Sensei Ray Sturdy

Sensei Ray Sturdy

The following interview took place on Sunday 15th July 2007 at the Ki Aikido of Great Britain Headquarters between Sensei Sturdy, President of the Ki Aikido of Great Britain and Sensei Simón Granell

Sensei please tell me how you came to study Aikido, and was there anything in particular that converted you to it?

It is true to say that I was looking for something different in my Life. I chose to do a Japanese Martial Art called Aikido.  I had looked at many Martial Arts, but my mind and body were not happy with any of them.  Then after many months of searching I finally found what I had been looking for – Aikido, a traditional non-competitive Japanese Martial Art.  I was converted because it does not focus on winning or defeating an opponent; rather it was created to foster moral character.

Did you commence Aikido training at once after hearing about it?

I discovered Aikido on a Sunday and started the following Thursday, and after 33 years my journey for the truth still continues.

What is your opinion on Aikido today, and where do you see it in the future?

I think that Aikido can play a very important part in today’s society and should be introduced onto the curriculum of our schools.  If children were introduced to Aikido, they too could experience its potential for personal growth.

Why do you think ukemi plays such an important part in practice?

I believe that ukemi is the first skill you must learn, as it is the art of falling without injury to oneself.

What would you consider to be the most important quality in a good Aikidoka?

To become a person in harmony with others; an integrated and balanced individual.  The aim of the Aikido student should be to explore their full human potential.

Do you think when one reaches a certain level in Aikido it becomes a very personal journey and the need to find ones own identity becomes more important?

It is up to the individual as they travel along the path seeking the truth.  They will encounter many obstacles.  Some students will fall by the wayside and others will be more positive and continue no matter what challenges and hardships they encounter.  There can be no end to this journey.

Would it help Aikido and particular students practicing Aikido, if perhaps they were to write essays for each grading on historical, technical and practical issues?

All aikidoka should study technical, historical and practical issues, but in my mind I believe it is not necessary to write essays on these subjects for gradings.

Are there any particular teachers that you would like to talk about that left a particular impression?

I was with one teacher for 33 years (Sensei K Williams who was President of the Ki Federation of Great Britain).  There is however one teacher, Koichi Tohei sensei who stands out.   Tohei sensei's power was unbelievable.  Tohei sensei is the one who taught Co ordination of mind and body.  Not only was he able to teach this to teachers, but also show them how to teach others. 

There are many teachers who broke away from Tohei sensei, but they still teach the same principles that he had shown them.  Some do not acknowledge that he had been their teacher.

Have you practiced other martial arts, or do you feel that aikido is complete and there has not been the need for you to practice any other arts?

When I was younger I did training for boxing and Judo, but after a while I decided to do other things.

Do you have any other thoughts or anecdotes that you would like to share?

I believe that one finds true strength and inner peace when mind and body are unified. After all, how is one expected to get along with others and nature if one has lost the ability to be in harmony with oneself?  Aikido is a way of life, because it can be applied to every situation in life.

Thank you Sensei...

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