John Mullin

A Sensei never stops learning, never stops growing.

John Mullin

Holding the rank of 8th Dan, John Mullin has been practising Karate for over 60 years. He has had the opportunity to train with many of the top instructors from around the world.

John Mullin was born in New York around 1945. His father was a Chief Petty Officer in the British Royal Navy and was stationed in the United States. Shortly after the end of World War II, he moved the family back to his home city of Liverpool, England.

Mullin’s father was a big Liverpool football supporter. Some of Mullin’s earliest memories was going to watch games at Anfield Stadium, where they would stand at the famous Kop End.

In 1955 the Mullin family moved to the United States. They settled in New York.

Growing up, Mullin had a keen interest in wanting to learn a martial art. He managed to find books on Judo and Jujitsu. He also took some boxing lessons from his father.

Through the 1960 Karate had begun to grow in popularity in the United States, with many servicemen returning from Korea and Japan. Karate had also begun to appear on television and in films. In 1960, around the age of 15, Mullin began learning Karate, while still in high school. His brother started training before him.

Mullin’s first Karate instructor was Maynard Miner, who was a 1st Dan at the time. Minor, who was a student of Teruyuki Okazaki, had trained with the JKA in Japan while serving the army in the 1950s. He had trained with the likes of Masataka Mori, Takayuki Mikami, Tetsuhiko Asai, Hirokazu Kanazawa, and Yutaka Yaguchi.

Mullin trained with Miner at his Brooklyn dojo for several years. Once a month Miner will take several of his students to Philadelphia to train at Teruyuki Okazaki’s dojo. On the odd occasion, he would have the opportunity to train with Hidetaka Nishiyama.

Mullin was eventually graded to 1st Dan by Okazaki, with Masataka Mori in attendance. He had failed his first attempt at grading for 1st Dan.

In 1968 Masataka Mori arrived in New York, after a five-year stay in Hawaii. He had been the Chief Instructor of the Karate Association of Hawaii. He became the North Atlantic Regional Chief of the JKA. He was known as an excellent but strict instructor.

Mullin started training with Mori around 1968. He would remain his student for over 30 years.

In 1976 Mullin enrolled at the City University of New York, where he studied Political Science and Government. He graduated in 1979.

The 3rd IAKF World Championships were held in Bremen, West Germany in 1980. Mullin was selected to represent the US National Team at the Championships. He loved competing in kata and kumite events. He saw competition as a part of his training. He saw competition as a way to test himself and gauge where he was at.

To further his Karate training, in 1985 Mullin moved to Tokyo, Japan for a six-month stay. During his stay, he supported himself by teaching English.

Mullin trained at the JKA Hombu, fulfilling his dream of training in Japan. He trained in the Foreigners Class with JKA Chief Instructor, Masatoshi Nakayama.

As was to be expected, training at the JKA Hombu was tough. Mullin was amazed at how fast everyone seemed to be. During Kumite, the rule was to protect yourself at all times.

At the JKA Hombu, Mullin had the opportunity to see many of JKA’s top talents, such as Yoshiharu Osaka, Tetsuhiko Asai, Masahiko Tanaka, Mikio Yahara, etc, training. He was in awe of their technique and speed.

Mullin was invited to take part in the Instructors Training Class. However, Mori did not give him permission to do so. In retrospect, he did him a favour. Training in the Instructors Class could be brutal, with foreigners sometimes being treated harshly during sparring sessions.

While in Japan, Mullin competed in the All-Styles Karate Championships held in Yokohama. He won the title.

Following his six-month stay in Japan, Mullin returned to Japan in 1987, to train. This time he trained for around two months.

By 1994, Mullin had become established in JKA Shotokan Karate. He had made a transition to being an instructor. He has his own dojo located in Staten Island, New York. That year he was named ‘Instructor of the Year‘, by Karate Voice Publications.

Around 1994 Mullin stopped competing in JKA tournaments. Up to this point, he frequently competed in kumite and kata events. However, the JKA had a cut-off age of 50 people to stop competing in their tournaments. He continued competing in non-JKA tournaments, competing in kata.

After many years with Mori, Mullin decided to leave him in 2001 to form his own association. He co-founded the World Traditional Karate Organisation (WTKO), alongside Richard Amos, Fred Serricchio, and Ed van Veen. He became the Executive Chairman of the new organisation, with Amos becoming Chief Instructor.

Mullin and Amos frequently trained together, and the WTKO Mindy came about through their close friendship. Also, some members of the JKA New York were unhappy with several articles he had written. He had also been graded to 6th Dan by former JKA member, Keigo Abe, who had been excommunicated from the JKA.

In 2001 the WTKO organised the 1st WTKO World Championships.

Mullin took part in JSKA World Championships, held in Germany in 2002. He won the Veterans Kata division. Two years later he competed in his last competition, which was held in South Africa. He took up the practice of Iaido in 2011, eventually, competing in competitions.

In 2011 Mullin was appointed the Adjunct Professor at Kingsborough Community College. He has been a teacher with the NYC Board of Education for many years, teaching computer technology in middle school.

Involved in Shotokan Karate in the New York area for many years, John Mullin is currently ranked as an 8th Dan.

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    • Luanna Echavez on April 22, 2023 at 2:29 pm
    • Reply

    Sensei John trained me as a small child into my teenage years. I still train today but have not found a dojo in the state that I live that has come close to the discipline and tradition that I’m used to. This article explained a lot that I didn’t know about him. Thank you. -Luann Ech

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