Brian and I, now two of the old timers of British aikido, were talking together last summer. We were recollecting the training for the 1997 World Championships with instructors and players from all British sport aikido; Bob Jones, Phil Newcombe, Matt Pritchard, Ken Broome, Garry and Steve Hogg, Dave Smith, Steve Evans, Dante Montagnani, Dave Fielding, Vanda Fairchild, Jim Newcombe, Phil Crosby, Scott Morton, Ade ?, Brian Stacey and I; that’s just a smattering of who was there. It wasn’t elitist but it was hard and you didn’t miss a session.
We did some serious aiki: basics, kata and randori, had an amazing time and spread the love around the UK.
Now, 15 years later, British aikido is in at least 3 camps, generally not training nor competing together. We will never again have an undisputed UK kata or randori champion as we do not play together. This year, we will go to different ‘world championships’ and have 2 or 3 world campions in one year for the same event…on different mats. Is this what the majority, the students of aikido, want?
Last year, I attended an ‘open’ national level competition (almost every player came from the same ‘division’/divide). It was fun but where were the top UK players? How are up and coming shodan and nidan players going to be tested? Will the novice yudansha have to wait for one of these ‘world championships’ to discover how good they are? Even then, they will not play against the whole field of Sport Aikido.
I know we generally leave it to our instructors and seniors to think about the direction of our aikido, but perhaps it’s time for the students of aikido, the members, to say what you want.
Democracy is strength.