John Parnell, 6th Dan

Welcome to our series of posts giving some background to our SHOTORAMA instructors! We sent out a list of vague and open-ended questions to our panel of instructors, hoping to shed some light on their experience and passion for karate. Read on below to find out more about our first instructor, John Parnell (rokyudan).

John is one of the SHOTORAMA organising committee, as well as one of our most senior grades in the line-up. He has his own profile page on the kugb website, salt-and-pepper good looks, and a smooth karate style (both in performance and teaching) that makes him a firm favourite in the KUGB southern region clubs.


When did you start karate, and how long have you been training?
I started around 1979 in Heywood Greater Manchester.

What club are you at now, how did the club get started, how long has it been running?
My primary club is Basingstoke Shotokan which I’ve ran along with my good friend and Sensei “ David Graham” since 2004

Have you tried/ do you have experience in other martial arts?
No:  Just Shotokan

Who have been your major influences/instructors?
My first instructor was Charlie Gidley in Heywood Greater Manchester. He’s still going and I learnt so much from him during the 10 years I trained with him in the ‘80s. He formulated most of my karate. Of course Andy Sherry and Frank Brennan of the KUGB as I was growing up. Otherwise I have trained closely with John Mullin and Richard Amos of the WTKO when I lived in New York , USA for 5 years. That was a special experience. Nowadays I continue to train with David Graham and Bob Rhodes regularly to push myself further, as well as teaching at many clubs across the south of England

How would you describe your philosophy/attitude to karate?
I’m not sure I can! It’s always been a positive influence on my life and brings out the best in people.

What experiences from outside the dojo do you bring to your training/teaching?
The whole of my life is and can be an influence on my karate and my teaching style.

How does karate influence your life outside the dojo?
It keeps me balanced and stable. My 2 children ( Jack 12 and Hannah 9 ) have recently started karate with no encouragement and I’m delighted!

What is your favourite part/aspect of karate training?
I’m not too keen on “knuckle press ups” anymore – otherwise I love it all.

Do you have a favourite exercise/drill/kata?
The drills which spontaneously jump to my mind and evolve naturally during training/teaching sessions are usually the best. My “performance” katas were always “Sochin”, “Nijushiho” and “Gojushiho Sho” when I used to compete seriously.

How would your students describe you/your lessons/club?
Ask ‘em. They seem to be smiling at the end and often come back !

What challenges/ambitions do you have?
To keep going and pass on whatever I have to offer, positively.

Do you have any particularly memorable highlights of your karate career (so far)?
Andy Sherry nodding emphatically when he awarded my 5th Dan to me in 2006. This meant a great deal to me.

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