Laura Beardsmore and Paul Carr
Laura Beardsmore and Paul Carr

Hey Guys and Gals,

There was something on behalf of us in Shizentai (issue4) last month that wasn’t quite what we wanted to release so if you can take a few minutes to read about our vision for squad we would really appreciate it.

Squad dates for 2014-15 are now ready for your diaries so please feel free to circulate this email to your club members. It is important to note that we have dropped the squad attendance age to Junior’s aged 14 and 2nd Kyu with our permission. We would really appreciate instructors at clubs who may not have been to squad before to encourage attendance, if not for Brisbane 2015 but for the future.

Competitive aikido is a complex sport whereby all aikidoka look and perform differently. What dictates this individuality is usually from the subjective differences in coaching from our club origins, the previous coaching experiences we have had at seminars and exposure to different styles or visions from those who have taught us over the years. Under the surface, once stripped back we all value the same ideals. We want to learn and develop our skills. For those of us who compete, we want to set our goals high and work together in a cohesive team to try and achieve those, as no one would hesitate to point out that even in individual sport it is the team around you that facilitates success. We also want to enjoy understanding, adapting and manipulating aikido to improve our personal skills.

J Liburd 2011 London
J Liburd 2011 London

A coach by definition furnishes an individual or team with knowledge, usually by a systematic approach to teach, train or educate. In comparison a manager is a person who has control over direction and resources either in part, full or a phase of a teams development in order to bring about success. The following exerts from our proposal put to the executive back in January hopefully shows our intentions as new squad managers to achieve in part, aspects of both those definitions.

All players attending squad get their baseline teaching from regular week in week out teaching at regional level. We would expect members attending sessions to learn their broad based knowledge at club level and as squad managers we will aspire to organise and develop sessions based on improving your sport aikido through many different aspects of training. There will be elements of ‘coaching’ at our planned sessions however the emphasis we are going to promote is that of the base level knowledge of both kata and randori based practice being done at club level. Precious time we have together at squad sessions will be to practice and then finely tune our aikido in order to improve and progress towards the international competition.

BAA Squad

BAA 2013 Team doing the "Bolt"
BAA 2013 Team doing the “Bolt”

The BAA national squad is likely to change significantly over the next 12-18 months. Many senior players are retiring or taking a step back from international competition. This is in no way a step back, but in fact an opportunity for growth of our youth and kyu grade members and ensuring their development. We are going to need the support of club coaches at grass roots levels, encouraging their members to try squad sessions. Similarly we need to ensure that the BAA ethos of embracing different styles is honoured so we can look to bring in potentially exciting new talent. In line with this ethos we are hoping to arrange additional sessions with other associations in order to help give opportunity for all aikidoka to train with each other.

Those unsure of how they would adapt to the next step towards international competition can get guidance and mentorship by coaches and previous players. We are going to tailor the sessions to both the competitive driven player looking to build for international medal success but also we are going to specifically look at development of the next generation. The transition from junior to senior level competition has been a consistent issue over the years and it is one we feel the squad should take more responsibility for and can actively improve its efforts in. For that reason we have lowered the age restriction to 14 with permission. Their grade level should be 2nd Kyu or above.

2015 International in Brisbane

Gold Coast Australia
Gold Coast Australia

It is important for us to set out clear defined goals for the international in Brisbane next year, to ensure that the pace and content of our squad sessions is designed to push us towards achieving those goals.

  • Increase numbers of Junior and Kyu grades attending regular squad sessions and competing internationally
  • A pair through to the quarter finals of the Kyu Grade Junanahon would demonstrate this.
  • Male and Female individual randori quarter finalists

We feel a professional approach to competition is a key attribute that has contributed to some players reaching that next level of competitive international success. We feel that for any athlete and not just aikidoka, the ability to cope under pressure is aided not only by their dedication to training on the mat but also by their preparation off it. Elements of what we believe to be ‘core skills’ will be introduced to squad in the coming 12 months include strength and conditioning training and personal evaluation, sports psychology, video analysis with personalized feedback and much more with some exciting speakers from inside and out of the aikido world already lined up.

We can confirm that there is already a strength and conditioning coach in place to assist us at sessions. Ian Fisher works for Yorkshire Country Cricket and is going to spend time with the group as a whole but also help in personal performance and process. We are also delighted to announce that Paul Bonett will be running a Dai San based workshop at the upcoming August session providing an insight in to how to be adapting our katas to achieve success at the international next year. In addition later in 2014 we will have Steve Evans running a randori basho. For those yet to experience one of these it is certainly not to be missed. We are also hoping to have personal development sessions with a sports psychologist in staggered sessions throughout the year to help us prepare for those stressful competitive environments.

Moving Aikido Fdorward

It is our opinion that to move aikido forward towards an ultimate goal of olympic consideration, we should strive to encourage both current and new members wanting to compete internationally that the mentality of being an elite athlete should be applied. This is no way an elitist approach but one of taking your position representing the BAA seriously. We need to build on the hard work by Mick and Danielle and preceding them that of David and Vanda to continue to demonstrate to our international friends that no matter our personal goals, the team will continue to be one of the most competitive in the world.

In addition to the monthly squad sessions we are excited to announce we will be holding our first British Aikido Association Squad session in Ireland on 29th and 30th November. This is an additional session designed to help develop players in both Republic and Northern Ireland. For more information please contact us.

For anyone interested in more information or details regarding attending BAA National Squad please contact us on

Squad Dates 2014-2015

2014- Loughborogh Edward Herbert Building
Aug 10th Sept 14th Oct 19th Nov 16th Dec 14th

November 29th and 30th- Squad Session Dublin

2015- University of Wolverhampton (Walsall Campus) British Judo Centre of Excellence.
Jan 11th Feb 15th Mar 21st April 19th May 17th June 14th July 19th Aug 16th

World Championships 29-30th August at Gold Coast, Australia.

If you are a club instructor please can you share this with your club members and pass our details around or forward their emails on to us to join our mailing list. Our email is if you wish to be removed from this mailing list in future please don’t hesitate to contact us.

You can also follow us at @BritishAikido

We look forward to seeing a lot of you on August 10th!!!

Laura Beardsmore and Paul Carr

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