Kara-Te - Joe Ellis - People in Focus Magazine


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English Tea Room Guru, Joe Ellis talks about English Tea Rooms and Karate

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People in Focus met with Joe Ellis some years ago to discuss the English Tea Room Guide that he runs. We thought it would be nice to meet up with Joe again to get an update on his activities. Hello Joe. We met with you a few years ago now. You seem to have put on a little weight. Is this due to frequent tea room visits? You cheeky sod. Age probably, and yes, I still visit English Tea Rooms regularly although for the past couple of years, I have stopped eating biscuits and cakes. And let me tell you, a tiger may be fat, but it is still very dangerous. A little Japanese saying, so beware. Talking of Japanese, you work as a full time karate coach. So what is the connection with tea rooms and karate? Does there have be a connection? Some people; journalists and broadcasters mainly, try to connect both. Well, yes, there is a connection which may not be obvious to most people, so I will try and explain briefly to you. In some styles of karate, the rare and mostly unknown styles, there is sometimes a tea ceremony conducted within the dojo (practice hall) after a special event. This is mainly a formal ceremony wearing the karate gi (uniform) rather than within an informal setting. I do not do this myself within my own classes, mainly due to the amount of time involved. For me, the connection between tea rooms and karate is that both are traditional and there is a degree of ethics and morals involved. Also, the peace, quiet and conduct is also the connection between both, and play an important part within English tea rooms and Japanese karate. Incidentally, if I had my way, I would have a tea room with a dojo connected to it. One day perhaps. Your website does not appear to be updated as often as it used to be. Why is this? Good observation. Glad to see you still keep an eye on it. The present website is old and needs refreshing which I am doing now. When the new website goes live it be accessible via smart phones and tablets, unlike the present one using HTML5 technology. So while this new website is being designed, the Facebook page is regularly updated, almost daily and has over 6,000 likes. People in Focus


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Last time we met, you mentioned English tea rooms are closing down at a rate of 10 per week. Is this still the case? Actually, about 20 a week are now closing despite public awareness. Some are opening but not many nowadays. I speak regularly on BBC radio and independent radio. Also I get a mention from time to time within national newspapers and television and still plug the English tea room industry as often as I can. I also try to hold business meetings in tea rooms rather than the office or a restaurant. Due to the peace and quiet, it is an ideal venue to hold a business meeting. You will also be surprised on how people become relaxed in such places. Why are they closing down? Is there a specific reason? Several. Coffee houses, especially the well-known ones are very visual and modern within the English high street. Money does not seem to be an object when these companies want to open a coffee house and due to the well-known branding, this is an advantage. The English tea room owners don’t do themselves any favours either. As I said before, if they say they are going to open at a certain time and close at a certain time, then they must do just that. Opening late, closing early is simply not on and the customer will not tolerate such behaviour. The customer does have a choice and is precious to the tea room; the customer must always been at the forefront of the tea room owners thinking. What is key to running a successful English tea room Joe? Good food, decent tea, top class hygiene, first rate customer service, and a lovely traditional or even modern clean feel but not necessarily in that order. The English tea rooms that seem to be more successful than most are the ones that have a craft shop, are in a garden centre or stuck in the middle of an antiques emporium. The customer seem to like these particular surroundings and gives the tea room owner a greater opportunity to attract and keep customers. Do you still hate a tea room located inside a hotel? That’s unfair. I have never said I hate a hotel tea room. What I have always said is that I prefer tea rooms located inside English villages and towns. When I am in cities; London or New York, I would visit a hotel tea room, which I think is a good substitute. I don’t think I have ever come across a hotel that can actually make a decent cuppa. I seem to enjoy a pot of tea or several pots of tea far more inside a proper English tea room. What’s happening to your Time For Tea magazine? Well, I had some issues with the distributors. This has now been resolved and the new magazine is about to be published. It still in full colour and still free, although do I ask for the postage to be paid. Anything new being added to your English tea room guide? Yes. Videos. I did a tester video some years ago at Miss Mollett’s High Class Tea Room in Appledore, Kent, one of my highly recommended tea rooms, which is still open. The video is on both the website and Facebook page and has proved highly successful. I will be recording several over the coming months. This is a free service and again promotes public awareness to English tea rooms and provides some free media support to the tea room owner as well. People in Focus


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Thanks for answering these questions Joe. Like the last editorial, I would like to ask you some quick questions and ask for simple answers. Is this OK? Sure, fire away. Favourite tea? Assam. Favourite town? Tenterden, Kent. There are many other English places that are far more stunning and filled with history, like Stratford Upon Avon as an example, but Tenterden grabs me. I love the place but cannot really say why for sure. Favourite colour? Pink. Really? Really What car do you drive? Still a nosey sod then? Of course My every day vehicle is a 4x4 L200 Barbarian truck. I also have a classic Jaguar XJS long wheelbase for enjoyment. If you could take an actor or actress to an English tea room who would it be and why? Easy answer. Charlotte Rampling. I could see myself enjoying an afternoon cream tea with her. Intelligent, attractive and has a kind of mysterious character about her. Yes, my ideal choice. I understand you are about to finalise two books. What are they about? One is aimed at karate and the other about Simon & Garfunkel. This one I am most excited about. Your favourite musicians? Yes. Have been since I was 5 years old. Did your wife ever complete her Doctorate in autism? Yes, but a Doctor of Education with autism as her research specialism. Dr Sandra has been my rock for 25 years. I now have a doctor around me every day. You are both clinically diagnosed with autism. Is this correct? Yes, Asperger’s Syndrome. Does Asperger’s present you with difficulties? Yes some, but I am not disclosing these here thank you. Are you still the national chairman to the UK karate governing body? I was the national president and chair to Karate England and still am the national chair to the UK based NAKMAS National (martial arts) Governing Body since its inception in 1992. Thank you for being with us today Joe. Maybe we can do a feature on your connection to Simon & Garfunkel sometime in the near future? I’ll hold you to that one for sure. People in Focus



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