All about me me me…

I have often been told I don’t take a compliment very well and it is true, I feel sometimes uncomfortable when someone tells me I have done something well or that they are proud of what I have achieved (I feel that awkward feeling coming on as I write) but for one time only I am going to boast about me…


2013 marks 20 years teaching martial arts full-time and that is a very long time to be beaten up, choked, kicked and dropped on my head, in no particular order. As I sit here writing this, my back is sore all of the time, my knees are a purple colour, my elbows are the same and I spend a lot of time trying to stretch my shoulders and neck so it sometimes feels like a lot longer. I have been training for 30 years.

Over the years teaching and training I have always given 100% to everything I do; I hate not being committed to anything, I feel that if you are going to do something you must do it with your whole being!

I am proud that I have made a gym to be proud of.

The AFC was the first Mixed Martial Arts gym in Newcastle long before it was a trendy thing to do. I had many diverse arts in the same place with none of the bullshit like my art is better than yours and the politics that go with the great art debate. (Mass debate i.e.  a bunch of w**kers )

Now everyone trains in the upright work and the clinch/takedown and the ground work without batting an eye but when the gym first started the stick ouch I got (pun intended)…..

I am glad I did not listen to the said ‘experts’. I felt that we could all get along and I was right; I formed lasting friendships with Martial Artists of every art such as Master John Dawson, Geoff Thompson, Ken Watson, Mick Cassidy (all amazing Martial Artists from arts ranging from kickboxing to taekwon-do to Wing Chun to Reality based systems) they are all nice people and have had such a great effect on me for many years! Just because you have a tap out top on a tattoo and a tan it does not make you a true MMA fighter, these men were and are true MMA (Mixed Martial Artist).

When I was younger I would run down the road eating a bacon and egg quiche that my mam had made as I did not want to be late to teach my Ninjutsu class after just working 6-6 in a T-shirt Factory and as I did not have a car I went via PLT (personal leather transport) just because I did not want to let anyone down and I was about 19 at the time.

I have always taken my Arts very seriously; I always feel that I need to get better and that my technique needs to improve. When I was on a multi-styles course I got told to get off the mat as everyone was being put through a set of warm up exercises, but in my eyes do we not all need to warm up? lol. The organizer then said that I had done more warm ups than that lot put together  but in my heart of hearts I am never  as good as I want to be and I always want to train .
Grades are another thing that I feel a bit shy about, I have the grade of 10th Dan Master teacher in Ninjutsu (I thought I would have a blue glow about me when I was a master lol) but I feel the same as I did 30 years ago when I started the art of Ninjutsu, I am 4thDan in British all styles kickboxing and some days my kicks are good and somedays …… I am 4th Dan and had the honor of being trained and personally graded by Geoff Thompson of the British Combat Association.  I have trained in many other arts, graded in some and just enjoyed others. I feel like I am getting somewhere with the arts I train in, sometimes feeling like the tortoise, in the tale of the tortoise and the hare – I will get there but sometimes it is painfully slow.

I have a great set of fighters (the AFC scrap pack) that I am very proud of that I give 110%. I sometimes put in a double shift at work meaning I teach all day then I catch up with the fighters at the show they are fighting on and work the corner for the most part for free (it even costs me money in tape and petrol and another night out of the house) but if I see that they are giving me 100% I will give them 110% , sometimes I have  done that only for the fighter to leave the gym without a thank you and train somewhere else, this makes me sad that I gave them all of the help I could over the years and they feel the need not to thank me.

I am proud to have trained some very well respected fighters such as Pete Irving, Pete Tiarks, Micky Burns, Lee Campbell, Tom Watson and I have had the privilege to help B J Penn, Alex Garcia, Sean Bollinger when they needed something to name a few, some of them openly seeked me out ,which even now amazes me!

At times over the years I have thought about closing the gym, getting a proper job and just training for me but then I buck my ideas up (or Kerry shouts at me!) and I dust myself off and carry on the path I have chosen – the road that is off the beaten track; I don’t see that many other people on it, so I must be on the right road! Lol

I sometimes feel I am David Carradine from the TV programme Kung Fu (with more hair and a slightly better dress sense) walking the earth trying to help people. LOL

As a kid I loved that show and I do spend most of my time in bare feet so I am half way there on my journey to enlightenment. But I am proud of myself, in what I do and how I live my life, all my students become my friends and I am honored to say I have friends all over the world. I have a waiting list for private classes and my group classes are always busy – I must be doing something right.

But that’s enough about me (I am turning a funny shade of red now)

Be good and enjoy the play

John Atkin

To find out more about The Advanced Fighting Centre visit: or e-mail John Atkin at

2 thoughts on “All about me me me…

  1. Wow. There's alot of things in there I never realised about you. You should talk about yourself more often. It's reassuring to know that even the best martial artists sometimes feel like the tortoise. I also really liked the David Carradine bit. 😀

  2. A great read and very insightful…I hope you don't mind but I'd like to take this opportunity to express a few thoughts…I've been doing martial arts for about 8 years, and in that time I've tried a few disciplines, and learned many wonderful things…but I was always chased by doubts and indecision and found I wasn't entirely satisfied with all they had to offer…things were missing…my search is now over…the relaxed, open and friendly atmosphere in your dojo coupled with the freedom that is so integral to this art is a far cry from the military rigidity of my previous experiences…the biggest shock was being told I could call instructors by their name!Ninjutsu has reignited my passion and zest for martial arts, and, by extension, life…and I am glad…much gratitude to you sir…

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