In the 30 years I have been practicing Aikido, I have attended approximately 8 seminars a year.  When I started everything was shiny and new, every teacher more wonderful than the last, every lesson full of new things to try and workout. At that time Aikido was so enjoyable there was  an adrenalin rush in every technique so it is hard to tell when things change. You always have your favourite teachers , favourite people to train with and you tend to have a fixed idea of how things should be done and anything out with this  is unacceptable . As time goes on two things can happen. You can become jaded and narrow minded. Closed to other ideas or receptive to the fact that there are many ways to do things, those that work for you and those that do not.

This brings me to the subject of the Aikido of London seminar held in burton this Easter. The Dojo in Tatenhill is a wonderful venue (always a good start) with a great Aikido pedigree thanks to its founder Mick Holloway Sensei   whose work is being carried on by the current Instructor Richard Edmunds Sensei another fine Teacher.

When I was invited to attend this seminar it was not a difficult decision to say yes. On arrival there was a wonderful welcome for myself and my students from all of the attendees, some from the northeast of England some from Burton and London obviously but also Marta from Spain ,who surely must be one of the most committed Aikidoka out there .  One of the things that made this such an enjoyable and informative seminar was the open-mindedness not only of the students but also of the instructors looking for the positives in everything rather than emphasising the negatives. Very refreshing as in recent times I have seen an increasing move to where the teachers are in competition with one another rather than focusing on the needs of the students.

Everyone was working hard both on and off the mat. It could have been a totally different seminar without the tireless work of Michelle and Mariusz  who with some help from us incompetent in the culinary arts kept the wonderful food coming. This also was an integral part of the seminar, not just the co-operation on the mat but the teamwork and camaraderie off the mat .

The training as ever was tough not just physically but mentally also. The tempo was set by the students although the focus was on solid basics with the teachers able to assess and adapt classes to suit the situation  from basic striking and some boxing drills right through to Kiri-otoshi. There was something for everybody in this seminar if you knew where to look, and the most amazing thing was you didn’t have to look too hard to find it as it was everywhere . Every student brings something different to training. The exception here was that everybody brought something positive and I am sure left feeling as invigorated and rejuvenated as I did. This was a wonderful seminar in a great venue with fantastic students. All the ingredients for a perfect storm !

I started this , what for me is an epic  statement, by mentioning how I felt at the beginning of my Aikido journey and that this seminar took me back to those wonderful early days. Thank you so much to all who made this possible especially Ismail Hasan  Sensei who made this happen .

Thank you

Stephen Boyle

Boyle Sensei is the head coach at Wishaw Aikikai and is a senior instructor of the British Birankai, and is a former member of the British Birankai Technical Committee, responsible for the technical direction of the art within the British Birankai.