Aikido History - Training with Mr. McFarlane

Some stories of those that went before - McFarlane Sensei

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! Or follow the link for more about  martial arts in Reading today.

Below is a section on Hamish McFarlane Sensei - you can use the following links to go to Haydn Foster Sensei, Andy Allan, Ron Russell, Fiona Bain and some information on the history of Aikido at Reading University. Saito Sensei and Iwama Aikido were strong influences on my Aikido, particularly in the 1980s, so you can also see more about that here.

Hamish McFarlane Sensei

Mr. McFarlane was awarded 1st dan at The Hut dojo in 1964 by Masamichi Noro Sensei. He was an instructor at the Reading University Aikido Club. The Aikido teachers at Reading University at various times were: Hamish McFarlane, Ron Russell, Roger Field (graded 1st dan by Haydn Foster Sensei in September 1975), Des DeVille (taught at Reading until 1985/6), Simon Thackeray (1985/6-present).

Mr. McFarlane later moved to Derbyshire and taught Aikido for many years at the South Normanton Aikido Club. In 1981, he went to the Iwama dojo in Japan to study Aikido with Saito Sensei, returning there again in around 1985.  He hosted some of the few courses where Foster Sensei, McFarlane Sensei and Allan Sensei taught together, in Matlock in 1984 and 1986. He was awarded 5th dan in November 1987.

As an Aikido teacher, he was highly technical and as an Aikido practitioner, he was very fast and powerful, having the ability to really get the power of his body movement into his hands. Taking ukemi for him, as I had the opportunity to do on several occasions, you had to be really fast to avoid injury. He taught a number of courses at the Reading University Aikido Club.

To quote him:

"Aikido without kokyu is like whisky without alcohol".

"Wringing the chicken's neck (the cutting grip on a bokken) is much the same as wringing out a dishcloth".

On first teaching one of the kumitachi with me at the Reading University Aikido Club: "We've never done this together before, but because we've trained in the same system, we can practise together", followed by a powerful demonstration.

Here's a video of Hamish McFarlane Sensei teaching in 1988:


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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Hamish McFarlane Sensei standing
Hamish McFarlane Sensei at the Aikido course at the National Scottish Sports Centre in Largs. This was the second week of Saito Sensei's course in the UK in June 1985.