John began training in martial arts at the age of 7 and has been studying aikido since the early 90’s; he is the only direct student of Hiroshi Ikeda sensei in the UK who he has maintained a close relationship with for over 15 years. He spends countless hours every year with Ikeda sensei including personal tuition and runs a fulltime dojo in Coventry. John’s main interest with aikido is internal strength, specifically in how to use gravity and the ground to bring solidity to his body whilst breaking another's balance. He has a good understanding of body mechanics through constant analysis and study of internal strength with how it relates to Ueshiba's Aikido thanks to Mike Sigman.
In his own words -
If I were to pick one teacher over all others to list as my main influence it would unquestioningly be Hiroshi Ikeda sensei. I first met Ikeda sensei over 15 years ago, I wanted to grab hold of him to feel what he was doing to people for myself... Suffice to say, I grabbed, I fell, I grabbed harder, I fell harder, I looked confused, he laughed! All these years later and I am still feeling the same things and he is still, to me at least, one of the few Aikido teachers who is advancing the art of Aikido - taking it to new places and seeking new heights. If you've never trained with Ikeda sensei please go and grab hold of the man, he will change your perception of what Aikido is with no shadow of doubt.
In addition to Ikeda sensei I have to mention one other name - Mike Sigman. If you're even remotely interested in what Ikeda sensei does, and more importantly, how he does it - please, please get yourself out there and meet Mike. He's a wealth of knowledge, a great teacher and exceptionally skilled. More importantly, he can explain how to do these things - our internal classes are directly based on the Mike's exercises and teachings.
We were very grateful to be able to host a seminar with Ikeda sensei in April 2012 for the first time in the UK - bringing 120 or so people together from 27 different groups. It was an important event, UK Aikido got rebooted. I will be eternally grateful to Ikeda sensei for teaching and spending a week with me at my house watching, talking and demonstrating Aikido. Even better news however is that Ikeda sensei comes back every year to lead a masterclass of a seminar which is now held in our own dojo.
In June 2011 I met Mike Sigman and everything changed, I could no longer simply repeat what I'd been taught in the UK.
In April 2012 I asked Ikeda sensei if I could consider him my teacher…
The answer was yes.
Ikeda sensei has returned to our dojo every year since.
In early 2016 we became part of a wonderful new organisation called the Aikido Shimbokukai and are incredibly proud to be members of this unique (in Aikido terms) organisation.
Hiroshi Ikeda (池田 裕 Ikeda Hiroshi, born 1950) is a Japanese aikido teacher in the United States. He holds the rank of nanadan (7th degree) through the Aikido World Federation (Hombu Dojo).
Ikeda sensei was born in Tokyo and began studying aikido in 1968 while attending college at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo. He relocated to Sarasota, Florida in 1976, and taught there under Saotome sensei from 1978-1979. In 1980, he moved to Boulder to establish Boulder Aikikai. He also travels extensively as a guest instructor, where he has conducted hundreds of Aikido seminars around the world.
Chishin Dojo has close links to Ikeda sensei and John has been studying with sensei for over 20 years - we are the only group in the UK to host seminars with Ikeda sensei.
Mike began studying Judo when he was 15 years old and over time (including military service) expanded his studies to Okinawan karate, Uechi Ryu style. After completing his engineering studies in college, Mike encountered a Sandan from Hombu Dojo who was able to exhibit an intriguing form of strength. The mechanics of that strength was compelling enough that Mike studied Aikido in various dojos for 7 or 8 years.
Ultimately deciding that the odd strength he encountered must have come originally from Chinese martial-arts, Mike shifted to Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) and ultimately also studied (incompletely) both Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, all the while focusing on gathering more and more information on how the “internal strength” skills worked. Given that most martial styles hold information on this type of training closely, it took many years to accumulate a comprehensive view of the overall mechanics.
Mike has been instrumental in John's understanding and development with regard to 6 Harmonies, or internal strength, and it's components. Mike has run several workshops in the Dojo and returns periodically.