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Aikido History - Reading

Some stories of those that went before: Reading University Aikido and Aikido at Reading YMCA

This was written by me (Simon Thackeray of White Oak Aikido and Reading University Aikido Clubs) without any intention to make any claims as to accuracy or it being any version of a 'complete and true' UK Aikido history. It is based on my own memories of events, written information that I have and my memory of what I have been told. Lots of Aikido people and lots of Aikido events have been omitted because this is only about people and events that interacted with my own development in Aikido and that of the White Oak and Reading University Aikido Clubs, so it is all very much written from my own perspective and only includes what I want to and what I remember right now as I write it. However, if you think anything is seriously inaccurate as opposed to being omitted, then please let me know! Read more about the history below, or find out more about martial arts in Reading at the White Oak Aikido dojo.

Below is a section on Reading University Aikido - you can use the following links to go to Haydn Foster Sensei, Hamish McFarlane, Andy Allan, Ron Russell and Fiona Bain. Saito Sensei and Iwama Aikido were strong influences on me and my Aikido, particularly in the 1980s.

Reading University Aikido History

Find out about Aikido training at Reading University today

In 1983, when I came to Reading, Des Deville was teaching at the Reading University Aikido Club as 1st dan until pressure of work caused him to pass the Monday session on to me in 1985, but he still taught on Wednesdays. In 1986, he discussed the future of the Reading club and to whom he should pass it on with his teacher, Haydn Foster Sensei, as the original request for a teacher was made in a letter from the University to Mr. Foster asking for an Aikido instructor back in 1969. At the first session after my 1st dan grading, Des informed me that Mr. Foster had told him to pass the Reading Aikido club on to me and he left immediately, practising only a little thereafter. I established White Oak Aikido in 1991 at Reading YMCA and then an additional venue at the Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall in 2016.

This Aikido video shows Des DeVille attacking Eric Savins practising Tachidori using a real katana during Aikido training at the Reading University London Road Gym in 1985:


Since 1986, the following dan grades have been trained at White Oak Aikido and the Reading University Aikido Club:

30.9.89 1st dan Tim Bosley - Reading University Aikido

1.3.92 1st dan Chris Howitt - Reading University Aikido

24.10.92 1st dan Kate Ross - Reading University Aikido

24.10.92 1st dan Geoffrey Dolman - Reading University Aikido

16.4.94 1st dan Nigel Archer - Reading University Aikido

7.8.98 1st dan Rosemary Tzanaki - Reading University Aikido (now 3rd dan and teaching in Crete)

7.8.98 1st dan Trish Matthews - White Oak Aikido Reading

4.10.98 1st dan Tommy Tonner - White Oak Aikido Reading

26.5.02 2nd dan Trish Matthews - White Oak Aikido Reading

26.5.02 2nd dan Tommy Tonner - White Oak Aikido Reading

5.8.05 3rd dan Trish Matthews - White Oak Aikido Reading

20.5.07 1st dan Dale Cunningham - Reading University Aikido

20.5.07 1st dan Andrew Stoute - Reading University Aikido

13.8.10 4th dan Trish Matthews - White Oak Aikido Reading

26.2.11 1st dan Mike Moody - White Oak Aikido Reading

28.4.12 1st dan John Butcher - White Oak Aikido Reading

10.8.12 1st dan Steve Viliunas (1964-2013) - White Oak Aikido Reading

To find out more about getting involved in the martial art of Aikido in Reading:

Home page of White Oak Aikido in Reading, Berkshire, UK
Info for Beginners at White Oak Aikido Club and at Reading University - some more details about the Aikido clubs and what to expect if you come along.
Aikido Training Times and venues for the Aikido clubs at Reading YMCA, Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall and at Reading University.
Joining White Oak Aikido or Reading University Aikido Club.
or please Contact us if you have any questions about Aikido or the club.
...and here's some more pages about Aikido in the past.

Chi Gung (Qi Gong) classes in Basingstoke and Caversham, Reading.

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Reading University Aikido at the London Road Gym Pre-1980: Koshinage

Reading University Aikido London Road Gym                                            Pre-1980

Reading   University Aikido London Road Gym Pre-1980:                                              Kokyunage
The three pictures above show the Reading University Aikido Club training at the London Road Gym pre-1980. After moving to the Wolfenden Sports Centre (now SportsPark) on the main campus for some years and to the Bulmershe Gym, the Reading University Club is now back at the updated London Road Gym on Mondays.

An Aikido throw from a Jo attack
Aikido at he Reading University London Road Gym in 1988.

Reading University Aikido London Road Gym today
Aikido at the Reading University London Road Gym today.