Sensei Doug Edwards began training at a small Ki-style Aikido club in Maidenhead in 1974, and studied enthusiastically for three years before having to give it up to concentrate on his professional education and career. In 1991 he resumed Aikido again, and in 2004 gained his Shodan (1st level black belt).
When Sensei Doug began training again in 1991, he did so at Reading Bu Ko Kan Aikido Club, which taught Iwama-style Aikido. From there, upon the closure of the club he tranferred to train at Reading Zenshin Aikido Club. Reading Zenshin is part of TIA Europe, headed by Sensei Tony Sargeant.
Since choosing to study Iwama Aikido, Sensei Doug has attended many weekend courses which were held at Sensei Sargeant’s Cambridgeshire dojo, and other courses with influential Sensei from the USA, Japan and Sweden. While working in Hong Kong for several years, and without the existence of an Iwama-style Aikido Club, Sensei Doug concentrated on personal practice in bukiwaza, the weapons side of Aikido. Once Sensei Sargeant left UK to reside in Greece in 2006, Sensei Doug has also attended intensive uchideshi (‘live-in student’) week long courses at his residence in Kefalonia.
In 2015 Sensei Doug was awarded the rank of Yondan (4th level black belt).
For more information on Sensei Doug’s Aikido journey, please read “How I came to Aikido“.
Sensei Sargeant – 6th Dan
Tony Sargeant Sensei is Sensei Doug’s teacher and has greatly influenced his development. Sensei Tony began his Aikido career in 1972 and, after graduating to 1st Dan he discovered Saito Sensei and became one of his loyal, dedicated students. Sensei Tony would often travel the globe to attend Saito Sensei’s courses and seminars and, in some instances had the honour of being his personal retainer.
Sensei Tony represents TIA Europe (UK branch), and splits his time between Greece and UK. Sensei Tony and his partner, Jane, continue to host uchideshi seminars at their home in Greece once a year. Sensei is regularly invited to Russia as a guest instructor on annual courses, and is invited to instruct at several domestic courses hosted by different clubs throughout UK.
Saito Sensei – 9th Dan
In 1946, at 18 years of age a skinny Morihiro Saito Sensei enrolled at O Sensei’s dojo to learn “a new martial art under the tutelage of “a mysterious man practicing and developing a new martial art” in the woods on the outskirts of the town of Iwama. Little did Saito Sensei know that he would become O Sensei’s longest serving student, retainer and disciple for the next 24 years until O Sensei’s passing in 1969.
After O Sensei’s passing, Saito Sense became the guardian of the Aiki shrine and dojocho of O Sensei’s dojo in Iwama, until his own passing in 2000.
Saito Sensei is remembered not only as an exemplary exponent of Aikido, but for devising a systematic approach to teaching Aikido. He brought to the Western world the method of learning techniques at three levels: kihon (basic), awase (blend) and ki no nagare (free flowing movement). Saito Sensei furthermore developed a weapons curriculum for bokken and jo, and demonstrated the close similarities between bukiwaza (weapons) and taijustu (empty hand) – culminating in the theory that Aikijo and Aikiken compliment taijutsu, and vice versa to gain a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles.
Saito Sensei travelled the world teaching and in so doing spread the word of Aikido, always stating that the Aikido he taught was as taught to him by the Founder in Iwama. Therefore, we within the Iwama community consider the Aikido we practice and train in to be ‘pure and undiluted’ as passed down from O Sensei via Saito Sensei and, we attempt to in turn pass this down to our students.
O Sensei – “Great Teacher”
After learning and mastering other martial arts (one of them being Daito-ryu jujitsu through Sensei Sokaku Takeda), at the age of thirty-six O Sensei encountered Onisaburo Deguchi, a religious leader of the Omoto religious group. Deguchi had a profound affect on O Sensei and through their meeting; forged much of what the meaning and goal of what Aikido is.
O Sensei reflected on martial arts and the Way of the Warrior in general and he came to realise that to be the ultimate warrior, rather than overcome one’s adversary through force and power, it would be more in peace with the world if one could overcome adversity and aggression with non aggression, not to injure and maim and from this philosophical stand point Aikido was born.
In the post World War II years O Sensei taught his Art to senior officers in the military services, politicians of note, senior officers in the police force, aristocrats and city gentlemen of Tokyo. The premises he occupied became known as “The Kobukan Dojo”, and which evolved into what is now “The Hombu”, global Aikikai Aikido Headquarters. In his later years O Sensei gradually passed over the management and teaching of Aikido at the Hombu to his son Kisshomaru. O Sensei wished to spend more and more time at his country residence in the Ibaragi Prefecture at a town called Iwama, immersing himself in a frugal life as a farmer to live off the land, meditate and perfect his martial art.
It is said that his ‘pure Aikido’ was developed there, particularly Bukiwaza – the Way of the Bokken (wooden sword) and Jo (wooden staff) – and their interrelations with empty hand Aikido. Loyal students would commute to his dojo in Iwama to be instructed by him, along with several local residents, one of whom in 1946 was Morihiro Saito Sensei.