The annual Kagami Biraki announcements proved to be the most remarkable and ground-breaking event in the history of the UKA.
We received approval for;
- 5th Dan to Adam Hurlin
- 6th Dan to Alan Smith
- UKA supported 6th Dan to Kostas Matzaras, Colin Hackett and Steve Magson
- 7th Dan to Philip Smith, Peter Brady and Keith Hayward
- Shihan status to Peter Brown
Certainly, when I made the application for 7 th Dan I was very doubtful that the submission would be successful as it was well outside my given remit. I was delighted when Tani san informed me that Doshu had granted the request. Apart from Birankai USA I think this is the highest award given at one time to any one organisation.
I want to acknowledge the massive role played by Guy Needler in this achievement, his expertise in preparing the accompanying applications and justifications were vital to the resulting awards, his relationship with the staff at Hombu dojo is without equal.
With this achievement comes a collective responsibility for all members of the UKA
I think that we all can be proud of being members of organisation so well respected in the Aikido world. With this achievement comes a collective responsibility for all members of the UKA, which I understand to be twofold.
Firstly, we must maintain and develop our technical standard by following the technical direction of Doshu and Hombu Dojo teachers. There are several Aikikai groups in the UK that just pay lip service to the technical influence of Hombu, happy to accept the promotions but unwilling to face the difficult task of following the principles and subtleties of our seniors. In 2016 we welcomed Katsurada sensei who offered us a fresh and very different style of aikido, this year we have Kobayashi sensei whose aikido we have admired and marvelled at for many years. Our role as teachers is to emulate the principles of this instruction and pass on to our students as best we can. The internet is packed with ‘expert aikido’ but a study of Hombu dojo teachers present us all with the standard we should be aiming for.
Secondly, we have a duty to secure the long-term future of the UKA. Some years ago, I initiated, with the full support of the Shihankai, the Kensankai programme. It has worked very well to date by adding another instructional layer to the teaching staff. This year the Kensankai are conducting 3 intense instructional courses to senior students who the Shihankai and Kensankai see as potential future leaders of the UKA. In fact, training people to take over their jobs!
Any UKA member of 3rd kyu and above, is welcome to take part in these courses which will be held in dojos in Birmingham and London. The costs of the courses will be subsidised in part by UKA finance.
This is not a short-term fix but a long-term plan that will take many years to unfold, but by ignoring the future we forsake the past efforts in an art that shaped many of our lives for 50 years.
This year the Winter Course will be held on the 17th, 18th and 19th of February in High Wycombe dojo, this will be another landmark event for the UKA as our guest instructor will be Sawada Shihan 7th Dan. Although not a Hombu dojo teacher (he is based in Kimori dojo) he has a very close personal connection with Doshu and Dojo Cho. He was a student of Chiba sensei for many years. His instruction will include weapons classes.
Please try to support this very important event for the UKA
My congratulations to all those members who have been promoted not just at the Kagami Biraki but at UKA dojos and events through 2016. I hope you will continue to enjoy your aikido through 2017.