Testimonials

Geoff Thompson 8th Dan

“John was and still remains probably the greatest influence to my development in martial arts, taking me through all those vital fundamental lessons, offering me (free) private lessons when he saw my potential; he even brought my suit and belt for me when I didn’t have enough money. He is a great influence and great friend and a powerful presence in British martial arts. Without John I would not in any way be doing what I am doing today and I am very grateful to him for that, and I highly recommend him and his instruction to anyone looking to fast track their martial arts”. 

Geoff Thompson
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Tony Terranova 3rd Dan


I started my martial arts training in Shotokan Karate with John Johnston in 1982.  He was my first Sensei taking me through to my black belt which was graded by Sensei Enoeda.  It was not until many years later that I realized the significance of John's training on my martial arts journey. whilst I now train in MMA I can still feel John's influence.  He instilled in me the fundamental principles of fighting, courage and a long lasting respect of martial arts.

From the beginning John had me training on bags and focus pads for impact development (something that was not custom in the early days of Karate in the UK).  He bought me my first Gi and makiwara board.  John never let money stand in the way of a student wanting to learn Shotokan, he would let us train for free if we were broke, his passion is to teach and pass on his knowledge.

He also had me training and sparring with other styles such as, kickboxers, Kung-Fu, Judoka and Taekwondo students.  This was to ensure that I understood the fundamental principles of fighting.  At times I felt out of my depth as I was sparring with black belt students while I was still a red belt in Shotokan.  Now I realize that this type of exposure made me develop techniques based on principles that would work against all styles.

John's training principles were (and still are) based on reality whilst being grounded in the fundamentals of Traditional Shotokan Karate.  He was a highly respected doorman in Coventry at a time when violence could be found on a nightly basis if you wanted to test your fighting skills.  He would often tell me to go and train at other Dojo's as it would develop my mental strength and test my physical skills.  There are only a few instructors who encourage their students to train at other establishments.  To me this shows that your Sensei has inner confidence in their abilities and their student's interest at heart.

My early days in training were golden times for me as it was when I met and sparred with my friend and respected martial artist Geoff Thompson who was also trained by John.  It seemed so long ago and yet when John recently taught at my own club it felt like time had stood still.  I personally recommend training with John whether it is for traditional martial arts or for reality based self protection



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Elaine Johnston 3rd Dan




I now realise how significant John's teaching is. His knowledge is vast and he has taught me so much more than any other teacher possibly could, primarily out of circumstance. he has taught me to be very critical of myself which in turn has given me a very critical eye for detail, so when I look around at other instructors I can plainly see how fortunate I am to have such a good one.
John has rather a unique way of being able to teach me about myself through training. he faced me with my worst enemy, myself. I have now learnt how his teaching methods benefit me and I embrace it fully. Yes it has made me tough, its given me a strong character and a strong attitude to life.
John has transformed my life through his teachings, or should I say he taught me things about myself that I was able to use to make myself stronger, confident and more able, therefore he gave me the tools to transform my own life. he once said to me "give a man a fish and he will feed himself for a day, give him the means to fish and he will feed himself for a lifetime". That pretty much sums up John's teaching. He teaches people how to help themselves.
He is a unique and exceptionally gifted Sensei.



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Nick Blundell    1st Dan


I started Shotokan Karate in 2001 and have since been fortunate enough to train with several excellent instructors at the various places I have lived. So when, relatively recently, I moved to Coventry, I was quiet worried about not being able to find a new instructor who could continue to inspire me. Fortunately, after a chain of phone calls, via an instructor (Frankie) from the club at Warwick University, I got in touch with Sensei John Johnston.
It is apparent even after a few hours of training with John that he has a genuine interest in passing on his great wealth of knowledge and experience of Karate (and of course It's practical application) to his students, tailoring his approach appropriately, through careful articulation and demonstration, to suit the abilities of each student (e.g. kids, adults, beginners, advanced karateka). Often you see this sort of thing said of many instructors, in the promotion of a particular club through some creative marketing material, but with John there is no need for such things: to spend a few hours in a lesson with John is enough to appreciate his skill and dedication to teaching Karate, and martial arts in general.
It is clear that John enjoys teaching, I suspect more than anything else: on many occasions I have known him to put on a class even at a cost to himself, travelling long distances or to teach a small number of people - even a single person - and to drive people to and from lessons when they otherwise could not make it. Such warm gestures, coupled with such modesty, command a high respect. And so that is how it is with John: he commands respect not through a raised voice or brute force but through straight forward dedication to his students, and I highly recommend his lessons for beginners or advanced students alike, particularly if they are interested on learning more on the essence of Karate and the technical effectiveness therein as opposed to its more superficial interpretations.
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John Kelly 4th Dan



I first met Sensei Johnston at a seminar in Cork a few years back. 
Very enjoyable and informative course, although I did not have much time to chat after the course , I managed to get his number and arranged for him to come back to Ireland and get involved in a seminar that I was running called  "Best of the Best".
There were six Instructors on the seminar and it really went down very well with all who attended.
I was amazed at what I learnt not just on the course but afterwards while chatting. John unlike many  is not caught up in the commercial/profit first mentality but is willing to pass on his vast knowledge to everyone.
Over the many years he has kept his drive and ambition for the promotion of Shotokan Karate pure and is in it more for the outcome and not the income.
I travel to the UK to train with Sensei Johnston regularly and I am also planning on his return to Ireland in August for another seminar.
A great instructor and a true gentleman.

Sensei John Kelly 4th Dan
Chief Instructor Munster Shotokan Karate Association



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