A significant moment in my life was in the summer of 1979 whilst watching a martial arts gathering held at a local sports centre, where there were an array of different fighting art disciplines and weaponry demonstrations – one art in particular strangely held my attention. I watched in awe a demonstration I thought was magical. I observed an old gentleman who must have been around 80, slowly walk with aid onto the matted area, after being assisted to kneel down, bowed to a picture of an even older looking gentleman who I thought at the time must have been his father, struggled back up to his feet before performing an amazing assortment of twists, twirls, moves, locks and throws resulting in four young men being thrown from one side of the mat to the other; after which he pinned them all down together upon the floor as they all flopped and shook around the floor like fish out of water. Following this demonstration I decided I must get involved with this art that gives men strange powers, finally managing to locate a class in 1982. Now in my early teens I was involved in a Japanese martial art where the instructors wore strange big black skirts, an art known as AIKIDO.
I stayed with this organization which eventually became known as Kobukan for many years until Black belt level, but unfortunately, after a falling out with the clubs leaders, left in the year 1995. A few weeks later I found myself involved and training in a Chinese art called Tai Chi. I played around with this for a few years, but as time went by I found it increasingly difficult to stay focused and interested mainly because I missed practicing Aikido, and the class I felt was taking a turn for the worse, by enrolling ladies from an over 60+ club; lovely ladies but who couldn’t train in any degree as a practical fighting style, but simply worked on the movement only, to which my new training partners would constantly remind me, ( “I can’t move like that anymore sonny Jim my hips won’t let me” ) and not to mention during one lesson I attended I was the only person with all my own teeth, all this made me feel a little out of place feeling this episode in my life had run its course.
In the year 2002 completely by accident I met an old friend who I used to train with in the old Kobukan Aikido Organization, who informed me he now trained with White Rose Aikido and had a class at our local sports centre. After a few persuading ‘phone calls with the clubs leaders I was given the opportunity to meet with the areas head teacher a Sensei Tony Heseltine, a man I had heard was an ex-Hells Angel, a monster of a man, who didn’t take any crap. Unfortunately for me, and not helped by rumours of my earlier dealings with the Kobukan society, was informed that I couldn’t train with my old friend and thus had to travel all the way to Durham, a round trip of over 35 miles. On introduction to Tony I was surprised to say the least; a little man no bigger than I, a man who came across very gentle not the one-eyed, battle-scared, seven foot club-swinging, foaming-at-the-bit monster I had envisioned, who asked very me politely to show him my style of aikido. So, this was it; this silly man was going to experience all my years of hard training; my speed, power and endless wisdom of an art I mastered, he was going to witness all I had to offer in one blow. This was a dangerous invitation from this man and I was not going to hold anything back. He wanted it, so was going to get it…………..
After picking myself up half concussed off of the floor whilst chasing away the birds that flew around my head, wondering just what had happened looking up at Sensei who, by now had a look upon his face of strange disbelief and confusion, asking me just how long had I been training. I realized at this stage maybe my Aikido wasn’t as affective as I envisioned.
This was my introduction to the style of White Rose Aikido and since then I have never looked back.
To date I’ve been involved with the White Rose organisation for over a decade, fortunately enough to work very closely with our head instructor Shihan Shane Riley and many other talented high grade instructors, nationally and internationally. Successfully completing the necessary qualifications to become Durham’s (Prince Bishop) club’s Co-instructor working alongside Sensei Tony Heseltine 6thDan. I’ve since over the years been graded to 5th Dan in June 2013.
In closing, since starting with White Rose I have built many close friendships with members within the organization as well other clubs around the country. Being actively involved in Aikido for over thirty years now I couldn’t imagine my life without it, not only does it help build confidence but for me has aided me physically, spiritually and emotionally I can safely say I’m looking forward to many years to come.