Name: Jon Curtis
Grade: 1stKyu, Brown with 2 white stripes
Dojo: Stockton Heath (Warrington) Tuesday class and Stockton Heath Thursday class
Why did you start: Like many other instructors I started because of my children. A very good friend of mine, Andy Perris, had trained with Red Tiger with his son for a few years and had encouraged me to come along, but at the time, with young children, it just didn’t fit in to a busy life. That all changed when Sensei Paul came and did an assembly at St Thomas’ School in Stockton Heath in September 2015. My son, Joey, who was 7 years old at the time was keen to start so I took him along. I lasted one week watching at the side before wanting to join in and my daughter, Luli, and wife Becky, both started the week after me.
Sensei Steve Dargan taught the Tuesday class and Sensei Brandon Lee taught the Thursday class and they both made it fun and challenging and I was soon hooked. I quickly set my sights on reaching my black belt, a dream that has been delayed by the current lockdown but I know that if I keep training I will get there. After a couple of years Sensei Brandon asked if I would like to start the assistant instructor programme. With some trepidation I started helping out in class and very soon, with guidance from Brandon, realised I loved it and found training with the other assistants every other month, under Sensei Mike Beckwith, fantastic.
Around that time Sensei Steve moved on and Sensei Callum took over his class. Anyone who has trained with Sensei Callum knows he is a machine! He inspired me to push myself more and his eye for detail rubs off on you! In July 2019 Sensei Brandon had to stop teaching his class due to a change in job circumstances. When I received the message from Sensei Paul, asking if I would take over the class, I felt very honoured and slightly overwhelmed, however, I accepted and soon settled in to teaching. Sensei Dave Robertson took over from Sensei Callum when he had to stop teaching in Stockton Heath, and again I felt I learnt so much from him, bringing a lot of fun along with hard work! When Dave had to step back from Stockton Heath Sensei Paul asked if I would take on the Thursday too, which I was delighted to do.
What keeps you training: Karate has become an important part of my life. I love sharing a hobby with my children, who are both still training, but my wife, who no longer trains, is at every class helping with all the admin so it is a real family affair. When I became an instructor I immediately felt welcomed in to the amazing group of other instructors and I absolutely love training with them in Bolton on a Monday night (when we are allowed!). Everyone is there to help and encourage you which makes you feel very supported, part of the team and also pushes you on to try and improve.
Job in the real world: Myself and my wife have run a childcare business for the last 18 years which is fantastic. Although I recently worked out I had probably changed in the region of 10,000 nappies which would probably mean I am about a 7th Dan in nappy changing!
Favourite bit of karate: I genuinely enjoy all parts of training but I probably lean towards Kata. I don’t find learning new ones particularly easy but love the fact that you need to continually work on them from Heian Shodan to whatever one you need to learn next! The other element I love is now the teaching. To see students growing in confidence and skill is fantastic and makes me want to do my very best for them. I also love that you always have those to look up to in the dojo and those looking up to you.
Hobbies other than karate: Outside of karate I enjoy lots of things. Spending time with my family, walking in the countryside, playing board games and working on our allotment has pretty much filled the last 4 months. I have always loved football and being born in Leeds my whole family are big Leeds United fans. I am an advanced open water SCUBA diver and enjoy getting under the water when I get chance, although in recent years that has mostly been on holiday. I am also a trustee of a small Christian Children’s charity called Active Hope who are based in Warrington and also love volunteering for Re-engage (formerly Contact the Elderly) hosting monthly tea parties for an amazing group of 80+ year old ladies who inspire me more and more each time we meet!