War Lewis, 3rd Dan
I started practicing Martial Arts when I was 11 years old, with Za Zen Karate. I was living in Dover, Kent at the time and had no idea about Karate or any other Martial Arts other than watching David Carradine in Kung Fu and I was very much scared of confrontation. My mother enrolled me in Karate in an attempt to stop the bullying I was suffering at school. I lasted no more than a number of months as, ironically, the class sempai (senior) who was a brown belt, bullied me.
I drifted in and out of different martial arts for the next six years or so, developing a desire to learn all I could about fighting, I practiced Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Sambo, Karate, varying Jiu-jutsu’s and Karate’s, anything I could learn and refine my technique and ability from. By the time I was seventeen, I was also working in the private security field and stuggling with the minefield of ‘minimum force’ in using my Martial Arts within my work when required. One of my instructors suggested I take a look at a new Martial Arts action star who had recently hit the movies, his name was Steven Seagal and this ignited my interest in Aikido. I was unable to locate anyone teaching Aikido anywhere near me so I started studying Také Sensei, as I later discovered he was called in Japan, and Tenshin Dojo Aikido through his movies, I strived to imagine what it would feel like to do the techniques as purely imitating movement wasn’t producing the results that should occur, this new method allowed me, albeit slowly, to progress.
It took me two years to find an Aikido Dojo and when I did I was lucky enough to begin formal training under Malcolm Copp-Taylor Sensei owner and chief instructor of Yugen Kan Dojo 5th Dan Aikikai, 4th Dan Iaido, 4th Dan Shotokai Karate . Copp-Taylor Sensei had trained initially in Japan at Honbu Dojo until his return to the U.K. where he continued his training under the Japanese.
Training under Copp-Taylor Sensei changed my Martial Arts instantly, my desire for the look good Hollywood fights reason for training disappeared within a couple of weeks and I became immersed in Budo and the culture of the Japanese and more specifically the Samurai. I discovered that through Aikido I could grow in all manners as a person, I found that the need to fight became less and less and that when physical confrontation did occur that now it was relatively easy to obtain the same results I had before with a sense of calm I had not experienced with any other Martial Art.
As years have passed I look at what Aikido has done for me, my life and the people in my life and marvel at all that Aikido has allowed me to achieve. Aikido has given me confidence not only in myself but to deal with anything life throws at me, it has given me strength to get passed things that would have stopped me dead in my tracks, strength to go that extra mile when I have nothing left to give. I have no doubt that without the influence of Aikido over the last 20 odd years, that my life would be very different today and that I would not have achieved even a fraction of the things that I have.
I have now committed to teaching Aikido full time and we have just finished the construction of Shinsei Dojo, the first full time Dojo for Tenshi Aikikai Aikido, in the heart of the Somerset/Dorset countryside.