I started my martial arts training in 1972 practicing Wado Ryu karate, achieving Shodan. I have also studied Shotokan and Shuko Kai karate as well. Whilst practicing Wado Ryu karate I came across an aikido dojo and thought practicing aikido would enhance my karate as there were locks and throws in Wado Ryu.
The aikido dojo I joined practiced large flowing technique which was very stylised. As a fiery young man I found this alien to the practical approach I wanted. I persevered for some months and then attended a course by some sensei from the Midlands, Gary Williams and Brian ‘Skippy’ Whipps. They had a more down-to-earth style of aikido and I followed these two instructors for several years. I was practicing aikido and karate 4/5 times a week at this period plus travelling to courses at weekends whenever there were any. In September 1979 I started private training sessions for four friends in Huddersfield and by the following month this had become a formal class and the White Rose was born.
I have had the privileged to receive tuition from many Japanese and home-grown senseis since 1975 to the present and still enjoy the experience of being educated. Terry Bayliss Shihan has been a strong supporter and friend to myself and the White Rose for many years and Mr William Smith OBE always had a kind word for me and our association. Both sensei have visited the White Rose many times. I have gained so much depth and knowledge from all the instructors I have taken tuition from and they have helped me formulate my practice and teaching philosophy. Directly or indirectly, I thank them all.
For over 25 years I had a strong bond with Ken Cottier Shihan so hombu, a direct student of O-Sensei and Principal of the Hong Kong Aikido Association. I received tuition from him whenever he returned to the UK. I have also followed him to Holland and Hong Kong for tuition. I was privileged to be asked to teach at sensei’s dojo when I visited him for the Hong Kong Aikido Association’s 25th anniversary. Shihan Cottier was a very close friend and mentor and is missed greatly.
Alongside my traditional aikido practice I have been involved in conflict management training for many years, and I am also a registered door supervisor trainer with the Security Industry Authority. I have personally supervised at many varied venues over the years, including ring security at televised boxing events.
I have worked in one of the busiest police custody suites in West Yorkshire for many years, often using aikido as a work tool to defuse situations that involved some very violent individuals, sometimes with just a relaxed, positive attitude, and at other times with physical technique, working within the Home Office guidelines, but always using the principles of aikido. I took national qualifications through West Yorkshire Police to become an Officer Safety Trainer, enabling me to give police officers all the requirements necessary to keep themselves and the public safe.
This other aspect to my aikido practice has broadened my views on aikido and has benefited myself and my students to appreciate the practical aspect of aikido as well as allowing us to understand the philosophy of this beautiful art that O-Sensei gave to us all.