After careful consideration he agreed and the wheels were set in motion. A venue was sourced and advertisements were placed throughout the rapidly expanding town. After a number of expressions of interest the club was finally opened on Saturday the 12th of October 1991 and the Tallaght Tomiki Aikido Ryu was born.
The Dojo was located upstairs in the Belgard Community Centre and some of it members still practice there to this day. On that cold and wet autumn afternoon, Sensei Higgins began building the foundations that would enable the club to strive and blossom for many years. With no mats and doing their best to avoid splinters in the wooden floor Derek Tighe, Stuart O’Moore and Dave Norris began to train in a martial art that was to consume both their lives and the lives of others for a long time to come.
Through sponsored walks and particularly with the help of Dave Norris the club got its first set of mats early in 1992 . . . and what a difference they made. With students now coming from Tallaght and beyond, the club began to pick up momentum. The highlight of this year was the visit of Sensei Mike Tracey 5th Dan BAA, our technical adviser, from the UK. During his visit Derek Tighe received his brown belt in our sister club in Ballymun and Mike had his first of many visits to the Tallaght Tomiki Aikido Ryu.
By 1993 the club was training twice a week with at a growing number of students attending on a regular basis. The most memorable part of 1993 (for the wrong reasons) was the departure of Derek Tighe from the club. Unfortunately Derek, one of the founding members, decided to emigrate to Australia with his family . . . . . ‘but I’m sure, if you’re reading this Derek, you’d be as proud as punch that the legacy of TTAR continues.
1994 saw the first of many visits to our friends in Northern Ireland. With thanks to an invite from Tom Henderson we visited the Mayfield Leisure Centre, in Newtownards, to train with Dr. Ah Loi Lee – a memory that we all hold dearly. Late ‘94 and early ’95 seen further visits to Northern Ireland to train with Sensei Shaun Hoddy and we are proud to have recently rekindled our association with him.
1995 was a milestone in the History of the club. The year started with a hectic training programme which consisted for 3 training sessions a week and many training weekends in Courtown, Co. Wexford (thanks Roman & Tina). In the summer Sensei Higgins introduced club members to a magical part of Connemara, in the west of Ireland - Ballyconneely. A place where he holidayed, with his family, for years it became the location for the clubs annual week-long summer training camp. The year culminated with the visit of Sensei Mike Tracey in November and both Stuart O’Moore & Dave Norris received their 1st Dan.
The Aikido Advisory Board organised the first Irish Aikido Forum in April of 1996. At the time there was approximately 30 Aikido clubs in Ireland and it brought different Irish organisations, of all styles, together for the first time. With 2 delegates from The Tallaght Tomiki Aikido Ryu attending the forum proved to be a wonderful success with connections made with other Dojo’s throughout the country. The summer of ’96 saw our first official training camp in Ballyconneely. For those who battled the then five and a half hour drive the week was filled with fantastic weather, training that brought with it blood, sweat & tears and of course the odd pint or two.
In 1997 and ’98 the club continued to attract new members, with students travelling as far as Trim, in Co. Meath, to train. With our new found friends from the Aikido Forum we attended many seminars in the Whitefriar Street Dojo, Dublin. One of the most memorable was the visit of Sensei Henry Kono in August ’97. Although living in Canada, Sensei Kono trained with O-Sensei (Morihei Ueshiba) in Japan for 4 years. Even though Sensei Kono was 70 at the time the experience of training under him was truly special for all who attended. Our summer training camps in Connemara continued and the locals were starting to warm to us, referring to us as ‘the lads who do the Judo on the beach’. The highlight of 1998 was the awarding of 2nd Dan to Stuart O’Moore & Dave Norris in June.
1999 saw Sensei Senta Yamada hold a seminar in Dublin with The Tallaght Tomiki Aikido Ryu being one of the proud sponsors of his visit. Yamada Sensei trained with both Morihei Ueshiba & Kenji Tomiki and was the first to introduce Aikido to Ireland back in the early 1960’s when he held a seminar in the old Judo H.Q. in Parkgate Street. Even though he was in his 70’s his presentation was not in any way restricted. Students who attended can recall how his technique was clear, stable and, more to the point, very powerful. The year was rounded of with the club getting another Dan Grade when Colm Boyle received his 1st Dan in September.
The year 2000 not only was the start of a new millennium it was the start of a new era for our club. We now boasted four Dan grades with others rapidly progressing through the ranks. Sensei Mike Tracey paid us yet another visit in May and honoured us with his presence for a week in Ballyconneely. Sensei Tracey’s friendly approach coupled with his precise technique was appreciated & felt by all.
In 2001 the club celebrated 10 years in existence and of course we had to celebrate. We celebrated in Trim, Co. Meath, we celebrated in Tullamore, Co. Offaly and of course we, celebrated in Ballyconneely, Connemara – WHAT A YEAR !!!
With the celebrations of 2001 now well and truly gone (but not forgotten), 2002 started with a bang and continued that way for the majority of the year.Sensei Higgins put a rigourous training programme together that had some students training up to 12 hours per week at times. There was a good reason for this and in July it paid off when Keith Mc Clean recieved his 1st Dan. However, the year didn't end there, training continued and Colm Boyle was awarded his 2nd Dan the folllowing month in August - and guess what....... the celebrations started again.
Like many of the years before, 2003 started with purpose. Sensei Higgins (now 4th Dan) had a goal in his mind that would reach its pinnacle in June. An additional nights training was added to the schedule specifically for dan grades and brown belts. With bokken, jo and tanto in hand the fun began and Sensei Higgins developed a new bokken kata, introducing it to the 3rd Dan grading syllabus. Sensei Tracey visited us in June and after a gruelling 3 day seminar Stuart O' Moore and Dave Norris were awarded their 3rd Dan.
With the club now boasting a 4th Dan, two 3rd Dan’s, a 2nd Dan & a 1st Dan, new students were almost guaranteed one-to-one tuition with an instructor. Since forming in 1991 every year had its own unique memory and 2004 would be no different. Unfortunately the summer saw our last week-long training camp in Ballyconneely. With most of us now married and/or with families it was getting harder to disappear for such a long period, so, to keep the peace, we opted for two annual weekend training camps instead. In June our dojo hosted the 2nd National Iaido Seminar with Sensei Vic Cooke. Cooke Sensei travelled from England to share his knowledge with participants who travelled from all over Ireland to attend the weekend course. With a 7th Dan in Iaido, 5th Dan in Jodo and 4th Dan in Kendo, Cook Sensei had everybody mesmerised with his breath taking demonstrations and the power, speed & grace of his movements. The weekend ended with a number of members of the clubs recieving their 5th Kyu in Iaido. Our Dan grade classes continued and on the 23rd November Keith Mc Clean was awarded his 2nd Dan.
In 2005, our first weekend training camp in Ballyconneely was in May and as always the sun came out to greet us. It was our tenth year visiting this wonderful part of the country and we were now well & truly adopted into the local community. Later that year we visited Kilkenny for a one day intensive training session with Sensei David Rubens. Rubens Sensei trained under Gozo Shioda in the Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo in Tokyo for four and a half years and at the time held a 5th Dan in Yoshinkan Aikido. The course was hosted by the Kilkenny Jujitsu Club and all who attended enjoyed this intensive & meaningful syle of Aikido. With yet another year coming to an end the club enjoyed another weekend training camp in Connemara that September, and it finished yet another year off on a high.
The years that followed were filled with dynamic & energetic training sessions with people now traveling as far as counties Meath, Kildare, Wicklow and occasionally Kerry to train in our dojo. The weekend training camps continued and we even managed three weekend visits to Connemara in 2009 (thanks to all the understanding wives). The Dan grades continued to come and they were well deserved. Both Mark Cheevers & Pat O’Farrell, who were plagued by injury throughout the years, received their 1st Dan in 2008 & 2009 respectively (Mark after 14 years and Pat after 10 years).
So an idea that was put to Higgins Sensei back in 1991 created the foundations of a long tradition of Tomiki Aikido instruction in Tallaght that continues to this day. . . . . in the words of O-Sensei:
“Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically & spiritually, we are as good as dead. Progress comes to those who train and the purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit. Always keep your body filled with the power of wisdom & enlightenment and your heart filled with spirit & friendship”.
original article written by Stuart O’Moore
Some additional historical information including photographs etc can be found on :- Tallaght Tomiki Aikido Ryu Facebook Page