Tonbo Aikido club is founded from the Cambridge Aikido Club. All the current teachers at Tonbo Aikido started their training at Cambridge Aikido club. Cambridge Aikido began in 1964. ln 1973, Sensei Tony Sargeant (Tonbo Club Technical director and Dojo-cho) began training at the Cambridge Dojo and within 7 years he became Doio-cho of Cambridge Aikido CIub. SenseiJenny and Sensei Nigel started their training under Sensei Sargeant, and Sensei Laurence started under Sensei John Longford who took over Cambridge Aikido club in 1997. ln the 1980s, the club was based at the Howard Mallett Club in Cambridge. At that time there were classes every day (2 classes on Thursdays) and they were well attended. it was not unusual to have 15-20 students on the mat for most classes. Sensei Sargeant taught “lwama style” Aikido which was not so well known in Britain or Europe at that time but was popular with the students and is now recognised worldwide. Originally, Cambridge Aikido club was part of the umbrella organization The lnstitute of Aikido. However, in 1991, Sensei Sargeant wanted to set up his own organisation that followed the lwama based teachings of Morihiro Saito Sensei. Therefore, he established Traditional Aikido lwama Ryu, GB (currently known as Traditional lwama Aikido Europe). This style of Aikido has been taught at the Cambridge club for over 30 years and is continued at Tonbo Aikido.
Under the TIAE many dojos were set up in the UK, Europe and Russia. Sensei Sargeant, who had been building his second larger dojo in Orwell, made the decision to focus his Aikido teaching at this purpose built venue. As he wished the Cambridge Aikido club to continue he handed it to Sensei John Longford, who became it’s new Dojo-cho. ln 1997, the Cambridge club found a new home at The Hills Road Sports and Tennis Centre, Cambridge where it remained for more than 20 years. There were 3 classes a week taught by Sensei John, Sensei Jenny and Sensei Laurence. ln addition, for those who were keen to train more frequently there were Aikido courses and seminars held in the UK and abroad. For those who wanted to immerse themselves fully in Aikido, there was the chance to spend longer periods (1 – 2 weeks +) as uchi-deshi (live in) students; these residential courses were often held in Sensei Sargeant’s dojo in Kefalonia, Greece. Sensei Jenny, Nigel and Laurence have all spent several weeks as uchi-deshi in Greece and other locations, supplementing their Aikido training at Cambridge.
With the onset of the Covid pandemic, the Cambridge Aikido club closed in March 2020. However, once sporting restrictions were eased in 2020 and distance training allowed, the senior students started Bukiwaza (weapons techniques) classes at alternative locations. When full contact training was finally allowed, they sought a new venue for indoor classes with a tatami (mat) so that Tai-Jutsu training could recommence. With a new location and fresh start post Covid pandemic, a reinvigorated Aikido club was born – Tonbo Aikido. The foundations of the old club are still present, as are the majority of teachers and students. From now on we hope to grow our new fledgling Tonbo Aikido club and continue the tradition of lwama style Aikido practice in Cambridge.