The Annual BAA Spring school runs on the late May bank holiday weekend in Winchester, this year the dates were Saturday 24 – Monday 26th May.

The school was open by the BAA Traditional instructor Tony Davis who led the class in various free style techniques using the Jo. This was well received as the majority of Aikidoka only handle the Jo for Koryu Kata and not in a free style situation.

Lindsay Comens took the second session on the Saturday. Lindsay was the BAA’s guest instructor from a local Traditional Daito Ryu club. Lindsay brought a small class of his pupils who were able to help the class with the unfamiliar Daito Ryu techniques. Aikido has its origins in Daito Ryu and the links could quite easily be seen in the techniques that were being demonstrated and practiced.

The school were very honoured at this point to be joined by Shihan Fumiaki Shishida, 8th Dan Tomiki Aikido JAA who had come with a
keen interest to see Lesley Hepden teach the Koryu Dai Roku.

Lesley taught 3 sessions on various sections of the Koryu Dai Roku which is a very precise coordinated kata requiring absolute concentration and collaboration between Tori and Uke. Shishida was very impressed with the precise, accurate coordinated way the
Kata was delivered and practiced.

Paul Wildish ended the timetabled part of the day with an intense Goshin – Ho training session. This was delivered with under the
watchful eye of Shishida who was pleased to see that kata was being passed on so well.

Running in parallel with the mat time sessions a number of Aikidoka were undergoing formal coaching training and at the end of the timetabled mat sessions they were let loose on a group of “volunteers” to show off their teaching styles and skills.

During the day in another Dojo the juniors had a variety of instructors – Ewan Craig took them through a general Kata session, Tony Davis entertained with Jo work and Rosalind Burgess run them ragged with freeplay. The juniors were also very fortunate to be instructed by Sarah Fletcher who has just taken over running junior competitions.

The highlight of the Sunday sessions were when the juniors joined the seniors on the senior mat . Under Nicole Anson’s watchful eye the juniors were put in to a competitive situation with the seniors taking on the role of judging and refereeing. There was a lot of flag waving and arms moving up and down, with everyone having a good time.

Sunday also brought Bob Jones on to the mat teaching both juniors and seniors freeplay techniques and telling stories of
Aikido in the dark days of History.

Francis Burgess took his life in hand and let the juniors loose with bokkens – there were no injuries but a few of the bokkens had
notices put in them from the low beams!

Monday – Grading day.

The nerves were showing on the juniors as they were first to be put under the scrutiny of the examiners, Paul Holding, Tom Houghton and Rosalind Burgess.

To make thing especially difficult there was one senior grading with the juniors so 3 different syllabuses were required. The senior Dan Grading started at 1:30 under the watchful eyes of Bob Jones, Lesley Hepden, Paul Wildish, Andrian Tyndale and Paul Holding.

By 4:30 PM it was all over – the 3rd year at the Winchester venue.