that something is very important and not showing or explaining the how or the why.

Your Kata should always have intention. Just making shapes is for shadow puppeteers.

 

If Beauty is only skin deep, some people must be living their lives inside out!

The Unequal Equalizer. By John Johnston


The unequal equalizer was a phrase I first hear over 40 years ago. It was used by my old Sensei, Richard Jackson to illustrate how within a well structured Karate class, everybody has the same opportunity to perform at their highest level.
It is still true today, especially in regard to people with disabilities.
Having recently attended two championships for people with disabilities, The British Open at StokeMandeville and The European Championships in San Sebastian, Spain. More than ever I think I begin to understand that phrase.

The style of the championships isn’t that of the usual Karate / martial arts competition, far from it in fact. It differs in so many ways and for me it is like a breath of fresh air. The athletes are not pitted against one and other in an arena to see who is the strongest, fastest and most skilled. Their challenge is to demonstrate their ability. There are so many categories for people with disabilities that you could not hold a standard tournament, nor do I think you would want to. It would be unfair to all involved, participants, officials and spectators.

Let me try to give you a flavour of the events.
You may see Kata being performed by wheelchair users. This ranges from novice to higher grades, or you may see self defence demonstrated form a wheelchair.
At the Spanish event there was a young lady who gave a brilliant self defence display in her motorised wheelchair, mainly using her fully functioning good leg. She had no actual arms, only hands;I think she may have been a victim of the thalidomide drug.
You also have people with learning disabilities, down syndrome, visibility and hearing impairments or autism also performing Kata or sometimes just Kihon (basics). This may be done individually or in a group and it may or may not have been with a coach along side. There would also be other self defence displays and people performing weapons Kata but most of all, the other things you are likely to see is how everybody supports each other. Their courage, their endeavours and their great camaraderie really register with you.

What you don’t see is bad behaviour, big egos and prima donnas. You just get people trying to explore their potential with great commitment. There aren’t any losers, there can only be winners.

kevin Spain Trophy 2015

It needs mentioning that there is no charge for competitors or spectators, the costs were covered through funding and sponsorship. Also a lot of the training schemes are funded and free for participants within Britain.

 

At the European Championships, there was a slight hiccup. This came in the form of the WKF (World Karate Federation) trying to interfere with the event through reasons of their own. They gave ultimatums to the event organisers and some of the Karate-Ka that were affiliated to them. However, they were totally ignored and the event went ahead anyway. From my perspective they had no moral or ethical right to have tried to interfere with the event.
I feel that these sort of events should be celebrated, encouraged and given whole hearted support. It was not specifically a Karate event; it was a martial art event. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and puts shame on such an organisation.

John & Kevin Spain

“Life the Universe & Everything” by John & Elaine Johnston


Many years ago me and a friend and student of mine used to have quite heated arguments about the purpose of Karate. His view was that it was purely for self defence but for me it was more about self development. I won’t go into the details of the various rows that we had but we do look back on those days in retrospect and laugh. He kindly acknowledges that he thinks I was right and wishes that he had listened to me more often and understood me better ..I have never publicly acknowledged that he was also right but his perspective was only part of the equation. Just to put things into context my friend is none other than Geoff Thompson, writer and self defence guru. Geoff and I are still good friends to this day. Although our martial arts have taken us in other directions. We are all aware in which direction Geoff’s took. I however have stayed true to what I believed the essence of karate to be. I use this article to illustrate my belief that karate is multi-faceted and for me it has mostly been about self development. 40 + years on, I ask myself the question, has it been successful? The true answer is, it is work in progress. I have had an eventful and colourful past to say the least and I won’t share the details with you as what happens in the past should stay in the past. However disregarding my many ups and downs, karate has remained a constant in my life. It’s been there for me during my various relationships. It was there for me whilst working on the doors and other security jobs. I competed at a relatively high level in Kata and Kumite and for over 40 years I have continued to run my own Karate Clubs. I even earn a living from Karate (just). It’s my motivation for getting up in the mornings. I get up at 6am so that I can go and do my Kata practice in the park. It helps to keep my mind sharp and my body strong, or should that be the other way round.

So let’s try and pin down in exactly what way Karate has helped me to develop and make me a better person. To me Karate is a reflection of life. You start as a beginner, stumbling along, trying to learn a whole new set of body movements. You learn to apply different mental attitudes to aid you in finding and developing coping strategies for yourself and in relationship to your fellow students and teachers. As you progress, you build on all these elements and allow them to change as you also change. Then with true endeavour in your training, your values develop and your goals and priorities change keeping you in balance with the flow and evolution of life. Honesty in your training should help you to understand yourself and others better. It should allow you to become more considerate and caring when you learn to be patient with yourself, you also learn how to be patient with others and when you open your mind to others, you are then able to help them to see things in a different light. I think that all of us Instructors know that the best way to teach our students is often by being a good example and hoping that you can inspire your students to learn the true nature of themselves, be expressive and become better human beings and if we are honest with ourselves, we could all do with being a better person in some way, shape or form.
if you would like to be treated with courtesy and respect you will need to be genuinely humble and show true courtesy and respect at all times but with human nature being the way that it is, to maintain this aspect of life is very hard, which is why for me it will always be a work in progress.

People have said that I have mellowed? I haven’t! I have matured and learnt from mine and others mistakes. Through Karate I have learnt to talk myself out of taking wrong actions and hopefully taking better ones. Perhaps not every time but a lot less than when I was younger. I believe that is what Karate should teach you, or should that be just life’s lessons.

Does Karate reflect life?

We have all seen the usual lists of attributes on martial arts posters and advertisements.

  • Get into shape
  • Gain confidence
  • Learn to defend yourself
  • A fun and friendly environment
  • Increased flexibility
  • Teaches respect and discipline
  • Relieves tension and stress

I would personally term them differently.

  • Hone your instincts
  • Sharpen reflexes and reactions
  • Speed up thought processes
  • Tone muscle and strengthen bone
  • Enhance flexibility and agility
  • Correct actions and power generation
  • Controlled emotions
  • Body and Mind Conditioning

“Karate aims to build character, improve human endeavour and cultivate modesty. However, it does not guarantee it” Yasuhiro Konishi.

*

John Johnston has been my teacher for over 10 years now and I have a great respect and admiration for his teaching methods, martial ability and philosophy. But also his desire to aid his student’s progression by encouraging them to train outside his club with other instructors. I am not being biased just because he is my husband. He always shows patience, kindness and commitment towards his students and I am one of his students. He has helped me to write many published articles by being the contrast that I have needed to differentiate and evaluate all the good the bad and the ugly in the world of Karate!
Karate can be a good and honest teacher for anyone who can embrace it’s teachings. I believe that life can sometimes be rather deceptive and we live in a culture where by people’s beliefs can and often do shape the evolution of humanity. If enough people believe something then that something becomes the norm and becomes accepted as a truth even if it is not. Things do not always have to be good to be accepted as the norm either. So you can see where I’m going with this. Life cannot always be relied upon to be a good and honest teacher, nor can our parents! as not all of us have had ideal upbringings and not all influential people are good people!. Our lives bustle with people and life becomes much more pleasant and easier if we can learn how to be integrated into society in a positive and meaningful way. Good social skills and correct behavioural concepts need to be adopted to make this happen but what are good social skills?. My correct social skills and manners never came from my upbringing; they came from my Karate training. Not all Instructors are equipped to be able to set a moral compass within a student with a bad or weak attitude because they themselves are lacking but what exactly is the right kind of courtesy to hone in your students?. Being courteous is paramount when teaching someone a martial art. Is courtesy being kind and thinking about treating the other person well and respectfully? We usually associate being courteous with politeness and compassion, a manner of behaving that allows groups of people to cope with societal attitudes, maybe. The structure of a Karate class is different and the epistemology of human courtesy changes into something quite different. When I met John and started training with him I got a shock indeed. I was taught about being courteous to my training partners by not expecting them to lower their standards for me and I was taught to be courteous to them by having the courage to hit towards the target with full intention and controlled aggression so that they could protect themselves and block realistically and effectively so aiding them in learning about what is going to work and what isn’t going to work in a real situation, after all what is it we are training for if part of it is not for the preparation in dealing with a real confrontational or life threatening situation. I had to learn to attack with the intention that allowed them to be realistic. I was also not being courteous to my partner by allowing them to believe that a technique was working if it wasn’t, so no falling over to easily or allowing them to take me down to easily, or being to slow with a secondary attack to allow them time to block and defend again. To have this kind of courtesy for your training partner is very difficult because there is nowhere to hide your inexperience or your weaknesses. To be able to be courteous you have to become a better martial artist and because of the nature of the exercise you undoubtedly become a better person as it is very risky and difficult to attack full on with a bad attitude which is why John and I call it the art of self development. When I say a better person, I mean an honest person. I believe that you learn from honest students because they will reflect upon you the things that you need to improve or change. Honesty is the key to progress when it comes to being courteous for your partner’s development. This is the kind of training that taught me that pride and arrogance was a hindrance to one’s self development, I had to be humble, honest and strong enough to be able to look at the reflection of myself that it gave me without the rose tinted glasses or the self delusion and I realised that in order to be able to become a better Karate – Ka, I needed to become a better person. I think it is critical when you are training especially in partner work that you are under no illusions about your ability and you must certainly never expect your partner to lower their standards just so that you can handle them, so appreciating my inabilities was the hardest thing at first. Pride is not a good trait for a martial artist as it can cause emotional outbursts and hinder progress. I had to know how good I wasn’t if that makes sense. John has never been lenient with me in that respect (for my own development of course) with his realistic no nonsense approach to Karate which was exactly what I needed at that time. After falling off my high horse a few times and taking myself off the list of people I thought had good Karate, I began to analyse what was wrong with my art and find strategies to compensate me in the Dojo whilst I was developing new skills, courage and learning how to be humble. That was over 10 years ago and do you know what? Because my training in the Dojo is progressive and is always advancing, this is a never ending task for me. I am still in the process of developing new skills, courage and learning how to be humble..With all of the new skills I have learnt, I have become a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friend and the best friend I have made on this journey is myself. If you can live with yourself then others can too. These are life’s lessons but it took one good man and his Karate to teach them to me.

“I think we are going to need a bigger boat”.John & Me 1

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

Busman’s Holiday Part 1 by John Johnston


Recently my wife Elaine and I had a short holiday in the far south of England. Being on holiday should be our opportunity to get away from our normal day-to-day lives, i.e. Karate. However, it is still an opportunity for us to look at other martial arts in a different part of the country. We made some enquiries and found that on this particular night there was a session at the local sports centre. So at the appointed time we paid the centre a visit. We arrived as the session was about to commence in the main hall. We bowed as we entered the area and asked for permission to watch which was granted. We sat ourselves down happy to just observe the session. It was at this point that the main Instructor came over to speak to us.. He introduced himself and a colleague who was also an Instructor.
John: “Hi I’m John and this is my wife Elaine”.
He replied: “Can I ask you why you wish to watch the training?”
John: “Yeah sure, we are on holiday in the area and we are interested in martial arts. We thought this would be an opportunity to have a look”
He replied: “do you train in martial arts yourself?”
John: “Yes predominantly Shotokan Karate”
He replied: “So what was it you were expecting to see as this isn’t anything like Shotokan.
John: “I wasn’t expecting anything in particular, I’m just happy to see something different.
This conversation carried on whilst his students engaged in some drills of their own. After a while he excused himself while he and his friend got themselves some hot drinks from their flasks. Drinking his coffee and still ignoring his students (all 4 of them). He came back to us and tried to explain his brand of martial arts whilst criticising and pulling apart other styles. I didn’t allow myself to get drawn into this type of talk and I think he could see that he wasn’t having an impression on me. I think he thought a change of tact was called for so he invited us onto the matt. I politely declined telling him that I only wish to observe and I’d also had a large meal and a couple of beers. His reply to that was “ oh not to worry as we are not doing a warm up or drilling up and down all night, we will just be doing some Chinese Hands” He became quite insistent, so finally I allowed myself to be persuaded and Elaine and I took to the matt. He still wasn’t paying his other students any attention whilst he and his friend proceeded to show us a drill. Then instructed us on how to perform it ourselves. We soon picked it up as it was very similar to exercises we have done many time before. At that point they both left the matt another coffee break. Yes the session was that relaxed. On their return to us I was asked what I thought of the drill. Well this to my way of thinking wasn’t the first mistake of the night. We had only been there 20 minutes and they had managed to chalk up several.
1) Don’t neglect your own students for passing strangers
2) Don’t slag off other martial arts especially to someone you know nothing about.
3) Don’t take a tea/coffee break every 5 to 10 minutes.
4) Don’t ask for someone’s opinion if you can’t take the reply.
I told them that I understood the drill but found no value in it. I don’t like flow drills and never would. The other Instructor then asked me if he could show me how it could be used. We partnered off and went through the drill. I was being very compliant so every now and then he would push me away. This was his way of showing me how useful the drill could be I actually thought that it was a totally redundant exercise.
Mistake number 5) he asked me again what I thought of it.
I told him that I wasn’t impressed at all. That I was being very compliant and as I was a lot bigger than him, just pushing me away would leave him very vulnerable and that it could never work against a non compliant attack. His reply was “ OK then you show me what you would do”
Mistake number 6) we went into the drill, he tried to speed up and I reacted. I spun him round and into a strangle hold, as I did so I took his legs away.
This guy had been telling me how much experience he’d had with other martial arts and had spent some time in the army. I naturally assumed that he wouldn’t mind being a little bit robust. However he told me I was being too strong and could I take it a bit easy. I honestly thought that I was taking it easy and I told him so. He didn’t seem to keen to carry on, so after a short conversation he broke off again for another coffee break. I looked across at Elaine and I could tell that she was pissed off. She left the matt and sat down. That left the other” Instructor” free to try to sell me some of his “Snake Oil”. This one apparently likes to demonstrate his version of dynamic arsholism on his students. So after he shows me how well he can hurt a compliant opponent I conclude that it is time to leave. I thanked them (for allowing us to watch) we just left them to carry on with their session. Elaine couldn’t get out of there fast enough. She just rushed off without a backward glance and I could tell she was very upset and in part 2 of this blog Elaine will tell her story herself. I hadn’t given them any information on my background or rank and to be honest I didn’t wish to and neither did they ask me. Apart from at one point the assistant Instructor asked me how long I had been training to which my reply was 40 odd years. Now to anyone with a modicum of common sense this should have imported some sort of message/warning but no, he just carried on regardless.
So to conclude this story from my perspective, all I will say is, I believe that before you stick your head above the parapet you should always have a sneaky peek or better still use a periscope. If you really wish to see the bigger picture you don’t need new glasses, you just want to get things in focus.
There will be a concluding part from myself (Elaine Johnston) very soon.

The integrety of your students is paramount. always treat them with respect, regard and humility and in return they will allow you the authority you need to teach them well.

The integrity of your students is paramount. always treat them with respect, regard,honesty and humility and in return they will allow you the authority you need to teach them well.

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