Joe Hannon: A Builder of Character Through Karate

I have known Joe Hannon for nearly 25 years. Seeing him today, I cannot help but note how remarkably the same he looks — youthful, energetic, healthy, and at peace with life. If he wanted to confirm the factuality of the philosophy that he imparts to his karate students, he has only to have them look upon himself. Teaching humility and self respect along with martial arts, Joe has been a role model and positive influence to many young men and women over the course of his career. Joe is a humble and caring man who was a teacher and guide to my son Chris and many other young people throughout his career and he has positively impacted them in ways that he will never really know.
Joe was a high school student at Chatard High School back in the 1970s. Joe admits that on occasion he could run his mouth a bit too much and get into a fight. He suffered from a lack of confidence and pent-up energy. On one of those occasions Joe got his nose broken and rearranged almost to the side of his cheek and surgery was required to correct it. Joe decided he wanted to learn how to fight more effectively, so he took karate lessons. Joe quickly found out that karate was more than just about learning how to win a fight. It is a lifestyle, a way of seeing yourself and the world, and a way of having respect for one’s self and to honor and cherish life. Joe was an apt pupil and embraced karate as a way to make a fulfilling and rewarding life. In school Joe worked, studied and made the honor roll on several occasions.
Joe decided early on that he wished to become a sensei and teach true karate to young people. He joined the staff of the Herb Johnson Karate School on East Washington Street. This is where my son Chris first became a student of his. Joe was one of the school’s more popular instructors and he gained a very loyal following. Joe was with the Herb Johnson Karate School for a number of years until he opened a school in the Beech Grove area on South Emerson Avenue. A number of students followed Joe to his new school, including my son Chris. The Hannon Karate School was a success as far as the students were concerned, but with growing family concerns Joe found it necessary to close his school.
As one opportunity ends, another begins, as the old saying goes. On the last day at Joe’s school, a man came knocking at the door — literally. The man was from Indy Parks, and he had heard many good things about Joe and was interested in knowing if he would teach karate classes for the department. Joe accepted the invitation, excited by the opportunity to get more involved in the community.
Joe decided it would be a good thing for him to teach in a stable environment where he could concentrate on teaching and working with his students and leave worrying about paying the bills to someone else.
Joe traveled to Japan and stayed with a Japanese family. The family lived in a traditional house with a dirt floor, Joe was overwhelmed by their warmth, humility and generosity. During this time Joe learned an important piece of Japanese philosophy, “look at yourself as small and others as big, put other’s needs before yours and this will give you a happy life”.
Joe is currently teaching karate classes at the Benjamin Harrison YMCA through their Family Karate Program. He teaches classes three evenings a week, working with children, adults and seniors ranging in age from 5 to 75; from beginner levels to advanced. He feels that it’s important for a person’s mental, spiritual and physical health to take time for themselves. Joe strives to maintain a family atmosphere and welcomes everyone. Joe says, “a parent can help a child and a spouse can assist each other with a moment and together they learn.” For more information, contact the Benjamin Harrison YMCA at 317-547-9622.
Learning karate from Joe can be a positive experience for the whole family. About his friend and mentor, my son Chris has said “I want very much to get back to learning from Joe. Some of the best times of my life were in his classes. I would like to get my niece and nephew involved when they are old enough. Joe would be a very positive influence upon them!”
P.S. From the Boss — Our son Chris has grown into a wonderful man and we give much credit to Joe and his teachings. I told Joe, “I just wanted Chris to be in your presence, knowing your influence was so powerful.”