I began practicing Aikido in the UK in 1989 with Sensei Michael Narey of the National Aikido Federation becoming the youngest Shodan in the Federation in 1991. I obtained an introduction to go to Iwama in 1992 at 19 years of age from Sensei Philippe Voarino of France, spending a total of two years in Japan; a year and a half from 1992 – 1994 and six months 1995 – 1996. I was awarded my 4th Dan by Morihiro Saito Sensei in 1996. During my time there I travelled extensively in both Japan and Europe with Saito Sensei and his son Hitohiro Sensei as ‘Otomo’ for both seminars and demonstrations. In 1994 I became the first western student in more than a decade to be taken from Japan on an overseas seminar with Saito Sensei as his ‘Otomo’ or assitant.
In 1997 I was accepted into the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the UK and was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment in 1998. During this time I taught classes to the Parachute Regiment in ‘arrest and restraint’ techniques, prior to service in Northern Ireland. I served in the Parachute Regiment for five years, leaving as a Captain in 2003.
I began actively teaching again in 2002 and now regularly teach seminars in the UK and overseas. The Aikido that I teach remains the Aikido of Saito Sensei, incorporating the teaching and coaching techniques that have been influenced by my time as an instructor with the Parachute Regiment, thus blending traditional Japanese teaching with modern coaching and martial approaches. I am also a nationally accredited Self Defence Instructor.
I received my 5th Dan in Aikido from Saito Sensei’s son Hitohira Saito Sensei in September 2006.
In 2012 I attended Vladimir Vasiliev’s Systema Camp. I spent a week in the Canadian Forest with Vladimir, Valentin Talanov (one of Mikhail’s oldest students) and Konstantin Komarov. I was blown away. Not just by the ability in the three teachers, but in the standard of almost everyone there. It was clear that Systema had a way of teaching that was able to successfully transmit a high level of skill. Vladimir’s level of mastery was extraordinary.
Systema is a hugely effective and efficient combat system. But it is so much more than that. It is a way of living and looking at the world. The realisations and health benefits are profound. Many of my current students would not have dreamed of beginning a traditional martial art. However they heard from their friends about the health benefits of increasing mobility, and managing physical and emotional stress and tension and joined. Now they love the martial side too.
Since returning from the camp I have gradually moved to teaching Systema full time.
I am assisted in the class instruction by a team of Instructors and Assistant Instructors.