“Wishing a happy New Year to all our students” – John Sensei

Posted: December 31, 2010 by stainesjujitsu in Uncategorized

As the year 2010 is coming to the end of it’s run the normal thing for us to do at this time is to contemplate what the year 2011 might have in store for us, and of course, the highs and lows of the fading year. For me, 2011 takes me into my fiftieth year of martial arts, and most of it seems only yesterday. I always wanted to practice Judo when I was a young kid but living in a semi-rural agricultural village, the nearest club was two long bus rides away and the family was too poor to have a car, and my dad didn’t drive, so it could only ever be a dream for me at that time. Fact, they say, is stranger than fiction. After school I did a green grocery round for a local greengrocer for the high sum of 15 shillings (about 75p in today’s money) a week, in all weathers. The bike was big, the boxes large and heavy and I was small for my ages. I hated Fridays – didn’t finish until 5:30 and Saturdays was 9 o clock to 1 o clock.

Out of my pay, one week in the October of 1958, aged 14 years and eleven months, I purchased the seventh reprint of ‘Judo’ by E.J.Harrison 3rd Dan (the price was 3 shillings). At that time he was the first Englishman to be awarded the black belt at the Kodokan in Tokyo. I had begun to live that dream.

At that time I was a member of the junior training corp. (J.T.C), the junior part of the church lads brigade, and one night our officer did not turn up and we didn’t know to do, so I said I have been practicing Judo for a month or so. “Where?”, “When?”, “At which club?” and “Who’s your teacher?” they all asked, as there were no clubs in the local area. I replied, “At home in front of the mirror, as often as I can and I have been teaching myself from a book”. “Yeah?” they asked, “Show us something if you can!”. Out came some pre-war coconut mats (not recommended to practice on) and I demonstrated/taught Tsurikomi-Ashi (drawing ankle throw). That was my first instruction class, and thereafter on the Friday night when the officer didn’t turn up, the half-dozen of us practiced Judo, such as it was. No Gis, no breakfall practice and it hurt on those coconut mats. No ‘Elf and Safety’ in them days! But we all survived with no harm done and we all enjoyed it. In the end, the J.T.C folded because we had no permanent officer and we all went on to other things. Mine was that I was now starting my apprenticeship but even then I still didn’t have enough money for those two buses to reach that far off dojo. But I still had that dream and one day it would become a reality.

Some eighteen plus months later in the January of 1961 I walked into the Dojo and onto the cold Tatami with my new very rough and heavy Gi, which cost about £2-10s (£2.50) and paid £2.00 for the quarters fees, which left me just about enough money for the bus fare home. I was now broke, but living that dream. To say that over my many years in martial arts , Judo in particular, has changed my life is an understatement. I owe so much to the many very good conscientious Senseis that I have had the privilege to be instructed by, and trained with, and no words can ever explain how I feel about the talent that I was around in those days, when I was a young student.

The dream is still alive today, but runs now in another direction in that I am now a Sensei and passing on my knowledge, I hope in the same tradition as my Senseis taught me in the past. I am still learning  and now I understand what a very senior Sensei meant, when after four years of having achieved my first dan, he told me, “Now you start to learn!”.

The rest, they say, is history.

John Sensei 5th Dan Jujitsu, 2nd Dan Judo.

  1. Martin says:

    Thank you very much Sensei John for sharing this lovely dream achieving story. It was a honour to read and it is honour to be lead by you and Sensei Alan. Thank you and wish you a successful year 2011.

  2. alansmurf says:

    I suppose he is not a bad old man really….


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