When did you start Aikido and why?
I began Aikido at the age of 17 after going to watch a class at Coatbridge Aikido club in the Timecapsule leisure centre alongside 2 of my friends from school. I had trained in Judo for several years from a very young age and having always held an interest in martial arts was keen to get back to it. The class was taken by Sensei Hugh Moran who would go on to be my teacher and mentor for the following decade.
What are some of your main memories in Aikido?
My earliest crossroads was my first grading where Sensei Hugh awarded me my yellow belt under the provisal that I attend the the Sunday class on a regular basis. Up to that point I had only attended on Tuesday nights. I see now that this slight push was the catalyst that set me on my journey.
I will never be able to reflect on my journey in aikido without thinking back on the hour long journeys I took to Sensei Hugh’s garage to train. I made this journey 2-3 times per week. Despite the amount of high intensity classes I attended, of which there were many, the nights I turned up as the only student are the ones I remember most fondly. On some occasions Michelle (Sensei Hugh’s wife and my long term training partner) and I would try our best to out do each other with neither of us giving an inch. On other occasions I would be rewarded with one to one tuition where I was given a new perspective on the same techniques. These were the formative years for me in Aikido and I will never be able to repay the kindness and generousity shown to me by Hugh and Michelle throughout this time.
What are your personal goals in Aikido?
My only goal in aikido is to improve. Every class, every day I seek another ‘light bulb’ moment that improves my technique, my posture my breathing.
Looking beyond myself my primary goal would be the growth of my club. Aikido has been a universally positive influence on my life and it’s something I am keen to share.
Why do you think Iwama Aikido is so unique?
Is it unique? I’m not certain I’m qualified to say that it is on the grand scale. All I can say is that it is unique for me. Unique in the sense that it is the only subject that I never tire of. The only activity that keeps me intent on improving myself and my technique without laying my focus outward. Instead it drives me to be better than I was in the last class.
What can Aikido offer people, in your opinion?
I personally find that Iwama aikido’s sharp focus on strong basics is one that is sorely needed in modern society. Understanding that that having a solid foundation is essential to moving forward and to achieve this requires attention to detail in principles that on the surface appear simple. In the pursuit of this you will be led to expand on your flexibility, whilst also realising that your biggest opponent will always be your own tension and in seeking to address this you can improve your fitness, confidence and even your mindset of you work at it.
How long have you been training?
I have been training in Aikido for 21 years. I have been teaching for 11 years since Sensei Hugh gave me the responsibility of inheriting his club and students.
Where have you travelled?
I have only trained within the UK. It’s widely recognised that training with a wide range of partners is the ideal. Sadly I have never been blessed with an abundance of training partners, so I consider myself extremely lucky that the training partners I have had were of great quality, both in their technique and their honesty.