2015 seems to have been a particularly busy year; so much so that we’re only now getting around to producing the newsletter. So, in fact, this is more of a ‘2015 Review’ than a ‘2016 Newsletter’.

It began at the start of the year with certificate presentations to our youngest students, the children in Sensei Danford’s class who had graded in December, and then to our oldest student, Harry Hurley, who is now 77 years of age and still taking ukemi.para1

Early in March Sensei Riley visited Sensei Sam Wilson’s Shoshin Aikido dojo in Stockport to teach a class, taking Diane, Shaun and Simon with him. After going through some of the basics of ukemi, tai sabaki and tai no henko, all the students were treated to the local hospitality by having a few drinks afterwards.

March also saw the first of our regular annual courses taken by Sensei Riley. There was a good turnout at Dewsbury, and a strong representation of students from Durham.  Sensei Riley included some tanto dori practice in the training, something rarely seen at seminars these days. para2

April began with what has become an annual visit to Sensei Burlingham’s dojo in Lowestoft. Once again there was good turnout, with ten students from Yorkshire and Durham accompanying Sensei Riley. With a quite intensive two days of training hardly anyone had any time to take photographs on the mat, but it’s probably an indication of how good a weekend this always turns out to be, that most of the photographs commemorating the weekend are of students eating, drinking and paddling!para3

Also this month Sensei Riley taught a Wednesday evening class at the Grimsby dojo of Andy Abernathy. He was accompanied by Andrew Thorton who took ukemi.para4

The Association has run a dojo at Huddersfield Sports Centre for over thirty years, and this has now been consolidated when a brand new Leisure Centre opened in May. This class is now taught by Sensei Tyler, and with such excellent, brand new facilities promises to go from strength to strength.para5

The course held in June at Durham was paid a visit by Arthur Lockyear, a long-time student of Chiba Sensei, who had recently passed away. Although he was watching from the side lines, at the end of the seminar Arthur couldn’t resist stepping onto the mat to show Steve Mitchell (who had just passed his Shodan examination) how it should be done.para6

The highlight of the year came in September, when the White Rose Aikikai organised a seminar to celebrate Sensei Riley’s 40 years in Aikido. Students and instructors travelled from Singapore, Greece, Belgium and Northern Ireland as well as from all parts of the UK to join in the festivities. Guests were treated to visits to the Royal Armouries in Leeds and to a tour of York, including the Yorvik Viking Museum, and special classes were held on the Thursday and Friday evenings in addition to the Saturday seminar, which had 120 students on the mat.  Sensei Riley brought along a photograph from 1987, and several students in the picture with him were there to join in the celebrations. This was all an indication of the high regard in which Sensei Riley is held. Instructing on the day were Senseis Alexander and Aloyseus Lee, Babis Keranis, Frank Burlingham,  Nick Waites, Terry Bayliss and of course Shane Riley.

The whole event was rounded off with a celebratory meal for 86 people on the Saturday evening, with much gift-giving and speeches; Shawn-Marie was presented with her Shodan, and Sensei Riley was presented with a Shihan certificate by Sensei Bayliss. As might be expected, the celebrations continued over into the hotel later, and even the Aikido instruction continued, much to the surprise of some of the students from Belgium, who took ukemi for some of Sensei Riley’s ‘more practical bits’ in the foyer!para7

On a much less happy note, at the end of October Mick Hajdysz, 5th Dan and a senior instructor with the Association passed away after a long illness. Mick began his Aikido career with the Aikikai, regularly taking ukemi for the likes of Kanetsuka Sensei, until he joined the White Rose about 25 years ago.  Mick taught the Friday night class at Halifax, along with his wife Janet, until his illness prevented him from training. He created a unique atmosphere in this dojo which was mix of severe and practical training combined with a wicked sense of humour which all his students loved. He will be much missed, and his students will be telling tales about him over a pint or two for many years to come.para8

In November, Sensei Riley returned to Grimsby with Andrew Thornton to instruct at a Sunday course for Sensei Abernathy, which was supported by a number of local Aikido dojos, and this time they were both treated to an authentic, home-cooked Thai meal supplied by Sensei Abernathy’s wife.para9

Later in the same month a number of senior gradings took place at the Dewsbury class, and Graham Terry was successful in gaining his Nidan, while Simon Barrand and Shaun Fairweather obtained their 1st kyu. These last two were given the opportunity to wear their hakama for the first time a day later when they visited Sensei Barry Chapman’s dojo in Hyde with Sensei Riley, Sensei Derrick and Diane Martin. After a bit of a struggle getting their hakama tied they managed to take good ukemi for Sensei Riley without tripping up once! This visit was particularly special because it was the first time that students had visited Manchester since Sensei Chapman had chosen to join his dojo and students to the White Rose Association. Although Barry has been a friend to Sensei Riley for 25 years and has attended many of our courses, joining our organisation gives him the opportunity for closer links and the chance of greater development for his students, and we look forward to many training sessions with them in the future.para10

The final course of the year was held at Dewsbury in December, and once again it was good to see students from other parts of the country and other associations attending. Sensei Riley taught techniques against shomen uchi attacks and linked this to tachi dori using the same principles. Throughout the day several gradings were also taking place, and at the end of the course the senior students who had passed their grading a month earlier were presented with their certificates.  The obligatory Christmas gathering was held later at the Liversedge Village Pub (although this wasn’t the last Christmas drink of the year!)para11

Plans are already underway for 2016. In January Sensei Gary Elphick is opening a new dojo in Freeman’s Quay in Durham, and we wish him well with this new venture. Quite a large number of students have already put their names down to travel with Sensei Riley to Lowestoft and visit Sensei Burlingham’s ‘Broadlands Aikido’ dojo in April, and several students have expressed an interest in travelling to Belgium in June for the 7th International Aikido Seminar. Sensei Riley has once again been invited to teach at this event and will join a team of Senior Instructors from around the world celebrating the art of Aikido at this prestigious annual event. There is still time to put your name down to attend what will be an enjoyable and memorable experience.