Stuart Jeff’s Story

From 1984 to Date, 5th Dan

When did you start Aikido and Why?

I started Karate at the young age of 18, A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to come along to his Karate class to which I did, in 1984 I saw an advertisement for Aikido at the YMCA, and decided to tag along to see if this was something I might enjoy doing also, from the first class I knew this was something I would enjoy doing and had a passion for.

After starting my Aikido training, A young man called Lester, who had been living in Australia had come to attend Aikido at the YMCA. He was a 1st Dan and asked if he could come along and train, before you knew it, he was teaching myself and the others. From him being my teacher, helping me build up my knowledge of Aikido and supporting me with getting my grades, we built a friendship that is still around today. During my time at the YMCA, I met Sensei Tony Sargant who along with Lester has become a friend. Tony and Lester together supported me in getting my 2nd Q. In the meantime, of being with the YMCA, I was attending classes in Cambridge under the instruction of Sensei Tony Sargent, Sensei Pat Hendricks and Sensei Paul McGlone. I also was attending courses in various areas of the united kingdom, one of which was a course in Birmingham under Sensei Morihiro Saito.

From then the YMCA shut, which led me to Towcester Aikido club in 1996. Due to going to attend Towcester aikido club, this meant that I was now under the Kai shin Kai, where I met Sensei Bill Harris and Sensei Vincent Sumpter who I had met on various courses in Cambridge. Sensei Bill & Sensei Vincent awarded me my Shodan in 1999 and Nidan in 2002. Once receiving these I had built my confidence and technique up that I was ask to teach weapons once a month at Towcester and when Sensei Martin Gowling retired, I was invited to teacher at Towcester full time. In 2007, I was awarded my Sandan, which led to me being awarded my Yondan in 2013 and my Godan in 2015.

As of November 2023, Towcester Aikido Club left KSK and joined Takemusu Iwama Aikido Europe (TIAE).

What are some of your main memories of Aikido?

I was lucky to be able to go to Italy on numerous occasions, first being  with Sensei Bill Harris and Sensei Brian Horsler, and other times with Sensei Vincent Sumpter, we were given the opportunity to teach at the Aikido Club in Aosta, meet new friends that I speak to regularly and explore the mountains around Aosta. From there I was able to go and explore Las Vegas, where I taught at Las Vegas Aikido club with Sensei Bill Harris, where I have met my good friend Erick Cruz, and got the opportunity to train with some of the bouncers from various casinos along the strip.

For my 50th birthday, my two daughters brought me a return flight to  Japan as this is where one of my good friends, Lee Attey is living in Iwama, and I have always wanted to go and experience the Aikido world out there and have the opportunity to train with Sense Hitohiro Saito and train with people who have been in that community for many years, in the time I was in Japan I met more people who had the same passion as myself and build my knowledge further.

What are your personal goals in Aikido?

Thrive to get better, Understand Osensei’s Aikido and Keep learning!

Why do you think Iwama Aikido is so unique?

Iwama Aikido has clear basics both in Tai Jitsu and Weapons, as laid down by Saito Sensei, who learnt directly from Osensei.

What can Aikido offer people in your opinion?

I believe Aikido can offer people confidence, the opportunity to build self-esteem and friendships. Aikido can also build up your core strength and balance, and not only your physical fitness but will also build your mental awareness.

How long have you been training?

I have been training for too many years and am hoping to be training for many more.

Where have you travelled?

I have travelled all around the UK, In various parts of Europe, and I have been able to travel to Japan and Las Vegas.