The second annual British Open Aikido Championships was held on 12th June at Dartford Judo in London. The day ran to time and was enjoyed by both players and officials from the BAA and SAUK with visiting guests from Shodokan Spain.

This year’s event fielded considerably less competitors than in the 2015 inaugural joint competition. Which seems to have been the pattern for all domestic competitions so far in 2016.

Could this just be as a result of it not been an international tournament year, injury recovery and rehabilitation or when the event is held in the higher education academic calendar? Can there really be less players out there needing fewer shiai and embu competitions?

Those players that did attend took in a variety of embu and randori events representing 9 different clubs. There were thankfully plenty of skilled and experienced referees and judges representing the SAUK and BAA which ensured that the allocation of officials per mat for each event was fair and balanced.

A small group of enthusiastic score keepers and time keepers who assisted throughout the day helped enormously to ensure a relatively seamless transition from one competition event to the next. Nicole Anson as head referee ensured that standards of randori refereeing were consistently high.

Effective co-ordination ensured that on the whole both mats were utilised throughout the day and that the event did not overrun. In fact we finished early! Despite the lower than expected turn out many players remarked on how well the day went and how they had enjoyed competing against unknown senior UK players from different associations.

The competitive spirit was tangible, as was the camaraderie that was displayed by everyone. There were slight differences in the types of events on offer this year, with no ninin dori or mixed team randori event. The inclusion of Tanto tai sabaki proved to be a success with a high number of entries from many dynamic and talented adolescent kyu grades. Next year will see the introduction of the long awaited BA Golden Anniversary 1966—2016 adolescent tanto randori event for 14-17 year olds. Club coaches and team captains need to
ensure that they are aware of the new BAA youth randori rules so that they can adequately prepare their players for what will be a
popular event. Inclusion of these two elements will hopefully ensure a smooth transition for our aspiring youths.

I hope that we see an increased numbers of players from both associations entering next year British Open and that we continue to develop strong links together, with an increased number of joint training opportunities for all aikidoka across the UK.

My personal thanks go to all the willing officials who gave up their hard earned free time to be there for the day, we couldn’t have done it without you!