I was searching for something in the bottom drawer of my desk the other day when I noticed, scrunched away at the back, a few scrappy pages of paper stapled together. Thinking it must be some old tax demand that I’d hidden away out of sight, I took it out with the intension of throwing it away. Much to my surprise (and delight!) I discovered that it was in fact an ancient issue of the BKAA ‘Ki’ newsletter dating from over twenty years ago!
Back in the early 1990s our newsletters were printed on paper rather than disseminated over the Internet. The disadvantage was that they took huge amounts of effort to produce, print and distribute. But the advantage is that at least this one venerable specimen has lasted to this very day, hidden away in the bottom drawer of my desk.
For the benefit of ‘old timers’, let me take you down memory lane with a quick summary of the contents of BKAA Newsletter #5, March 1992. The front page article is about a series of courses for beginners taught by Sensei Currie and Sav Evangelou. I myself taught one of the first (I’m not sure if it may even have been the very first?) BKAA beginners’ courses at the Finsbury Leisure Centre so I can appreciate the observation that the most effusively keen students are not the ones who will, necessarily, stick with it:
“One newcomer from my second course uttered the old chestnut, ‘This is just what I’ve been looking for. I’ve tried other relaxation classes but this is unbelievable.’ I haven’t seen him since. By contrast, one of our most regular new members was, for a while, the BKAA’s greatest sceptic’."The page 2 article muses upon the problems of building up membership. Something that is as difficult now as it was then! On page 3, David Currie, our chief instructor back then, writes the ‘Sensei Says’ column. This discusses issues of potentially ‘unfair’ dan gradings…
“I have seen black belt gradings where the examiner has been in a bad mood, so everybody failed, or in a good mood, so everybody passed… A grading is not a competition where the best people win and everybody else loses… at the same time, standards must be upheld and there can be no question of passing a candidate out of sympathy or because we like them or feel sorry for them.”Sue Currie writes a long article on dojo etiquette. This covers everything from the importance of clean feet to the protocols of appropriate bowing and the traditions of dan grades lining up in front of kyu grades on the mat.
Rhod Colins does an interview with John Hicks, the Reading Club sensei.
“I was a brown belt when we moved to reading,” John says, “Angela and I were concerned about being able to continue practising Aikido so we opened a club. That’s when I became involved with Sensei Currie because he helped us out.”
At the end of the newsletter it states, tantalisingly, “Next copy date: Monday 6th April 1992”. I wonder if that issue may be lurking in a drawer somewhere…?