- 30 years of Aikido
- 5th Dan - 2018
- 4nd Dan - 2008
- 3nd Dan - 2004
- 2nd Dan - 1993
- 1st Dan - 1990
- BAB Coach ( Level 1) - Completed 2003
- Safeguarding Children (2015)
- Coaching Disabilities (2015)
- Equity in Coaching (2015)
- Continuous member from 1984,
- BIG Lottery Project Coordinator (15/16)
- PSA Treasurer ( May 2015 - Present)
How does Aikido fit in my life?
I had experienced a year or so of Judo when aged 12 via my school and sporting skills developed via the Rugby field where strength, speed and power were the ingredients of success at a moderate level during a 17 year career. I retired from Rugby soon after my daughters arrived in the world and, for 3 years or so, became a family man.
When my eldest daughter was 6 years old, it became clear that life might present challenges where confidence and self-defence skills would be useful, especially for girls, and where there were advantages in participating in martial arts. My father-in-law went to a festival of martial arts at College of St Mark and St John and enthused about Aikido which was the only art where women/girls learnt with men.
I took my daughter to her first Aikido session in October 1984 and she began to learn with her under Sensei Ken Samuels at Ham dojo in Plymouth. Initially I took her to the sessions and sat and watched. Within a few weeks we were both "hooked" and we would attend on Fridays and, for additional sessions and gradings, on Saturdays and Sundays and continue to learn together at home by discussing techniques and practicing the starts of moves and kata. I obtained my Dan grade in April 1990 soon after Sensei Ken retired to Wales. Ham closed in the early 1990s and the club moved to Estover and, later, Laira. I now took on a greater involvement in coaching under Shihan David Worsley's guidance, with a special interest in accelerating the learning of those of all ages starting their path of learning .
My style would described as robust, but seeking greater ki influence to attain a style more suited to a person of retirement age with some residual back problems arising from my rugby playing days! In 1999 I had an enforced lapse due to a back problem which took a year to solve, with the help of a good physiotherapist who gave me guidance on specifically helpful back exercises which included continuing aikido. He encouraged me to see aikido as a lifelong exercise regime - maintaining lower back stability through a system of movements, exercises and (most importantly) rolling exercises (ukemi).
I seek to continue to pass on that which I have learned about to aikidoka of all ages with enthusiasm for as long as I am able.
I attained Assistant Coach in 1991, Nidan (2nd Dan) in September 1993 leading to, most recently, 4th Dan in 2008. I aim to continue to practice until I am at least 80 and to offer what I know to those who would like to follow a path of harmony and to learn as I have that there are 4 principles to good Aikido:
- Keep one point
- Relax completely
- Weight underside
- Extend ki.
Understanding these takes a great deal of practice, but applying these principles can help you enjoy life day by day, whether on the mat or not. I have found that it is an on-going learning process with benefits if you persevere.
I fully agree with one of the main aims of Shin Gi Tai Society which has been stated as:
The Society prides itself on its non political, non commercial approach to teaching friendliness and harmony on and off the tatami. The aim of the Society is to make Aikido Available for the public to help them in their daily life. Thus my commitment to seeking Lottery funding to support the development of the club for the benefit of the members and the community at large.
Phil Smith 2015 - Updated Dec 2015