Updated: Apr 16
Hello from Jason and I, or as they say around here “arreet mara”, and welcome to West Cumbria Aikido, proud to be a TAE member dojo since February 2020!
If you hadn’t already guessed, we are in West Cumbria, which is in the English North West, about 80 km south of the Scottish border, between the Lake District and the Irish Sea. Currently that makes us the most northerly of the UK TAE clubs, where we are about a 1 hr drive north of our nearest TAE neighbour, Ulverston Aikido Club run by Walt Nayman. That puts us on a latitude a little less than that of Copenhagen.
We train in the coastal village of St Bees, historically a UK Victorian era beach holiday destination and still a popular and vibrant village. Specifically, we train at St Bees School, a school that was founded in 1583 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Grindal, as a boys' "free grammar school". The school has been our home since February 2019. This is the school that Rowan Atkinson (AKA ‘Mr Bean’) attended before going to university, hence we like a bit of humour when we train!
Our history is a bit complicated. I started aikido in 1994 in Devon in the South West of England. My first teacher was a former karate-man who started Aikido in 1967, very much inspired by Kazuo Chiba Sensei. He subsequently joined the UK Ki Federation (under Ken Williams under the direction of Koichi Tohei Sensei) in the 1970s, then in the 1980s trained under Tomio Otani Sensei, a student of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei. In 1999, I moved from Devon to West Cumbria, and with agreement of my teacher started an Aikido club almost immediately. The club was never large, but we survived. However, around 2003/2004, I was suffering from severe back problems and the club had to close. For the next 15-years, I had limited engagement with Aikido.
Jason and I met early in 2018 after I discovered that there was a ‘new’ Aikido club in the area, one that had actually been running for 5-years, and had coincidentally also started at St Bees School. Jason had been one of the first students of this club and was at this point, a local instructor. The club was part of an international Takemusu association, albeit one with a strong influence on UK activities from Tadashi Abe Sensei and Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei. Jason’s teacher had moved away and with a 4 to 5 hr drive each way, it was very hard to maintain a connection.
Jason and I then discovered Lancaster Aikido Club in late 2018 and we became regulars there. In March 2019, I met Sensei de Quirós for the first time and then attended my first TAE summer camp later that year. In February 2020, with the relationship with TAE building, Jason and I decided it was in the best interest of our members to leave the organisation we were with and to seek affiliation with TAE. An application which I am very glad to say was successful!
Our acceptance into TAE was very exciting! Needless to say, the rest of 2020 didn’t turn out as expected... However, by the start of June 2020 small groups could meet up outside so we started outside weapons classes four nights a week. The summer of 2020 was kind to us and many hours were spent practicing on the playing fields of the school. These outdoor weapons classes proved so popular we have continued winter and summer, to train.
Our Cumbrian coast location is not the easiest to get to, but if you are visiting the north west of England, or the southern half of Scotland let us know – we would be delighted to see you.
Adrian and Jason