Aikido (the way of harmonising the energy of the universe) is first and foremost a martial art but it is also much more. At its most basic level Aikido is a system of throwing, joint-locking, striking and pinning techniques, coupled with training in the use of sword (bokken), staff (jo) and knife (tanto) techniques. Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba in the early twentieth century and has now grown to be one of the world’s most popular martial arts. It places emphasis on practical efficiency, and is the style used to train women and anti-riot teams of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
Size, weight, age and physical strength play only a small role in Aikido, also making it a uniquely suited option for women, children and older students.
As a form of Budo (the martial way), Aikido is more than a fighting art. It is a path of personal discovery and character improvement. The path on which you have taken the first steps is different for each person but if you train hard you will see improvements in many areas of your life. Some of the benefits include increased physical fitness, improved self-confidence and a greater awareness of yourself and your boundaries as well as those of people around you.
AIKIDO AND THE SHUDOKAN
Gozo SHIODA was a prominent student of Ueshiba and went on to develop the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo which practised a combat ready style which was and is still taught to the Tokyo Police due to its practical and effective nature. The Shudokan Institute of Aikido can trace its roots directly back to the Yoshinkan style of Aikido.
Inevitably, the story of the Shudokan begins with Sensei Thamby Rajah, the father of Malaysian Aikido. Having already started to train in Judo in Malaysia, Sensei Thamby travelled to Japan to further his studies. In Japan, Sensei Thamby trained under many notable Judo teachers, including Ichijima Sensei, as well as Mifune Kyuso Sensei (10th Dan), one of the foremost teachers at the Kodokan – Judo’s World Headquarters.
Whilst training at the Kodokan, Sensei Thamby was introduced to Soke Gozo Shioda. As a result, Sensei Thamby combined his training of Judo with that of Yoshinkan Aikido. A year later, Sensei Thamby returned to Malaysia, having been awarded a Shodan (black belt) in Judo (the first Malaysian to do so) and a Black belt in Aikido.
Whilst in Japan, Soke Gozo Shioda gave Sensei Thamby the dojo name of ‘Shudokan’. ‘Shu’ meaning to study, ‘do’ meaning the way and ‘kan’ meaning house. On returning to Seremban, Sensei Thamby established the ‘Shudokan’ the ‘place to learn the way’. Sensei Thamby taught Aikido there, introducing Aikido to Malaysia for the first time.
Eddie Stratton had a long history in the martial arts. Having trained and taught in numerous countries around the world, teaching martial artists, police and military personnel. Having learnt from great masters and developed his martial arts to become a great master himself. At 19 he found himself in Malaysia where he met Thamby Rajah. After watching Thamby, he thought that as a boxer he could easily overcome him. He was amazed at how this slight man handled and controlled him. Of course, he did not know that Thamby was a student of the great judo masters Ichijama and Kyuzo Mifune, and the great aikido master Gozo Shioda.
At this point he began taking instruction in aikido directly from Master Thamby Rajah and on his return from Malaysia, he introduced Yoshinkan aikido for the first time to Great Britain in the early 1960’s.
He travelled to Japan and trained under Gozo Shioda. Later, Gozo Shioda came to England and stayed with Stratton.
In 1998, after one of Thamby Rajah’s visits to the UK, Stratton received his 9th Dan in aikido.
He died on the 9th March 2000 after a long fight against cancer.
With the passing of Soke Stratton the responsibility of the Shudokan moved to his former student Shihan Ken Robson who set his base up in Nottingham and operates his full time dojo from there.