Thatcham Club




We have a fairly active discussion group on the association website ( and one of the questions that has often been discussed is "what is your purpose in training with aiuchi?"

We felt that Sensei Abi Witherden's response summed it up for us, so thought we'd reproduce it here to give you an idea of the reasons that we do what we do.

Sensei Witherden is a Nidan (second degree black belt).


"I didn't start training in aiuchi because it was aiuchi, I started because it was at a convenient time and location, I fancied doing a martial art that would keep me active and give me some self defence knowledge and the person who invited me along was friendly and didn't look so tough that I was put off. I was also fairly new to London, didn't know many people and had some free evenings.

I stayed training with aiuchi because of enjoyment. This is partly to do with the people - I've made my best friends through aiuchi but also to do with the physical and mental training and the attitude I've experienced on the mat.

I love almost all of the techniques - falling, throwing, locks, releases etc and the types of learning from regular training where I pick things up to pressure training where I see what I can remember.

Physically doing aiuchi is enjoyable - the challenge of making techniques work on different people, understanding how they work, feeling how far joints can be bent and experiencing a spectrum of discomfort in the safe knowledge that I am in control. It keeps me fitter than I would otherwise be.

The experiences are fantastic - like a fantasy, I can experience, in relative safety, being attacked with a sword, grabbed, punched, thrown to the ground without the disadvantages of the reality. This pseudo-violence reduces my fear of actual violence by removing some element of the fear of the unknown. It also creates a buzz of the sort I get when watching a film or reading a book and imagining myself in place of the protagonists. Mentally it provides highs and increases confidence.

So the initial purpose for my beginning training in aiuchi - a convenient way to stay active, meet people and learn some self defence is fulfilled by the fact that I enjoy it enough to keep doing it (even though I now routinely travel for an hour to get to classes, making it fractionally less convenient than it used to be!).

The reason why I continue training in aiuchi is because I still find it fantastically good fun and enjoy the physical and mental benefits it brings.

Not sure if this counts as a 'purpose'. I'm going to do another post about this......



The purpose of training in aiuchi, given that we all do it because we like it, could be to keep that enjoyment available to ourselves and make it available to others. To this end we have an Association to help us out that does some paperwork, organises some events, arranges our instructor insurance, makes a few rules to help us maintain our standards regarding gradings and first aid..... we need enough people in our main body to give everyone who wants to train in aiuchi, someone to train with!

I think the purpose of the existence of the Association should be to support clubs that teach the aiuchi syllabus with the aiuchi attitude. These are defined by the people who train in aiuchi by the way they train and behave on the mat and off it. We have a strong body and can easily add to it by our welcoming attitude. There are enough of us that newbies can see what we do and we are flexible enough that we can adapt with changing times both in terms of techniques and attitudes.

We are all part of the Aiuchi Jiu Jitsu Association.

The people on the periphery who just turn up and train at their regular club (no matter what their grade) are the newbies who we are trying to welcome. Anyone can come along and be accepted into aiuchi at this level (OK - almost anyone - we do tend to frighten off psychos and bullies - got to be a good thing!).

Those who travel to national events, uke at gradings, visit other clubs, give lifts, invite their friends along, talk to each other about the techniques and attitude of aiuchi, have their own ideas and communicate are the main body of aiuchi. Most people do this! A junior grade can be further involved than a senior grade - this is not grade related - isn't that nice?!

Those who stick their heads above the parapet and try to organise those events and pin down times for us to train, or get together and talk, or get together for fun are the brave core who give the rest of us in the main body something to respond to. These can also be any grade although tend to be more senior simply because time spent in aiuchi gives them a better idea of what aiuchi people might want.

What's fab about aiuchi is that there's no forced requirement - you could be a dan grade 'newbie' who just trains and loves it but gives no further involvement - then get a bit more free time and move to the core by volunteering to organise the nationals.

You could be a green belt 'main body' member who turns up to everything but gets a new job with less free time and move out to the periphery to just train for a bit before offering to help run a club as a new brown and jumping back into the core.

OK - you've got to be brave to enter the core (in terms of time spent and abuse received!) but there's no compulsion to do this and a huge amount of reward in being on the committee or running a club if only in the respect the rest of the core shows you!

Group hug!