John Burn, 4th Dan
My interest in Aikido started with sensei Tom Moss at The Phoenix Aikido Club in the early 90's. Tom was very instrumental in wanting me to seek out new teachers and find new things in Aikido and always wanted to see what new ideas I'd picked up when returning from visiting another teacher. Sadly Tom passed away in 2003 and with him, many of the things that I held dear. I met and trained with many teachers during those years - the main ones being Hiroshi Ikeda sensei, Christian Tissier sensei, Osamu Obata sensei, Mitsugi Saotome sensei and Frank Doran sensei. All of them in some way have peaked my interest and influenced how I move and what I think of Aikido.
If I were to pick one teacher over all others to list as my main influence it would unquestioningly be Hiroshi Ikeda sensei (his dojo is listed in the links section). I first met Ikeda sensei in 2001 and initially traveled over to see him based upon a video I'd bought and everything I'd heard about him. I wanted to grab hold of his wrist and see if he could do to me the things he was doing to everyone else in the video so easily and seemingly without a great deal of effort or movement... Suffice to say, I grabbed, I fell, I grabbed harder, I fell harder, I looked confused, he laughed! 8 years later and I am still feeling the same things and he is still, to me at least, one of the few Aikido teachers of who it can be truly said is actually advancing the art of Aikido - taking it to new places and seeking new heights. Anyone who's never trained with him - please go and grab hold of the man! He'll change your perception and what Aikido is with no shadow of doubt.
Starting your own Aikido club is not the easiest thing in the world to do and I'm very proud of our club and the people who train here week in, week out, we've got a great atmosphere and we're growing in numbers all the time. Our doors are always open and we're always happy to see new faces and embrace new ideas with regard to Aikido. I think we've achieved a lot in the past 2 years, from appearing live on BBC radio to demonstrating Aikido in front of Coventry's Lord Mayor. Our club has 3 teachers with different influences all sharing a common passion for this art and together we are proud of what we have managed to achieve.
On June 20th, 2009, I successfully tested for my 3rd dan on the annual Aikido for Daily Life Course. I had to perform random techniques from a series of attacks both empty handed and with weapons culminating in a 7 person randori (free attack).