Sensei John Longford Q&A

Sensei John LongfordWhy did you start Aikido?

It was pot luck really. I had been interested in the martial arts for some years but never got around to doing anything about it.

Then in 1980, at the tender age of 31, I saw an advertisement for an Aikido Beginner’s class at the Howard Mallett Centre, Cambridge. Having absolutely no idea what Aikido was I went along to try it.

Seventeen beginners lined up on the mat. Sensei Sargeant (then a Shodan), accompanied by Russell Eberhardt appeared at the front. Sensei then gave a short speech and said it was a good turnout but probably only half would return next week and he would be lucky if two or three of us finished the three months course. No way I thought! However only two of us made it to the Sunday course which was to end with a grading. The other guy broke his collar bone just after lunch and we never saw him again.

That afternoon I graded to 6th kyu along with Mike Meldrum who was the only one left from the previous beginner’s course. I only intended doing it for a while and certainly never expected to get to Shodan let alone be in the position I am now. I am also proud to be Sensei Sargeant’s first Shodan.

What particular Aikido memories do you have?

There are too many to list here but one does stand out, which was one time when I was training under Saito Sensei in San Leandro. Saito Sensei corrected me on a Koshi Nage. I repeated the technique with him watching. He then smiled, made a circle with his thumb and forefinger and said OK. I think I did the rest of the class without my feet touching the tatami.

Have you attended Seminars Abroad?

Many times. Various Dojos in California (particularly in San Diego where I have been Uchi Deshi six times under Sensei Bernice Tom), Denver Colorado, France, Germany Switzerland, Denmark and Israel.

Apart from Sensei Sargeant and Sensei McGlone what other Teachers have you seen?

Obviously Saito Sensei, but also in no particular order are the following that I can bring to mind: Bill Witt Shihan, Sensei Hoa Newens, Sensei Bernice Tom, Sensei Pat Hendrix, Sensei Bruce Klickstein, Sensei Tom Gambol, Sensei Kayla, Sensei Kanai, Sensei Donovan Waite, Sensei Sugano, Sensei Hayden Foster, Sensei McFarlane, Sensei Hitohiro, Sensei Miles Kessler, Sensei Billy Coyle etc.

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