By Ian Williams


Three major things happened to me in 2018; I turned 50, The business I worked for changed ownership and I stopped training in the art I had done for nearly 30 years. For a variety of reasons stemming from that, I stopped any physical activity, and my diet was horrendous. I gained over 16 kilograms in less than 12 months. After a  routine check-up, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. That was the wakeup call I needed. My GP advised that I should be able to manage the condition if I lost some weight and exercise would be the go.

I had regularly noticed the sign advertising Yoshinkan Aikido on the side of the road on my way home from work and having had a brief introduction to Aikido when I was much younger, thought “that’s worth a crack”.

Like most students who walk into the Dojo for the first time, I was a little intimidated by the techniques being used by the senior students and thought how am I going to learn that!

But once I was on the mat, I experienced a sense of welcoming and support from not only Ryan Sensei, but all the students training. This has not been a one off but continues every time I’m on the mat and hopefully new students coming in get the same feeling from their interactions with me.

My goal in getting on the mat was never to achieve a black belt, but purely to get healthy, both body and  mind,by doing something I enjoyed. Once I knew this was for me, I set simple achievable goals, the first one was to get through the warm up. 

Going to training has never had a second thought, though I’m sure I’ve amused fellow students with my dazed looks of confusion, I blame those sessions on a long day at work….

Ryan Sensei’s patience has seen no end, despite giving me the same instruction repeatedly and me continuing to do the same action. I am pleased to say I no longer hear “180 degrees” as much and have moved onto “connection”.

Being a mature aged student, I sometimes get frustrated with some physical challenges in line with my aging body, Ryan Sensei reminds me that I’m not 25 and adjusts my training/techniques to suit what ever the latest injury or body part that is failing.

I have really enjoyed my Aikido journey so far, the techniques and the people. Achieving my Shodan has been a rather pleasant surprise in my path of learning. A huge thank you to Ryan Sensei and all the black belts.

Oh yes, those who don’t know how training affected the pre-diabetes diagnosis – I lost the weight in twelve months and haven’t had a high reading since!




By Greg Dickenson

As I sit here on Boxing Day writing this article with a cup of coffee, I am challenged as to where to begin. Aikido has been the most constant activity in my life for the past 21 years with the exception of a 3 year deployment to the Torres Straight for work in 2012 and a year off after my daughter was born in 2006. As a kid in Dublin I was always drawn to Martial Arts over the usual Irish kid pursuits of Soccer and GAA Football (Similar to AFL) I graded to green belt in Judo and brown Belt in Bushido Karate Gendi, a form of karate / kickboxing. One night Eddie Ince our Sensei was telling us a story of how he used an Aikido lock (Sanka-jo) to control someone who was looking to fight him in a pub (It was Ireland after all). He showed us the mechanics of Sanka-Jo and I could not believe how the whole right side of my body was locked up from wrist to elbow to shoulder. This technique also lends itself well to a quick transition into a ‘Goose Neck” hold when the arm is placed behind the back. This technique is used all over the world by various law enforcement agencies and security staff to control and restrain offenders.

In Dublin in my early twenties I too worked in the security industry and found these techniques (with some practice) very effective to eject drunken punters who were refusing to leave the pub. I then began to seek out some actual Aikido lessons. Then I was hooked. I did a couple of Aiki-Kai lessons in Ireland before leaving for Australia in 1998. I then ran into the Economidis brothers through my work who were the senior students at Yoshinkan Brisbane training under Mori Sensei a former Hombu Dojo instructor in Japan and a truly amazing Martial Artist! I began my Yoshinkan Journey in 2001 at the Brisbane Yoshinkan Dojo (where I met Ryan Slavin Sensei) and have loved it ever since.

So, why am I still here after so many years and what place does Aikido have in my life? That’s what I am trying to articulate in this article! Yoshinkan Aikido is a non competitive Martial Art where you train to learn techniques and then with the aid of an Uke (training partner who receives techniques) you practice these techniques until proficient, you then attend grading sessions and show Sensei and your peers how you have progressed.

The bit that is less obvious to an audience at let’s say – an annual demonstration is the culture and cultivation of spirit that we encounter as students of Aikido. When we train we treat The Dojo (training hall) as a place of respect. We bow both on and off the mats to the Shinsa (a small Shinto Shrine) front an centre in our Dojo. In doing this we pay our respects to all Aikido teachers and practitioners past and present. Even though there is no actual fighting (with a winner and loser) we commit 100% when attacking the student performing a technique to give them the best chance of defending a realistic attack whilst maintaining a safe environment to train in. Aside from the physicality of the art, its about personal growth for me as this is not an easy skill to master mentally or physically. The more I use strength to subdue my opponent the more I move away from the principle of Aikido – Use your opponents energy to subdue them. This has been a constant battle for me and if I’m honest it’s my ego wanting to do the technique in place of my skill level.

Aikido for me has, and continues to be a metaphor for life,  meaning – I only get out of it what I’ve put in. Ryan Sensei once addressed a group of us after a class (as he held his hands up forming a small circle) then went on to describe something that really resonated with me. The Circle of Confidence – This is when you are self aware of your limits then you gently and consistently expand them. It’s a feeling of being mildly outside your comfort zone constantly, a bit like compound interest to use a financial example. In essence “Be consistent and just add time “ you will be better off for it.  Even the grading structure (syllabus) supports this approach. In the lead up to my 3rd Dan grading (Sandan) some friends of mine outside the dojo were curious how long the grading would take, I replied “Not long at all” however the work began from the first lesson after 2nd Dan (Sandan). At black belt level gradings are short and frequent designed to focus on a particular technique with some freestyle application. These gradings are known as steps and there’s 12 of them followed my a pre-blackbelt grading and finally the last in the sequence being the Dan level grading. The point I make here is that we are always seeking  to improve our skill level and again small consistent steps over time help us to keep those promises to ourselves building both confidence and resilience. I have found that these skills are fully transferable in our lives outside the Dojo!

The problem in todays society is that we are being groomed to want everything “Now” and encouraged not to do “Hard Things”. Technology while it has many benefits , often just makes us lazy and steals our attention in order to market to us as consumers. When we apply the Circle of Confidence we learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and to keep those promises we made to ourselves (even when we don’t want too) this I believe is the key to success. Society on the other hand encourages us to want the reward instantly – prompting us to jump in the deep end straight away where we inevitably drown and subsequently give up! I personally have had a very challenging 2 weeks in the lead up to my 3rd Dan grading and even considered postponing it. Ryan Sensei simply said to me “There will always be hard times and other things to deal with” the choice is ultimately yours. Well, I am happy to say, I’m writing this article because I made the correct choice.

In closing,  I would like to thank Ryan Sensei for being a solid role model and mentor through the years. His hard work across many disciplines and service to the broader community is nothing short of inspiring.  I look forward to many more years on the mats!


Greg Dickenson

The Road to Godan

By Lawrence Monforte

Sixteen years at the Brisbane Dojo has honestly gone by in a blink but it is a place I couldn’t imagine not having in my life. I try and be grateful every day that we have this place to learn, grow and develop ourselves through the art of Aikido under Mori Sensei and Shuko- San.

I believe that the movements themselves, the relationship between shite and uke, the way we blend with our partners energy has a beautiful correlation with life. And like anything there are so many things to discover within the techniques, and its not just about the movements themselves. I think the training is a catalyst to understanding ourselves on a deeper level…. Mostly where we are lacking unfortunately! But to understand this and accept it is good as it means we are able to make improvements 😊 and this is one of the best benefits.

I think another amazing benefit that we have at the Brisbane dojo is having had the chance to meet and learn from so many people. There have been my seniors who I can not thank enough, as well as my colleagues who teach me every time and make me question if I’m training in the best way, or offering advice to the younger students in the correct way, to pass on Sensei’s Aikido legitimately.

There are of course the relationships that I have made, firstly with my wife Mai, who has supported me the whole way through. Believe it or not we hated each other when we first met! but we got over ourselves and I am very grateful to have you in my life. My brother from another mother Ryan Slavin who has always had a tough time accepting I’m better looking than him! I’ve been blessed to have you as a training partner mate and you have been a big influence in my journey and I’m very grateful for us being able to push and develop each other’s Aikido, sometimes with brutal honesty. As well the work we have been doing to better our technique has been invaluable, and I’ve loved spending the time with you. Thank you again for lending me your body for my Godan grading. Greg Smith who trained a little time ago, I’m sorry Greg for mentioning this but he has been fighting a very severe medical condition for the last two and a bit years and you keep fighting, I’m so proud of you mate, through all the hardships you never stopped encouraging and supporting me and you are the reason that I didn’t put a halt on my training like I was thinking to, if there is someone who can represent spirit and keep getting up its you my brother. Thank you.

Aikido at the moment if we are speaking honestly is not the worlds favourite martial art, however it is important that we ignore shallow comments and attacks on our art, for those just starting training please know how blessed we are to have the teacher we have, the style that we practice and that if you give your training an honest go, if you turn up and mean business on the mats you can benefit in ways you cant imagine. Don’t let the hardship fool you, the hardship is very necessary to be able to maintain ourselves in the currents of life, but please know that we are all capable of bringing out something amazing in ourselves, all we have to do is search and bring it to the surface. I truly believe that Yoshinkan Aikido is one of the ways we can do that in life.

I have many great experiences and stories at the dojo and abroad that I could tell here but it would probably be better to tell over a beer sometime. Before I conclude here, I know I mentioned my seniors before, but I would like to say a big thank you again, you guys created an environment that an anxiety stricken, 18 year old with low self-steem needed, a place of spirit but more importantly support. Emanuel, who I got to Uke for and learn from, you helped me face many fears, because honestly you were scary man! I really had to muster bravery to keep taking uke for you, getting my head hit into the mat hundreds of times !  but it developed a resilience within my-self. But beyond that you have been a great mentor, and I’m very lucky. Sensei and Shuko thank you, words would not give justice to the respect and love I have for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Last but not least, I need to thank my children Nyomi and Jerome, you have taught me so much and I’ve spent a lot of your young lives training and working, I hope to be able to explain why one day !

Osu !

Lawrence James Monforte

2023 Street Restraint Class

Special class: street style self defence and restraint. 6 May, 1:00pm at the dojo.

This year’s class will be a little different again from past years in that it will focus on the use of Yoshinkan Aikido techniques in a pre-emptive manner. In this we will use Yoshinkan Aikido techniques in an applied manner to initiate the interaction before it escalates – to control a situation and restrain an opponent before they make the first move.

The techniques you will practice in this class are much like the way in which the Tokyo Metro and Riot Police (and other law enforcement agencies or security guards) apply Yoshinkan Aikido basic techniques (kihon waza) for their purposes.

Like last year, it will have a gi and no gi component again too. I hope you enjoy the class!

Limited numbers, so book now as spots are running out. Limited numbers, so book now as spots are running out. REGISTER HERE.

Don’t miss out!

Coffee Break

A little more knowledge for your training in budo

It’s not a sprint!

It’s often said that ‘anything worthwhile doing, is worthwhile doing well’ or that ‘it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey’. Whilst these might be cliché, they definitely apply to our training in budō.

Unlike sports of any kind, budō does not ask us to peak or taper for a bout or big event. Budō asks us to be ready anytime and anywhere and anyhow for what is needed to be done in life. This means, we as budoka do not switch off the martial mindset or physical training. Nor do we intensify training to fulfil an often ego-driven short-term goal (like a game or race as I mentioned above). Therefore, training, or more specifically a life in budō, is and needs to be a ‘slow and continuous burn’ that evolves over time.

By ‘slow burn’, training in budō, as a way of life, needs to be sustainable over a long period of time to reap the benefits throughout your life. Training in budō also should provide the opportunity to get better in all areas of yourself with age, and your martial capacity shouldn’t diminish in efficacy or power as you age. Conversely, sports (including competitive martial arts) promote athletes that are young, physically strong, fast, and/or nimble, and have a career pinnacle that often ends at around the age of 30. Therefore, to achieve at the highest level, practitioners need only become expert in a very specific skill set, at a very specific moment in one’s life, and this skill set is determined by the rules of ‘the game’ in which one competes. This is so that the competitor may excel over another competitor within the same skill set within this ‘perfect age bracket’.

Speaking from experience, when I used to fight competitively, my training was very specific and not overly varied in the number of techniques or strategies that I would engage with. Yes, I had to be physically fit, strong, and fast, and training was arduous and repetitive (and often boring as hell) because I was simply learning to be better at ‘the game’ or ‘ring craft’ than my opponent. I look back now on this and realise that the only thing I really took away from this process was resilience and a sense of athleticism that would later fade over time. I don’t believe I became a well-rounded human from training and competing to be the No.1 fighter in Queensland and 2nd in Australia; nor did I become a well-rounded martial artist, to tell the truth. Since putting away competitive fighting and representative sports, and swapping it solely for a life of budō, I believe my life has become enriched to no end. And I don’t ever see a day in the future before I die that my aging will prevent me from doing well that which nourishes me physically, emotionally and spiritually. Training in budō continues to provide me the opportunity to become a more effective martial artist with confidence in my physical ability, and subsequently provides me with the ability to engage more positively with other humans in all areas of my personal and professional life. That is not to say that I don’t stuff things up and get things wrong often. Just ask Cindy! It just means that I get it wrong less and get it right better with budō. I sincerely hope that your training in the dojo may provide you with the same never-ending benefits.

However, with the benefits of training in budō, and unlike training in sports, one thing that must be considered is that we generally never end a cycle of training for a rest period. Most sportspeople would train rigorously for a season or an event and then follow it with a restful period to recuperate. However, this is not budō. Budoka must manage a sustained and disciplined training regime that finds the personal balance in our lives; this is unique to the individual depending on one’s added demands of work, family, age and body condition. Without continuity in a sustained training regime over time, budoka won’t experience the benefits of their training permeating into all areas of their lives – it will simply remain solely physical and only be with them while they are on the mats. Additionally, you will find that sports people train independently for their own personal (or team collective) gains and accolades. However, budō on the other hand, asks us to work more cooperatively with others and consider the service element of our training: How we can better contribute to society as a result of our training. After all, the word ‘samurai’ actually means one who serves. So, in my experience, if you want more from your training, then it’s not always about intensity and what you will get out of a particular session, but it is about continuity and service! Afterall, the journey is what nourishes and enriches your life, not the ever elusive ‘destination’.

I’m sure as we all age our bodies will ask different things of us in our training. Some students in the dojo are experiencing this now. Despite the gradual diminishing of physical strength over time, personally I am really enjoying the gradual replacement of youthful exuberance and physical (external) strength with the potency of the centre line and focussed concentrated power through consistent and persistent attention to basics (as I alluded to in my closing year demonstration last year). So as the year begins, take the time to return to basics – strong base through low posture; straight back; correct weight distribution; move from your centre; etc., and slow your kihon dosa down. Feel your connection to Uke, move uke, don’t just expect them to move for you, stay low, condition your legs and core. Also, take the time to condition your body gradually and purposefully in a sustained way that you can maintain over the long haul. As martial artists it’s our responsibility to personally condition our bodies diligently so that our martial training on the mats is amplified and that we can minimise injury (although injury is something that can’t be completely avoided due to the nature of what we do). If you expect the martial training to do all the conditioning work for you, you will never access the potential of the technique as you are asking it to fulfil a function that it is not designed to do. If you are unsure of what you could do for your personal conditioning, just let me know or drop it into your goals for the year and I will work with you to provide simple and effective ways to condition your body according to your level of fitness, age and body needs. Also, please feel free to make full use of the equipment in the dojo before and/or after class (see the photo here). Again, if you need help with how to use the equipment effectively and safely, please ask at the desk and I am more than happy to help.

Having said above that training must be sustainable, it also should be age-bound. In other words, to get the full benefit of your training in later years, one must first engage in rigorous and intense training when young. Only then can the hardness give way to softness in later decades with experience. One can’t substitute and expect results in decades to come if never engaged in hard training in one’s earlier years. This is why – as the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido Gozo Shioda Sensei said before he died – there is so much ‘empty aikido around the world’. These people have avoided the rigorous and hard training and started with soft ‘empty’ techniques that have no substance – they have never transitioned from the hard and rigorous where a strong base of technique is felt, developed and understood. Budō (as an artform that goes back centuries) is first developed and felt in the body before it can be intellectualised in the mind. In other words, the hard work has to be done physically and you can’t short-cut the journey – its not a sprint! Now this might seem in contrast with the earlier points of ‘slow burn’, but let me assure you it is not. When we are young, we must use our bodies physically to their fullest capacity, while our minds are still weak, to develop strength of body. And when we are older, we must use our minds to their fullest capacity (utilising our experiences and insights over time) as our body’s physicality diminishes, to develop wisdom and make the next generation even better. As budoka, we are amongst the few in the world best placed to achieve this; we are amongst the few in the world who can maintain physical capacity longer whilst developing mental fortitude long into our older years. In essence, I believe, budō allows for the perfect synergy between body and mind for sustained contribution to society to the day we die.

Enjoy your new year of training everyone!


Ryan Slavin

Coffee Break

Fear is good

I was asked to give advice to a man who was troubled by his fear. People, especially men, naturally look up to a person who is seen to be brave and strong. However, when it comes to being a martial artist, being scared or having a fearful nature is a great attribute.

I have a favourite Japanese author, who is also swordsman at the same time, and I benefit from his perspective a lot. He often mentions that being courageous or brave and being reckless (stupid courage in other words) are completely different. A reckless character who runs headlong into danger dies easily in the battlefield. A warrior who is brave in real battle healthily fears unknown aspects, and he carefully assesses and determines the current conditions and circumstances before he moves forward. A man who fears worthily is the brave man who survives through the war. This author thinks that being fearful is an innate quality and because of that he consistently trains hard for his military skills without being lazy. A man who has no fear tends to believe in himself too highly, possesses overconfidence and often neglects diligent training. Great martial artists are more fearful than brave.

Tokyo Riot policemen whom I trained with were all qualified in high rank Japanese budo, in either Judo, Kendo or Aikido and they were training hard daily to keep their mental and physical conditions well. Since they knew that they were strong compared to general people on the street they could face gangs and criminals with confidence. Yet, these tough men changed their perspectives after they joining the Yoshinkan to take the Senshusei Course (riot policemen’s course.) Not only were they scared of the severe training itself but of the top Shihans too – at that time it was Chida Sensei and Takeno Sensei – for their devil-like head smashing techniques. Still, it was natural for Chida Sensei and Takeno Sensei to be strong as they were young and robust. What these policemen were really scared of was the fact that the two Shihans that scared them so much were scared of a tiny, old and withered man, Master Gozo Shioda.          

They were astonished to hear these two Shihans’ scream and see their faces distorted by this little man’s effortless techniques. There, they learned to be scared and needed to be cautious even against someone who appeared to be weak and innocent. The moment they became fearful was the moment when they became the reliable, strong and brave policemen they needed to be. So, if you think you are scared of things, be proud of yourself, as you can be a great martial artist! 


Michiharu Mori