Training to be you!

When you are younger you are more willing to try new things , one week it is skateboarding the next it is football and the list goes on but it’s a brave kid that does not follow the crowd into the next ‘new thing’.

Since I was young (yes I was) I have always followed my own path, in training and in life. I was proud of the lime green socks I wore for high school or that I was friends with everyone not just the popular kids.

I recently went to my years 25th Re-Union; there was  great cross section of people there but it still ended up like being the next day at school; the cool kids talked to the cool kids and the fringe elements talked to the fringe elements. In my eyes nothing much had changed apart from the vast majority seemed that they were in their lives but not living them. The shock on some of their faces when I told them I run a Martial Arts Gym and shocker of all shockers still trained! (I think they watch too many movies of the Sensei shouting commands and strutting around like the king from the king and I) and that teaching Martial Arts was not a proper job, but I think that it sounds funny that people go to an office and move one pile of papers from one side of the desk to the other (a bit like doing math’s home work, then history homework when you are 12!).

This made me think of all the people I admire, people like Geoff Thompson that swam against the stream and fought hard (in many ways) shrugging of all people that said he could not and you can’t to become a writer, playwright and leading light in motivational speaking.

Lady Gaga has inspired me recently listening to how she grew up in New York singing in the car until her dad told her to learn to sing! She was and is still not afraid to be herself in everything she does, like Geoff, if she puts her mind to it she cannot only see it feel it and touch it, she lives it. I stand in awe of these people for going on their own path and struggle on until their goals become reality.

Coming into a martial Art at any age is similar to this struggle. You have the people that turn up but won’t come without their friend and if their friend stops, they will; you have the people that feel intimidated and shy and I always tell them the hardest part of training is walking in the front door.

Everyone that trains in the Martial Arts has the right to be proud of themselves for standing up to the people that make funny noises when you pass by, or move into a ‘fighting stance’ at every occasion. You all at one time or another have said “f**k you” as in the song by Cee lo green and went to training. Well done!

I have said my piece on which Martial Art is best (see old blogs). All are good for the people that enjoy doing that art whatever that maybe. But when you do the art you love it is not wrong to put your individual style to the movements. I can’t move like my Ninjitsu Teacher, Keith Porter, because I am not built the same or think the same as Keith but I can move like me because I am me. Keith inspires me to train better by watching his movement.

When I watch Eddie Bravo roll or Marcelo Garcia, I am amazed by their movements but it also highlights how individual they are. To the untrained eye they are grappling but if you look closely they are grappling as themselves, only they move like they do; their own signature. You can only be you.

On a lighter note I am currently sporting a fine array of coloured toenails painted expertly by my eldest daughter, Molly. In her words my toes are easier to practice on because they are bigger so for the last 2 weeks I have been teaching like this much to the delight of some classes and the horror of others but I do not mind, I am comfortable with myself and Molly says they look great ; that is enough reward just seeing her artwork on my toes and thinking of her!!

Until next time swim against the tide move how you move and be happy being you!

John Atkin

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

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