Once again BAA members gathered for the annual BAA Spring School, hosted by the Winchester Judo & Martial Arts Club.

This BAA School is growing in popularity and attracts a loyal following mainly from the West and the South East. Most appreciated is the continuing and loyal attendance of Pete Coia, a intrepid Northern regular at all our BAA Schools!

This year was an important event, not just for the BAA celebrating our 50th Anniversary, but for the Winchester Judo & Martial Arts Club, which celebrates its own 60th Anniversary of foundation. The club located in the Winchester Lido, teaches Judo, Tomiki Aikido, Tenshin
Shoden Katori Ryu and Karate, providing a comprehensive cover of Japanese martial arts to Winchester and the surrounding area.

Indeed this is one of only a very few clubs in the UK where authentic Sugino lineage Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu can be practised. The teaching line up this year was provided by Paul Holding 5 Dan, Bob Jones 7 Dan, Lesley Hepden 8 Dan, Paul Wildish 7 Dan, Tony Davis 6 Dan and from Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, Lindsay Comens 3 Dan.

Lindsay Comens has been a frequent visitor to our Spring School and is now considered a firm friend of our Winchester Judo and Martial Arts Club. This contact is consolidated through those Winchester BAA members who regularly cross train with Lindsay in Daito Ryu. Lindsay is a student of Quentin Ball, who is the UK representative of Okabayashi Sensei’s ‘Hakuho’ organisation in Japan. Lindsay gave an always interesting and challenging couple of seminar sessions, demonstrating the subtle but devastating means by which Daito Ryu techniques destroy posture and control one’s opponent.

This year Lesley Hepden once again brought her intimate knowledge of Ohba Sensei’s ‘Koryu’ kata to benefit the Spring School’s students. Ohba Sensei devised the Koryu no Kata to serve two ends; to maintain the connection with Ueshiba O Sensei’s original aikido forms and secondly; to serve as means by which those too old or disinclined to compete in Tanto Randori Shiai, to have a means by which they could share in competitive aikido through Kata Embu. Today while Kata Embu is an established part of national and international competition, outside of the UK and Europe, Ohba’s original forms have lost popularity for both competition and general practice. The BAA preserves this tradition and Lesley Hepden having trained directly under Ohba in Japan and with his close student Takeshi Inoue Sensei is a direct link to that legacy.

This year Lesley taught weapon techniques from the Koryu Dai Roku, the least practised of the Koryu. Paul Wildish covered aspects of
self-defence. First in demonstrating the application and adaptability of the 17 basic techniques, in defence situations against a variety of attacks; then by comparison showing the same or similar techniques structured through the Goshin ho.

Tony Davis, the head of the BAA’s Traditional Aikido section, gave a master class in flowing turning movements and the application of ikkyo. Always pertinent to broadening our experience of aikido as unified whole, particularly in our practice of Koryu no Kata.

The indomitable Bob Jones once again shouldered the burden of getting more members through our coaching programme and
teaching on the mat. Bob’s sessions covered both adults and children, with the adult sessions concentrating on the close association between judo and Tomiki Aikido in the application of throws.

Paul Holding also took children’s and adult sessions. In the adult sessions he concentrated on developing more skill and confidence in hikitatageiko using a variety of counters and combination sequences and making it a more co-operative and enjoyable experience for all, and especially with gradings in mind to be able to slow it down and show examiners a real understanding of movement and harmony.

This was Paul’s last BAA outing before he suffered his stroke, from which he is now slowly recovering, with the help of family and his determination to play a full and active part on the mat again. He is already teaching at his club from the side of the mat and we all hope to see him return to the Winchester Spring School in the future.

Thanks also have to go to Francis Burgess and his members for their teaching of the juniors programme and logistical support for
the this most enjoyable weekend