How do we show our admiration for those we respect?
Saturday saw a great man in our style of jiu jitsu recognised for his incredible achievements and contributions. We are all delighted to see that John Harquail was awarded his 2nd dan “Nidan” – or second degree black belt.
John is not your average 2 Dan candidate, at 79 I believe he is the oldest person currently practicing our style let alone teaching it. Normally our 2 Dan candidates are some of our fittest, fastest and most physically capable jitsuka. Despite my endless respect for John I am sure he doesn’t mind me saying that he doesn’t quite fulfill that image. John started jiu jitsu at the tender age of 52, fighting for his 1st Dan in his 60s. I witnessed that event and came out with battle scars to prove it. John won.
What few of us can equal is his depth of creativity, experience, teaching ability and integrity. He teaches the Crowborough club, both juniors and adults and this club as started the high successful jitsu careers of outstanding jitsuka. I have trained all across the country and I can tell you that I always feel a spark of nervous excitement at one of John’s sessions. With his creativity, I never quite know what to expect from his teaching or how he intends to pressure test whether we have learnt it!
John is an excellent ambassador for jiu jitsu both on and off the mat. John is our national children’s officer, ensuring that the children we teach are well protected as well taught. A regular attendee at the junior nationals frequently bringing home an impressive medal haul. He has demonstrated his ability to teach all, fit to less healthy, old and young, both to grow themselves, protect themselves and even grow into champions.
Second dan gradings are brutal. Physically, emotionally and psychologically challenging events. With the degree of technical, emotional and psychological integrity and strength John has shown over his decades there is no doubt he has earned his new grade as a 2nd dan.
John, we are proud to have you in the TJJF, to have you as 2nd dan instructor in our region. Well done John, so very well done.