image of sequoia smoky path thanks to


The stories of how people discover aikido vary endlessly, along with what they find in it, why they continue, why they stop. Their aikido is a journey which has many stages, with periods or places when practice is of great beauty and milestones when learning falls into place (pun unintentional!) along with deviations from the path, voluntary or involuntary.

Here are the stories of some members of the club.

Independent but not separate

Aikido. I started to train; I found myself looking for a way to centre myself. To be present in daily life. Not in a daze or dreaming of the past or future. To feel the air on skin, to hear the drop of rain, the stillness in movement, the sounds and sights of the world without doubts or illusions of what is enough. What I have missed because I was not here. Am I near my goal? Perhaps it will take a lot more discoveries to get here. But even just learning and understanding, application or should I say auto application is what I am looking into, though not to forget the introspection. Aikido is a part of a whole for me, I learn and apply it to many other things and apply many other things to aikido. It is independent but not separate to life as a whole. I am Here.

Mickey Bignell

So Much Fun

My introduction to Aikido was during a self-defence class at Police Training College. I didn't know it then, but the instructor, Brian Eustace, was a 7th Dan acknowledged Tomiki-style Aikido expert, and somebody I was to train with at length many years later. The seed was sown, although it lay dormant for some years until I discovered an active club right on my doorstep.

I was hooked!

Martin Gowling's expertise, sense of fun and progressive style allowed me to develop skills which I used frequently in my work, gaining control of physically violent situations with confidence and without injury. I trained with other like-minded people from very different backgrounds, all striving to reach different goals and all having the same difficulties...

And it was so much fun!

That was over 25 years ago and my enthusiasm hasn't waned. I love to practise. I love to throw and be thrown, control and be controlled, to be enlightened and confused, flattened but not bruised. I love to strive for a perfection that's always just beyond my reach. I love to share these things with other people, and I love to do those things under the gentle direction of Bob Sherrington.

Come and try, we don't bite (much).

Mark Goff

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A Quieting Influence — How I Came to Aikido

I had wanted to try a martial art with growing interest for years, but was at a loss as to which one would suit me best, Karate? Judo? Taekwondo? The list was endless, and why did I want a Martial Art in the first place? After a three year think and ponder I knew that I really didn't want to be drilling up and down a mat, getting kicked round the chops, doing endless pushups on my knuckles or breaking lumps of rock with my FISTS OF STEEEEEEEEL.

By the time I felt ready to take up a Martial Art (add another two years) I had discovered my universe seemed to operate on an economy of subtlety, grace and serendipity, with the right energies directed to the right places fantastic results could be readily observed. I also discovered that what I mostly desired was a physical tool to reflect this whilst also serving as an outlet and quieting influence on the boundless madness of my overactive grey matter.

Why start?

Dave Saunders

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Peaceful Solutions

I first came across Aikido when I was about 15, after studying a variety of styles of Karate and kick boxing, and achieving my 1st dan in Karate, I decided I wanted to study something completely different.

Although I enjoyed Karate and kick boxing, I wanted something that was more of a "martial art" than a sport, and something that was, as odd as it sounds, peaceful in nature. After some looking around, my interest was sparked by Steven Seagal films, and that got me interested in Aikido.

Through some books on Aikido, I found some local clubs and around 1993 I started Aikido at Northampton Aikikai. Later, when Kettering Aikikai opened a club at Kettering Leisure Village, I started training with Bob Sherrington, and have been training there ever since!

Often I am asked why I still do aikido. The answer is probably not a simple one! Generally I believe in peaceful solutions to anything and Aikido illustrates that even when attacked, there are alternatives to punching and kicking, and there is no real need to harm your attacker (a principle that I believe is important in an increasingly violent world). Also the development of mind, body and spirit is a huge part of Aikido. This is difficult to explain, but a relaxed body and mind is an important aim.

Aikido also breeds a calmer approach to life in general, helps to see things in different ways and relate to people and situations as required. The effect of Aikido is as individual as the practice and will vary from person to person — it's important to try it and see what you think.

Andrew Viccars

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Simple Yet Complicated

Everyone's journey in Aikido is different. Our paths may be similar but will never be the same. However, one thing I have found in common with others is that Aikido is simple yet complicated, all at the same time. There are some aspects of the principles of Aikido that can easily be employed from day one yet there are others that need honing over many months and years.

It is the variety of Aikido that has kept me interested throughout the past decade and will keep me going for decades to come. I always find I am learning a new way of doing something; making the complicated less so. And, despite the complexities of Aikido, I never get stressed, I always leave the mat feeling better and I always want to go back for more.

Apply the principles and practice becomes softer, more fluid, less complicated and as a result you blend better with other Aikidoka. Keep these in mind when you leave the mat and you will blend more with everything and everyone around you. That way, even those who are not Aikidoka will also benefit from your practice.

Paul Bassinder

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Aikido is inherently beautiful; graceful and elegant in its philosophy and its movement; infinitely complex yet innately simple.

Its ultimate movement is pure energy, without force or strength, surfing currents of wind or water. It has continuous flow, irresistible, like giving oneself to a whirlpool, thistledown on the wind, a leaf on a stream. Once felt, endlessly sought again!

It is full of laughter: it contains physics, psychology, anatomy, self-knowledge, dedication, endless practice — yet it has the joy of play! Flying weightless on the power of tai sabaki — who cannot laugh?

The refreshment of hours practising is a powerful cleansing, focused to the oblivion of all else — a moving meditation. It demands of my mind, feeds my spirit, my body bends to greet it in delight: the energy flows and grows, floats away the detritus of life, eases the wrinkles of being.

And so on, so much more, because I find aikido in everything I do, from opening a drawer to teaching communication, from shifting a load to sawing wood, in a traffic jam or mediating in conflict, in natural breathing or coping with severe pain, walking in a gale, handling a horse, facilitating a meeting, moving through a crowd, in healing through touch. Aikido is life.

Geri Coop

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