World Championships and International competition in Aikido has been around since 1989 and under the old administration this would have been the twelfth occasion that the international Aikido fraternity had met to compete.

This first WSAF (World SportAikido Federation) held a unified World Championship at the University of East London between the 18-20th August 2017 and provided for three major improvements.

  • It was the first competition at this level to include Junior, Youth and Cadets competing with their own specific and age related events.
  • It was the first competition that only recognise Nation States and not associations or individual groups.
  • It was the first event organised by an independent World Governing Body

The WSAF competition included Juniors (under 10 years of age), Youth players (under 16 years) and Cadets (under 19 years). Over 90 young people took part although the range of nationalities was limited, perhaps inevitably.

The under eights were dominated by the Russian contingent, who even at this age demonstrated high levels of skill and determination. Russia of all the nations in Aikido are showing the greatest potential and are already starting to threaten Japanese and UK dominance in the sport.

Congratulations to Joseph Smethurst for providing stern resistance to the Russian dominance in this age group. He gave some outstanding performances with enthusiasm, commitment and skill.

The UK team were more successful in the under 10s category with Phoebe Parker and Ethan Cox who had previously one European medals but they still could not halt Russian progress especially in the Tanto Tai Sabaki. Ethan Cox moved up an age group to pair with Majenta Bareham for the bronze in the Randori-no-Kata event and two teams from north of England clubs took silver and bronze in Ninin Dori.

The under sixteen age group saw the emergence of the Irish team with fine performances from Mallaigh Riain and Darragh Conroy who between them achieved two gold and two silver medals. Having watched these two perform at previous championships, I believe they are very highly talented individuals who will be the ones to watch as future adult champions. Their ability to move fluidly and the accuracy of their technique is superb. We must not forget the sterling efforts of Joe Pilling, Danny Goodall and James Straton who achieved the UK team’s first gold medal in the Ninin Dori.

This age group was an Irish vs UK affair with fierce but friendly rivalry, producing some excellent performances. Many of these players had competed against each other on previous occasions and knew that the standard would be high.

The UK player Ed Gander volunteered to partner the Irish duo of Conroy and Eastwood as they were a person short. This team eventually won gold in the Ninin Dori event. Ed showed great character and went on to achieve gold in the Open Kata with his partner Kate Bolton.

The two randori finals between Lauren Sheard and Anna Maslennikova and Chris White and Michael Eastwood were tight matches, with
hard fought victories for the two UK players.

The adult competition was very hard fought with the Switzerland team, Japanese, Russians, USA and Spanish all performing to a very high standard.

One of the real highlights of the competition was a brother on brother match within the British A and B teams during the Team Randori finals. Daniel White finally overcoming his younger brother Chris by only a narrow margin. This helped the UK “A” team to a narrow three two victory. Daniel also went on to win gold in the open, freestyle kata and mixed team events.

Paul Carr fought his way through all the eliminations, to get to the final he had to overcome his close team member Fred Kamara this he did with a fantastic throw with only three seconds left on the clock. Paul met Shuhei Komori, a future talent, in the final and overcame him by scoring a full Ippon. Paul has worked hard for this victory and is a modest and well-deserved World Champion.

Laura Beardsmore continues to dominate the Aikido World Women’s ranking tables notching up her fourth Individual World title, 2011, 2013, 2015 and now 2017. She completely dominated this section stopping many of her bouts before the end. In the final Laura met current Japnnese Champion Fumika Yamasaki, Laura scoring Ippon to seal the victory.

In the Embu Scott Pearce and Andy Rigby won gold with a fantastic display in the Goshin -no-Kata. Their performances were crisp, accurate and spectacular in all respects. I was extremely pleased for the UK team who were all quite brilliant in both their preparation and execution. It would be wrong of me to select individual names from the rest of the team as they all performed well above expectation and are a credit to British Aikido. Under the management of Paul Carr and Laura Beardsmore they have become world leaders in all aspects of Sport Aikido.



The level of sportsmanship was extremely high with all competitors taking defeat in good grace, just as a good martial artists should do. It is very rare that bad feeling is demonstrated at an Aikido tournament but this one was particularly noticeable for players supporting each other and giving advice and guidance to weaker players from other nations.

Finally the level and accuracy, of refereeing and judging was extremely high. Key staff were asked to observe and report to the Senior Referee David Fielding any noticeable bias. He made sure that there was a blend of referees on each mat and officials were rotated.

If officials were scheduled to referee their own national sides they were rotated out. David did an excellent job of ensuing officials were kept on task, providing fair and unbiased levels of judging and refereeing throughout the competition. I wish to thank the 60 officials who helped make the event so successful.

The competition was orgnized by Vanda Fairchild and attracted 267 competitors from all over the world and was enjoyed by over 300 spectators each day. In addition the junior and youth players, who for the first time had a ringside seat to watch their adult counterparts at work.

As the First WSAF World Championships it set the bar very high for future organizers to follow. The next World Aikido Championships will be held during the first weekend in August 2019 in San Diego, USA. See you there!

Bob Jones

View results from the 2017 WSAF International.