Growing up in the north of England, meant learning how to defend myself in the rough and ready city of my birth - Salford, Lancashire. By age 18 I was pretty good at taking care of myself, and I will admit I was openly aggressive at time. A local karate club had opened near to where I lived and I decided to go and have a laugh at these guys in white pyjamas who made funny shouting noises when they fought. The guy who was the instructor (Ged Moran) was also a local lad so I figured he must be at least ‘handy’ – so along I went.

The class seemed to be full of guys that did ‘not look like softies’ – I learned early in life to size men up, the types that you’d sooner pass than start a problem with. What surprised me was the amount of discipline that this bunch had – especially when they did eventually started actually fighting. They knocked the s**t out of each other, then when they finished and changed partners, they actually bowed to each other! This was very strange to me, but almost against my better judgement at that time, I enrolled for the next beginner’s class – me a beginner at fighting – very strange and I didn’t tell anyone.

The next three years leading up to me taking my first black belt (Sho-dan) grading under the legendary Enoeda sensei, was filled with things that would create a different person – no longer openly aggressive, now more likely to avoid a fight. All my energy was spent training five session a week, and I just loved it all, even when the great Andy Sherry came to teach at the dojo each month, and we were left for dead at the end of his classes, I could never get enough.

I know live in California and have done since the early 90’s – and a short time before I left the UK, I was actually mugged by two guys! Well I should say there was an ‘attempted mugging; that went badly wrong for the muggers. I’m not about to write a load of waffle about how much damage these two idiots suffered, but I will say that I’m pretty sure they would think twice about continuing their career in mugging people.

Here in the CA there’s a lot of dojos, and I occasionally train in my local club, but it’s now ever more concentrating on competition karate, and not something that I’m too keen on, but I still keep my training up. Being a former student of Ged Moran’s I obviously have most of the Legend videos, and unlike many store bought videos that you watch once then store away – I’ve watched the art of war so many times I can’t recall the number. I can still get inspired by just watching these Shotokan fighters, Brennan – Hall – Christopher – Hall and others, and I just fined it sad that this kind of karate is slowly being replaced by a very fast, but less powerful type of karate. No criticism if the fighters, they’re often obviously sharp movers, but the rules that now govern them are so safety oriented that all the excitement has now gone.

Thank you Ged Moran & Legend Productions.

John Mitchell - Redondo Beach, California