Our dojo location for Monday and Wednesday classes has now changed. With immediate effect we are now located at
Westcroft Sports Pavilion
The building renovation at Westcroft Pavilion has over run, current expectations are for it to open on 6th November. We remain training at the Westcroft Meeting Place until it is ready.
As is usual after grading at Seibukan, every one taking part has to write a short essay. Here are the grading essays from our 2017 achievers.
William Ameyibor - 5th Kyu
Last year I thought to myself I needed to do some kind of sport, and aikido came to mind. l went to seibukan club after work and have been practising since. I questioned myself few times in the beginning as the first sessions were tough. I could hardly walk to my car after the first session, I was aching all over. Didn't think I could carry on but I said to myself "no pain no gain". I got over the pains after few weeks.
It took me a while to know ukemi, especially on my right hand side, I tried rolling one day and fell on my right shoulder. It was very painful I had to stop going to lessons for few weeks. When I got back into training, Bryan spent some time with me going through ukemi. Later on, Akiko asked me to roll on my right arm. All I thought to myself was what if I break it (my shoulder) this time around? But Akiko said I should just take my time, concentrate and I can do it. Lo and behold, I did it and have never been scared of ukemi since.
I was a bit worried about the grading as I haven't participated in any competition for years. Bryan, Akiko, Peter and some of my colleagues have been very helpful, making me believe I could do it and going over some of the techniques with me.
It has been a pleasure training with Nakao Sensei and his wife, they are really nice people. I am very pleased to have passed my grading and proud to be a 5th kyu!
This year has been full of blessings. I had a baby boy in February who just started crawling, had an award for working with the same company for 10 years and now 5th kyu.
Now I'm going to put everything into training and prepare myself for my 4th kyu.
David Barnard - 5th Kyu
I have attempted to learn Aikido a few times in my life and each time it has not worked out for one reason or another, mainly I suspect because I was too far down another road and too wrapped up in another system. But corny as it may sound, I do believe that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. That teacher turned out to be Bryan Bateman, who unbeknown to me I had briefly met twenty-five years ago on one of my more unsuccessful attempts to learn, small world.
For me the challenge is that Aikido uses much bigger circles and movement than I am used to, although the basic principle of the internal system is the same.
I have been very fortunate to have had some brilliant training partners in the past, and this club is no exception. This is important because although Martial Arts movements can be practiced on your own, to truly learn a Martial Art you need the spark of another's energy to engage with and make the technique come alive. So to me the most important element in a training hall are the people in it. Whether practicing Chi Sau or Aikido, we all learn and enjoy together.
It also helps to have a lovely wife who accepts my ridiculous desire to get bashed every week.
Paul Liu - 5th Kyu
When I was at school, I never got into any fights. This was because I am Asian, and all the kids thought, naturally this meant I know Martial Arts. This was completely fine by me as I had no interest in getting in any fights. At university, I did boxing for two years and quickly realised that I am not particularly aggressive, or had much desire to punch anyone in the face. I think the world and my life has enough conflict to warrant more tools for conflict.
I guess this is where Aikido comes in. Meeting force with force leaves the whole world blind. But a martial art that teaches to redirect the force of an opponent whilst minimising harm to myself and the opponent, this was something that spoke to me. Not only for its application to physical conflict but in life in general.
Conflict resolution, however valuable it is, is not taught at school as a structured syllabus. At school, you fight, you get sent to the wall or the head teacher's office; in life, you get sent to jail. This tells you the consequences of conflict, but not how to be during the conflict. In Aikido, I have found something that teaches a way of living and being, not just a way of physical self-defence.
I hope to continue my journey and to continue learning, about Aikido, and in so doing, about myself as well.
My thanks to Bryan, Peter, Nakao Sensei, and all at Seibukan for all their efforts in teaching me.
Alex Langdon-Jones - 3rd Kyu
After doing aikido for five years now I have really come to love and understand the sport. Recently I have seen a massive improvement in my own ability as I have committed myself mentally and physically. Learning to use my power and core has really helped boost my confidence as I feel I can complete the techniques correctly, which has therefore made me enjoy it more.
Whenever I come to training sessions I quickly am distracted from problems or emotions and I settle into having fun. Training with all of the different members is what makes our club feel like a community. Aikido is my main cardio activity having to constantly jumping up and being thrown around like a rag doll!
This years grading taught me a lot, I felt that the upcoming sessions and mini grading activities really made me nervous where I was constantly shaking! However throughout the lessons I grew more confident with my moves and tried to forget that everyone was watching me…I felt my grading went well and I am proud of what I achieved. As I know there is always room to improve, especially on my nikkyo and sankyo.
For Hayley’s first kyu grading I was called up to be her uke and loved it! I was thrown around a lot but it was really enjoyable to be on the other side of the gradings and to help support her in getting her next stage. Although after doing my grading ukemi with this I was very tired. However it has really inspired me to continue and hopefully achieve first dan someday.
I am currently in my final year of A-levels and this year is hugely important to my future career. I would love to carry on doing aikido at university and will try my best to find a Seibukan club. For now I will come to training to develop more skills and to relax from studying.
After my exams next year I plan to come to Japan next summer to celebrate the 60th Anniversary! I have never been to Japan before, and with my love for Japanese food, I am really looking forward to it. I’m sure I will have lots of new things to try as well as training in the humidity.
Thank you for a wonderful few days this year for coming to train with myself and the rest of the club, I really appreciate it and hope to see you next year.
It's Not About You - Hayley Epps 1st Kyu
Something that I have learned this year and has really stuck with me is that Aikido isn’t about you.
The idea is that in order to practice aikido well, you need to drop your “ego” and stop thinking about the technique as something you are going to do to the uke. Instead, you should be working with what the uke gives to you even if this might change the technique you had in mind to do in the first place.
I really like this way of looking at training.
For me, when I come to aikido, as soon as I step on the tatami I try leave behind my daily issues, aches and pains and negative thoughts (this doesn’t always happen I have to say, but I try). I usually find that once I get into the flow of a technique, everything else just melts away and by the end of keiko, I can think about whatever was bothering earlier more rationally.
This is why I like the idea of aikido not being about you as tori or uke, but about working with each other’s movements and making something happen naturally. Sometimes you can get some very interesting results!
Since my last grading, I have tried to focus more on enjoying training for the sake of training, with no goal in mind and no preconception of how a technique should be, it’s actually very relaxing! Hopefully, this show in a positive way in my training. I feel a little improvement in my techniques and movement since I have changed my focus.
Coming Together - Tony Epps 1st Dan (Shodan)
Over the last few years in grading essays I have written of comparisons between martial arts, posture, awareness of ones uke (and self) and of continual development.
This year I achieved Shodan - something I am very happy to have done.
And I was reminded of something I heard a number of years ago when training heavily in Jujitsu - The journey to black belt is like learning the alphabet, once achieved you can then start to learn how to speak.
This is a useful reminder during progression that you will never know it all and to never stop learning, developing and training.
For me this means that not only should I always continue to develop my practice but also to show the same to others who may look my way.
And also, enjoy.
Shin Bateman - 1st Dan (Shodan)
Aikido has been a love hate relationship for as long as I can remember now. I find it hard to go but enjoy it when I'm training. This time last year, I was on the verge of quitting aikido as I had pretty much lost all interest in everything that was going on. But having both my dad and mum doing aikido and our ties with Seibukan in Japan made it very difficult for me to do so. Therefore, I decided that I would push through to my shodan grading at least, before I considered ending it all. And I'm glad that I made that choice.
The past year has rejuvenated interest in aikido thanks to my parents, Nakao sensei, Akiko san and what I consider to be my second family here at Seibukan UK. Although motivating myself to go can still be hard at times, I know that if I go, I will enjoy myself and have a great time. I would also like to say well done to Dave, William, Paul, Alex, Hayley and Tony for achieving their grades and huge thank you to Nakao sensei and Akiko san for bringing the wonderful stinky fish.
Aikido Baka = Aikido Happy - Peter Gombala 3rd Dan (Sandan)
We all, who found the way towards the training and spend some time on matt, are Aikido Baka from some perspective. Everyone has different reason. Some’s doing it because they fell in love with beauty of the movement, others seek for sociable aspect, meet someone new, make new friends. But I’m pretty sure that majority of us were attracted by notion of learning something new, something creative, which would keep our mind, body and spirit in balance.
As we are progressing further on our path of exploring via sharing experience, we’re getting through all sort of stages. Quite important one is called Mushin – mind = no mind state, where we completely escape from distraction of everything. We achieve completely clear mind and concentration helps you to perform whatever you do that moment in absolute natural way. And that’s the moment when we’re approaching to spontaneous movements or action, which in Aikido is referred to as Takemusu Aiki.
More we practice, the interest about exploring more Aikido grows. Once you experience something that will make more sense, you want to repeat it again and again. To make sure that something you just comprehended is not one good try you had. But it’s something that you suddenly realise it works and can be applied from many different angles.
All this hunger for more knowledge and experience creates from you well dedicated individual, madly obsessed with the more training in very genuine and nice way in the Baka way. The man of values whom is happy about his/her mad routine that brings thorough satisfaction to the life.
Dedicated to all of those madly genuinely dedicated folks out there = Happy Aikido Baka’s
Grading In Japan - Bryan Bateman 4th Dan (Yondan)
I have been practicing Aikido for more than 25 years now. When I originally started, the club was not affiliated to the Aikikai Hombu dojo in any way, and over the years our dojo cho changed our affiliation between a number of different associations. As a result of this, I have done many grading exams over that time, sometimes stepping back and repeating grades that were taken in previous organisations. Despite the difference in actual exam ideals, the one thing in common with all my previous grading exams, was that they were mostly taken in the comfort of the UK. When Nakao Sensei suggested last year that my 4th Dan exam should be taken in Japan, I was initially quite excited. I had previously taken one grading exam in Tokyo back in 2003, but this would be the first time to take a grading exam at the Seibukan. Ironically, if I passed, it would also be my last grading exam in Seibukan. I have practiced at the Seibukan many times over the years, I know many of the members there, and was excited at the privilege being given to me , but knowing the exam would be in September, when the temperature is high and humid, I was a little worried about the heat affect.
Arriving in Japan, the heat was exactly as expected, but not to worry, I had a week to acclimatize before the exam. I took classes every day in the hope that I would be ready. Each class was tough, the amount of fluid sweating out was immense, my keiko gi would be soaked through after 5 minutes of keiko, I was taking on water every 10 minutes to try and stop the dehydration, but it was relentless. I was really happy after about 4 days, when I got through a class without taking a break to recover, but alas it was only temporary. It didn’t matter, the dehydration was quite intense in every class, and there would always be a point where I had to stop for a few moments. Watching all the young members at Seibukan almost became demoralizing, they jumped around taking ukemi without batting an eyelid, it was incredible to see, they just did not stop, and no matter how hard I pushed, I could not emulate.
As testing day approached, I came to realize that I was not in competition with them, they are 20+ years younger than me, the heat and humidity vastly different to what we are used to in the UK, there is no way that I can keep up with them. Instead, I can only focus on doing what I can do, to push myself until I can’t push any more. We had an hour’s keiko before the exam, the dojo is 60 tatami in size, and there were more than 70 members on the mat, it was close and personal. After the keiko, I got to sit and recover a little whilst the kyu grade exams were taken. I was very impressed with a number of the students, some very high quality demonstrations were shown.
The time flew by, and very quickly it was my turn. At this point, it all became a blur, I remember taking the rei and standing up, immediately, my tongue felt like a large dry sponge in my mouth, and it became impossible to swallow. I’d only done one technique and was already in trouble. From there, I really don’t remember much, the only thoughts going through my head were to breath out and don’t quit……. I thought my lungs were going to explode, but kept trying, kept pushing, until I heard the words to stop. I was barely standing but I was still just about breathing, my legs were like jelly, my vision was hazy and my head was just empty. I had no idea how it had gone, it certainly didn’t feel very good, but as I sat down, Ide san came straight over to me to shake my hand and say some positive words. I’ve know Ide san for a long time now, he is a lovely man and a fantastic aikidoka. I almost cracked, I felt tears in my eyes, his words meant a lot to me and gave me a little hope at the outcome.
Fortunately, I was able to pass, and awarded 4th Dan. It was a very special moment for me, after all these years to achieve this level in such a special place.
I would like to thank everyone that has trained with me over the years at the Seibukan, and everyone that has helped teach me over the years. There are too many to list individually, but I would especially like to thank Akiko san, Hamazaki Sensei and Nakao Sensei. Their support has been more than I could ever of hoped for, both for me individually, and for Seibukan UK. The last 22 years visiting Seibukan has been an experience that I would not trade for anything, it has been an absolute privilege. I just hope that I can continue to train and practice with the same standards and ideals that Nakao Sensei instills.
Congratulations to everyone that graded, I look forward to our next visit in 2018 to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Seibukan.
Congratulations to everyone that took a grading test last night and passed. Seibukan Uk is pleased to announce the following promotions:
Shodan (1st Dan)
MK Council are relocating the Westcroft Library into Tattenhoe Pavilion for the next 12 months whilst building renovation work is completed on a new library. As a consequence, we are being temporarily relocated for the duration.
Initially we will be located in the Westcroft Meeting Place, located at 12 Wimborne Crescent, Westcroft, Milton Keynes, MK4 4DE (Next to Boots at the Westcroft Centre). Our classes will be held here from 1st October until 18th October whilst building work is completed on our intended location.
Assuming building work goes to plan, we will move to the Pavilion at Westcroft Sports Ground until the library relocate from Tattenhoe. The move to Westcroft Sports Ground is intended to take place on the 18th October. Westcroft Sports Ground is located here (Cranboure Avenue, Westcroft, Milton Keynes, MK4 4DB)
This link has the official post from the Seibukan website in Kobe regarding the grading tests from the past weekend. Showing some pics from the day, and the official announcements.
In September 2017, Bryan and Peter went to the Seibukan Dojo in Japan for a week of intensive training with Nakao Sensei. Following a week of daily training in high heat and high humidty, on the last day of the trip, they took part in the Seibukan dojo dan grade exams.
Seibukan Aikido UK is very pleased to announce that they were both succesful in their individual tests, and consequently have been awarded new Aikikai dan grades:
Peter Gombala - 3rd Dan Aikikai Hombu
Bryan Bateman - 4th Dan Aikikai Hombu
The class will be closed on Monday 29th May for the Spring Bank Holiday. Normal classes resume on Wednesday 31st.
News updates from Seibukan Aikido UK.