I have practised Aikido and related arts for forty years (2020).
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, there is no single definitive lineage.
Unfortunate, in the sense that I wish I could have found the perfect master and
had an easier time of it. Fortunate, in the sense that variety adds spice to
life and forces the mind to discern order from an otherwise classical mess.
For a long time, alongside Aikido, I practiced
Judo, Jujutsu, and Wing Chun. In my first decade of training I gained
black belts in various arts. The second decade was spent
consolidating what I had learned and I also got hooked on the search for
the elusive aiki. It is fair to say that my Aikido has a
'jutsu-bent' but for the main part, I call what I do Aikido. I
still practice Wing Chun by myself.
My martial journey started in the U.K. where all I earned was spent training
almost everyday for over ten years in various arts. This was a time spent
chasing-the-grade and culminated in several extended trips to Japan
totalling three years and by 1991, I held black belts in six arts. Since then, due
to getting a life - study / work / family - the grade-oriented
focus vanished. Instead, the journey became more of a search to make
better sense of what had been learned. To be honest, I was never completely sure
that I was learning anything useful. The only measure is comparison with others
- in some respects I fared well, in others, not so well.
Arriving in the Republic of Korea (the South) in 1994, I found no Japanese
arts at all and a Korean psyche dead-set against such. This forced a major
rethink and the result was a new discipline of regimented self-training that
continues to the present. After a spate of teaching ex-pats here and there, in
1996 I discovered what is now called the Korean Aikido Federation - they had a
few dojos but their previous experience was Hapkido and Muai Thai. I was
invited to be an instructor and was with them for ten years. It was a fantastic
experience and it helped set me on my search-for-aiki journey. I returned
to Japan for a year in 2012 and Korea for two years in 2014. I discovered that the Korean Aikido Federation members have
improved tremendously. Especially of note, they study Katori Shinto Ryu and some
members have gained teaching certs.
In 2000 Korea officially opened itself up to Japanese culture and one result
was a slight increase of interest in Japanese martial arts. One thing
that attracted Korean attention at that time was the notion of aiki - something that
one always has in the back of the mind but never really does much about. Not easy to explain, but, since all good Aikido is aiki,
so I believe, I made concerted attempts to
make sure my Korean students and myself had lots of useful aiki-related exercises to practice
thus I began my search. Useful,
that is, in the sense that the exercises have something that transfers over to
I do not mean the so called ki-tricks; I want more than that.
In 2006 I moved to New Zealand where I have trained in various Aikido dojos. I
also coached high school wrestling, which was a great environment to test my
ideas. Boys learn very, very fast, and they remember only that which works.
I sincerely hope my little book will provide the keen reader with several
ideas to discern where they stand and where they are headed, therein provoking a
little curiosity and self-direction.
BA Japanese & Korean Studies, University of Sheffield, UK
MA Applied Linguistics, University of Southern Queensland, Australia
MA International Relations (ABD), Seoul National University, ROK
Diploma in Teaching, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Main teachers: Barry Vigras (Judo, Tomiki
Aikido, Hakko-ryu Shihan, UK), Steven Johnson (Kyushin Judo, Kyushin
Aikido, UK), Paul Jenkinson (British Jujutsu Association), Terry Ezra (Komyokan,
UK), Robert Brodie (Institute of Aikido, Edinburgh), Robert Ross
(Jujutsu, Dundee), George Dosoo (Taekwondo, Edinburgh), Mike Harper
(Wing Chun, UK), Richard Tutin (Iaido, UK), Onda Tetsuya (Judo), Abe
Shin (Judo, Japan), Nakamura Hisashi (Takeda Ryu, Japan), Ando Tsuneo (Yoshinkan
Aikido, Urayasu, Japan), Omura Hiroaki (Kawasaki, Japan), Nakano
Shuuichi (Kawasaki, Japan), Soijima (Shiseikan, Chuo University, Japan), Yun Ick-ahm (Korean Aikido Federation, Seoul).
Short term seminars: Ueshiba Kisshomaru,
Ueshiba Moriteru, Ueshiba Mitsuteru, Saito Morihiro, Chiba Kazuo,
Kanetsuka Minoru (BAF, UK), Tamura Noboyoshi, Fujita Masatake, Shirata
Rinjoiro, Shioda Gozo (Yoshinkan),
Tanaka Shigeho (Shiseikan, Meiji Jingu, Japan), Inaba Minoru (Shiseikan,
Meiji Jingu, Japan),
Haydn Foster, Inoue Tsuyoshi Munetoshi (18th Soke, Hontai Yoshin Ryu - his son strangled me), Christian Tissier, Ken
Cottier, Dan Innosanto (Escrima), Kirby Watson, Roy Hobbs (Hakko Ryu),
Kobayashi Yasuo, Kobayashi Hiroaki, Nariyama Tetsuro (Shodokan),
Igarashi Kazuo, Kim Yun-sang (Hapkido), Song Il-hoon (DaitoRyu Aikibudo,
Korea), Mr So (Bagua, Tokyo), Akuzawa Minoru (Aunkai, Tokyo), Toby
Threadgill (Takamura ha Shindo yoshin Ryu), Robert Nadeu (USA), Maruyama
Koretoshi (Yuishinkai). The various teachers of the International Aikido
Federation courses held in Tokyo. I could go on, and on, and many names
are just forgotten ...
In New Zealand (2006 - 2012) I trained with Takase Nobuo (Shinryukan),
Nishimura Junichi (Buikukai),
Tony Shaufelberger (Aikiway), and Dunken Francis (Institute of Aikido).
From Sept 2012 to Jan 2013 - I trained in Japan at my old dojo in Kawasaki with
Aoki Kiyoshi (he met and trained with Ueshiba as a very young man) and Nakano
Shuuichi ... it was a long train ride! Also trained with a friend - more local -
but informal gets you further faster.
April to August 2014 - I trained at Kobayashi Honbu Dojo in Kodaira, Japan.
August 2014 - 2016: Back in South Korea. Employed at Yongin
University which is well known in Korea for teaching various martial arts -
Judo, Taekwondo, Hapkido and various others. I taught self-defence at a local Karate dojo and
taught Aikido in Bundang and
Suwon. Also trained with Aunkai ideas on a weekly basis.
2016 - present: Back in New Zealand. A lot of self-training and travelling this
time. Living in Whangarei since the beginning of 2017 and I joined the Iwama
style Aikido club here taught by Greg Francis.
My Aikido Grades
Aikikai: Nidan (Japan, 1990)
- this has been my main
style through the years - but haven't graded in years. I just enjoy ...