Sorry, you have no qualifications…

When I was younger ( yes I was ) when ever I looked for a job you had to be qualified and have x amount of years experience but sometimes how do you get the experience if no-one would give you a start?
In martial arts I have found you nearly always start at the bottom, white belt, and work your way up through the grades to the coveted black belt, passing through years of training to gain this lofty title.
What I have found in some areas is that a black belt seems to be given out like sweets at the end of a grading (after a certain amount of cash has changed hands) but after maybe 2 years do they have the experience that goes with the belt or are they truly going back to the Japanese saying of 1st dan is the beginning of the journey not the end?
I started Ninjutsu in my early teens, never thinking I would become a blackbelt , or do it as my full time ( proper job) because some people always wait for me to finish my sentence as if teaching martial arts  for over 40 hours each week is not full time enough for them .
 When I was 18 I was sort of dropped in it by my coach saying that he could not teach anymore and would I be able to teach the 2 training groups we had going at the time, me being young and stupid said yes it would be fun ….I am now 43 so I have taught for to many years for me to count without taking my socks and shoes off, but in that time I have gained black belts in several different arts  and taught thousands of people and have had everything thrown at me over the years ( kicks punches shuriken …) I have had to learn by experience and this has helped me in my daily life with more than 2 trips to Japan, being seen around and brown nosing my way to the top with the helpful  fleecing of students to pay my way. I do not boast about my grades and do not put them in front of me as a calling card I let my training and teaching be my promotion. I may not be a millionaire in the next few years, but I hope I can give good value to the people that train at the AFC and help in anyway I can, that to me means the world!
Everything today seems to come with an angle. You can’t teach this because you need to have to go on our special course that costs £600 then we will let you loose on the poor unsuspecting public so you can over charge them for a piss poor service!  Fitness coaching courses where you can pretend you are in the army 3 days a week and we will all wear green and call it a boot camp! Conditioning is conditioning weather you dress up for it or you put your oldest t-shirt on its what you put into it that counts you don’t need some ponce in camouflage pants or lycra to tell you how to do a push up! Read a book for f**ks sake!  Or find someone with a no-bull shit policy that can answer your questions and help you achieve your goals.
I was once sitting at the back of the pub I used to work in on the door , but was not due thanks to my coach getting excited on a CQB course and dislocating my elbow ( then putting it back in ) so I was in a sling;  meanwhile getting back to the story: a young lad that was going out with one of the barmaids sat next to me and told me I should go to his box aerobics class  were he could help me get fit and learn to punch so my injury would not happen again. With me being very polite I did not want to tell him what I did for a living so he then jumped up and started to show me his self-defence moves (very bad ones) he had learned in a line at his aerobics class!!
Needless to say I did not attend his class and I did not learn his best moves!
If I can’t do a certain movement in my chosen martial arts I will ask someone that I trust to be able to give me the answer  for instance if I keep getting stuck on a certain technique I will ask  Keith Porter , my Ninjutsu Instructor because he has the experience and I know if he does not know the answer there and then ( he always does ) I know he will find out of me and explain it in great detail until my thick brain understands it ( I do get hit for a living). If I have a weight training question or nutritional question I ask one of my best friends and black belts, Alan King. What he does not know about how to build muscle and maintain health could be wrote on the back of a postage stamp.
Sometimes people seem to gain this qualification and that qualification but don’t know how to interact with real people; they have charts for this and charts for that, you are not a chart or a body type you are a person, first and foremost then those things can help you but you come first.
I have taught Uni students for about 16 years, they are intelligent to the point of being stupid, on their chosen subject they are amazing but take them off track into the real world and they are fish out of water, sometime you need to experience life before you can give your opinion on it unlike uni students that have an opinion on everything!
I believe that you should always believe experience and not blindly go with someone that throws his pieces of paper at you telling you they are amazing time will tell!

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

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