Every year Gen Sen Jyuku is fortunate to be run a committed group of Aikidoka, who each leave their mark on the future of the club. The responsibility of the executive positions and the fervour with which it is take on has resulted in a lineage unlike any other.
I feel very fortunate to have been part of Gen Sen Jyuku. Going back to basics and training with new people every year was great practice. On a more personal note, I can honestly say that my life would be very different now without Warwick Aikido. Many of my fondest memories of university are of the club and the people I met there, many of whom are still amongst my closest friends.
To build a strong friendship with new friends is not as easy as it sounds, especially when everyone is from a different background and culture. Over all these years of Aikido training, I have made many friends. A few of them have become close friends of mine, who I have lunch with, told my little secrets to, can count on when I need a laugh, can reach for when I need help… Aikido training has somehow established a certain level of trust among us, it has connected us in a very special way, and that takes our friendship to a new level, some might call it family.
Throughout my time here, the dojo has been a foundation for many of my endeavours. The amount of effort that Mooney Sensei puts into each student is difficult to appreciate until you realise that you are about to lose it. I started off training here as a weepy eighteen year old, with my head in the clouds somewhere between the heavens and the earth. In the meantime I have learnt to move my body a little more coherently, but what I have gained the most is a clarity and an extension of my spirit, steered in the right direction by Sensei and my fellow students.
My earliest memory is David Cope Sensei sending a giant Greek into the air—and the ease of his ukemi! I met so many colourful characters in the dojo. None brighter than Chris Mooney Shihan. Above all I enjoyed the dedication, enthusiasm and care that we each brought to training, which extends beyond the dojo.
At the beginning, I had no idea of what a large rôle Aikido was going to play in my life. I certainly didn’t have the sense that I have now that Aikido – and many other martial arts and studies – can make a great contribution to the life of a young person, even in the three or four years of a university degree course.
David Cope Sensei taught on Wednesday evenings and, memorably, Saturday mornings. During this time there were a significant number of senior students including Helen Joannidi, Gordon Wills and Iain Munro who helped pass on the culture of the dojo to a new generation of 1st year students before leaving Warwick. The club was a close community of friends and many happy memories remain of our time together.
Aikido was a very good escape because it kept things simple. But also in these periods of calm clarity I was able to see respect, integrity, concentration, assertiveness, ruthlessness, humility, dedication and above all martial spirit. These were the qualities that I sought; these qualities would give me calm clarity. As always though there is more to it than that, greater subtleties which have to be experienced to be learned.