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My journey in the Japanese Martial Arts began in 1972, aged 18 when I enrolled in  the Budokan UK  Northolt  Karate dojo run by Sensei David Passmore.   At that time there were  two classes on a Tuesday and a Thursday  evening in a school gym.  I attended both of those.  There were a lot of people interested in taking up Martial Arts so Sensei had to run two classes each night.  One for beginners which ran for 90 minutes  and one for Kyu grades which ran for two hours. We only practiced Karate in those early years, and my first grading certificate  says Budo-ryu karate grade 6th kyu.  I can remember registering on my first evening of training.  Standing in a queue with Sandi Groom who was sitting by the entrance, taking names down.  It was intimidating at first but I remember over all it was a welcoming atmosphere.  Each class usually consisted of Kihon, Ippon Kumite and Kata.  Sometimes the beginners class was run by Sandi Groom or Marion Tinkler.  We didn't have a lot of female students so it was good to have these two formidable and pioneer women leading the class.

By the time I reached my Shodan grading in 1977 , Aikido had become an intrinsic part of the practice.  I took the grading with two other students, and we had to go through four preparation classes at the High Rocks dojo which was then the Hombu dojo.  To say they were demanding would be a huge understatement but they did prepare us well for what was to come.  We also had to write four short essays on different subjects relating to our practice.  The memories of that day are as strong as ever and receiving my black belt from Sensei was a great moment.

Under the technical direction of Sensei  David Passmore, I became  Chief Instructor at the King's College Dojo on the Strand in London.  Around the same time, I was  promoted to Chief Instructor of the Northolt dojo when it was relocated to a new home. The new premises at Northolt allowed us to have a mat down permanently as we were the sole user of the premises.   It also had an area outside where we could practice in the summer months.  Instructing at two dojos meant that I was teaching five sessions a week thus finessing my teaching skills and style.  I would also  attend the Sunday training class that Sensei held at the High Rocks dojo.  The King's College Dojo expanded very quickly.  The classes were on a Wednesday evening from 7pm to 9pm,  and Saturday Morning  from 11am to 1pm.  We were the only Martial Arts club at the college then, and interest was high.  We often had up to fifty beginner students training.  Sensei would come to teach once a month at  the Saturday morning class.  We held Gashkyu at King's College on a regular basis  under his guidance,  usually to combine with Gradings.   It was at the Christmas Gashkyu on the 6th December 1980 that I was proud to receive my Nidan grade. The first time that Sensei had awarded that prestigious grade.

A few years later, the Northolt dojo closed for land redevelopment and I took this opportunity to open a new dojo in Edgware.  Eventually the Edgware dojo changed venue to Bounds Green  where Roger Tym was the instructor.   I moved to Cambridgeshire where I would continue to teach.  It was a time of tremendous growth in Budokan, and for myself as I was able to guide and teach Kyu grades through to their Shodan.  During this period,  our Gashkyu were held at the National Sports centre in  Crystal Palace.  They consisted of two day residential seminars on weekends.  The Sunday Morning class started with Shinkantaza at 7am before breakfast.  Despite  the raucous traditional  party on the Saturday evening,  most students  would attend the Zazen.  Sensei would invite guest instructors to teach on different sections on the mat.  Sensei Vic Cook came and taught one memorable Iaido class.  It was at a Gashkyu at Crystal Palace in April of 1982 that I was granted my Sandan.
Sensei David Passmore always encouraged his students to expand their knowledge of the Martial Arts and  I attended Aikido courses taught by different  Sensei.  These included Sensei Saito , Sensei Tamura, Sensei Tomita, and  Sensei Minoru Kanetsuka when he was invited to our club for a two-day course.  It was a very intensive weekend and I think I've still got a right shoulder injury to remember him by.   For the first two hours of the opening session, he concentrated on my favourite Suwariwaza ikkyo before we went through the remaining Katame Waza.

In 1991, I received a personal invitation from Master Minoru Mochizuki, founder of  his own school of Martial Arts, the Yoseikan Budo.  I had been writing to him for advice on matters relating to classical bu-jutsu so I gratefully accepted that invitation to train at his Hombu Dojo in Shizuoka, Japan.  Minoru Mochizuki had been Uchi-deshi to Jigoro Kano and to Morihei Ueshiba as well as studying with Gichen Funakoshi.  Only two people ever received a Menkyo Kaiden from O'Sensei Morihei Ueshiba: Kenji Tomiki and Minoru Mochizuki.  The  Yoseikan school's training curriculum  was similar to that of Budokan:  to practice more than one Martial Art and therefore remain open-minded in your development.  I was going to represent Budokan so I felt compelled to intensify my training prior to my travelling to Japan.  I  stayed at the  Yoseikan Hombu Dojo for four weeks and trained relentlessly every single day in order to gain as much understanding as I could from this great teacher.  The Dojo operated daily, with Aikido on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon.  Thursday evening was free practice.  The Aikido nights always included Karate training.  Each session began with the punch bag when a variety of punches and strikes with the hands and elbows were practiced, followed by a full range of kicking techniques.  What separates Yoseikan Aiki  from other schools is the use of Sutemi Waza [sacrifice throws].  I had never practiced this before and found that this judo influence helped my understanding of Aikido.  Just as Jujitsu-influenced  Karate increased my own understanding of Karate.
I  would often  practice in the afternoon on my own.  I particularly enjoyed  using the Dojo's Makiwara.  I was told by one of the Master's Uchi-Deshi  that he was happy with my progress. This level of commitment led me to be invited back but sadly I could not return.  

In my work as a Director of Photography, I travelled extensively.  I was fortunate enough to visit our Budokan dojo  in Bahrain where  Mahmoud Fahkro had his club.  He kindly asked me to teach  some classes and was particularly interested in me leading a kata class.  I practiced some T'ai Chi ch'uan  in Hong Kong.  Our local production fixer introduced me to a t'ai chi teacher who guided me through one t'ai chi form.  I was very interested in the passive and active principles of the form and the breathing linked to the movement.  I had to get up very early and train in a park  before going to work.  I was able to practice some Gojo ryu in Australia.  I had attended a Gojo ryu classes at home in Ely and I had agreed with the instructor  that I would teach him some Aikido in exchange of  Gojo ryu Kata Shisochin  .  He gave me a letter of introduction to a dojo in Sydney where I was able to train on my visit.

I was awarded my Yondan on the 21st November  1987 at a Gashkyu in Wadhurst.  The same hall that I had achieved my Shodan. 

I have always considered the martial Art studied within Budokan to be of the highest quality and when Kyoshi asked me to be on the Shihankai, I was truly honoured to be involved.  I hope my experience can be of benefit as we continue to diligently study on our chosen path.

One of the most treasured memories I have is being able to do some  Zazen at Sigiriya rock in SriLanka - a place of Buddhist retreat and meditation for as far back as the 3rd century BC.  Budokan is the only Martial Arts organisation that I know of that includes Zazen as part of its programme.   Studying the Martial Arts has had a major influence on my life, and with the formal introduction of Zazen  into the training syllabus back in the 1980's perhaps the biggest influence of all.


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