Jane Reed, 3rd Dan
“Whenever I move, that's Aikido."
O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba
I started practicing Aikido in 1992, under Sensei Tish O'Brien in the York Aikido club (Shodokan style). This was simply a follow-on from a self-defence beginners course, but there was something appealing in the flow and movement of the aikido, and when I moved south to Cambridge in 1994 I searched for something similar, and so joined the Burwell Aikido club.
I did my first Dan in 1998, within the Ki Federation of Great Britain (under Sensei Williams), and my second Dan in 2000. Having children interrupted my Aikido practice at times, and it wasn't until 2010 that my Sensei Quentin Cooke finally persuaded me to take my third Dan.
Ki Aikido and Aikido for Daily Life have provided for me a way of relaxing and re-adjusting my mind to what is important in life, after a hectic and stressful day at work. It is very easy to get wound up with issues both at work and at home, and both the Ki practice and the Aikido practice, in different ways, allow me to regain my balance. I think that my Aikido training was incredibly useful during the birth of my children (especially the Ki breathing), and keeping calm amidst the chaos of a new baby also tested my Ki at times.
Also important to me are two more things about Aikido. One is the beauty of a good move or a good throw, for both the tori (the person doing the throw) and the uke (the person being thrown). Aikido is full of circles and movement, with no blocks or clashes, and when done well can feel almost effortless, and there is harmony with your partner, as if you are dancing.
The second is the camaraderie of the folk on the mat. Aikido for Daily Life welcomes folk from all walks of life, and because aikido uses the energy of the uke, you don't have to be big and strong to be successful – so we practice with aikidoka ranging from seven years old to seventy – each different person brings something different to the mat, and everyone has something to teach as well as learn. But don't take my word for it – come along and find out for yourself!