- Category: Dojo
- Published: 26 February 2010
Judith McSpadden first experienced Aikido in 2003 at the Aikido Shobukan dojo in Washington DC, home to the Aikido of chief instructor Mitsugi Saotome Shihan. Her time in DC was short. However, having witnessed the beauty and fluidity of the movement, she knew this was the beginning of something special. Shortly afterwards, Judith moved to Philadelphia and found the Philadelphia Aikikai. Under the instruction of the late Henry Smith Shihan, 6th Dan, she began her Aikido training. In January 2009, Judith was promoted to the rank of 1st Dan Aikikai by Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan in his New York headquarters and she moved back to Belfast three days later.
Since then Judith's Aikido journey has taken a few twists and turns as she searched for her new Aikido teacher. She has attended seminars and summer camps Europe and the UK and had the opportunity to experience many styles of the art under many highly respected instructors. Those who have been the greatest influence are Henry Smith Shihan (6th Dan), Jan Nevelius Shihan (6th Dan), Jorma Lily (6th Dan), Mouliko Halen (6th Dan), Philippe Goutard (6th Dan), and Cyril Lagrasta (5th Dan). All these teachers have been a great source of encouragement and inspiration.
Judith understands that Aikido is a personal journey, experienced and expressed differently by each individual. She believes that Aikido can work for anyone, regardless of age, size, gender or strength. Currently, she is specifically interested in researching the gentle yet dynamic Aikido of Jan Nevelius Shihan which has a strong focus on connection. While teaching in Belfast, she continues her own apprenticeship by attending classes in England and Sweden.