A Journeyman’s Tale:
It really all started when I became a teenager and started to go to rock concerts in the ‘big city’ (London). Unfortunately, cities concentrate social divisions and can appear unfriendly places. The press are always eager to highlight the cracks.
Thus, I worried about the dangers and thoughtI should learn about defending myself. One of my friends had already practised a martial art and we went to watch a local Taekwondo club. He was interested in Taekwondo because he had already done a little Karate and Judo and wanted to do soemthing else. I just followed along. He decided that Taekwondo was too similar to Karate and the project stalled.
A few months later, it just happened that a Spanish man, Elias Biescas, came to the area. He was a dan grade in TKD and was moving into the area and was starting a club. I thought I would give it a go. I ‘had a go’ for 3 years and enjoyed every minute. Along the way, a friend introduced me to Aikdio via the Brookwood Aikido-kai club. Relph-sensei was excellent, very soft in his technique and remembering his style is still an inspiration. I was interested in Aikdio because it covered many attacks which were not covered in Taekwondo and seemed more practical in confined surroundings. Unfortunately, over-exercise (Taekwondo, cycling, and Aikido) strained my knees and all sports activities came to a crashing halt.
Things lay dormant for several years until I decided on a career change and went to university to study Korea.
I went to the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. There is a very good Aikdio school and I decided to restart. At that time, the club was part of the British Aikido Federation under the leadership of Kanetsuka-sensei. Since then I have not stopped training or thinking about Aikido. As part of the degree programme, I went to Korea for a year. While there, during an email discussion with another researcher about martial arts in Korea, I was introduced to another British student in Korea called Rupert Atkinson. Since we had no gym, we pratised under a bridge in the summer heat!
While in Korea, I also learned Hapkido, Kyong Dang (a recreation of the military curriculum of the 18th century), and a ‘ki meditation’ school called Dahnhak.
I returned to Korea in 1997 to get married. By then, Rupert had met Yoon Ik-am who had just started to teach Aikido in Korea. Thus, I met probably the two main influences on my Aikdio journey.
On completing my BA degree at SOAS, I went on to the Oriental Institute at Oxford University to study for a Master-of-studies and trained at the university Aikdo club.
On completion of the Mst, I returned to Korea and renewed my instruction under Youn-sensei. This relationship has lasted 10 years. Youn-sensei introduced many senior Japanese sensei to Korean Aikido, including Kobayashi Yasuo-shihan, and you will find pictures and film clips of them elsewhere on this site.
In 2006, I started a job which resulted in frequent travel to Japan. I took the opportunity to visit Hombu during these trips. Through some Japanese Aikido friends, I also began to find ‘home dojo’s in Japan. These now include Kobayashi-sensei, Yamashima-shihan, Roland Thompson-sensei, and Takita-shihan.
From 2006 I assumed teaching responsibilities for the morning class at the Korea Aikido Federation headquarters dojo in Shinjeon, Seoul. In 2008 I became the main teacher for the morning class. I held this responsibility until I left Korea.
On returning to the UK in the spring of 2009, I renewed my association with the Brookwood Aikido-kai and the Lone-Pine-ryu club. I also started a new relationship with the UK arm of Kobayashi-shihan’s association.
The latest step in my Aikido journey has been to start a club at Keighley. This club is under the umbrella of theUnited Kingdom Aikikai. I received a British Aikido Board Coach Level 1 and Young Person Coach award in 2011. During 2011, I also participated in the First Aid for Sports course – a practical hands-on resuscitation, recovery position, and basic first aid.
On business trips to Europe during 2011 I have established links with Aikido clubs in Germany and Holland.
I received a Fukushidoin teaching certificate at the conclusion of the club’s second seminar in March 2013.
I was awarded 3rd dan in May 2018 by Keith Hayward, 7th dan and shihan so Hombu