Aikido : 4th Dan – Practicing 48 Years
The year of 1965 was the start of my long study of the martial arts.
Initially with Judo at the Silver Street Judo Club with the instructors Stewart and Pete.
The Silver Street dojo was due to be replaced by the Unitarian Church as the club venue (Northampton Judo / Aikido Club).
The years 1966 – Early 1990’s
Early in the year of 1966 the change over from Silver Street to the Unitarian Church was to happen. Unfortunately or fortunately whichever way you look at it, I went on the wrong evening and watched for the first time Aikido being instructed by Pat Stratford of Coventry. This was to become my start of a long journey studying, practicing and teaching this fascinating art.
For a short while I practiced both Judo and Aikido, but soon became smitten with the none aggression and gentleness of this most relaxing and mind blowing art.
Jim Mallard also attended the sessions at The Unitarian Church, he ran his own club at Spratton together with Eddie Cockerill.
I soon practiced 5 nights a week and Sunday mornings, between the clubs of Northampton, Spratton and Coventry. This continued between the years 1966 – to the early 1980’s. Obtaining the grade of 2nd Dan on 31st May 1980 Aikido Union England.
Pat Stratfords club in Coventry was for Northampton the main source of Instruction and practice with high grade and quality Aikidoka, Jim McCall, Frank McCall, Phil Burgess, Tom Moss and many more who’s names I unfortunately can’t remember.
The mid 70’s bought unfortunately a big split within all the higher ranking Aikidoka under Pat Stratford and only myself and a few others continued to follow Pat. Although following Pat, I also kept in touch with all the other Aikidoka from that time practising and teaching at weekend courses.
There were many issues with associations through those years but my alliance was always to Pat Stratford and not any specific association.
It was important for me to follow the best Aikido instructor and not the association.
We joined Yama Arashi, British Aikido Association (1st dan obtained 1975), European Union of Aikido etc. searching for an association that would allow us to practice without politics.
Pat eventually formed an association called Aikido Union England which was affiliated to The European Union of Aikido.
I travelled and instructed at many different towns and villages through those years spreading our Aikido principles.
Some of these clubs included Northampton, Olney, Newport Pagnell, Coventry, Stantonbury Campus MK, Towscester, Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Chelmsford, Wellingborough, Rushden, Lincoln, Merefield, Leeds, to name a few. These years were important to me to visit as many different clubs as possible to make sure Aikido was being spread where ever it could be and to be in touch with other practitioners.
My first club to instruct full time was the Qeensway Sports Centre at Wellingborough mid 70’s followed in the late 70’s by Northampton Aikido Club at the Unitarian Church this continued until the Mid 90’s when the club closed due to the decline of contract with the owner of the Venue.
In 1991 my 4th Dan was presented to me by Eddie Stratton of the International Shudokan Institute of Aikido.
Also within that period I progressed the following Aikidoka to level of 1st dan and above.
Listed in time order.
- Phil Roe
- Gilbert Smith
- Roy Biggs
- Bob Mazaika
- Bob Sherrington (joined Northampton club as Dan grade)
- John Wilson
- Andrea Wilson
- Pete Blaney
- Cathy Knight
- John Wevell
The years Early 90’s to today
On the closure of The Unitarian Church Facility the practising dan grades were all interested in finding their own club venues.
3 or 4 different venues were found and new clubs started.
My venue was The Obelisk Rise Community Centre (where we practiced until September 2012).
Still disillusioned with associations it was decided in mid 1994 to look at forming our own association.
Together with members from Milton Keynes and Coventry meetings were held to discuss and create a constitution for the new association.
Coventry was by far the largest group and it was decided therefore the new association would be formed and run by Coventry Phoenix Aikido Club.
This association became Yama Arashi (UK) with the late Tom Moss as the Association head.
In 1994 I was honoured to become a Technical Advisor to the IAA (Irish Aikido Association). I still regularly visit Ireland to conduct courses at The Whitefriar Aikido Club together with Brendan and Brigid the club instructors.
For the first 4 to 5 years in The Obelisk Rise Community Centre club myself and a few others locked ourselves away and studied what we knew as Aikido, tested the theories and pulled the techniques apart to develop and progress. Interesting times were had, finding strengths and weaknesses within our past teachings. These findings are still progressing now and hopefully will continue to do so.
Dan Grades achieved at The Obelisk Rise Club listed in time order.
- Steve Copson
- Bill Keating
- Gavin Pugh
- Joe Langford
- Matt Kaye
Aikido is still mind boggling after 48 years, and there is still a sense of enjoyment, intrigue and amazement that makes you continue to search for more.
My study of Aikido continues.
Apologies to anyone who I have forgotten to mention but the years have taken a lot of names and venues away from me, if you can remember any names, dates and venues please contact and advise, we will update accordingly.