John Gardiner, Shotokan 3rd Dan and Chief instructor of JKG Karate, has competed, and continues to compete at the highest level, having represented the England National Team in both the EKF European Championships and WKF World Championships (in both the Kata team and Individual Kata).
Having been a wonderful ambassador for Blitz for many years, we sat down with John, a truly dedicated and technically brilliant all round Karate Champion, to get to know him a little better.
1. How did you get into/who introduced you to your Martial Art?
My dad had trained in Karate before for a number of years and encouraged me to take it up.
2. How long have you been practicing your Martial Art?
I have been practicing Karate for 16 years.
3. Who or what was your biggest inspiration?
When I was younger, Bruce Lee was actually my biggest inspiration. I used to read about his training methods, watch his films and, try to perform techniques like he did. As I got older, I found inspiration from a lot of different instructors but, my biggest inspiration or motivation was more the visualisation of the level I wanted to reach.
4. What separates you from every other Martial Artist in your discipline?
I think what makes me different from other, or most, karateka is that I have spent a lot of time educating myself on anatomy, efficiency of movement, and how to train my body to perform in the best way I can. I am constantly thinking about ways to overcome various weaknesses in my skills.
5. What have you achieved in your Martial Art?
I have achieved a variety of things that I am proud of. Firstly, my competitive achievements (winning English and British Championships), a number of International Titles and achieving my 3rd Dan. Also, being recognised for my work, teaching Karate to children and teenagers with special educational needs and disabilities. Finally, being sponsored by Blitz! The brand of my first ever Gi back in 2000 when i first started learning Karate.
6. What is your proudest moment of your career, thus far?
My proudest moment is being selected to represent England at the WKF World Championships in Bremen, Germany, in the Senior Male Individual Kata event.
7. What would you say are your biggest strengths?
Perhaps, my biggest strengths are my focus, commitment and self discipline.
8. What would you say is an area of weakness, if any?
I think a weakness of mine is that I am never satisfied with my performance because I always feel that I could do better.
9. What does your training schedule consist of?
My training schedule currently consists of about a 50/50 split of weight training and technical work. As I get closer to a Major Championship, this will change more to heavily focus on Kata, not however neglecting the strength and conditioning work.
I also teach 6 days per week but, make sure that I always try to match my hours of teaching with hours of training myself as it can be too easy to fall into the position of only teaching and neglecting your own training.
10. What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to continue competing and to continue to improve my performance. Outside of competition, I am working on furthering my knowledge and understanding of Karate as a Martial Art.
11. Do you have any words of advice to anyone wishing to take up a Martial Art?
Make sure to look into a number of clubs first. Most people tend to go for what’s easiest in terms of location or price but, this isn’t the best way to choose a Martial Arts class. After all, it is a long term decision and should take some careful consideration first. I would recommend going with a major style since, they have stood the test of time and will most often, have greater depth. Watch a class, read about the background of the club instructor and the style they practice. Like with most situations, remember that the higher quality instructors and clubs may cost a little more but, you get what you pay for.
12. Do you have any words of advice for those who already practice a Martial Art?
Spend more time working on your weaknesses than your strengths. The black belt is not the end goal but, merely the beginning of another journey.
13. How do you divide your time between training and teaching?
As I said earlier, I aim to at least match my hours teaching with hours of training. For example, if i teach around 16 hours in an normal week, I aim to also train 16 hours.
14. Tell us more about your club, JKG Karate.
My Club JKG Karate is affiliated to the Byakko Shotokan Karate Association and is based in Westcliff-on-sea, Essex, with branches also in Brentwood and Chelmsford. We cater for all ages and levels, some of our students train for competition but, most train for other reasons, self defence, fitness etc.
I also run sessions specifically catered for karateka with disabilities and special educational needs both in and outside of schools. Visit our website www.jkgkarate.co.uk for more information or like our facebook page JKG Karatefor news and updates on what we get up to.
15. What are your thoughts on our Odachi Karate Gi?
The Odachi Karate gi has a very nice cut, with wide legs allowing for easy movement when kicking and making stances. The jacket has a nice shape, again with enough space in the body to move freely. I wear the Odachi gi when teaching and it remains comfortable, even when I’m teaching a succession of classes back to back.