My name is John Atkin. I live In Newcastle (England) with my wife Kerry, our two daughters Molly, Erin and Nev (Dog). We are the proud owners of the AFC Newcastle.
I first started training at the age of 13, my first passion was Ninjutsu.
In the past, I have trained not only all over England, but in Europe, Japan & America. I continue training and traveling as much as possible.
I got my 1st Dan in 1990 and have never looked back, I am now a 11th Dan in Ninjutsu, 4th Dan BCA (British Combat Association) and 4th Dan BASK (British all styles kickboxing). I am still learning new things every day.
I started teaching at the age of 18 in schools and church halls, but always dreamt of opening my own gym. This became a reality when in 1993 I signed a lease and was on my way.
Rye Hill (Newcastle) 90-93
I suppose this is the first place to start, I was teaching Ninjutsu and was under the instruction of Brian McCarthy. I taught at Rye Hill for 3 years until I had enough money for a place of my own. My students followed me and I still have some of the same students with me today (they must be as mad as me).
To attend seminars we travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles and overseas. As the gym always had a large attendance at normal classes and seminars it became a standard joke of "Here comes the cavalry" (this joke still remains to this day).
BBD (Bunjinkan Brian Dojo) 93-98
My first gym was at the Gallowgate in Newcastle; I had this gym for 5 years and unfortunately had to move (not by choice). I will never forget this gym; I have a lot of great memories as I made a long list of lasting friendships.
At this time, I taught Ninjutsu, Grappling, Weapons, Self Defense, Kickboxing and Kids Classes. I also worked as a door supervisor in Tynemouth and Whitley Bay, this was when my training became reality and spent the next 13 years fine tuning.
Ninjutsu- I was still with Brian and by now I was a 3rd Dan but my eyes were opened to other arts.
Grappling & Self Defense- I had always grappled but I started to look at different styles. After reading “Watch your back”, I wrote to the great Geoff Thompson and never looked back. Geoff came to do seminars and it became a regular thing. To illustrate in 1995 Geoff came and taught a record 17 times in 1 year. In 2000 at a book signing Geoff was doing in Newcastle, he surprisingly presented me with my 4th Dan in the British Combat Association. My friendship with Geoff and Sharon is still strong today and will remain so in the future.
Kickboxing- As part of my training with Brian we regularly kickboxed and sparred (gloved and non-gloved). At this time I was a 3rd Dan and I continued to train both with Brian and other instructors, as well as teaching my own classes. I had the privilege of meeting the legendary John Dawson (don’t get a big head John) who I still train with today (bad penny).
Weapons- As part of Ninjutsu all traditional Japanese weaponry is taught. Knife Awareness and firearms skills are also taught. At this time I also discovered the fun of stick fighting, as well as stick grappling (it’s gotta hurt).
Kids Classes- I decided to mix all the knowledge I had learned over the years and put it into one syllabus. What better place to start then with 4+ year olds as they are like a sponge and soak up everything you throw at them. Giving them a chance in life to try everything and let them decide their own future. Some former Terrapin/Tiger/Dragons have gone on to become amazing MMA fighters and Martial Art black belts.
The A.F.C. is born.
A.F.C (Advanced Fighting Centre 99-00)
In 1999 I moved to a new gym (still not my choice). At this time in my life I left the BBD and found a rebirth for Ninjutsu under the renowned Keith Porter (thank you for putting the real back in Ninjutsu). So I had a new gym and new instructor so what better time to rename myself, so the ADVANCED FIGHTING CENTRE was opened and raring to go!
This journey took us to the Bigg Market (the entertainment centre of Newcastle) this is where the A.F.C was born and was opened by the former world champion Thai boxer Ronnie Green.
I started teaching Kick & Thai boxing for the University of Newcastle.
Also along the way I started to teach professionals which included:
- Prison Officers
- Door Supervisors
- Ministry of Defence
- North Tyneside Council
Like I said before, everyone is welcome! (Only joking).
By this time my other interests expanded to Mixed Martial Arts and I wanted the world to know I could offer a lot more.
I thought that 'advanced fighting' was the way to go so that everyone knew that you could learn more than just one art and you could mix them together. We never really settled in this gym (by we I mean me) and decided to move again luckily just around the corner, this was in 2000.
2nd Floor, 10 High Bridge Street, Newcastle, NE1 1EN
This gym is in the heart of Newcastle (and in me) we have a lot of very good students, instructors and visitors who have come to play. I also have had the opportunity to train in America with the Machado’s and other great instructors.
BJ Penn used the gym for his pre-fight prep leading up to UFC 80 held in Newcastle after being told to "come and see John". This was a great honour and privilege to work and watch BJ win the UFC Lightweight title in Newcastle, knowing in some small way I may have helped.
One Friday evening while having fun teaching stick work to 2 black belts, stick fighting Master Danny Guba walked into the gym and asked if he could show me his system (much to the shock and awe of everyone present). He left us dumbstruck with his amazing skills.
We now have regular visits from 10th Planet Black belt Sean Bollinger and Jeremy Fields two of only a handful of Black Belts Graded by Eddie Bravo in the 10th Planet Ju-jitsu No-Gi System, Sean and Jeremy, come from California, 2 times a year to pass on this amazing art. We had the honour of having Eddie Bravo himself for a seminar in which the AFC members were half of the course (nothing changes).
Alex Garcia, the number 2 ranked welterweight in Canada (George St-Pierre is number 1
And Alex’s training partner at the famous Tri-star gym) came for 2 weeks where he trained taught MMA and cornered at the UFC in Birmingham and showed why he is an up and coming talent in the MMA scene and a lovely laid back but focused individual.
In 2016 we had the honour of the legendary “Dark Destroyer” Nigel Benn who gave a master class and meet and greet and for over 3 hours left the boxers and on lookers awestruck by his amazing skills and personally.
Since being here for 22 years my life has changed in more ways than one. The A.F.C is family run by myself, wife and my 2 daughters.
I cannot believe that I am now training my own daughters all that I know, I am proud to say they are naturals at it. Molly is a Brown belt in kickboxing, she is 6th Kyu in Ninjutsu and also trains in boxing. Erin has trained since the age of 4 and received her junior black belt, she is now an instructor and is on her 3rd tag brown for Kickboxing and MMA, also a 1st Dan in Ninjutsu. They both attend the regular Kick-ass girls courses run at the AFC for practical self-protection for women.
I also have been writing blogs for about 11 years, talking about anything and everything from training to life in general. This snowballed into a blog book that was released on the 1st of April 2017 (great date for a book release) and a self-protection book.
I have several books in the pipeline such as a Ninjutsu blueprint book and stories from my life on the door. This I feel gets my message to a wider audience along with our Youtube channel, so we can help as many people as possible.
So, if you want to come and join in with me and some of the best instructors you will find in the North East and UK with 25+ black belts (for back up) and a long list (too long to name) of students ranging from 10th kyu - 1st kyu contact the AFC and start your journey.
Come and play!