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How It All Began

by Sensei Simón Granell (Southbourne Club)

2nd May 2007

Ki Aikido Sensei GranellSome time in 1987 I was having a conversation with a friend about how since choosing to do art as a career my sporting activities had been severely curtailed.  I said that I had toyed with the idea of taking up a martial art, but didn’t really know much about any of them, apart from a few months practicing judo in Spain as a child.  This constituted joining the conveyor belt of spotty kids forward rolling for the whole class, or being relentlessly impaled into the very cold mat.  This friend (a Second Dan in Shotokan Karate at the time) suggested aikido to me, as I was already interested in Japanese culture and art.  For several years this though went to the back of my mind but never quite disappeared.

In 1993 having moved to a new flat in London and feeling like it was a good time to turn over several new leaves at the same time, I remembered this conversation.  Determined, I went straight to martial arts in the yellow pages and was soon thwarted by problems of distance and incompatible days etc.  After several days of dead ends, I was on my last lead, when thanking the lady on the phone for her help; she said that she vaguely remembered hearing about a club in Muswell Hill, North London.  The address was “tetherdown something or other”.  The next day armed with this torn fragment of a lost treasure map, I set off with my wife on the pretext of going on a summer stroll from Crouch End to Muswell Hill.  I steered the walk towards Tetherdown.  Not Road, Avenue, Way or Crescent, just Tetherdown.  This absence of a second word seemed meaningful at the time and added to the growing sense of meant-to-be-ness about the whole matter.

As we started along Tetherdown, my eyes were on full alert.  Almost immediately I was looking at a notice board in front of a church, and there it was.  A picture that is now all too familiar: somebody dressed in a white gidogi and a black hakama throwing somebody else in a white gidogi and a black hakama while managing to look calm, effortless and most importantly very cool.  I had arrived.  Even before seeing Aikido for real, I had a strong sense that it had found me.  A feeling that I have learned to trust more and more ever since.  Filled with guilt and no pen, I tore off the telephone number on the notice and put it in my pocket.  That afternoon I called the number and went the following night to my first class.  That was Monday 3rd May 1993. 

Although unable to successfully perform most of what I was taught that evening, I felt completely at home, and was very moved by the teaching (Sensei Mark Greenley), my fellow aikidoka and this new word ki.  Since that day I can say that whatever has happened, I have always left an Aikido dojo a happier person.Back to Article List

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