Interview with Richard Small July 2017
4th Dan with Takemusu Iwama Aikido Europe.
Q. What inspired you to do aiki jo?
Training with weapons needs no mats, it is something you can practise alone or with a partner, you can practise in street clothes and footwear, anywhere you go, the forest, the beach, your home or garden - you can pick up any stick, broom handle, hoe, umbrella, walking stick, even a twig and enjoy your connection with the spirit of Aikido. As a teacher moving to the area alone it was an art that lent itself to teaching beginners who had neither equipment nor experience.
It is within the reach of almost any person, regardless of their age and ability.
Q. What are the aims of martial arts?
Qualities possible from martial arts practice.
Perception; awareness; confidence; patience; friendship; communication; adaptability; resilience; loyalty; reflection; humility; perspective; compassion; honesty; empathy; discipline, (external and self); humour; co-ordination, (of mind and body); flexibility; intuition.
These are transferable skills that will serve you well in life.
They are yours for the having.
Aiki Jo can also be used as an exercise system, training aspects of self defence, developing health defence, improving confidence, body awareness,
co-ordination, social and self awareness, balance and power, even engaging in a pathway to moving meditation and finding the path on which your spirit walks. Weapons encourage your ki (spirit energy) to extend beyond self.
Q. What plans do you have for the future?
I started a martial art when I was in my twenties, probably for much the same reason as anyone else. I sought a security from the confrontations that often beset the minds of youths.
Martial arts are a great reality check for the Ego. You suddenly discover that the art you have taken up to defend yourself is full of people much more able than you. You try harder to catch up, to improve fitness, co-ordination and technical skills. Often, it is not for many years, when the spiritual side of the art becomes more apparent. The mind/body/spirit connection makes you more calm, centred, and peaceful; And Yes, more powerful. Do not confuse strength with power. When you understand ‘Do nothing and everything is done,’ then you have arrived at the gateway you seek. After more than forty years of training, I plan to keep looking and try and make what I understand, possible through my actions. Still a long way to go – but the journey remains ever more important than the destination.
Links of interest.
www.aikijo.weebly.com (Information on Aiki Jo in Bideford North Devon.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9U04EU_Qp8&list=PLiSphaNlfbfKmowCvjV5holVeQULm9Hjk (Saito Sensei weapons video collection.)
http://www.hartlandaikido.co.uk/ (Ki style Aikido in the manner of the late Koichi Tohei 10th Dan. Classes in Buck’s Cross and Holsworthy.)