Sensei Barry Gibson 5th Dan - Chief Instructor
Aikido for me was something that I saw and was instantly drawn in by. When I was 22 I found out I had cancer, as you can imagine when you're told something like that it turns your world upside down. I lost my mother to cancer when I was 13 years old. She was 31 and was also a strong spirited woman who fought it to the end, always smiling even though she was in so much pain.
This "spirit" lives on in me and I was determined not to let this beat me and during one of my periods sat at home after surgery I read something about Steven Seagal in the paper. It stated that at the time he was the highest graded non Japanese instructor in Aikido. This intrigued me so I researched it and gained more and more interest in it.
After months looking at four walls I found a club local to me and went to watch. It was ok but nothing that I hadn’t seen before, I thanked the instructor for letting me watch and went home. A couple of days later I went to buy a Gi (uniform). While in the shop I was talking to the shop owner and he asked me where I was starting Aikido. I told him and he mentioned someone in Derby who also taught Aikido. This man's name was Sensei Chris Macdonald. I went to watch his class and was blown away! His Aikido was dynamic, powerful and direct and I was hooked straight away. I started training with Chris and was with him for 17 years until his untimely death in November of 2008. Chris was a fantastic Aikidoka who taught me well and had a massive following and is sadly missed.
During my time with Chris I attended many courses, one of which was hosted by Master Shigeho Tanaka who was visiting from Japan. On this course I had the honour of being graded to 3rd Dan by Master Tanaka himself.
Sensei Barry Gibson with Master Tanaka
Whilst at Derby I also had the good fortune to meet and study with a fantastic Aikidoka named Charlie Hall. He didn’t suffer people who lacked spirit or passion in their training and taught me so much during my study.
I have the utmost respect for these Aikidoka for and their vast knowledge, Which I will try and remember always.
-Sensei Barry Gibson