Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Martial Arts training as you age

I took my usual karate class on Monday evening. As it's the Easter holidays we were not at our usual school dojo but rather a local church hall replacement instead. Again with the holidays there were lower numbers so I tend to run the 30 minute beginner class in with my main class and train for just 90 minutes total instead of two hours.

The first 30 minutes including the beginners by definition needed to be super easy but afterwards we really made up for it with a set of five repetitions each of press ups, squats, sit ups and either star jumps or squat thrusts increasing from around 40 individual exercises in the first rep. to over 175 in the final one - all done one after the other with a 20 second rest period after each set. Then we went on to kata at full speed. An excellent and challenging session.

Only problem is on Wednesday (now) my thighs are so loaded with lactic acid I can barely walk ! That's the main effect of age I find. It takes a little longer for the after effects of a strong session to hit me and then the ache lingers a day longer than it ever did before - great fun.

Although I'm guessing the 4.5 miles I ran on Tuesday morning first thing didn't help either !

Ho Hum, just about to set off for my 90 minute Wednesday karate training session then I have the cinema with the family at 8.10pm - will be ready to drop by the time I get home around mid-night I expect !

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The three St(ages) of martial arts training

Over the years I have come to realise that as one gets older (I'm 46 BTW) the way one participates in sport changes. Certainly there are physical changes, I no longer bounce back quite as quickly following a training session and gone are the days when I'd run up to the sports centre (carrying my gear in a backpack) do a 90 minute circuit training session, 2 hour karate class then run home. It's also true what they say about losing pace. My mind works just as fast but my body no longer responds quite in the way I want it to, when I need it to.

From a psychological stand-point too things change. When I started karate at the age of 10 I was all youthful exuberance and a strict A to B mentality. Fight not going my way, fight harder. Technique not coming off - do more until it eventually gave in to me. Not getting the point from an instructor, listen but almost certainly think I know better and do it my way when he wasn't watching. This stage lasted well past my first dan grading (at 16) and into my 20's.

But then life slows you down. You begin to realise that not all things need to be met by brute force. You realise that one can change your approach to fighting to match and exceed an appoint, not by pure power necessarily but rather a more subtle implementation of power backed by experience. This second stage of training is matched by physical maturity and peak ability. Truly the journey along the path of marital arts is well underway. My personal experience is  also that this second age/stage of martial arts training is also the point at which many of my contemporaries (myself included) graded to more senior Dan grades. An acknowledgement by our instructors that we had learned more than just the basics and were coming to realise something of the ethos of karate and perhaps, life in general.

My personal belief is that this second stage is as far as some students of the martial arts ever progress - yes they get older but they do not progress further in their journey. They begin to lose their physical ability without adding to their martial arts skills -  older then is not necessarily wiser therefore. I was very much in this camp for a long time. At one point I briefly gave up martial arts (between 2006 and 2010) but when I came back I learned important lessons about humility and my own hubris that (I think) enabled me to move on to the third stage. Starting a new style of karate I trained with the same mindset I'd had as a second dan at my old club whilst I was a beginner in the new style. Session after session I trained in my old ways, listening to the Sensei but never quite getting it. In the end my body told me I'd have to listen, learn new ways to breath and move and hey presto I began to progress.

Sensei Phil (centre) with students circa 2014

I can remember staggering out of the dojo one time in late 2010, having done a mere 20 minutes of free form kumite with a variety of partners. So exhausted that I actually got changed out of my Gi and into my street clothes laying on my back on the floor (I am not exaggerating !) - this was the point I realised, once I had rehydrated and recovered my wits that I needed a new mindset - yes to use my legacy skills from another style of karate, yes to to build on what I had but also to think about how the new style might work for me and I it - this brought a new clarity and focus to both my training in the dojo but also my outside approach to things like running and research around the new style - reaching this third, more informed stage is about getting older. It is admitting to yourself that in your mid 40's you can't train like a teenager. Nor can you imagine that the world will bend to every technique you throw - fighting stops being a physical challenge and becomes a cerebral one. Chess writ across a blocking arm, whipping roundhouse and avoided sweep. That's not to say the physical challenge stops, as an instructor I am still obliged to lead from the front. Able to undertake all aspects of the training better than my students but able to rationalise and accept that I'm probably going to ache as much as they will the following morning.

Lastly this stage of my martial arts career is being able to admit that I may not be able to train in the way I do now in the future - I will need to back off at some point and consider other options. It is interesting to note looking in the mirror (seeing the grey hairs for example) that I'm now almost exactly the same age as my first instructor : Sensei Ben Warren was when I first started training under him in 1980. A bit of an eye opener as to the cyclical nature of both martial arts and life.

Sensei Phil Knight
Club Instructor
Leeds Premier Karate - Yeadon Dojo

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Excellent Martial Arts podcast for you to try

As regular readers of the blog may know I am a martial artist and run a dojo in Leeds training Shukokai karate. I also have another (2nd Dan) black belt in Tai Sabaki Do karate a Wado Ryu based self defence style.

Karate takes up a fair amount of my spare time between actually training and keeping fit - at 46 simply turning up to work out is no longer even remotely possible especially as the instructor where I need to be a step or two ahead of my students.

I though you might be interested in a marital arts podcast I recently found - Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio - search for it on iTunes or click here. I love both the format, a relatively simply interview with a martial artist twice a week but also Jeremy the host has a solid range of questions which seem to get more from his guests - he focuses on martial arts stories, the lessons it teaches us, over-coming difficulties and so forth - all the good stuff which in some ways is missing from the lives of those who have never tried out martial arts.

Have a listen and if you're ever in Leeds please feel free to drop by and train - first two lessons in my dojo are always free !

Sensei Phil

Yep that's me, mid kata - Pinan GoDan to be precise

Monday, 13 March 2017

The government has no idea what self employed people do

I've worked as a self employed person for some seven years now and it still puzzles me how some people do not understand what it is like to be self employed.

To start off, lets look at the UK Conservative government who are proposing to increase national insurance for the self employed. This (they tell us) and despite an election pledge not to increase any NI costs is because the tax discrepancy between employees and the self employed is no longer necessary. It is outdated and somehow unfair for employees. I'd like to ask in what way unfair ?

Let me re-frame the discussion.

I am delighted to pay for more NI. I'm looking forward to starting to receive the following :

paid leave
paid bank holidays
statutory sick pay
work place pension
minimum weekly hours
minimum wage

Until such time as those things are made available to those of us small business people and entrepreneurs who form the back bone of the economy then we damn well should be paying less in tax.

Now before I get complaints that NI is actually for the NHS and other social benefits I would say. That's nonsense. No tax in the UK is hypothecated any longer - NI is just another tax.

I also get frustrated by employees who work for companies who seem to (often deliberately) misunderstand what being self employed is all about. Let's put it like this. If I don't get out of bed on a morning I don't get to earn any money. If I don't do the work, all of the work then it doesn't get done and again I don't get paid. Employees have the luxury (within reason) of allowing the work to expand to fill the time available and they still get paid their salary. The self employed do not have that luxury and each extra soul destroying piece of admin we are required to conform to simply adds more and more unproductive time to our day.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Holistic advice in the medical insurance space

Within my medical insurance practice I work with a range of different types of clients. Primarily high net worth individual clients and small companies (3 to 250 employees).

However I have a wide spectrum of individual, self employed and corporate clients and would be delighted to chat to anyone who is interested in new cover or a review of their existing arrangements.

Many of my clients are introduced to me via professional introducers : IFA's, General Brokers, Accountants and other business contacts

As you can see from my personal page on my compliance providers website ( I do advise on a wide range of products within the medical insurance space including : individual and family private medical insurance (PMI), company paid PMI, international PMI, personal, voluntary and company sponsored Hospital Cash Plans, Dental Insurance, Employee Assistance Programs and Health Screening.

I also have contacts within my professional introducer clients who can assist with virtually every financial service from pensions and investment advice, general commercial insurance, accountancy, HR solutions and a number of others.

If you'd like assistance with your medical insurance needs or a helpful pointer to a trusted contact please feel free to contact me.

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
07792 075748

Friday, 24 February 2017

Building a better business Podcast

This is an article that I wrote today and tried to put on LinkedIn but I was unable to ascertain if it went live or not. Just in case here it is in it's entirety : -
A few years ago I created a podcast called : PMICast designed to discuss issues around my medical insurance intermediary practice. It was intended to have a dual purpose. Firstly to (obviously) drive potential customers to my business but also to provide information and support across a range of issues around the UK private medical insurance (PMI) market. It was then and still is on the only podcast ever to have focused on this particular area of insurance business. Over the years I recorded, usually every two or three weeks and ended up with a library of 68 episodes, all of which are all still available for download on the web or iTunes (other pod catchers are of course available and I'm registered with most). I also built up a good listener base and at the peak I was regularly having several thousand people download and listen the the podcast.
The original format of the show changed slightly as it became harder to introduce new, relevant content and I ended up, still with the focus on PMI but I tied the show more into my business blog as well which allowed me to discuss a few different issues but keep the content relevant to my core audience. You can find my blog at :
If you're interested in checking it out you will find that the blog is less devoted to medical insurance and reflects PMI, my business point of view and some of my personal interests as well. Whilst not directly relevant to my comments to follow on the podcast, the blog might be of interest for you to understand where I am coming from.
Over the last say three years the podcast and blog in tandem have raised my profile both with clients and professional introducers to my business (mainly IFA's, accountants and General Brokers). I have placed business with new clients due to these social media outlets and also put in place some important and very lucrative business contacts, directly as a result as well. This brings me to my problem ... the time involved in running my business has increased in part because of the success of the podcast and I've had less and less free time to concentrate on social media plus planning and recording the podcast. Also as other business priorities take over I have felt less inclined to search out interesting content to podcast. So on the rare occasion when I do find 30 minutes to spare to record an episode I found the content I might have to talk about to be dull and uninspiring. The thing is though that I know that having the podcast out there and regular makes my business really unique, adds real value and I can use it to further expand my business which is still definitely a priority for me moving forwards into 2017 and beyond.
With all of the above in mind I have decided to shift the focus of the podcast away from pure coverage of PMI (although I will stress that the name will remain unchanged and I will still want to feature content about my practice and medical insurance) and introduce other elements/discussions of business more generally, perhaps even with a bit of other relevant current affairs and technology news thrown in for good measure. I'm therefore working on a plan and outline strategy for a new pilot of episode #69 of the podcast. However I do wonder if this 're-invigoration' of the show might be assisted by the introduction of a new voice literally. What I'm therefore hoping to do is find a like-minded co-host for the new show. I'm looking for someone with an interest in business, current affairs and technology who (preferably) also owns their own business. That way we can offer the opinions of two entrepreneurs (hopefully from differing business sectors), set up some more dynamic content that provides for interesting content for listeners whilst at the same time gets the word about both of our businesses out there on-line.
Hopefully then this is a great opportunity for someone (probably aged between 30 and 50, male or female ) to join me and drive the project forward. There is no catch. No payment required. I will record the show (probably using a Skype call once a week or more likely fortnightly) and put it up live and then we can both be involved in the marketing and planning of future episodes if things click.
If you think that you might be interested visit the blog : to find out more about me. Then use to send me a message. You'll also find me on Twitter : @localventure1 and of course here on LinkedIn
Can't wait to hear back !
Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant + Podcasting Guru

Reinvigorating the podcast

You can find my business podcast on iTunes by searching for 'PMICast' (other pod catchers are of course available and I'm registered with most of them). You can also listen direct here :

I launched the podcast some years ago and arrived at episode 68 a month or two ago but being honest have struggled because of work to find time to really get many episodes out. The problem is time but also getting content relevant and interesting enough (for me or listeners) to be bothered about recording an episode. At the moment I've got piles of ideas but still not a massive amount of interest. Thing is, I know it's something that I should still be doing regularly. It helps with profile and client/introducer acquisition and when on a roll can be quite fun.

I'm considering therefore changing the format of the podcast a little and seeing if I can find someone else to co-host the show with me. That would almost certainly mean I'd change the focus away from pure medical insurance onto more of a general 'about business/entrepreneurship' type affair. I have a pretty loyal band of listeners (several thousand listeners per month were regularly downloading it at it's height) and with some more consistent content it could benefit both my business and potentially also my co-hosts !

If you're interested in chatting about potentially working with me on this I'm happy to accept 'open auditions' from any one in the UK interested in the following topics - business, current affairs, insurance and possibly a bit of technology and science fiction (both personal interests) - an odd blend but it takes all sorts. If you have your own business then so much the better.

Call on : 07792 075748 or e-mail me : for more information or to discuss.


Phil Knight

How to avoid discrimination during recruitment

Here's another guest post from my colleague Mark at Croner - his details are at the bottom of the piece. If you do contact him as a result of reading about the issues here please do let him know where you found him. Thanks
Piece begins ....

A recent BBC report has found that a job seeker with an ‘English-sounding name’ was offered three times the number of interviews as an identical applicant with a ‘Muslim name’.
CVs were sent from fake candidates “Mohamed Allam” and “Adam Henton”, with four interviews offered to Mohamed, and twelve to Adam.
The recent report concurs with previous academic reports concerning the matter, which have found that British Muslims are less proportionately represented in managerial and professional occupations than any other religious group.
Following the findings, and considering academic results before it, Croner’s Head of Legal Advisory, Paul Holcroft, warns that inadvertent discrimination can bring the same severity of consequences as deliberate discrimination.
“The recent report is worrying for employers for a number of reasons. The findings have attracted a lot of attention from various sources because they have been highlighted on well-known platforms, like the BBC.
“In actual fact, mindless discrimination happens on a daily basis. If an employer chooses to disregard one CV in favour of another, they must have tangible and solid evidence as to why they have made that decision.
“Even though we have seen Employment Tribunal claims drop dramatically since the introduction of fees, if a claimant believes that they have been discriminated against, even at the very early stages of a recruitment process, it’s going to be very difficult for an employer to form a solid argument if they lack evidence.
Given the sheer volume of CVs that an employer may deal with when recruiting for a position, it is clear to see the immediate difficulty with documenting the thought process behind rejecting or selecting an application, let alone remembering it.
Paul advises: “Recording all decisions throughout the recruitment process will bring extra admin work and time initially, which I would assume is what puts a majority of employers off.
“Having said that, the time that an Employment Tribunal can span is unattainable, so in the grand scheme of things, keeping sufficient notes when sifting through applications would most likely not compare to a fraction of the time, effort or money a Tribunal would demand.”
Amanda Beattie, Croner Litigation Field Manager, reminds: “Under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”), one of the protected characteristics afforded protection from discrimination is Religion and Belief. However, the other protected characteristics under the Act can also be relevant and susceptible to discrimination in the recruitment process.
“Under the Act, it is unlawful to directly discriminate against a person by treating them less favourably than they would treat others because of their religion or belief or another of the protected characteristics. Similarly, it is unlawful to indirectly discriminate against a person by applying a provision, criteria or practice (“PCP”), which puts that person and others who all hold a certain religion or belief or another protected characteristic at a disadvantage, which is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
Employers should remember that the Act applies equally to employees, workers and job applicants. Therefore, it is important for employers to keep accurate records of why job applicants were unsuccessful and ensure that the reason for the rejection is not discriminatory.
Mark Russell
Business Manager

Phone: 07976 948 441

Don't forget to send your insurance forms in

Everyone is really busy these days and my clients especially. They tend to be high net worth individuals, company directors, senior clinicians and so forth. This means that they always have a lot going on and filling in forms and remembering to send them back to me isn't always their top priority.

Obviously as advising on medical insurance is my living I have a different priority which is to chase those clients who need to let me have their forms back regularly so as to ensure they don't forget. I have a pretty robust diary system and generally chase clients once every week or two until they eventually come back to me. However it is not unheard of for people to forget altogether and I of course can only chase for so long.

Please remember then that (and I know it sounds as if I'm stating the obvious here) if you don't send the form back you won't have cover in place. It is not unheard of for me to chase a client over and over again for a form. Eventually give up, tell the client I have filed the papers and then at some point in time get a call from them wanting to make a claim but they can't seem to find their insurance membership information - this doesn't happen often but I've had it several times over the years and as you might imagine it can be difficult conversation, especially given I'm essentially having to confirm that not only can they not claim but that they're also a bit of a poor administrator into the process !

I've written about this issue before here and mentioned it several times on my podcast (click here for information or to listen). 

I raise the issue here on the blog (again) because I have a prospective client who first contacted me for a new medical insurance report and overview in March 2014 and since then I have written three reports for him, re-priced the cover at least five times and e-mailed him at least 50 times in total (plus had several telephone conversations) and am still to receive the completed application forms back and I just know that this gentleman is one of the very busy but slightly disorganised people who might think he's done it and sent it on to me whereas in fact the form is sat completed in a pile on his desk.

I've just sent him a reminder e-mail - hopefully he might read and respond to this one.

So please, clients don't ignore my e-mails !

Thursday, 23 February 2017

What is a company handbook ?

Here's a brief guest post put together for me by a colleague : Mark  from Croner - a HR services company.


What is an Employee Handbook

Some companies have them, some don't. A majority have had them written many years ago and in some cases the policies are now out of date.

Whilst there are no specific employers' duties in respect of an employee handbook, the content should include set rules and guidelines the employer would like all employees to adhere to.

The handbook, unlike contracts of employment, is a uniform document that is issued to all employees regardless of position or job role.

The main purpose of the handbook is to define clear policies and procedures which reflects the ethos and style of a particular organisation and consolidate its organisational values.

When issuing an employee handbook, either in hard copy or online, the employer is providing all employees with a resource which can be easily referred to at any point by the employee.

The Employee Handbook is one of the most important tools for communication between employer and employee.

To find out what policies and procedures should be in yours, or if you have any concerns regarding your HR, you can call me on 07976948441 or visit Croner for more information and ask us how we can assist your organisation to streamline your HR

Mark Russell
Business Development Manager