Head of dojo at EI MEI KAN
Aikido has a past, present and future. To preserve training in the future requires the application now of the basic traditions of the past. The lineage of O-Sensei's tradition is preserved through physical training and the forms given to us by our own teacher. The etiquette of Aikido is such that the mutual respect within the dojo should be reflected in our path, and mutual respect for all human beings must be part of our practice. This is the spirit of O-Sensei's practice. Most people would agree that the civilised society is one which cares for its weakest members. This same spirit is essential in the dojo.
Aikido's beginning was in the world of its founder, O-Sensei, the Japanese world of the 1930s. In that world O-Sensei, as a practitioner of the warrior's path, was not led by others, but remained true to his own convictions, formed through his own research, and subsequently inspired others to follow in his steps. He chose his path and gave us an example of how to learn.
Whole worlds can be created in books, on TV, in movies or in modern computer games. People can become immersed in these worlds, creating and destroying, with the player, viewer or reader being given a feeling of power and superiority that has no physical grounding in reality. These worlds are not, however, whole experiences which can create a lack of focus, and commitment to self cultivation in people's lives. By contrast the martial arts such as Aikido, Batto-ho and disciplines such as Zazen face reality as it is.
Chris Mooney Sensei began his training in 1973 under Ralph Reynolds Sensei at the Aikido Fellowship, then housed at the Birmingham Athletic Institute. In time, he became a student of William Smith Shihan and, in turn, T.K. Chiba Shihan.
Mooney Sensei first began teaching at Aston University in 1981. He preserves his connection to British universities to this day, believing that the message of Aikido has particular relevance for young people in the modern world. In the mid-1980's, he established a dojo in Bearwood, Birmingham. By 1994, the dojo had relocated to Digbeth, Birmingham. At that time, Chiba Sensei gave Mooney Sensei's dojo the name that it bears today: Ei Mei Kan — “the House of England's Light”. In 2000, the dojo moved to Northfield, Birmingham; in 2009, Ei Mei Kan moved to its present home near Cofton Hackett, Birmingham.
Over the course of his Aikido career, Mooney Sensei has travelled widely. He has taught throughout Europe and beyond, and continues to guide his students in Greece, Israel, Switzerland and other countries.
In 2005, on the tenth anniversary of the formation of the British Aikikai, Chiba Sensei awarded Mooney Sensei the title of Shihan (“master instructor”); in the autumn of 2006, Mooney Sensei journeyed to Japan and personally received his Shihan accreditation from Moriteru Ueshiba Dōshu, the Founder's grandson and head of Art. Mooney Sensei sits on the Senior Council of the British Birankai (British Aikikai), overseeing the work of the Teaching Committee and the cultivation of the next generation of Aikido teachers. He is also a founding member of the European Birankai International Shihankai, the group of European shihan responsible for the continuation of Chiba Sensei's teachings in Europe.
We all discover Aikido for ourselves through training. Seeking it in the here and now means fulfilling the spirit of the tradition instead of merely copying it. We honour the past by cultivating martial valour in our own hearts through our practice now, and for the future.
Mooney Sensei continues to teach at the Ei Mei Kan and its satellite dojos, and at national and international courses through the British Birankai (British Aikikai) and Birankai International.
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