My martial training began when, at the age of 9, I enrolled in Judo classes at Leeds Athletic Institute. Being less than assertive I found myself waiting in the wrong room and trained instead in Men’s Artistic gymnastics for 5 years, with not a moment wasted. In March 1991, I began training with White Rose Aikido. Blood was drawn before my first class even started when Sensei Hemmings threw a medicine ball for me to catch but I was instead propelled into the wall. I knew then something important was to be imparted.
I was permitted to wear Hakama in 1994. In April that year I was asked by Sensei Derrick to teach my first class. Soon I began to make plans to set up a class in Leeds, but the great dojo of life had other lessons for me. I experienced a decline in my mental health and lost large tracts of my life to hospitalisation and depression. I am, though, by way of being, a martial artist, and when I found myself subject to a system which labels, over medicates and denies hope, I fought a profoundly personal battle which called on me to draw on all Aikido had taught. When I look back on my path I feel proud that 2 of my sons are following. To them I would say that I have found this great way which is practised as much in everyday life as it is in the dojo. It is in how we speak, listen and learn from one another, in how we forgive, understand and love one another.