Report – 6 dan Preparation Training, Cornwall

Peter West Sensei, Kyoshi Nanadan, had arranged a mini-seminar for those 5-dans actively working towards 6 dan grading. As I had tried (and failed) once already, and Martin Chambers from Ojika was coming up to his first attempt we felt this would be a good thing to attend. So we got in his car and braced ourselves for the long haul down to Truro.

If you're not exactly sure how far that is from the NE I will give you some idea. You drive until you reach a place called 'the Depths of Despair', take the first exit after the 'Back of Beyond', keep driving for one mile short of Eternity and then when you see the sign saying 'hell has now frozen over' you're just about there. It is a hellishly long way.

But somehow we kept conversation going pretty well and so arrived early Friday evening in fine, but car-fatigued, fettle. We had intended on training Friday evening with Peter but alas the hall had been double booked so we went back to Peter's and ate with Elena and had some rather excellent Russian fare. (Borscht; yum yum).

Training on Saturday was very early (to maximise our time with a Kyoshi 7dan) and we were with Judy Farncombe and Michael Hodges from Canada. A quick breakfast afterwards and then a change a venue which was a half hour drive away. It would have been sooner but Martin's satnav device is clearly from Cornwall and was keen to show us as many back lanes with pretty views it could rather than taking us anywhere near the dojo. But arrive there we did (car sporting much bramble hedge and yarrow) and had two more great sessions training. Dinner was back in Truro at an Italian restaurant. I'm not overly fond of Italian food as it is nearly always drowned in oil if it isn't pizza or pasta. And so it proved. I had sea bass which I suspected the chef felt was still alive and should be allowed to swim in olive oil. But I managed to rescue it ( and delight the waiters!!) by making a HUGE oil slick all over my area of the table to get the fish taste back somewhat by draining the bowl it had come in.

More early training on Sunday and we had planned to leave by lunchtime so we could get home at a sensible hour but the training was so bloody good we stayed until 4pm and then felt we absolutely had to go. Peter had us doing self-analysis training and then seeking feedback from our peers. He then chipped in to show us what we should have been seeing. Basically, making sure we are focussing on the right things. The drive back was just as long but I stayed awake to support Martin who insisted on driving.

In conclusion, a totally great few days where I learned loads more stuff, off a really great teacher. If you ever get the chance to train with Peter I would strongly recommend it.


Mark Ralston – UK Jodo squad

Congratulations to Mark Ralston for being selected for the UK Jodo squad at this year's Jodo European championships. Hopefully he will find time to write a report.

Report – Edinburgh Seminar 2015

I've found time to scribble a short report on this year's Summer Iaido seminar which was a bit special due to the large number of Japanese Sensei that had been invited to attend. Three went down from Budokan (me, Tamsin and Max) meeting up with Martin Chambers from Ojika at Stevenage. Tamsin was in her 'new' car and let me drive so the acceleration and brakes were tested quite nicely thank you very much. Max managed to sleep through my Stirling Moss style driving; waking just about long enough to say that he had decided he was going to win the taikai. Now given this was a huge international affair this was a statement that had Tamsin and me half aghast and half in a fit of giggles. I simply put it down to the fact we had been up since 04.30 and that he must have been still sleeping.

First day was an odd affair with a demonstration for the most part of the morning – which was enjoyable enough – and then the opportunity to run through all the seitei set.

So gradings in the afternoon, and Tamsin and I went shopping as my services were not required. To be fair I wished I'd stayed in the dojo as it would have been cheaper but it was Tamsin's birthday so fair enough I guess. We got back in time to see the Godan grading and I was pleased to see some friends pass but alas a good friend north of the border went walk-about during his so alas he did not. I'm sure he will get it in Berlin. Next 2 days were training and a taikai. The training was a roll-on roll-off affairs as there were around 250 people at the event but I did manage to get some time with Oshita Sensei which was good. But alas I would have liked more. Tamsin and Max went with Morita Sensei and as that group was smaller they got more input. Aaaaaargh!!!

The Taikai was interesting as there was a delegation from Japan so we Europeans (not forgetting Canadians, Jamaicans, Brazilians, Americans and Australians) had a chance to test ourselves against Iaido's home – town boys (and girls). I managed to get through the first round but was out in the second (no shame as they got silver and were Japanese). Tamsin got also knocked out by a Japanese person but managed to secure fighting spirit. Max? what happened to Max given he had boasted he would win?

Foolish boy actually did go on and win. Absolutely superb. I was judging at the time so did not see his final match but heard it being announced over the tannoy that he was in the final. I could hardly concentrate on judging the match in front of me as I waited eagerly to hear how he had fared. I wanted to jump up from my judging chair when I head the announcement ' ..and the winner of the Ikkyu division is Max Hutchinson' . YAY.

There was an embu from the 7th and 8th dans and it was good to see Shinkage Ryu, Jushin Ryu, Hoki Ryu and Suio Ryu being performed at high levels. An enjoyable weekend if on the expensive side.


Report – Iaido Summer Seminar 2015

Just a quick update to say how much two Budokan students learned at the Edinburgh seminar from Mansfield Sensei. Both George Laws and Dek Bresnen came back full of so much information it was almost impossible to keep up with them. Pleased you enjoyed it gents.

Report – British Nationals

Well here we go again to try our hand at winning some gongs at the British nationals. Quite a few of us from Budokan bobbed down to sunnier climes from... as the weathermen call it ..."elsewhere".

Mark, Rob and Sophie had gone down earlier as Mark only drives at 15 miles per hour so they needed to get ahead. Max was chaperoned by his family and Tamsin and I made our way later on steadfastly obeying the speed limits. We all got together in a Mexican in the evening and had few beers and some good food and convivial company. Max and I enjoyed watching two of the hugest people ever known to man eat more calories than the country of Luxembourg manages in one year. Max feared for the waiter at one point as they eyed him hungrily but thankfully he survived to serve us more beer.

So the next day we hit the dojo and met up with some Ojikalings who hadnt had chance to get their usual hangovers in place. So now for the juicy bits. I managed to win the Gold in the Godan division - which was just as well as I forgot to give the trophy back from the year before. Martin came second and I also managed to win fighting spirit - apparently for a speech I made the year before. Go figure.

Tamsin got to the final managing to sweep all before her on her way there but alas didnt secure the gold she was due. Silver is still a star performance though. She also got fighting spirit in the team event as part of Budokan A (with Rob and Sophie). I wont mention which 5dan she took a flag off but it needs noting she was close to getting the victory. Mark also got Fighting Spirit in the 2dan section.

But the star of the show was Max. A taikai virgin who came down for a "laugh"...or so he said. And managed to win 3 medals. Fighting spirit in the ikkyu division as well as Bronze and Fighting Spirit in the team events as part of Budokan B.

So Budokan B did well as well - Mark Ralston, Max Hutchinson and I all got bronze. Ojika B did well in the teams with our good friend Will being part of the team which won silver. Go Aichi na panda!!!

And of course Mark went on to glory in the Jodo gaining more medals.

happy, happy Budokaners and happy Ojikalings

Report – Darlington 2014

I might be exaggerating a tad but I would advocate you all booking time off at Christmas for Darlington Seminar 2015; this event keeps getting shunted nearer and nearer to that religious event!

Anyway, back to reporting on the event itself.

Alas, despite organising things for the BKA I could not attend on Saturday due to being at work but Tamsin Harrison kindly offered to help out in the background as well as being the local contact for the Education Village; Rob Townson kindly did the same at Darlington College.

Saturday went well I am told. Although Rob said that it took a while for the College to realise they did have a heating system they could turn on. And I won’t mention that Max Hutchinson was late.

Saturday night and I had arranged not to attend a local Chinese restaurant (this break with tradition met with some resistance but I persevered). And I’m pleased I did as this became oversubscribed and we squeezed as many as we could into the Farmhouse Inn. I think some people mistook me for staff as they kept asking me to get stuff for them (Take a bow Kristina – although to be fair she was wedged in at the back and couldn’t easily get things for herself).

The meal was really good; as was the company. A good time was had by all I think ( I hope).

Sunday and I did have the day off work so I could attend.

Yes good people I could only attend but not train. ‘Why couldn’t you train Lee?’ I hear you all cry.

Because your intrepid hero had broken a finger and was told by the medicos not to do any martial arts. So I was there to help out and run round sorting stuff.

So on to Gradings and we had bucket loads of people involved from the NE. I have already posted on Budokan Facebook page the outstanding results and will post them in the section of this website but I will note some events that took place during gradings. (Thanks to Rob and Kev McNeil for being Tachi-ai and to Tamsin and Dave Hickey for being their assists).


Jonathon was up for 2dan and decided to add to the challenge by sheathing his jo down his hakama.
Kev decided to ‘cheat’ for his 3dan by partnering Noel for his 1dan grading (extra practice eh?)


Max took his time on his grading – might have been able to measure it in hours it took that long! Daniel tried to hide at the back – except he is too tall to hide anywhere.

And Dek waltzed out for his embu with a kind of ta-daaa approach!

Didn’t see much of Mick and George’s embu but am told Mick decided to get creatively flouncy with his sageo.

Dave C I saw and his was very calm and collected.

Peter’s was also very strong and I didn’t see any drama.

Kim’s 3dan attempt was really good – despite the sitting in seiza incorrectly and then sitting in Tsuka Ate koryu style. But fortune was on his side and the rest of his embu was good.

Sophie wasn’t quite her usual high standard but still an easy pass.

Eddie was very strong with his body movements and another easy pass.

Willy looked nervous coming out – perhaps the fast turnaround from Jodo to Iaido was a factor – but he did what he does and that was always going pass.

PJ had worked really hard on managing his nerves for gradings and it really showed. A very confident performance and for my money possibly the strongest embu of the 3rd dans.

So another strong performance from the Northern Alliance.

I will leave you with some final thoughts

  • Never let Eddie’s aikido students take group photographs – they like to omit people (sorry Kev it was you)
  • The picture on Jock Hopson Sensei’s face when he saw the size of the group lining up for the group photo
  • Might be worth telling him we have at least 10 more who didn’t make the seminar!
  • Those of you passed – well done
  • Those of you who didn’t – well done; you put yourself out there. Keep going - you will succeed.

Lee Mountain

National Iaido and Jodo championships 2014

Okey dokey then.

Another year, another trip to Stevenage to try our hand at Taikai. The Northern Alliance is down mob-handed ( as usual) with me, Tamsin, Rob, Sophie, PJ, Mark, Jonathon down from Budokan; Martin, Kev, Debz and Willy from Ojika and Dave and Matthew from Genbukan.

Tamsin and I drove down last on Friday and had the drive from hell - nearly had an extra passenger when I had to apply the brakes and the driver behind slammed on. But made it we did. And just in time for drinkies at the bar.

Mark, PJ (along with wifery - Gill and Norma take a bow) as well as Sophus and Rob arrived at the hotel early ( I am reasonably informed it was before dawn) and spent the day loitering without intent (but perhaps some shopping).

We met up with the Ojikalings and headed off to the Mexican restaurant where we discussed the glories yet to come. I must say it took an age to get a beer but the food was tasty (better than pizza Gokky!) and some even had a pudding. We headed off back to our hotel but stopped off at another one when we saw the Genbukan massif inside. (aka Dave Hickey and Matt Bielby). Now it might be worth mentioning that these are very nice people. It's also worth mentioning that Dave has a new haircut that makes him look like Kim Jong-Il; nobody mentioned "Dear Leader". Not once. Nope. Maybe a few hundred times but certainly not once. And then there was the Genbukan Onesie. I am serious here. Dear Leader went back up to his room and came down in the club Onesie. Mr Bielby ( a more sensible sort) decided to refrain. (pictures will be made freely available on the Budokan Facebook page in due course). We headed back to our hotel and had a few more beers ( well... me, Gok and Willy did). One day we will take this seriously - but today is not that day (quote Aragorn Arathornson) So to battle. Winter is coming.

What a day.

Martin (Chambers) and I were doing better than expected in the Godan division and somehow found ourselves in the final; where I managed to edge the votes. Yay me. Yay Martin. Yay the Alliance. Kev and Tamsin got silver in their respective divisions (Tamsin did well for her very first taikai - Gok did well for the first time as a sandan). Rob and Debz earned bronzes and PJ got a fighting spirit. Mark might have got a medal but decided to let the lady opponent have it by doing only 3 kata when 5 were needed - what a gentleman! Didn't see Jonathon perform but he reckoned he was savaged - never mind.. there's always next year. And Sophie? Well, coming up against last years champion is never easy but I thought she did well ( so did others I hear!!!)

And the teams? Okay. Erm what do I say about Budokan A's performance? Well perhaps we should have had a medal but somehow we didn't.. That's all I have to say about that (quote - F Gump). Budokan C however were class. They were Sophie with Debz from Ojika (who used to be Budokan and previously Chidokan) and Mark Snowdon and they got Fighting Spirit. Whilst Genbukan - with the help of Elena West - achieved Bronze. Superb.

The Sunday was jodo day and a few stopped by to play along. I hear (because I wasn't there) that Bojikan did pretty well - see results page.

Another great little jolly for the Northern Alliance.

Winter is coming!

Darlington 2013

The planet turns over and over again and eventually we get to the time of year that the Darlington Seminar needs organising. A little bit later than usual due to a thousand factors but eventually Andy, Al and I get it sorted and the weekend duly arrives.

The Saturday starts with Andy and Harry leading the Jodo where Jonathan, Eddie, Martin Chambers, Willy and me are being put through our paces. Superb day; training in a very relaxed and helpful way with teachers who tried really hard to improve everyone there. I cannot express how much fun it was despite the bruises. The iaido non-graders were in a large sports hall and from the feedback from Phil B, Phil H. Jon M and others it was great training there too.

Tamsin, Kieran, Chris, Mick, Carl, Katie and George were all in the iaido grading group enjoying watching one of our favourite Ojikalings getting whacked by one of the Sensei to encourage him to move better. It clearly worked as he passed his 3dan but more of that later.

Saturday night and the annual trip to the Chinese. Harry had asked to avoid an all-you-can-eat place so we went back to one we have used before and they managed to squeeze 32 of us altogether upstairs. The food was truly excellent and the service really good; but even they were surprised at the tip. But big thanks to the Eastern Bamboo; we will be back next year. On to the Half Moon for more beers and some high Jinkery with friends from across the country. I really mean when I say that one of the great things about the BKA is when we are at seminars and we all feel able to just have a great time together. Several dojo had turned up – Budokan, Genbukan, Masamune, Ojika, Seishinkan and others – and we all had a jolly time. Probably not wise to drink so much but as Gok said later – he hasn't done a grading without a hangover yet. Come to think of it nor have I.

Sunday; grading day.

I am not feeling confident about my 3dan in jodo but I was learning loads from Harry and Andy (and Al and Jim as well). Martin agreed to partner me which was good of him. Phil B (Frodo to us) said Anna was good in the MJER section and Phil H noted Jock was giving him lots of helpful stuff in his preparations for his 5dan in iaido.

We traipsed across town to the College where the gradings were to take place and we met up with follow Budokaners and Ojikalings. Jodo went first and everyone did their best. Alas my grading was quite poor and I was very unhappy with it but somehow I passed. Jonathon also passed his shodan in jodo and did so without fuss or drama.

I didn't see Gok (Kev MacNeil) do his 3dan in iaido but I am told he stormed it. And to be fair so did many others. Tamsin and Kieran were stars in the Ikkyu section. Carl and Chris were equally leading the field in the shodan gradings. And Katie was the Real Madrid in the Sunday pub league in the nidan section (okay I exaggerate but she was very good).

Alas, not everyone passed from the Northern Alliance and I am not going to name them here but I will say, well done for doing your best and we will work harder to make sure you pass next time. It is clearly there and we just need to bring it out of you in the gradings.

So many happy people, a few a bit down. Old friends reacquainted. New friendships made.

Another successful seminar?

I do hope so.

Lee Mountain

PS can I say a big thanks to Andy Watson, Harry Jones and Al Colebourne for their endeavours in getting me even close to 3dan in Jodo and also to Kev MacNeil, Andy Wilson and Martin Chambers who spent several of their training sessions with me in my quest to improve over the past few months. Thanks to you all.


Jodo Summer Seminar - Jonathan McCue

A couple of years ago a young lady from the south, Lucy gave an inspiring demonstration of Jodo kata at the Northern Seminar so earlier this year when I was given the option to start training in Jodo I jumped at the chance and as a goal decided to book myself on the summer seminar.

Day 1, I left the ripening wheat and green trees of the desolate North to join around 70 Jodoka from around world in the concrete and tarmac of Stevenage, a southern town that surpasses even Billingham in the beauty of its landscape and congeniality of its residents.

After the introductions and Reiho its straight into basics, no problem for me I know all five - so I'm floundering on numbers six to twelve and we haven't been going 5 minutes.

Next up Seitei kata - plenty of correction to distance, timing, technique and some good comments from Sensei Mansfield on connecting with the opponent and reacting to their attacks rather than going through the motions. Again a steep learning curve for numbers eight to twelve but I survive to the end of the day.

Day 2, grading day so spent the morning preparing with valuable feedback from Sensei Jock on thumbs pointing the opposite way when preparing to strike and pronunciation of Kiai ('A' like the letter not 'Hay' like grass!)

Before you know it its grading time and as I'm taking Ikkyu I'm up with the first group - Seitei kata one to five Jo side and then tachi side. Everyone seems to be grading - all the way up to 5th dan and everybody up to 4th dan passes hurray.

On to Omote koryu, five of the Seitei kata are taken from the Omote set so we start with Tsubawari and Ukan which are not in Seitei. Ishida Sensei explains the differences between the original koryu forms and the changes made when they were adapted for training the Tokyo Police.  

Day 3, a quick revision of Tsubawari / Ukan and there is no let up in pace with demonstrations of the finer points of Kasa no Shita, Ichirei, Neya no Uchi, Hosomichi and a slightly different version of Hissage using a Shoto. After each demonstration we repeat the kata 3 times from Tsubawari upward before rigorous practice of the new form.

Finally its a run through of Omote one to twelve - a piece of cake if you know all the Seitei which I don't and crucially the order that I've been practicing them in all day is out of the window.

Reiho, clap and a group photo and then I'm heading away from civilization back up North - certificate in hand and kata leaking from my ears.

A big thank you to Edward and Robert for their patience in coaching through the Seitei and to Martin and John Burn from Oijika for carrying me through the Koryu without flinching.


Omote Kata:

1. Tachiotoshi (Seitei No.8)

2. Tsubawari   

3. Tsukizue      (Seitei No.1)

4. Hissage       (Seitei No.3 but with shoto instead of tachi)

5. Saken           (Seitei No.5)

6. Ukan

7. Kasumi         (Seitei No.7)

8. Monomi        (Seitei No.6)

9. Kasa no Shita

10. Ichirei

11. Neya no Uchi

12. Hosomichi



Consett Dojo

Budokan dojo is delighted to announce that Jon Meikle has spoken with his kenjutsu students and they are all happy to start iaido practice and join the Budokan fold. So, welcome aboard to Chris Meikle, Istvan Keseru and Matt Hetherington. This will mean that we now have a 4th site to practice at. This will be on Wednesdays at St Mary’s Church Hall, Derwent Street, Blackhill, Consett, DH8 8LP

Northern Seminar 2012 – Darlington

Yet again dear chums, it befell upon your intrepid hero to organise the Northern Seminar and what a splendid job I did ( well, I have to say that as no-one else ever does :-(  ).

Seriously though, it went better than I expected given a few matters that arose.

  • The Europeans taking place only the week before. I feared no-one would come but thankfully nearly a hundred turned up
  • The BKA website crashing the week before the event. We had told everyone that they needed to check the site during the week to find out where they were training. Thankfully Bill and Andy W  messaged everyone and only one person turned up at the wrong hall. But I did fear it would be chaos lol

Friday night I got a text from my Squad mate, Kris Gooding telling me how far Darlington is from the south – I depressed her by telling her that she was at Sheffield which is two hours from Darlington!!! Eventually her and her’ dad’ Rob Sidoli landed at a hotel which is ten minutes walk from my house so I joined them for a few wines!!

So Saturday and I am full of cold but still run around like a loony at 7am in Morrisons sorting out the meals etc for the Sensei. No Bill this year to help me so Owen Wilson steps up to the plate and kindly takes the stuff to the Darlington College along with teas and coffees etc that I had sorted out.

Jock Hopson Sensei is leading the grading section for iaido at the Education Village and I was one of the helping sensei (actually the most junior there) but hopefully I was of some help to people.

Phil Henderson had elected to do jodo this year and had been training with Martin Chambers at Ojika for a few months to polish up his techniques; so he went into the Performance Hall with Nashie who was teaching there. Jon Meikle, Jonathon McCue and Owen were all with the non-grading group at the College whilst I was working with everyone in the main sports hall. Well, actually I wasn’t if I am being honest. I was avoiding my own pupils so that I could help people I didn't know. This was to allow other, higher graded people to get to grips with my guys and help them develop; and I think they enjoyed it.

Katie Chaplin did a demo of formal kimono dressing and this was quite well attended. Interesting that the usual queries involved how can a kimono wearer go to the loo with all the layers of clothing whereas the focus shifted to how difficult it might be to get her out of it on her wedding night. Take a bow, Alan Nash!!!

Saturday night was Chinese meal night and we had increased numbers from 24 last year to 38 this year so we had to use a different venue. We still swarmed the Railway Tavern on North Road before the meal and returned there afterwards to finish off. As ever, the Seishinkan posse turned out and joined in the fun (always up for a party those guys).

Sunday = grading day.

But before that a little light training hahahaha. Not a chance. Jock Sensei was drilling the graders like a RSM. I was far too ill ( cold not alcohol this time) to do much and had stuff to sort out for the gradings and helping Jon Meikle, Keith Rose and Katie Chaplin set out their stalls.

Phil (Frodo) Burbury got some praise of Jock Sensei and he stood and beamed like a village idiot bless him; he then got roasted minutes later for doing something wrong lol.

Jonathon McCue helped me set up the grading tables and chairs during the lunch and then it was down to business. And Budokan had lots of gradees as did Ojika

Jon Meikle was tachi-ai for iaido and Sean Grey was an assist for the junior grades.

Big Phil, Kev, Andy A and Willy all took jodo gradings and breezed em.

I was on the grading panel for ikkyu, shodan and nidan so didn't see either Phil Burbury or Malcolm Blackwood take their grades (seen a clip since and thought they did pretty bloody good)

Carl Nattrass was up for his ikkyu and was best of group in my opinion (yes I know I am biased but I’m allowed to be!!). Katie was up for her shodan and did very very well; looked really calm ...though I bet she wasn’t lol

Sophie Ralston followed Katie into the same spot for her nidan and did an almost exemplary would have been perfect apart from looking at me at the end for approval lol!

Andy Gardner was out on the flanks but I could still keep a beady eye on his performance; as ever Andy thought he had done badly. But actually he did very well; an easy pass.

Mark Ralston came out and showed he has been listening for the past few weeks when I ahve been twittering on about softer cuts; really good performance.

PJ and Eddy Hodgson brought up the rear (oeer missus) and delivered good strong iai- no dramas.

Thing is, Phil H, Jon and I had been talking for the past few weeks about the chances of everyone passing and felt it would be impossible for everyone to get the result they had worked so hard for.

But they did. And we three felt delighted for them

Add to this that Mike and Dee Ilderton, Will, Andy, Kev and a new chap all from Ojika also passed made me cock-a-hoop.

Northern Alliance ROCKS

Lee Mountain


European Championships 2012 – Stevenage

 So, I get invited back on to the UK squad and where in Europe do we go for the Europeans; Florence? Madrid? Moscow?

Nope, Stevenage!!

Well, beggars can’t be choosers I suppose. Anyway, Jon Meikle was re-selected again as were two of our Ojika chums, John Burn and Kev MacNeill ( Mc’Neil as his official nafuda pronounced him hahahah). Alas Andy Wilson was not allowed to be part of the squad because he did standing only forms; seems a bit of a shame to me but there you have it. I was even more surprised to find that Sophie Ralston wasn't selected in his stead; this on the back of Morita Sensei picking her out for a special fighting spirit award at the masamune takai earlier in the year. But such is life.

Anyway, the Ojikalings decided to make their own way down as Andy and Jayne Armstrong were going to the event as official helpers so that Jon and I braved the roads ever southwards. For some reason, the powers that be had decided to split everyone up so we were sharing with different people. Jon got Dave Parker and was with someone called Rob.

 First night we were all tired but still went for some beers and were still drinking in my room till silly o’clock with Kris Gooding and Sam Gerlach ( nothing happened! no honestly...we were just talking!!!)

On the Saturday, we were all split into groups; Jon went with the middle group and I think Gav* went with him. Was Kev in a different group? Who knows (or indeed cares!) but I was with the high grades (how’d that happen?) with Kusama Sensei and what a treat that was. The 7dans from all over Europe were up first with the 6dans and well, he pulled no punches. Then onto us mere 5dans and it was even worse lol But I learned loads and really enjoyed the training.

The day of the Individual competitions came and alas it wasn't great news for the Northern Alliance. Rennie* went out in the heats as did I ( were the judges on drugs!!!!). Jon Meikle got through the heats but went out in the first knockout stage but Kev got to the quarters which wasn't too shabby. So UK got only two medals..both in the Rokudan section...a Gold and a Bronze.

That night was the sayonara party and we had a great time. I was dancing with anyone and everyone (wine does that to me) then Kris Gooding decided to throw wine all over me as we were both sat on Scott Halls knees like two marionettes. Jon decided he hadn't had enough food at the party so he got a kebab on the way back to the hotel- really classy mate!!

The team event didn't go well for UK either. Gav* was on the team and alas got whupped as did his team mates. The gradings followed and our old friend Bill Davison was up again for another attempt at rokudan. Unfortunately he didn't get it but he did say he got some useful tips about how to improve so hopefully next time.

Next year..Perpignon..south of France. Hopefully, we will all be back on squad for that Winking smile

 Lee Mountain

* in case you were wondering what the asterisks are for; they are in reference to new names for John Burn. They are based on his middle name which is Hart so it reads John Hartburn. Now, we couldn't let a good wee wee taking opportunity pass us by so we pointed out that when said this could be ‘heartburn’; indeed we often get this when he tells one of his godawful pun jokes. So were coined some new names that refer to heartburn; Rennie is obvious (best said with an Allo Allo accent). Gav is short for Gaviscon ...particularly useful when he leaves the room so you can say ... “ oh look... gav is gone” geddit?


Masamune Goodwill Taikai, Solihull, June 2012

By Kim Ralls

Another return trip to the West Midlands conurbation for the Budokan lot – Big Phil, Jack, Owen, Sophie, Mark (and his wife Jill) and myself – began with a very wet and miserable Friday, although we all cheered up at the prospect of a Michael Jackson tribute gig in the hotel (and if you believe that…)

Anyway, the first part of the seminar consisted of a five pm start with a welcome from Fay Sensei and Oshita Sensei before we split into two groups practicing either Koryu or Seitei (the latter consisted mainly of mudans, shodans – myself, Mark and Sophie – and a few nidans). Morita Sensei taught the Seitei group with Jock Sensei (who also translated) and the Koryu group – including Bill Davison, who it was lovely to see again after his move down to Plymouth – were instructed by Oshita Sensei.

A rewarding session, with a few pointers to think over before the main seminar on Saturday, before we returned to the hotel for a late meal and a few drinks before everyone, except me, Jack and Owen retired for bed. The three of us decided we’d have a drink(s) in the bar and I got pulled onto the karaoke by the DJ.

Saturday found us enjoying a hearty breakfast before the main training session.

Oshita Sensei delivered a lecture on the Seitei Kata (Jack translating) going over the main points he wanted us to focus on. Then to practice again with pretty much the same groups (Owen joined the Seitei group) except later in the day when any Shinden practitioners were give the opportunity to be taken into another room by Chris Mansfield to practice their own Koryu.

 The Seitei group, this time led by Morita Sensei alone (with one of his own students translating), tried to put Friday’s pointers into practice before picking up a few new ones. Another satisfying day before we went our separate ways.

Until the Sayonara Party at Wok’s Hall later that night…

The meal was very nice (accompanied by more Bumlicker beer – see Solihull 2011 report) and a heart-warming toast to Morita Sensei for coming second in the Hakone Taikai. Oshita Sensei went around the room talking to everyone at the other tables and introducing himself to those who he didn’t already know – he also gave out more advice to improve our Iai. Then it was time for more karaoke with two Iaidoka in kilts singing YMCA. I turned round at one point to be greeted by the site of Oshita Sensei dancing along with the chorus.

Sunday dawned fairly wet and windy as we ate a second hearty breakfast and two pensioners in the lift asked Phil and I if we were on a fishing trip after seeing our sword bags.

The morning session was similar to Saturday, though the Seitei group had Jock Sensei and Chris Mansfield (with Jock continually threatening to either shoot or throw things at us) before we broke for lunch.

And so to the taikai and a few medals for Budokan – Owen came joint third in the nidan section; Jack came joint third in the sandan and Phil took the same in the yondan. Mark and Sophie both gave a good account of themselves, despite both being knocking out (a couple of stupid mistakes led to yours truly becoming an early casualty despite being given the opportunity to face – and be defeated by – the same guy twice owing to there being an odd number of participants).

The final two events before the prize-giving were two embu – one by the nanadan sensei and one by Morita Sensei and Oshita Sensei. Sufficed to say all were stunning and certainly left me scraping my jaw off the floorboards.

At the prize-giving all the taikai participants received a medal for taking part and those who came third, second and first received their trophies. Also Sophie was presented with one of the Haruna Sensei gold medals.

And so to home.

 All in all, a fantastic weekend and an unforgettable opportunity to receive instruction from Morita Sensei and Oshita Sensei (went up to say goodbye at the end and received a warm and friendly handshake and a ‘thank you for coming’ from Oshita Sensei); and not forgetting congratulations to Phil, Jack, Owen and Sophie for their awards.


West Midlands Seminar 19th-20th May 2012


The West Midlands event is now in it’s 3rd year, but this time only 2 members of Budokan were making the journey down to Birmingham.

Phil Henderson was looking forward to helping out with some teaching and then being one of the privileged few on the grading panel, whilst  Katie Chaplin was going for her first formal grading …1st Kyu.

Katie had some prior “Japan Crafts” business commitments in the West Midlands area, which meant she was unable to attend the Saturdays training, but would join the seminar for the Sunday morning practice and then the formal grading in the afternoon……I will let Katie tell her own story, but luckily it has a happy ending !

So Friday evening saw me being collected by Martin Chambers from Ojika (who was also helping out with teaching/grading) and one of his students Chris Moralis (like Katie going for his 1st Kyu).

After a long journey we finally dropped Chris off at his Bed and Breakfast location…very close to the dojo, but unfortunately Martin and I were at a very nice hotel in Solihull…about 30 mins drive away.

Luckily Jane was wonderful and got us to the “Village hotel” without any problems…..she was to remain completely reliable all weekend getting us to and from the dojo via Birmingham’s nightmare road network…complete reliability…what more can you want from any lady…Jane of course is the Sat Nav !

Having arrived at the Dojo on Saturday morning, Martin and I met the other “official teachers and Grading panel members….Sensei’s Vic Cook, Fay Goodman and Tony Devine….Senior Sensei Vic Cook put us with Fay Sensei teaching the “grading group”, and what fun we had…..

At the final count there were 18 students going for a grading, and Saturday saw us going through the basics of Seitei Iai, with Martin and myself demonstrating and Fay Sensei  doing the explanations. A good days training for the students hopefully and great experience for me in teaching at this “National seminar”.

Saturday evening saw us at a Chinese buffet with the guys involved in organising the seminar, as well as the Sensei and our very own “Grumpy Bill”..formerly honoured member of Budokan, who went on a free transfer down to Plymouth…..and yes he now has a new name “ Grumpy Victor Meldrew Bill” thanks to a member of the local dojo !

But good to see Bill again, and we managed to get him in a photo the next day….

Bill was getting some extra training in before his 6th dan grading at Bologna….in less than a month. Here’s hoping the earthquake there  hasn’t messed up his plans !

Sunday morning saw Katie’s arrival at the Dojo, and the group went straight into grading Embu practice, with us teaching bods giving some pertinent one to one feedback to the students. In no time at all it was lunch time and the gradings…

My big moment had arrived and along with Martina and the rest of the panel I got dressed in my posh gear….including my blazer complete with BKA badge……according to my wife I just needed a cravat and I would be the classic retired Colonel….

So 6 students up for Shodan and 12 for 1st Kyu….standards were generally good, with both Chris from Ojika and our own Katie performing well up to scratch to pass their grading. A big congratulations to them both.

For my part I found being on a grading panel nearly as stressful as actually taking part in one, and a lot harder work….Thanks to Vic Cook Sensei for his briefing before the event I felt well prepared to make my decisions and also learnt a lot from the whole experience. …another rung on the Iai ladder…and thanks to Martin for helping me to have a great weekend.

Overall all positives for me personally, and Katie’s grading success…..she can give her account of what it was like for her !

Phil Henderson


Grading experience by Katie Chaplin

Unfortunately, the nature of the Japan Crafts empire means work frequently gets in the way of life, and this weekend was no exception. So, after demonstrating the intricacies of kimono dressing and the tea ceremony to a merry band of ‘Creative Stitchers’ on Friday evening, I spent Saturday engaged in teaching said group ‘Japanese folded patchwork’ and kimekomi ‘tucked balls’ (yes, really). Followed by a relaxing evening with my darling Boyf in a hotel at the NEC, having made the unforgivable mistake of thinking the ‘Solihull Seminar’ was in Solihull. Duh, silly me! In hindsight, this was actually the best strategy as it meant I had none of the gippy knees, crocked backs and sore heads to which some of the other graders had succumbed.

So with nervousness and trepidation, and having allowed plenty of time for getting lost in Birmingham, I arrived an hour ahead of schedule on the Sunday, to a locked sports centre and a deserted car park. Fortunately I didn’t have a long wait until another car showed up…Grumpy Bill! One big bear hug later and I was feeling much calmer (this must have been GB’s excuse to give me bear hugs throughout the day whenever he got the chance). Before long the hall was filled with merry iaidoka and us newbs began performing practice embu in front of Fay sensei, Martin sensei and Phil sensei. It was great to see others at the same stage in their iai lives, and to see everyone making the same mistakes I do! It was also interesting to compare our level with the shodan group (and to see them also still making those mistakes…). But there was some good iai too, and we were encouraged (by the ever-gentle Fay sensei) to give each other positive feedback first at all times, and to generalise rather than picking out individuals. In this way nobody was embarrassed, and we could all learn from the points made. Although, as I was to discover, ‘learning’ and ‘remembering whilst grading’ are two very different things!

A car-parking palaver, lunch, a quick re-tie of the hakama, then it was time…

Being arranged in age order, I was quite chuffed to be number 005 out of 12…until I realised we were grading in groups of 3 so this put me right in front of the judges. The first group took to the floor and I took my position behind them, trying to look relaxed, yet confident (yeah right) while the nerves REALLY started to kick in. As our group was called to the floor, I realised with horror I’d been gripping the sword so tightly, my left hand really hurt! The moment ‘hajime’ was called, everything I’d ever known about iai literally fell out of my brain and I told myself “OK, just do iai-by-numbers, don’t try anything fancy, just go through the motions and hope they can tell which forms you’re trying to do”. The worst point came as I did the cut in Uke Nagashi (yes folks, I did attempt Uke Nagashi for my grading). The moment the blade came down, I saw all five judging heads simultaneously drop, swiftly followed by synchronised, frantic scribbling. What were they writing? Was it really that bad??? Since the other two candidates were in between forms at this point, it seemed they could only be commenting on something I’d done. Oh dear!

In the blink of an eye my ‘performance’ was over, thank goodness, and I could stand back and watch the other poor souls giving it their best shot. I didn’t really take in a lot after that due to massive feelings of relief (it’s over at last!!!), nerves (did I pass???) and sympathy for those who’d had to wait so long with butterflies in their tummies while us young ’uns got it over with.

Luckily, the grading panel did an excellent job and the results were up before we had time to say “how was it for you, then?”


Menjo were acquired and my payment, presented in a Japanese money envelope, was admired. I really wish I hadn’t pointed out that the dates were wrong on everyone’s menjo, though! Vic Cook signed our books with his funky pen-that-doubles-as-a-name-stamp and I quickly discovered that passing an iai grading is a great way of getting hugs off blokes.

But as ever, the Japan Crafts empire waits for no woman, so I had to put my teaching head on and zip straight off to my next engagement – a 3 hour one-to-one workshop on kumihimo braiding. Was I ever glad to (eventually) get home!

Katie Chaplin


May update.

It's not often I have something to write about in May but this year I have three things of note.

Numero uno.

a HUUUGE congrats to Katie Chaplin who passed her ikkyu in Birmingham last weekend. Alas I wasn’t there to see it but hopefully either Katie or Phil will write something to cover the weekends proceedings.

Nummer zwei

Due to the fact that the Pallion Action Group seem to have enough money that they no longer want our rent we have had to relocate to a different part of Sunderland. Thanks to the sterling work by PJ we now have a new place which is even better than the last. Phil has secured the Community Centre in Chapman Street Fulwell which is just excellent. We practiced there for the first time last night and our Ojika Groupies, Kev and Willy also turned up for a bash. Kev’s version of Shiho Barai managed to clear all the good spirits rather than the bad ones but hey-ho.

Nombre trois



Two things about Jon Meikle

Well actually it’s three things and none of them involve salacious gossip (which is a bit of a shame!!)

First – I want to thank Jon for managing and maintaining this website.

Second – Some of you will be aware that Jon is venturing into the world of Tsuba making. The guy is amazingly talented please see the following pics for how good he is.



last – Without any fuss or fanfare or ‘how great am I’ Jon went and passed his kenjutsu Rokudan examination.

 My friend, I am so impressed.

 Lee Mountain


Edinburgh 2012 – sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ Mickey Pearce


Sooo. I get in Owen’s car just as we are about to leave my house and Big Phil is already in full rant mode. Anyone who reads these pages will know that his rantings are near legendary in status but never so early in a trip as this one.  But it keeps him happy I suppose.

Onwards to Sophie’s house where tea and cake await (thanks Sophie’s Mom. Cue Fountains Of Wayne song....”Sophie’s Mom has got it going on”....sorry Mark, I couldn’t resist), and then up to Berwick to stop at Maccy Dee’s for a burger ( or double burger, Fries, onion rings, ice cream in Owens case).


After a pleasant but unexpected tour of Edinburgh courtesy of Owen’s satnav we find the Travellodge which is clean and basic. Then onwards to the training hall for the Friday evening sesh. It’s always good to catch up with old friends; JHG, David the Frog, Sausage Boy and lots from Glasgow all in fine fettle. The plan was to do the first six seitei forms but hey when has a JHG plan ever come together. But we did manage the first four which was good going. Back to the bar for some apres iai training and some chips (thanks Sophus).


Now, I promised I wouldn't mention this so please don’t let Katie know okay? Well, Katie had booked the hotel but somehow managed to end up at a totally different Travellodge – I kid you not. Here is the text conversation on the phone;


KT – I’m here

Me – where

KT – in the hotel, Where ru?

Me - in the bar

KT - Wat bar

Me – just round from reception

KT - there isnt a bar near Reception


Ping. I realise she is in a different hotel and ring her. Now, the Reception guy hears the conversation and offers to go and get Katie – I went with him; I’m sure he was fine but erm well. Look, he was fine okay but he didn’t look that way and I was worried so decided to be chivalrous and go and get her with him. I must have been feeling unwell!


Saturday and more training after a £7.50 breakfast which consisted of bacon, sausage, toast and ermmm well that was it.


The Hickster split the students so that they got to be taught by teachers other than their own Sensei; somehow I got Katie but hey ho. The class was good and I met some new people who were really great.

Alas, the evening session was marred a bit by Katie having some money stolen and then Ray from Edinburgh noticed his wallet had also been taken but a conversation between Martin C and I and the whole lot of us decided to make some reparation by sticking in a fiver to reimburse them. JHG gave them this on Sunday morning and i think the nasty feeling of having something stolen was overwhelmed by the good feeling that everyone chipped in to make amends – nothing better than a good show of friendship is there?

Alas big Phil had to leave during Saturday so he missed the Saturday Night meal which was an all you can eat Chinese buffet. Sophie and Katie pretended to eat some food before gorging themselves on the chocolate fountain. And then the quiz.


 Oh Dear God! Team A was everyone on one table – 15 of them including 2x 5dans 2x 4dans. Team B was a table of eight with 1x 5dan – me...who couldn't hear a word – so I am sure you will agree a pretty even match? The fact they only beat us by a point was testimony to their crapness and Dave Hickey’s keenness to do well. The bar the bar. Had a great time in the pub. The very tall Phillippa sat next to me and kindly nearly broke my back with a massage (actually, I really enjoyed it). A certain southerner was desperate to talk to her lol but he stood no chance next to the lushness that is me!

Sunday. a change of groups and I got Owen, Dave Hickey, Hugh Carroll, Sean Grey and two guys called Chris. We finished off Tachi Uchi which was interesting. It wasn’t so different from what Martin and I new but it took a while to get used to the changes. JHG was a bit upset that I took centre off him during Uchi Komi (yeah yeah yeah I know Uchi dachi is supposed to let Shidachi take it but I couldn't help myself. The shrinking violet will get over it.............eventually lol).


So the highlights of the weekend by student (bojikan’s finest)


Big Phil got a new iaito

Chris’s love of the Travellodge

The improvement in John Burns’ iaido

Martin and my TUnK getting praise off JHG

Owen’s embu at the end

Sophie being adored by Dougie

Sean Grey‘s iai demo was a whole new level

My room mate Mikael from Ojika was class.

The Love Panda, Big Willy and Kev Maclean actually almost speaking English

Katie surprising me during the weekend with her choice of ‘reading material’


Yep, another satisfying weekend in the land that salad forgot.


Lee Mountain



Bill Davison; the end of an era


My apologies for being all Hollywood on you but for a change I write on this page with a somewhat heavy heart.

Bill Davison has been my friend for ermm well I am not sure how many years. And whilst he has not left the planet or anything like that he has left the dojo....and he was the last person from for the very first class. So, I write this a bit, well, choked up, I guess you could say.

The History.

Bill helped Ian Applegarth set up Budokan Dojo; it wasn’t his club but he was very much instrumental in setting it up. I first met him when the club had been going about a year or so; I went along and he was head of the line of wannabe’s. The club wasn’t very big but there was a heart to it that was real; a real warmth that you don’t get very often in many clubs or societies. Ian was the quiet one who was a 4th dan at the time; Bill was, even then , the shouty man who loved being able to tell people what to do. And I sat and watched wondering what the F**k is going on! Years of Ju Jitsu and before that judo were simply washed away watching something I knew I wanted to do.

Well, Bill was taking his Ikkyu (or was it his Shodan?) for my second sojourn and actual first class but the following week he returned newly graded and did his enbu. I was truly impressed. My second class and Ian was absent so Bill decided some hands on training would be fun – there was only two of us. Within minutes he pinned me to the floor; seconds later I had a full strangle locked on him and grinned up at him. I think we both knew from that moment we would be friends for life.

The clubs fortunes with regard to students varied over the years but at it’s core was Ian, Bill and me. The training was superb; Bill always loved being the supposed ‘hard guy’ but I knew he was (and is) just a guy who wants to gain love through admiration.

A true tale.

With apologies to Barbara, Bill’s wife, who is the loveliest of people evvah!! Her coffee making skills need some work....but she might argue that my drinking skills need more lol. The three dojo guys and our partners attended a lovely meal at Bill’s house. the food was great, the company was good, the wine was flowing. Ah, now you see the problem. I had wine and I aint subtle at the best of times let alone drunk. So when the time for coffee came I was spinning; the cup was given and tasted what was probably a lovely cuppa but I was too far gone to appreciate it. And even further gone to recall what the word ‘manners’ meant! “ugh this coffee’s crap” I blurted out. Barbara, bless her laughed out loud...but wifey dragged me out the house pronto. Barbara, still teases me about this to this day!

Grumpy Bill

The name? It came from an ex-student called Ben Taylor although I never ever saw Bill as Grumpy. In fact, Ben didn’t think of Bill as Grumpy either, he just knew Bill would relish in the title ( and he sooo did)...indeed I sometimes think Bill tried to live up to it lol. Of course, there were other names for him. Martin Chambers came with with Billious ( which I just loved – not because Bill is actually Bilious but because the term is so almost gives the name Bill an Imperial air whilst at the same time sounding like an insult). From there I coined the phrase Grumperious Billious and we moved on to Grumperious T Billious (sorry the ‘T ‘ is a bit too graphic for the written word).


The day came in early December 2011 when it would be Bill’s final day at the dojo. Some of us had previously helped him move his furniture into the van bound for his new home ( one of us knew he had a HUGE eff-off table that he would move first and duly arrived an hour late when it had been safely carried onto the van – well done Frodo, PJ and Hoppy-Choppy; hope your backs have now recovered lol).

There was a great turn out from Budokan for his last official practice and a few from Ojika turned up too. Bill led the class one last time and the we all took turns to do an enbu to say a proper thank you for all his help over the years.

We arranged it so that the whole thing was by grade order. The shodans went first which included, Sophie, Mark, PJ, Andy W, Debz, Eddie and Katie – and they were very good. Followed, naturally by the Nidan’s – Phil B, Malcolm, Jonathon, Owen and Kev. The 2 sandans were up next Jon M and Jack. Phil hendo would have gone by himself as the only 4dan but we were running out of time so he joined Martin Chambers and I to do a 7 kata final enbu to show our appreciation.

And then to present giving. Sake was poured and drunk and I duly gave out his presents. First up was a T-shirt....not going to repeat the text here but Bill laughed out loud at it so I think he liked it. Then a crystal vase inscribed with the club logo and text about Bill. And finally a personal gift from me to Bill (made by Katie – thank you so much for doing this) ; a bespoke Budokan sageo.

To the pub to the pub. See pictures...of course we went to the pub.

But this was not to be the last hurrah. Bill attended one last class at Budokan. It was the following Thursday and it was a fairly regular class.

But it was really his last one. Really. We went to the pub and had a few beers. He said goodbye to Owen and Jonathon and Kim and Tracey and Phil. And then we said goodbye to each other as I walked with him out of the pub; an unashamed hug of dear friendship and then he left.

And the club is the poorer for his absence.

........and I miss my friend!!

Lee Mountain


Emiko's visit to Durham Dojo

On Monday 28th November we had a surprise visit to our dojo from Emiko Kajino, A Japanese lady who specialises in the art of kimono dressing and many ways to decorate your home with obi.  She even came attired in full kimono and participated with the Iaido class.


Her main reason for visiting the UK was to help raise money for the Japanese Tsunami Appeal. She has published a wonderful book of the many ways of presenting obi "Emiko's Obi-Ties" of which all proceeds go to the appeal.

If you would like to support the appeal by purchasing one of these books, they are available on Katie Chaplins website "" at the small price of £10.00.'s-Obi-Ties-Book.html

A recommended buy for anyone interested in Japanese culture; so stop being tight and get one bought!!!  :-p



Northern Seminar November 2011

Well, another year; another stress inducing, life shortening arranging of a seminar!

So, after months of preparations I finally get there, the final grading seminar of the BKA calendar year. And despite the recession, and the fact that it is much further to travel the same distance northwards than it is southwards we get around 120 bods attending. To be fair this event has been well supported by southern dojo over the years especially Seishinkan who come en-masse.

Friday night and Peter West Sensei comes up to train in Sunderland. Martin and others from Ojika didn’t seem to get the text going round so they missed a treat. Somehow Kev and Andy made it and also managed, on the night before, to forget to tell their Ojika dojo mates it was happening!  Hmm did they want more Peter time or are they really that forgetful?? Whoops, hope I haven’t stirred things for you boys .

Anyhoo, Peter came up with his Russian lady friend and we got some great stuff off him. So did she according to Bill! but that’s another story... (whistles suggestively so you get the drift)

We also got to know about his love of Oroshi and Mosquitoes...or at least Elena loves Mosquitoes ...ahem!!! This too cryptic for youse? Feel free to ask him what it means!!! lol Of course we never mentioned Sophie’s sojourn into the world of adult entertainment! (good job you cannot see that I have crossed my fingers)

Anyway, Saturday came and I am rushing around like a puppet with its strings all tangled up; buying sandwiches etc from the supermarket, making flasks of tea and coffee, splitting it into two lots so Bill has some for his venue, trying to make sure those with veggie diets are catered for. I get to the Education Village to find Owen and Jon M waiting for me (as are all the gang from Sunderland). So we start registration. It never ceases to amaze me how many people do not read instructions; but still...we got there.....and we got them to where they should have been!

And so to practice. Jon M, Jonathon, Owen, Eddie, Jack and I were with Peter West Sensei doing koryu. And it was jolly super I must say. Bill was teaching at Darlo college and Sophie, Mark and PJ were in that group whilst Frodo and Malcolm were with Chris Mansfield Sensei. Chris, Leslie, Ben and ‘Dave’ (or Charlotte as she is also known) did Seitei with Nobby Clark and Greg Drewe; I think they had a good time. Especially Dave as she was using her new sword that Ben has bought- ain’t love sweet....awwwwww

Saturday night and we meet up at the local pub near the Chinese restaurant I had booked for 34 of us. Bill was late (he blamed everyone but himself) with Genbukan and Peter’s entourage; Jack and Stuart’s Katsumushi mob made it just in time to go eat.

Now, I am pretty good at adding up but imagine my surprise when we seem to be a few chairs short. No...wait a moment, we have the right number of chairs! Oh, some people just decided to come along without bothering to book lol. To be fair, two did say they didn’t realise we had all booked it and happily went downstairs. It was a good job one person had cancelled on us though as one person had simply turned up and was determined to stay (shame he didn’t feel like leaving a tip for the staff when he left early - they worked bloody hard during the night keeping us all happy and refreshed). But we did have a whale of a time! Katsumushi Rob really loves Prawn Crackers.. or at least he would if we stopped stealing them from him. Alan Lever, I found out, can speak Chinese (except he didn’t help me chat up the very pretty young Waitress; might have helped if he could speak Fillipino hahahahah). The Food was excellent, the beers kept coming and Sophie was popular for having the wee-wee taken out of her. Kev kept losing beer; he ordered plenty but couldn’t work out why they didn’t bring him them – should I tell him Andy and I were drinking them when they arrived? oopsy.

Then GTB decided to give an impromptu speech. Thanking me for all the work I had put into organising everything. Yeah I was embarrassed but was nicely embarrassed.

I think my speech was pretty crap but everyone laughed...seem to think it was AT me rather than with me but hey-ho!

At the end Peter (and even Elena) asked Sophie to give them a ring. They couldn’t say that over all the noise so they simply gestured by holding their right hands by the side of their heads......which was nice!!!

On to Jack’s mum and Dad’s pub for some of us where Jack’s mum had taken a shine to Stuart. I fed her Labrador!!! (and no that isn’t a euphemism for some sordid sexual act you weirdos – I am trying to point out she must be blind ....sheesh!). Anyway, Stuart is telling her that he looks after Jack like a son when he is in Preston; I wanted to ask if he wet-nurses him but thought better of it.

So Sunday morning (cue the Velvet Underground!....another double-entendre for you to enjoy!) and Kev is hung-over. Owen and Sophie has camera. We have picture!

On to the seminar, and I get a few more hours with Peter. Scott Halls ( the big girls blouse from the West Midlands Posse, has defected to the Seitei group) but all the Northern Alliance are still there with a few more joining us. David Hickey, David Mac and Matt take loads of notes (nice body warmer Matt btw!!! that was taken on and off more than a professional dancers bra) whilst Jack decides to join me in looking posh in white.

Alas, duty calls and late morning I am needed to sort stuff out so that is the end of my practice. Jonathon has now discovered why kneepads are a good thing. Eddie, looked pretty bemused throughout ; but happy. Owen got loads of input and Jon Meikle was setting his stall up.

Gradings? Well, alas poor Frodo failed again and Malcolm didn’t pass either...but 3rd dan isn’t an easy one.

But ...pip pip Hurray...pip pip Hurray....pip pip Hurray... Sophus, Marcus Ralstonius, and PJ breezed their gradings....and I mean breezed them. And loads of Ojikalings passed their gradings as well. John Hartburn (he gives me heartburn , I tell ya) passed his jodo as did Big Willy, Kev and Jayne. And Kev and Jodie passed 2dan Iaido, Dee and Mike got their Ikkyu as did some newbies from Martin’s dojo who I haven't yet met.

As Brucie would say....”didn’t they do well?”

Or, as I noted when Stuart Shireff said that the Northern Alliance was the Gonads (referring to five dojo – Genbukan, Ojika, Budokan, Katusmushi Leeds and Katsumushi Preston) I pointed out that Budokan had three sites; Durham Darlington and Sunderland.

So that makes the Northern Alliance....the Magnificent Seven.

....theme music to fade.... dum dum-de-dum, dum-de-duddah-dum (you know how it goes!!) 

Lee Mountain




European Iaido Championships, Andorra Oct 2011.

Well after selection onto the British Iaido squad it wasn't long before Andrew Armstrong from our neighbouring dojo Ojika and myself (Jon Meikle), had to pack our bags and jump on a plane over to Andorra to compete against the best Europe has to offer.

The British squad met up at two airports Luton and Gatwick on the morning of the 5th Oct. with great excitement / apprehension in order to catch the flight to Barcelona. Probably more  apprehension on Andrews behalf as this was his first time on a plane!  Of course plenty of jibes thus followed about the likelihood of wings / engines falling off during flight just to reassure him :-p.

Arriving at Barcelona was a refreshing change as there was sun! and it was really quite warm, good job that I had left my coat at home. The transfer over to Andorra by coach took us about 2  1/2 hours with a "beer stop" on the way... "coffee stop" sorry slip of the tongue.

Once we finally arrived at the hotel we were all pleasantly surprised, a very luxurious 5 Star hotel with all the trimmings. The Andorra Plaza served us very well throughout our stay and offered us full board and plenty of free wine at every meal!!


So the next morning the Seminar began, first two days for seitei practice with not one but three 8th Dan Hanshi from Japan. Kawaguchi Sensei, Kusama Sensei and Kamikokuryo Sensei headed the Japanese delegation.

Groups were split into mudan/shodan:  nidan /sandan/yondan and godan /rokudan. Where we all got practice without having an on/off system, however it was getting a little tight on Shiho Giri and Sou Giri. Look before you cut mantra was taken onboard to the nth degree!!! The afternoon of the second day had us all performing an embu in our groups for the Japanese delegation, to show how much we had improved?? No pressure then!

Day three Individual Tai Kai Event .... Let battle commence!!! Well of course not before the opening ceremony and being entertained by some traditional Andorran dancers.

Some with very short Jo Staffs which they liked to bash together quite gaily! Actually they were very good and it was a great start to the forth coming events.

So the Tai Kai commenced... unfortunately Andrew and myself had difficult pools with stiff competition and we were eliminated sharpish :-(  . UK team did do better in the higher dan divisions and came away with a Gold and Bronze in the Yondan division, Gold on the Godan division and Gold and Bronze in the Rokudan division. So not all lost!!! The experience alone was a reward in its self.

Day 4 was to see the team Tai Kai event in the morning. Go UK Go UK !!!  Team UK easily got through the pool round and were making good progress in the knock out rounds. Unfortunately this wasn't to last and a dubious decision was to leave us with out a team trophy. So near yet so far!!!

That afternoon was allocated to the European gradings from Shodan - Nanadan. It is not very often you get to see these high end gradings so this was to be a good afternoon!

Bill Davison, David Collins and Andy Watson were to take there 6th dan and Greg Drew to take his 7th Dan. So all eyes were on our guys with anticipation.

Hmmmmm so what went wrong?? out of seven 4th dans, one 5th dan, eighteen 6th dan and five 7th dan only one of the 4th dans passed! Well there is always next time guys, lets hope those who deserve to pass do so then.

So I'd better sum up... Great hotel, cheap food and beer, great company. But to finish on a serious note the Europeans has certainly been an eye opener and it has been a great honour to be a part of the 2011 Championships and the British Team. Despite not progressing through the Tai Kai it has been a huge learning curve and I have learnt a great deal. This experience I'm sure will be embedded in my memory for many years to come. Better start training hard now for another bash next year.

Jon Meikle


New dojo in Sunderland.

A few months ago I received a call from a woman calling herself Christine enquiring about Iaido. After several years (well it felt like that) on the phone I gleaned that Christine and a few of her fellow Ju Jitsu colleagues had had some Iai training but felt they needed more.

So, at my peril, I invited Chris down to Durham to have a chat and the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, not quite but It did lead to Chris sorting out a venue for Budokan (with their chums from Ojika) to do some more Iaido.

First night was led by moi with the help of Hansel (Owen Wilson) and along came Chris with her mates, Leslie, Ben, Charlotte and Ronnie. And I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did ‘cos they seemed like a great bunch of people.

We are a few weeks in now and they are all proving to be excellent students.  So let me introduce the Sunderland Posse to you all.

Chris – has bought a new sword and is the only person I know shorter than Danni and harder than a cage fighter

Ben – is the luckiest guy alive cos he got Charlotte to go out with him AND he now has me as a teacher

Charlotte – is really called Dave ( its true; honest) and likes to get changed in public!!!!! ( if that don’t increase membership nothing will)

Leslie – the only person to be more ‘ooer missus’ than me

Ronnie – has the rudest text jokes evvah!

Welcome to the mayhem guys and gals.




Northern Alliance In St Evenage (Summer Seminar 2011)

British Nationals July 2011

Gateshead 2011

And the award for.....

Solihull 2011

Bideford - March 2011

Edinburgh December 2010

Okehampton -November 2010

Darlington Seminar 2010

Summer Seminar - Brighton 2010

BKA National Championships 2010

Darlington Northern Seminar 2009

Summer Seminar Brighton August 2009

National Championships 2009

Phil's trip to Japan

Darlington Mini Seminar 2009

And the winner of the "slowest student to get changed award"