Sensei Richard Small

When did you start Aikido and why?

I started a short while after the Kung Fu TV series, so it would be about 1973 and the time of Bruce Lee when so many martial arts films filled the cinema seats with inspired potential ‘heroes’. The films sold the idea but not the reality. Reality struck home when you found a class to attend. It wasn’t that easy! The idea of living a thoughtful caring life while being the constant and admired victor had its appeal. Wouldn’t you like that?

What are some of your main memories in Aikido?

Discovering willing teachers, helpful friends, travelling the world to find those who shared the same dreams. There is a lifetime of memories … things people did or said are all magical moments that I can revisit in my mind. You must build your own for you can never have another’s.

What are your personal goals in Aikido?

To discover the essence of what I now believe is real aikido and leave behind the mistakes in action and the foolish understandings of the past. To realise the nature of being one with the universal. The words were always out there but so few ever understand what they mean. I hope I will. I would like to share these ideals but it is another task that is not easy. Just because it is difficult though is no reason to sit by the side of the path and give up. When you give up there is only one thing waiting for you . . !

Why do you think Iwama Aikido is so unique?

How can it not be unique, you are unique. Though we search for something we think is the same, it will never be completely so. It is obvious to me that Saito Sensei was a man of integrity and vision and upheld his loyalty to his own teacher with a tenacity few of us will ever share. It is because of him that the structures and therefore legacy of what is known as Iwama aikido remain so clear to this day. I think the weapons are great teachers in themselves if we only listen with our bodies to what they have to say. The ken and jo will speak to you no different from what they spoke to O-Sensei. This is a unique link with history and the potential to know what the founder knew.

What can Aikido offer people, in your opinion?

There is no doubt that aikido can offer all the wonderful attributes that martial ways offer people who follow them. Skills and feelings that enable you to steer a peaceful way through life. To blend and not conflict and to find victory over self leading to the true power that arrives with peace. True Aiki will find no enemies anywhere you go.

How long have you been training?

I have been training since about 1973, to date that’s 47 years, and still going . . .

Where have you travelled?

In terms of aikido or related arts, because much can be usefully employed in aikido that comes from diverse understandings, Russia, China, Holland, France, Switzerland, Greece and of course, Scotland, Wales and Jersey too.
Travelling with fellow aikidoka is a wonderful event in life, a collective of trusted companions that care for life, theirs and yours.