Sensei Quentin Cooke, 7th Dan Yuishinkai International
Chair of Aikido for Daily Life
Director of Aiki Extensions
I began to practice aikido in 1984, within the Ki Society of Great Britain, which was linked to Tohei Sensei, but was headed up in this country by Sensei Kenneth Williams. He was one of the original practitioners of aikido in this country under Abbe Sensei and widely recognised as the most senior UK practitioner of aikido. Sensei Williams eventually broke away and founded the Ki Federation of Great Britain, which I stayed with until 2000 having reached the rank of 4th dan.
At that point, being the creative art it is, I found that my own path required me to break away and explore new paths. I joined Sensei Denis Burke ( a former assistant of Sensei Williams) and my brother Sensei Piers Cooke, who had founded the Isshinkai Association, which in style was still principally based in Ki Aikido. Unfortunately many of the issues and problems that both my brother and I experienced within the KFGB were replicated (I believe that if Aikido is for Daily Life, that our experience on the mat should match our experience off it and that therefore the rather rigid structures of a traditional Japanese organisation is not something that I believe will foster the growth of aikido).
As a result, in 2004 my brother and I founded Aikido for Daily Life, (ADL), which is affiliated to Yuishinkai International under the guidance and teaching of Sensei Koretoshi Maruyama, (www.aikidoyuishinkai.com), one of the founder's original students. He encourages people to celebrate what we share rather than seek to emphasise our differences, (''There are many ways up the mountain'').
ADL's name was chosen carefully to reflect what we felt aikido is really about. We have structured the group to be democratic and not hierarchical, to better reflect the culture in which we live. Since foundation are association has steadily grown, as have the bonds between the member clubs. We have also built strong ties to a number of other aikido associations and often run joint courses with them
In 2004, I was awarded the rank of 5th dan and in 2011, Maruyama Sensei awarded me the grade of 7th dan. I can only say that this massive promotion was a great honour and that I do my best to live up to it.
Apart from running my club, which incidentally is a qualifying member dojo of Peace Dojos International and chairing ADL, I am also a director of Aiki Extensions, (www.aiki-extensions.org). This international group based in the USA has charitable status and seeks to spread the principles of aikido into 'off the mat' situations with a view to making a better world. Their work is something I believe in passionately and so devote much time and energy into making their aims a reality.
I love my practice and study of aikido and believe it to be a powerful tool for improving the world we live in and my desire is to share it with as many people as I can.