The British Aikido Association’s 2016 spring school was once again a huge success. Aikidoka from across the country gathered at Winchester Judo and Martial Arts Club for the three day event, which covered everything from Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu to self-defence, ultimately proved to be hugely interesting and entertaining.
The teaching from Lindsay Commens of the Daito-Ryu was something altogether a little different and unfamiliar for most of those attending the spring school and was a testament to the strength of the relationships that the British Aikido Association has fostered and maintained, not only between aikido clubs but with practitioners of other martial arts as well. All of the aikidoka on the mat learned a great deal, and gleaned a valuable insight into the origins of our art. A crash course in the koryu dai san from Paul Wildish was also well received, with many nervous brown belts anxiously taking note of every teaching point that was made.
A focus on weapons techniques from Lesley Hepden shone a light into a sometimes neglected part of the Tomiki aikido syllabus. I particularly enjoyed a series of techniques from the koryu dai roku which we studied on the second day, where tori was in fact the one armed with a knife, responding to uke’s attempts to immobilise or disarm him. Paul Wildish took a departure from the norm with his self-defence sessions, focussing on the goshin-ho, and then allowing everyone to go away and experiment with how they might apply aikido techniques and principles to more realistic scenarios (not an easy task, as any aikidoka who has tried can tell you!).I sincerely enjoyed Tony Davis’ traditional aikido sessions during which we explored the finer points of pain compliance techniques and pressure point holds. This was of particular amusement to me, as I am just one of those people on whom nerve holds have little or no effect, and I fear that I may have caused both Alex and Jonathan an intense degree of frustration as they poked and jabbed at every point Tony showed us to no avail, whilst they proved to be all too susceptible to the techniques!Finally, Paul Holding, who was sadly very unwell just a short while after spring school, delivered an excellent session on the randori element of Aikido training. I have always believed firmly in the concept of randori as “chaos practice” (a topic that I will cover in more detail in a later article!) and this session was truly an exercise in the application of that concept. The whole emphasis was on keeping the practice well below the level of shiai (competition) while maintaining a good level of resistance to technique in both parties.
Grading day saw three new first dans and a new second dan added to the ranks of the BAA, and many kyu grades were also passed through the next stage of their training. Many congratulations are due to everyone who graded, particularly to our own Alex Osband, who was so nervous that he kept telling me to stop grinning at the grading panel, in case I upset them and they failed him as a result!
Overall, spring school was yet another example of the high quality of instruction, inclusiveness and dedication to excellence that runs throughout British Aikido Association. Thanks must be extended to Francis Burgess and the Winchester Judo and Martial Arts Club (who are incidentally celebrating their 60th Anniversary this year!) for organising and hosting the event. Winchester remains a fantastic place to train and Francis and his team went out of their way to ensure that everything that anyone could possibly want had been catered for. Thanks also to the guest instructors for bringing their expertise, and to everyone who turned up and entered into the spirit of the event and made it such an enjoyable course to take part in.
From all of us here at Samurai-Do: Alex, Jonathan and Jack; Thank you!