Adaptive Karate Blog: With John & Elaine Johnston

John and Elaine Johnston have started up their own blog which will be well worth checking out.  Sensei John Johnston is a 6th Dan Shotokan Karate and the people who he has trained with reads like a “who’s who” of early UK Shotokan Karate.  He has competed at high level when it was much rougher than today’s competitions and has also done a lot of door work.

His wife, Elaine is a 2nd Dan and has an interest in psychology and Yoga, so she also bring her own unique insights into the mix as well.  This will make it a very well rounded martial arts blog.

Sensei Johnston was also Geoff Thompsons first martial arts instructor and was one of the main influence of Geoff, teaching him that Karate needs to be adapted to make it work on the streets.  Geoff Thompson said of Sensei Johnston:

“John was and still remains probably the greatest influence to my development in martial arts, taking me through all those vital fundamental lessons, offering me (free) private lessons when he saw my potential; he even brought my suit and belt for me when I didn’t have enough money. He is a great influence and great friend and a powerful presence in British martial arts. Without John I would not in any way be doing what I am doing today and I am very grateful to him for that, and I highly recommend him and his instruction to anyone looking to fast track their martial arts”.

The blog is called Adaptive Karate Blog and already has a few postings on it.  Please take the time to check it out from time to time.

The Five Steps of Selling – by Graham Butcher

After a bit of a break, here is the 3rd article by Graham Butcher, Author, International Stav Teacher & Master, to help you market your club.  Although we may think of ourselves as above “selling our classes”, any interaction with a prospective student does really include a sales process.  Graham gives you guidance below to help you to be more effective at this.

At the end of this article, you will find a link to an interview that I did with Graham back in March 2012.  Well over to Graham for his article:

You may think that you don’t actually sell your martial arts training. Well perhaps not in the way that a car dealer sells a vehicle. However you will have conversations when someone comes into your Dojo and asked about training with you. Or they phone or email and ask for more details. Or you may be at an event such as the charity martial arts event which took place in Portishead early this year and find yourself in conversation with a potential student. In these situations you owe it to yourself and your club to deal with a potential student in a systematic and professional way.

According to marketing expert Chris Cardell there are five factors in making a sale. The first step is rapport, next knowing needs, then meeting objections and finally closing.  The fifth factor is an overall belief in what you are offering, if you don’t have that then you will be neither convincing to others or being honest with yourself.  So lets look at this in more detail and consider how you can apply this concept to a martial arts club.

Rapport basically means getting on with people and making them feel at ease.  This largely means being relaxed and simply being yourself. If you are tense and frustrated about something then it is going to be difficult for you to make others feel at ease. You can also help by mirroring the other person, this means adapting your communication to them. So if you have a confident young man in front of you then a fairly loud and fast voice delivery and some gesticulation may well be very appropriate. If if is a middle aged woman who is interested in taking up martial arts for the first time and is rather nervous at the prospect then speaking slowly and quietly may be best. If it is a small child then sitting or kneeling to make eye contact on the same level as you talk may be a good idea.

The most important thing in establishing rapport is that you pay attention to the other person and that brings us to the second stage, ascertaining needs.  The temptation when trying to make a sale is to start telling the potential customer how wonderful your product is and bombarding them with reasons why it is so great. This is a big mistake because you have already managed to convince them that your style is worth considering. You know this by the fact that you are having the conversation with them at all. So now you need to be discovering what their needs are. You will do this from asking them questions and, much more important, paying attention to the questions they ask you. It is also essential that you are honest with them as to whether or not your club is really going to be right for their needs. If you have someone asking about the spiritual benefits of practicing Kata as moving meditation and your training is all geared to preparing for MMA competitions then you may do well to direct the person to the local Tai Chi class. Have names and phone numbers at hand if possible.

All instructors find themselves confronted with the same situation and other teachers may well make referrals back to you when appropriate.

Once you have established that your class may meet their needs then you have to be ready for objections. Objections are usually based on cost and risk, eg how much is this going to cost me in money, time and effort? What am I risking if something goes wrong? Money shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you are clear up front about the costs. If they claim it is expensive then point out that you rent an appropriate premises for training, that classes are kept to a size so that there is individual attention for each student and so on.

Just make sure they know that there are no hidden costs that are going to be sprung on them later such as huge fees for gradings. If gradings are expensive because you get a top instructor over from Japan to judge progress then this may be a plus point. Just be up front about it from the beginning. Often people are afraid of getting hurt and that is a legitimate concern in martial arts training. All you can do is emphasize the care with which classes are managed, your first aid training, insurance etc.

But again be honest and let them know what the risks are in your class, for example a postman has to be able to walk a long way each day for his job so if strained knees are an occupational hazard in your style our hypothetical postie might be forgiven for thinking twice before training with you.

A common way is to overcome objections is to offer a free first class so that the potential student can try out the class at no financial risk. This can be disruptive to the rest of a regular class so if you have a lot of inquiries it may be a better idea to do a special introductory session specifically for first timers. Which brings us to the fourth stage which is the close.

It is all too easy to have a very satisfactory conversation about your style and agree that your class sounds absolutely wonderful and then the person just wonders off and you never see them again. So if you really think this person should be training with you then close the sale with a call to action. Ideally get them to give you their contact details so that you can send them more information and keep in touch with them. Don’t pester them relentlessly but six further contacts over a reasonable period would be okay. If someone doesn’t want to be contacted any more they will usually tell you directly. Otherwise it is reasonable to assume that they just haven’t gotten around to showing up yet and they actually appreciate the continued effort.

Reasons you might create for making contact might be that you are holding an introductory open class, that you have published a new leaflet which you are sending them, created a new website for them to visit, opening a new class near to where they live, taking part in a open event and they may like to attend. Even if they don’t respond themselves there is every chance they will pass the information on to someone else who will.

To summarize, be approachable and establish rapport, pay attention to the needs being communicated, be ready to answer objections and then make a call to action at the end. All the time be true to your beliefs and values in everything you say and promise.

For more information about Graham, please visit:  www.iceandfire.org.  If you would like to add your own thoughts/experience to help others promote their clubs, please leave your comments below.

Womens Self Defence Blogging Carnival

Welcome to the Blogging Carnival for Women’s Self Defense.  This is part of a series of blogging carnivals set up by Colin Wee of Joong Do Kwan.  I am honoured to be the host for this particular carnival.

Any self defense situation can obviously be very serious, but women’s self defense can carry the additional burden of sexual assault and rape which men don’t usually have to contend with.  This can leave emotional scars for a lifetime which affect a women’s self image, self esteem and her ability to make and maintain healthy relationships in the future.  It goes beyond the normal fears that men face.

Unfortunately this carnival has not been quite as well supported as the previous blogging carnival where the subject was Anti Bullying, which was hosted on Colin Wee’s blog.

Nevertheless, I would like to thank all those who have taken part and have contributed.  The contributions are listed below and I recommend them all to you.

 

Blogging Carneval by Traditional Teakwondo Ramblings

Womens Self Defense by Tracy’s Kenpo Karate

Women’s Self Defense, Circa 1947 by Cook Dings Kitchen

Women’s Self Defence: Developing A World Class Offering, by Colin Wee

Women’s Self Defence – Blogging Carnival by Going My Way

Thoughts On Women’s Self Defence by Soo Shim Kwan

Women’s Self Defence:  Why It’s Different by Bunkai Jutsu

PS:  Just as a curiosity, the word defense/defence is spelt differently in different parts of the world.  The American way is “defenSe”, the British way is “defenCe”.

Womens Self Defense: Why It’s Different For Women

Women’s self defence requires  extra considerations to men’s self defence.  Sometimes they will face the same issues as a man, such as mugging  or possibly a same sex fight.  But with women there  is of course the issue of sexual predators which is not usually a consideration for men!  For men, it is most likely to be either a mugging or a dominance fight (“macho” men trying to show who is toughest).  Dominance fights do occur between women, but are far less common.

So what different considerations would you need for a sexual attack?

Firstly, it will be of course be very close quarters.  Many dominance fights can be close quarters, but they tend to go for head locks and controlling limbs.  With a sexual attacks, the attacker will more likely be trying to pull his victim front of torso to front of torso.  He will also most likely try to get her on back.  Either way, there will be little room
for strikes and kicks will be next to impossible.

People often say, “just kick/knee them in the b**ls”!  Easier said then done.  Firstly, the attacker will be aware of this counter, so he is not going to make it easy.  Secondly, he will be trying to get his legs between hers to pry her legs open; if he succeeds then so the opportunity for this kind of counter will be impossible.

Obviously if a woman can use a pre-emptive strike to a vulnerable target before it gets to that stage, she may be able to get out of the whole situation much earlier.  But assuming that for whatever reason that a good pre-emptive strike has not happened or has not been successful, and the attacker has his victim on her back and is on top of her; what options are left open to her?

Should a woman actually end up in this highly vulnerable position, the best bet is to use hands to vulnerable targets like eyes, ears, temples etc.  The attacker may well try and force kisses on her in which case she could bite his face.  Instinct is always going to tell a woman to pull her head back away from the attacker and that is what he will be expecting.  But if she does the opposite and thrusts her head forward for a bite, she could catch him off guard.  Rather than just biting and letting go, if she can secure a grip with her teeth and hold on, they she can cause a lot of high level prolonged pain.  Bites are often under rated in self defence.

It may make him more angry, but enough pain will distract him from his sexual desires.  It will also make him the one who pulls back, giving openings for elbow or palm heal strikes and possibly a window to escape!

Another strategy is to appear to give in and co-operate.  It will be counter instinctive as every fibre of the women’s body will be one of disgust to allow the attacker to touch her private parts.  But this could take him off guard allowing her the opportunity to counter when he least expects it.

I did hear a story of a lady who was attacked by a rapist.  After an initial fight which she was losing, she said something to the effect of “OK, OK, if we’re going to do this, lets do it properly and stop the fighting”.  The guy relaxed thinking he had won.  She then started fondling him.  She then squeezed his testicles very very tightly.  She was able to escape leaving the guy in a crumpled heap.

It takes a lot of courage to attempt that as well as having to overcome your own feelings of nausea; but it can be very effective.  In the heat of the moment and with adrenalin limiting the brains normal functions, many strategies and ideas can be forgotten about; so it will help to drill these tactics under some kind of pressure.

Interview With John Kelly 4th Dan Shotokan Karate

I have been very fortunate and honoured to have been asked to publish the following interview with John Kelly.  Both interviewer and interviewee are high grade and distinguished Shotokan Karateka.

The interviewer is John Johnston, 6th Dan, who has previously given a fascinating interview with myself on this website.  This time though, he has interviewed his friend, Sensei John Kelly, who is a truly amazing man.  Having survived a near death crash that would have killed most men, or at least made them lose the will to live; John Kelly has come back fighting.  He is now a 4th Dan, runs his own association (the Munster Shotokan Karate Association) and even does door work.  Some people just can’t be kept down!

So I’ll pass you over to John Johnston and John Kelly for an insight into a truly inspirational Karateka:

 

JJ:    I know you started Karate when you were quite young, when and where was that?

JK:       I went to a Karate demonstration in my home village (Kilmacthomas, County Waterford, Ireland) in 1982; I was blown away with the movements, power, speed and power breaking.

John Kelly in Moksu

The Instructor was Dermot Carew, Chief Instructor to the R.I.K.A. (Republic of Ireland Karate Association). I joined immediately with my twin sister.

There were 95 members originally, so classes had to be separated by age and so on. Training was tough but I loved every minute.

Out of the 95 members only 5 stayed to Shodan and only 2 for Nidan myself and my twin sister. I am the only one from the original bunch still training.

Although now I have 4 clubs of my own (Munster Shotokan Karate Association).

JJ:    At what age did you start to compete and how successful was you?

JK:     I competed almost straight away and was very successful both home and abroad, being selected for the squad early in my kumite years. For a small guy I was well known for my flexibility and fast kicks.

JJ:    We all know that Shotokan is your chosen style, what made you choose it and stay with it?

JK:     I guess it was from the first demonstration when I saw the power, speed and destruction with one’s bare hands and feet.

After many years competing I have always felt shotokan to be the stronger art with much more power in its kumite and kata.

It is like a book with no final page, you never stop learning. Shotokan is the ultimate and covers all areas.

 JJ:     We also know that you have experienced other Martial Arts. Tell us a little bit about which ones and your impressions?

JK:      I tried kick boxing in the early years and Taekwondo. Mainly for more competition. I enjoyed the physical fighting in the kick boxing but in the early days of kumite it was very physical also. I remember my dad and mam saying to me after several competitions “why would you stay doing a sport that leaves you with a black eye, split lip. Or broken nose” THE GOOD OLD KUMITE DAYS.

Kumite these days is a lot tamer than then, with more and more kids joining and competing I suppose it’s for the best. 

JJ:     John, you are known as a man who will not compromise.  How does that work out for you in today’s financial climate and people looking for instant results?

JK:    Well I suppose in Karate, I will not allow students to grade unless they are competent with their relative grading syllabus, to many allow students to grade once they have paid their fee. This is all too common. But sadly the only one that suffers is the students who will find out very quickly that they cannot compete comfortably at their grade level.

As a coach it is my job to ensure a high standard and that all members when they compete have an equal opportunity and not compete above their grade level.

There is no set time for Shodan as far as I am concerned. It is better for a student to earn their grade than to buy it.

I am fair in competition if I am reffing, the student that deserves the win will get the win whether they are mine or from a different club.

I suppose in business things have changed a lot and as a Professional Painting and Decorating contractor you have to be firm, it is a cut throat business.

All in all if a student is dedicated they would rather wait a bit longer to earn their grades but if they want to progress quicker and become a black belt at 6 or 7 they may go elsewhere.

JJ:      We know that you had a few personal setbacks over the years. If you don’t mind I’m sure people would love to hear about them and how you coped.

JK:     Yes I had my fair share of knock backs; in the summer of 1997 I was very busy at my Painting and Decorating work. With that summer being very good, I worked long hours 7 days a week .

It caught up on me on 18th August 97 when I feel asleep while driving and hit a wall with concrete post with steel cables running through them.

There was nothing left of the car and my head.

I sustained 9 multiple skull fractures, broken neck in 2 places, right eye socket crushed, left shoulder crushed, all facial bones fractured and my right eye was hanging out.

I had to have many reconstructive operations and had a front lobe elevation as the top part of my head ended up down by my chin.

Even though it took many years to recover fully, I honestly believe Karate had a lot to do with my mental strength in my recovery as well as help from the man upstairs.

I was very lucky to survive such a horrific road accident and look at Karate a lot different now.

I try to give back to it and the members what it gave me.

One thing I will always remember was the pains in my head for so many years; sometimes I would physically cry it was so unbearable.

But life is for living, there was a poor guy in Cork hospital around that time that was in a less serious car crash but the difference was when his brain swelled it had no room as his head was not fracture, poor man ended up brain dead for life, my skull had several open fractures , the brain was visible (yuk) but when the brain swelled it had room.

I feel very lucky today, 15 years later I have a beautiful wife and son.

Still have a few more operations to go but will deal with them when they come up. 

If I could give advice to anyone, no matter how bad their situation is whether it be financial, medical or personnel, there is always someone worse off and never to give up, where there is a will there is a way.

JJ:     You were very lucky.

JK:   Yes I was very lucky, I still have some major operations to go, you don’t come out of a smash and sustain those types of injuries without some problems down the line.

I remember not being able to do even one press up after the smash but when I went back training my Instructor had to pull me to one side, he said “slow down you are not the same man, you body needs to slowly strengthen , slow and steady and you will get there”.  He was right, I guess in my head I thought I was the same and did not want to come to terms with my competition years being gone so early.

Now I try to give the members my experience and opportunities I never had.

But yes Karate gave me strength both physically and mentally and also the drive to now pass on and teach rather than compete. 

I would have to say my wife has been very supportive both in Karate and during my recovery.  In my competition years she was always there to cheer me on, I was not the easiest person to be around or live with at that time of the crash and recovery period.

I have a young son now and hopefully some day he will take it up. But that choice will be his when he is old enough.

JJ:     You’ve stuck to Shotokan where as many people who have door experience have turned to Reality–Based Martial Arts or MMA. What are your reasons for that?

JK:    Many train for door work in these martial arts as if preparing for aggro to use at the slightest hint of trouble, this is the wrong mentality, and is the cause of many conflicts.

I happen to fall into this line of work as a second income only and treat it as any other job.

Obviously you are dealing with alcohol and drug induced members of the public and have to be firm but fair.

You can deal with most situations by talking and having a good partner or team to cover you, aggression attracts aggression. If you portray a hard man image as a bouncer you will attract trouble where as if you treat people like human beings while still being firm but fair, you will gain respect and fewer enemies.

I think Shotokan has it all, how to deal with any situation.

JJ:     As I look at Karate in Ireland as compared to the UK, I get the impression that it is a lot more unified. Do you share that feeling?

JK:    Well as you know there is too much ego, politics and B–l S–t in Karate worldwide. In Ireland there is a high standard in the different groups and organisations.

They all seem to support each other at events/ seminars and competitions. So yes I would agree.

Sadly there is little or no funding for Karate in Ireland, I’m not sure about the UK.

JJ:      Your Clubs are having allot of competition success. Tell us about that and how you see their future?

JK:     Yes the members are very competitive and can’t seem to get enough.  They have made it to medal position Regionally, Nationally and Internationally in most competitions over the last few years.

We are also members of ONAKAI (Official National Amateur Karate Association of Ireland) www.onakai.org.  I am appointed by ONAKAI as Munster Junior Kumite Coach and take this role very serious and working with clubs and instructors develop students to represent their country at International events.  European/world and hopefully the Olympics in 2020.  I am also ONAKAI Munster regional secretary. 

We make the training fun but at the same time disciplined, win lose or draw they are all winners once they set foot on the tatami.

I try to explain to them in order to be a good winner you first have to be a good loser, always to bow and shake hands with your opponent.  There is a lot to be learnt from a lose. 

I hope to have students compete and represent their country in either EKF/WKF European or world championships some day.  That would be any clubs dream.

JJ:     Unlike a lot of senior Instructors you like to expose your students to a variety of Instructors. I myself think that is a very healthy approach. Is that why you do it?

JK:    I like to expose the students to many Instructors; some might think it is not wise as they may make you look less skilled as some are exceptional.

My job is to teach and to develop the students and myself the best way I can and not to just stand at the top of the class promoting myself. To many I think discourage there students from training or competing with other clubs or organisations, I try to give the members more opportunities than I had over the years

They can learn so much from a variety of seminars/course with guest instructors. We also open our courses/seminars and competition s to everyone regardless of affiliation or association. Strictly no politics/ego’s, our doors are open to all.

We have a good relationship with the many groups/organizations and associations in Ireland and further afield.

We are there to develop the members both physically, mentally and to teach them to have an open mind to make their own way on their journey in Karate-do and life

JJ:     Are there any incidents whilst bouncing that you would like to tell us about, without incriminating yourself?

JK:     There are a few serious and humorous  ones but I will tell you in person as that job is separate to Karate and I would prefer to keep it that way.

JJ:      Over the years you’ve done quite allot of Door Work. What transferable skills would you say come from Karate training?

JK:     I would probably say confidence and control as you know yourself you get quite a lot of verbal abuse and I believe most situations can be handled if you are calm and able to diffuse a situation by talking rather that getting physical

JJ:      What are your likes and dislikes about Karate today?

JK:     I like most everything about Karate today, some are not happy if Karate makes it to the Olympics as they feel if kumite gets in Kata is left out and there goes traditional Karate.

Hmmmm. I don’t know. WKF is very fast and with 8 points it makes a fight out of it, giving the competitors a fighting chance.

In my opinion Kata should also be added to the Olympic’s as it is fabulous to watch and is one of the core values of a Karate, the 3 K’s Kihon, Kata and Kumite.

Karate is less funded than other martial arts for example kickboxing go figure. I think it would be good and give it the recognition it deserves and would grow clubs and members worldwide.

Dislikes, too much bull shit, egos and politics for my liking.

 

 

I would like to thank John Johnston for conducting this interview and forwarding it to me.

I would especially like to thank John Kelly for agreeing to be interviewed and for sharing his very traumatic experiences with us.  To go through something like that and able to come back achieve what John Kelly has achieved is a real inspiration to all martial artist.