How long have you studied Aikido?

Sensei Haigh:

About 20 years. I started in early 1983, got the bug and trained like mad for about 2 years, also training for a year or so with Sensei Keith Rose who had started a small club practising Kenjutsu, Iaido, Kendo Kata and some Aikido.

Suddenly commitments at work, renovating a house and starting a family took priority and I ended up stopping training completely for about a year or more. Then one night I decided to go back down to Huddersfield Sports Centre and it felt like I’d never been away (well except for the fact that some of the lads who were similar kyu grade to me when I left were now Shodan – Oh yes, and I wondered why I was getting strange looks all night, then Shane mentioned afterwards that the club was now with a different Association and kyu grades were not allowed to wear hakama any more).

Sensei Haigh (Right).

How did you first get into Aikido?

Sensei Haigh:

I’d done a bit of Taekwondo at College when I was about 18 and although when I moved to another College I didn’t carry it on, martial arts still held some fascination. I had a little paperback book called Zen Combat by Jay Gluck, which was a sort brief history of Japanese martial arts, and Aikido got a small but intriguing write up in it, but seemed to suggest that Aikido teaching wasn’t really available much outside Japan.

When I asked my wife to have a look what martial arts were available at the Sports Centre while she was down there at Keep-fit, I was very surprised to be told there was Aikido. I dug out the little book to look up Aikido and then I noticed it was first published in 1962! I started the next week under the instruction of Sensei Riley (Shodan).

Why did you decide to stick with the White Rose?

Sensei Haigh:

We were too scared to leave!

No, that’s not fair on Shane, he was always strict on discipline and etiquette but really that was exactly what you expected. There are quite a few good martial arts clubs in the area, but I just felt that Aikido, or at least the White Rose approach to Aikido, suited me personally, so there’s never been any great temptation to drift elsewhere.