Interview with John Titchen

Discussion in 'Interviews' started by Simon, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    John Titchen has unique experience across a variety of educational fields and has an international reputation as a martial arts author for his book Heian Flow System: Effective Karate Kata Bunkai, and as a writer on personal safety.
    Before starting his own system John was a Shotokan Karate and an Aodenkoukai Jitsu Instructor.
    John (jwt) is also a long standing and respected member here at Martial Arts Planet.


    John what initially bought you into martial arts?

    A combination of different things converging at the same time. A Shotokan Karate club opened at my school. At the same time I was looking for something active to do to supplement the weights I was doing since they were beginning to bore me, and I have no interest in sports. A final factor was that I’d had some anger management issues the year before and taking up a martial art had been suggested as a way of controlling my temper and focusing my aggression.

    Not many people will be aware that you have managed to continue training despite medical problems. How old were you when the medical problems started, and how did they manifest themselves?

    I was 11 when the symptoms were first picked up (blood in the urine and raised blood pressure) and that was when I had my first week long stay in hospital for observation. I was subsequently diagnosed with chronic renal failure after a further week long sojourn in hospital when I was 13, so I knew from an early age that my kidneys were going to fail and that life wasn't going to be 'normal'.

    How old were you when you had your first transplant and what was involved?

    I had my first transplant at the age of 23. At the time I was already on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis CAPD) after a brief period of haemodialysis via a catheter in my chest. In those days you would receive a phone call or page to tell you to go to the nearest transplant unit, which for me was Addenbrookes in Cambridge. When I got my notification I had just gone into the Norfolk and Norwich unit for an operation to fix my dialysis tubes which had moved out of place in my peritoneum and were up near my diaphragm.
    On arrival at the hospital there was a long wait for the transplant while fresh blood tests were done to determine which of the called people was most suited to the organ. After the surgery I had to stay in the hospital for two weeks of observation (it would have been shorter but I developed a fever). Thereafter clinic was 3 times a week for the first month, gradually decreasing over time to 3 times a year.
    This transplant failed when I was 30 and I was fortunate enough to receive a second transplant within a year.

    How long after the transplant did you start training, and was your surgeon against it?

    My consultants weren't keen on me doing martial arts/contact sports - but accepted that was part of my life. That had been the key factor in my opting for peritioneal dialysis over haemodialysis. I think I started training about 1 month after the transplant. I'd been doing Aikido up to the transplant with the CAPD tubes sticking out of my abdomen. After my second transplant I was back coaching (lightly) within a month.

    What current martial and academic ranks and grades do you hold?

    Sticking to ones that have influenced how I train and teach:
    Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) with IfL and Department for Education (DfE)
    Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) (University of East Anglia)
    Level 4 BTEC Professional Award: Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) (Edexcel)
    Level 3 BTEC Advanced Award: Coaching and Instruction in Physical Restraint Practice (Edexcel)
    Level 3 BTEC Award in the Delivery of Conflict Management Training (Edexcel)
    Level 3 BTEC Advanced Award: Physical Restraint Practice (Edexcel)
    Level 2 Coach Defence Attack & Resolution Tactics
    Trident Self Defence Instructor
    2nd Dan Shotokan Karate (English Shotokan Karate Association)
    2nd Dan AoDenkou Jitsu (AoDenkouKai International)
    4th Kyu Aikido (National Aikido Federation)
    Level 2 BTEC Manual Handling (CIEH)
    National Federation for Personal Safety Certificate of Training in Risk Assessment
    Educational Visits Coordinator (Royal Geographical Society)
    Regiment Adventurous Training Officer (RATO) – British Army
    Rope Course Development (RCD) Level 2 Ropes Course Instructor
    Weapons Instructor Cadets (WI(C)) – Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve Training Branch
    St John’s Ambulance First Aid at Work Trainer & Assessor
    Heartstart UK Emergency Life Support Trainer & Assessor (British Heart Foundation)

    Tell us something about your program philosophy.

    The programme I teach has been heavily influenced by my professional training as a coach, instructor and teacher, and by my original academic discipline as a historian. Continuous research and testing underpins everything that is taught as part of the system.
    Defence Attack & Resolution Tactics (DART) is a Karate system designed to develop and enhance the necessary survival skills to avoid, deter, negate, survive and escape violence. The DART training method evolved from applying research in the following subject areas to traditional Karate techniques and training methods:
    human physiology, sports science, psychology, violent crime statistics and the law.
    DART teaches simple effective physical drills in response to simulations of habitual acts of violence (HAOV). Alongside this we provide training in fear management and verbal de- escalation techniques. Every drill used in DART has been pressure tested in full contact training and risk assessed to ensure that even when students are pushed to their limits in stressful real time, real movement, force on force training simulations, and their training experience is safe.
    The range of skills taught by DART are based on predominantly everyday gross motor physical movements and genetically wired unconscious behaviors such as the spinal flinch reflex and the cross extensor reflex. This makes them less perishable and makes them more suitable for use in conditions where the subject may be under considerable mental and physical pressure.

    What influenced you to choose this career?

    I’ve always been interested in writing and I caught the teaching bug early on. Martial arts training interested me as I enjoyed the biomechanics of it. I gradually moved towards traditional Karate and self protection because my background encouraged me to ask “why?”

    Has your training taken you abroad?

    Yes I’ve studied and taught in the USA.

    How do you inspire confidence in your students?

    I think that’s a question for them to answer.

    How do you train your assistant coaches, and what do they have to achieve before being awarded instructor status?

    All the student examinations right through our syllabus have both a physical and a written element. The written element consists of short question papers concerning some of the principles behind our training methodology. Initially these are open book exams, encouraging students to study the information, but once students want to become assistant coaches the written examinations become closed book.
    Our instructor syllabus includes information taken directly from both coaching and teacher training programmes. The process of proper risk assessment is also explained. Students are observed in teaching practices and are not put forward for further progress unless their teaching is of a sufficient high standard. To become a full instructor students have to meet the teaching standard, meet a higher technical ability standard (pressure tested against a number of attackers with all participants in appropriate PPE), write a short dissertation on a subject related to the syllabus (to show appropriate subject knowledge) and independently gain a minimum of a 6 hour first aid qualification. Instructors are subsequently encouraged to gain other external coaching qualifications.

    You are known for your Reality Based Self Defence, can you please explain what this entails?

    Reality Based Self Defence is a pretty broad term, and like other broad terms such as Karate, Kung Fu, Ju Jitsu and Aikido it includes a large number of different systems with different training methodologies.
    From my perspective what I teach requires a huge amount of continuous background research to ensure that we are teaching the best stuff available when it comes to self protection (deterrence, avoidance, confrontation management) and self defence. It’s also important not to get too focused on the books, research papers and cctv footage though, and every drill we teach is pressure tested in high quality PPE and put through a double risk assessment process, firstly for its legality were it to be used for real, and secondly to ensure that it is safe to train.
    One type of training that DART runs that has gained a fair amount of interest recently is our Simulation Days. These are training days designed to introduce people of different levels of ability and experience to confrontation management situations that may or may not escalate into violent situations using haov depending upon the participant’s actions:

    [ame=""]Simulation Training Breakdown - YouTube[/ame]

    This form of training is frequently misunderstood by those watching rather than participating. Some don’t understand that the training is tailored to the needs of the student, and that for injured or inexperienced students we will work at a slower pace with lower contact levels. While there is often great physical pressure (for more experienced participants), and people can get hit very hard (though the PPE prevents injury), the real pressure, as with real life, comes from participants trying to find the right key to defuse the tension and avoid violence.

    How do you adapt your training for the commercial world? I am thinking of lone worker safety and conflict management.

    For the commercial world I focus primarily on self protection rather than self defence, which I deliver through presentations. If I’m asked to deliver physical training then I’m very careful about what I pass on due to the time constraints.

    John, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, and for sharing with us here at Martial Arts Planet. I know your videos and analysis on simulation training days have been a big hit, both with the participants and the members here at Martial Arts Planet.

    Dart Conflict Management, Physical Intervention and Self Protection
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 29, 2012
  2. Llamageddon

    Llamageddon MAP's weird cousin Supporter

    Fantastic article. Thank you John and Simon!
  3. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    Nice job Simon , though I've met John a few times now this interview answered some questions I hadn't had the chance to ask , Thank you both.
  4. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Very nice write up, thank you both of you.

  5. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Great article, thanks to both of you.
  6. Seventh

    Seventh Super Sexy Sushi Time

    Awesome! Loving this very much, great write up. Thank you, to the both of you.
  7. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    I'd be very interested to explore two areas in more detail.

    Firstly, JWT's Heian Flow System is, as far as I know, almost unique in adapting kata to modern HAOV. I think it would be interesting to understand how he came to write the book, how he researched it, etc etc. This would interest may karateka/taekwondoin/kung fu guys from the bunkai side of things.

    Secondly it'd be good to know what led him from there down the path to DART, and how he sees it in relation to traditional karate practice. Is DART karate?

    I think there's a lot to interest the MAP community there:)

  8. Kuma

    Kuma Lurking about

    Great article! It was interesting to learn more about jwt's background and from what he's been through it certainly shows he's made of some tough stuff as well.
  9. dormindo

    dormindo Active Member Supporter

    Great article, Simon!
  10. Alansmurf

    Alansmurf Aspire to Inspire before you Expire Supporter

    Well worded and presented .. JT you are inspirational to all of us beginners in the martial arts world ..

  11. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Thanks for the comments. There is talk already of part 2.
  12. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    That was awesomely interesting.
    see, JWT is a badass!
  13. brisrocket

    brisrocket Taekwondo instructor in Brisbane Australia

    Great interview! I like the notion of a follow-up part of the interview! :)
  14. vian11

    vian11 New Member

    great interview :D
  15. TW3

    TW3 New Member

    nice article, I'll link to it on my blog
  16. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Interesting stuff!
  17. Thompsons

    Thompsons Valued Member

    Indeed very interesting. I just saw this now. I have seen most of the DART videos and read Johns blog, i am a big admirer of his approach. To me the scenarios actually looks convincing, unlike so much else.
  18. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Thank you.

    The scenarios are very good. I've also found that what you take away from the SIM days is equally important and it does make you re-evaluate your own SD training.
  19. Thompsons

    Thompsons Valued Member

    Yeah i can imagine. It is always nice to see someone who really build up on a lot of practical research. In my opinion way too many folks outthere with a theoretical approach, setting up stuff that makes them look good but in no way serves the participants in any honest way. Johns focus on habitual acts of violence, for example, i think is a must and you have to adjust accordingly.
  20. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    I totally agree.

    The article was nice

Share This Page