My attention was recently drawn to a post on Sensei John Johnston’s Adaptive Karate Blog. This post has been written by Jamie Clubb and was about John Johnston himself. It also quotes Geoff Thompson a number of times talking about his training and experiences with John Johnston. Having interviewed Sensei Johnston myself some time ago Continue reading “Psyche of a Warrior: John Johnston by Jamie Clubb” »
I was surprised to see in one of my regional papers today a story about a slightly-built unassuming 15 year old Taekwondo exponent who got the better of a would be mugger. So I thought I’d share it with you:-
WHEN a would-be mugger approached slightly-built teenager Henry Watts determined to steal his wallet and phone, he got much more than he bargained for.
The criminal, who grabbed the Staple Hill teenager on the Bristol to Bath cycle path and aggressively demanded his possessions, had no idea his potential victim was an expert in the martial art taekwondo.
Instead of handing over his valuables, Henry, 15, put his self-defence skills to good use. And in a scene straight out of the movie The Karate Kid, he freed himself from the mugger’s grasp and punched him in the face.
But rather than bragging about what he had done, Henry carried straight on to school, where he did not tell anyone about his unusual start to the day.
It was only that evening when he told his dad, Paul, what had happened. Mr Watts then contacted the police. Henry told The Post: “I usually walk to school with my younger brother Josh but was running a little bit late, so was on my own.
“I saw a man walking towards me with his head down, but suddenly he had hold of my jacket and was asking for my phone and wallet.
“I used an arm lock move to get his hand off my jacket – it basically involves getting his arm and twisting it around – and then I punched him in the face so that I could get away.
“I got off the track and ran up some stairs onto the common before carrying on to school.
“I didn’t really think much of it until later in the day, and then I felt quite shocked.
“I didn’t really want my dad to tell the police at first but he said what if it had been my brother, who is only 11?
“That made me realise that what had happened was quite serious.”
Henry wholly credits his twice-weekly taekwondo lessons for his quick-thinking reaction.
“The whole thing didn’t take longer than 15 seconds,” he said.
“It never crossed my mind to hand over my things.
“My first reaction was to defend myself, and I think that’s because of my taekwondo lessons.”
His mum Alice Watts, 41, a finance officer, told The Post: “Henry is quite slight for his age and was wearing headphones.
“I think the man might have thought he was an easy target, but didn’t realise that he knew how to defend himself. He’s been doing taekwondo on and off for about five years and obviously used some of those moves to defend himself.”
Andy Davies, chief instructor at Black Belt Academy in Staple Hill, has been Henry’s taekwondo teacher for around 18 months.
Henry, who is in Year 10 at Mangotsfield School, is graded a green belt, which means he knows around half the skills needed to be awarded the elite black belt.
“We teach a mix of taekwondo and kick boxing using a range of oriental weapons,” said Mr Davies. “The biggest thing that we try to do is to keep things simple and practical.
“Henry is a very diligent and quiet person – he’s the last person I would have expected to do what he did.
“But it shows that he had the confidence to use the moves he’d learned in a real setting to defend himself.
“It’s that confidence that we really try to instil in people.
“That takes time and training – the moves have to be practised and repeated over a period of time.
“We try to teach martial arts as a way of life and I am very proud of Henry and what he did to defend himself.
“I would like more children to learn the skills that martial arts teaches so that more can learn how to defend themselves in these sorts of situations.”
A police spokeswoman told The Post that no arrests had yet been made but an investigation continues into the incident.
It happened between 8.30am and 8.40am on November 6, on the Bristol to Bath cycle track near Rodway Common in Mangotsfield.
Police are looking for a man aged 20 to 30, with a pale complexion, who is about 5ft 7in tall and skinny, with green eyes, a goatee beard and light brown scruffy hair. He was wearing a grey or blue hooded jumper at the time of the incident.
Anyone with information about the attacker should contact the police on 101.
Well done Henry Watts, huge respect to you 🙂
Pictured below is John Johnston being awarded his 7th Dan Shotokan Karate by Geoff Thompson and Dev Barrett at Dev Barrett’s Dojo in Coventry which is the hometown and birthplace of these 3 great men. Continue reading “John Johnston Is Awarded His 7th Dan” »
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. Continue reading “Adaptive Karate Blog: With John & Elaine Johnston” »
The British Combat Association was formed almost 20 years ago in the United Kingdom for the pragmatically biased martial artist who wanted realism over sport or style.
Iain Abernethy who is one of the BCA senior instructors and a world famous instructor for applied bunkai has been teaching all over the world and noted the need for a similar organisation on an international level. Continue reading “Launch Of The World Combat Association” »
I came across this story by chance in a local paper. It was just so awesome that it had to be shared. Next time you feel too tired to train, or think you’d rather watch the telly instead, think of this young lad from the Bath TKD club. This is where the grown ups can really learn from the kids.
The following is copied from the Bath Chronicle On-Line paper:
A boy who had to learn to walk and talk again after a brain tumour is now heading for a black belt in tae kwon do.
Daniel Kimmins, 11, from Odd Down was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006.
After a battle to walk and talk again, he returned to school and tae kwon do in 2009, and has won his red belt and is now working towards his black one.
Bath Tae Kwon Do Club Instructor Rob Morris said: “I truly never thought I’d see the day Daniel would return, let alone reach such a high level.
“He continues to be an inspiration to all members at the club.
“In the 20 years I have been teaching I have never seen anyone with as much fighting spirit – it is truly humbling.”
Daniel was six years old when he started suffering from constant headaches and vomiting, causing his worried mum Heidi to take him to the Royal United Hospital.
She was told he had a virus and they were sent home, but when his health started to deteriorate, the health problems returned.
Daniel was then diagnosed with a brain tumour, and was transferred to Frenchay Hospital near Bristol for two operations.
Five weeks later, he was moved to Bristol Children’s Hospital for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Daniel faced another challenge to learn to walk and talk again, after one operation to remove the tumour left him mute and unable to move the left side of his body.
The cancer had also spread to his spine, confining him to a wheelchair for two years.
Now, five years on, Daniel still has six monthly MRI scans at the RUH, and check-ups at Bristol Children’s Hospital. Although he is not yet in remission, he is improving all the time, but still has problems with balance and walking up stairs.
Heidi said she was very proud of his courage and determination.
She said: “Everything Daniel does amazes me.
“He is so determined to have a normal life and carry on with all the things he loves, like tae kwon do.
“I am just so proud of him. He is a very brave and determined boy.”
As a mark of his courage Daniel was awarded an award from his club for his “indomitable spirit”.
He has also been given a Cancer Research UK Little Star Award in recognition of his achievements.
By Graham Butcher:
Charlie kindly asked me to contribute to this site after our Stav demonstration in the Martial Arts Festival which was held in Bath in May 2010. After a gap of a few months I am very pleased to do so. Members of Ice and Fire Stav were honoured to take part in the Festival and since Stav is a relatively unknown training system it gave us a valuable opportunity to showcase our practice. I am also grateful for the opportunity here to explain more about Stav and shed more light on its unusual origins.
Stav was brought to the UK by Ivar Hafskjold see in the early 1990s. Ivar grew up in postwar Norway where he learned the family tradition of body, mind and spirit training from his Grandfather and elder uncles. Stav had been passed down through the family for many generations but was being lost simply because the post war generation were
finding better things to do such as studying at university etc. There is a similar trend in the orient today where Japanese and Chinese young people would frequently rather play baseball than learn traditional Bushido or Taoist arts. Ivar however had a serious interest and learned as much as he could from his uncles and Grandfather but there was a limit to what his elderly mentors could teach him on the practical side of things. So in his early 30s he went to Japan where he remained for 14 years and during that time made an intensive study of Japanese martial arts.
Stav literally means “knowledge of the rune staves” and these 16 symbols are the basis for the system. They are used most directly as posture, breath and meditation exercises which we call the stances. When performed in their basic form the stances look very much like a simple Tai chi form. The more advanced versions use chants to enhance breath and raise energy levels and these are comparable to Chi gung forms. If you daily practice Stav then your Stav practice is to do one version or another of the Stances every day and these are a sort of Kata. The runes have all kinds of uses beyond the relevance of this article but one of their purposes is to reveal the Web of Orlog. This simply means the underlying reality of a situation. The web is made up of lines. These may be lines of a structure, or lines of effort and energy, or simply lines of intent. In a combat situation there are lines which connect you to the opponent and vice versa. There are lines that matter and
those that don’t. When attacked we need to be aware of the lines of force which can hurt us, so avoid or divert them. Also the lines which are of no importance and simply ignore them. When countering we are looking for the line or lines which will collapse the attacker’s web and neutralise them. This means more than just hitting someone on a vulnerable spot, although that can be pretty effective. We are aiming to take the line through the body and thus disrupt their balance and take them down.
In order to develop an awareness of the lines repeated cutting practice is used.
Actually cutting wood with an axe or sax (Scandinavian equivalent of a machete,
Anglosaxon; Seax) was probably the traditional way of doing it and this is a very effective way of learning to take a clean line very accurately. But we also do the kind of cutting training that comes from Ken jutsu or the striking exercises which come from Jo jutsu. These Ivar learned during his 14 years in Japan where he attained 4th dan in both these arts. We now use the axe and full length staff rather than boken and jo but the principle is still the same. This weapon practice teaches us to work with the lines outside the body while the stances teach us to use them internally.
The third element of Stav training is practising drills which teach the five principles of Stav. Ivar teaches five simple exercises with the staff defending against attacks with sword or axe which he learned from his grandfather. These are our traditional Kata and it is the application of their lessons which makes Stav effective. I’ll briefly outline the five principles: The first one is called the Trel or slave principle and this one teaches you to back off from a situation where you have no real interest in getting involved. The second is the Karl or freeman principle which is about keeping people out of your space. The third is the Herse or warrior principle which is about enforcing your will on an opponent and taking them under control. The fourth is the Jarl or priest principle which is where you deal with the attacker by disassociation. The fifth the Konge or king principle which is where you take them down simply because you can, or take the consequences. Over the past 20 years we have developed a number of two person drills with different weapons and unarmed which teach the five principles. These are effectively short kata with very direct applications. In all
training we are looking to work with the web and this very often means using one
stance or another, or combinations of them to provide techniques and to interpret the technique according to the principles we are working on.
This has created a very satisfying martial training system to work with and it provides a very practical selfdefence training system too. This works because we learn how to act in a conflict situation before we need to worry about what we should actually do. Supposing the classic: “Who the **** do you think you are looking at?” scenario starts to develop? If it is none of your business and there is nothing to prove then you adopt the Trel mindset which is solely concerned with avoiding getting hurt, this means being firm and confident but strongly communicating the message that you are not going to fight and simply removing yourself from the situation. If grabbed or punched your response would simply be to put sufficient distance between you and the attacker to render any further attack pointless. Once your tormentor has proved his point that
he is “the man” and you are “not worth it” then hopefully he will cease.
If the scenario is someone trying to force their way into your home or other space for which you are responsible then you need to operate on the Karl level. This basically ensures that an intruder doesn’t get past you. Again you hope that confidently communicating the message that they are not going to be allowed to come in will do the trick and most of the time it will. If they do try to force their way in then shifting your body so that you can block their head and lead foot simultaneously will prevent their entering, once momentum is checked then pushing them outside and shutting the door or calling for help should be possible.
If you do have some responsibility for keeping order, such as being a policeman or a doorman then you are in the Herse role. In this case the key is to make sure that an opponent knows that you have the authority to order them to leave or detain them. If you can communicate this effectively then you will probably manage the situation just fine. But if you do have to get physical then the person should be taken off balance and controlled as decisively as possible. You should of course also have some way of summoning back up as soon as possible.
In the case of dealing with multiple opponents or you have greater concern than the fact you are being attacked, dealing with a casualty for example, then you are probably in a Jarl role. This means you are allowing your sub conscious mind to deal with the attack while your conscious mind focuses on more significant matters. This can be very effective but does require a well trained mind set.
Back to the idiot who was bothering you in the first example. He doesn’t back off when you made it clear you didn’t want to fight him, his mates are blocking your escape , no one around is likely to help you so what have you spent 20 years studying martial arts for anyway? The Konge attitude is: “ a minute from now he is going to be very sorry he picked on me, or I will realise that I might as well have being doing embroidery rather than sweating in a dojo.”
It should also be clear that it is your responsibility to be honest with yourself as to which principle you can realistically get away with any given situation and switch principles when necessary. They are essentially options for choices, you make the choice, you live or die with the one you make.
It should also be clear that although the concepts can be explained in a few hundred words it takes years of correct training and regular practice to get to the point where “seeing” the lines and using them instinctively becomes second nature. I will look at some of the ways we train for this in subsequent articles.
Courses are held regularly at various venues, the next one is near Salisbury on the 5th of February: http://www.iceandfire.org.uk/train.html
And if you would like the opportunity to train with Ivar himself then we hold the Stav Summer Camp in July: http://www.stavcamp.org
Note from Charlie: If you would like to find out more about Stav and are unable to attend any of Graham’s courses, then you might like to consider his book.
I would like to wish everybody a very happy Christmas holiday to you and your family and I hope you have a great time and a well earned break.
Also, please note that some of the DVD’s ordered from me are taking longer than usual to arrive. This is probably due to the extra post at Christmas time. I had one DVD sent to California (from the UK) on the 9th Dec and it only just got there on the 21st (12 days). If you are waiting on an order, please be patient, things should get back to normal soon.
You may have noticed that I’ve changed things around a bit on this site. Previously, I had offered 2 free bonus videos for anybody joining the newsletter. However, I felt that these video bonuses were, to be honest, a little bit random. Also, being filmed in my living room with a radiator in the background, I did not feel that they were very professional looking and that you deserved better.
So what I’ve done is re-structure the bonuses into a 5 part course on How To Become Good At Bunkai. I thought, why do people come to a site like this in the first place? The answer seemed obvious, it’s because they are interested in bunkai and want to learn more. So I thought, how can I help these people and add value for them. The best way I could think of was to help teach people to work out bunkai for themselves. Too often, people rely on others to teach them as they either lack confidence to work out bunkai, or they feel that they do not have the right. This is restrictive thinking.
Also, depending on others to teach you can be a bit restrictive, depending on who you train with. But if you can learn to work them out for yourself, then there are no limits to how much you can learn. But you need a certain amount of base knowledge first, as much of it is done by “read across”. The more you learn, the more you are able to work out for yourself. So if you haven’t already signed up for the newsletter, then please do. You’ll get 5 free classes teaching you how to work out bunkai for yourself, plus one surprise bonus video.
To be honest, my first thought was “what can I say about focus mitts“. After all a focus mitt is a focus mitt, they are not complicated pieces of equipment and as long as they can withstand the impact then they do their job!
However, Keith and I gave them a good thrashing to test them out and we both found something that we liked. For me, it was the Velcro strap at the back to secure the pad to the wrist. I usually find with focus mitts that when they get hit hard they tend to slip off and I’m almost “clawing” with finger-tips to keep them in place. With the strap secured tightly around the wrist, this was very much reduced. Simple but effective.
For Keith, he liked that fact that there was no little patch sown into the center of the striking surface, which sometimes splits the skin.
Only time will tell if they are durable, but they seemed tough enough. Overall, we liked them and would be happy to recommend them. Just click on the image to go their website.