Re: John Cornish retires after 52 years of aikido
I also had a chance to train briefly with Cornish Sensei at the Budokwai and cherished the lucid and powerful technique as well as the good mood he was bringing to the mat. I always had a feeling that Cornish Sensei was one of the best kept secrets of London. Come to think of it: a martial artist of his standing teaching Aikido at marginal times in a club that is world famous for judo! Although I couldn't attend his classes as regularly as I wish I had done, I remember quite fondly the positive atmosphere and the overall camaraderie of the ones I had a chance to attend.
I would agree with James' point that resistance to Cornish sensei would bring about long-lasting consequences, yet it must be said that he was always very kind and considerate towards me. Most often, I was given the benefit of doubt as a beginner, so I was able to get away with things that would have triggered a sharp atemi in James' case!
I would be overstepping my own authority if I dared compare Sensei's technique with others', so let me use this opportunity to add a few more of his spontaneous comments to what James has already posted:
Cornish: Move your left foot forward.
Student (usually me!) -- moves the right one forward
Cornish: No, the other left foot!
After demonstrating an advanced technique, musing to himself: How can it possibly go wrong?
His advice on jo-kata practice at home: Be careful with the lamps, don't take them down or there'll be trouble! We've all done it before, so you won't have to...
He breaks down the shiho nage to focus on practising on what one of the hands is doing. The student asks where to put the other hand while practising this bit. Cornish Sensei doesn't say anything, but instead demonstrates the technique joyfully again with the free hand scratching his head, adjusting his hakama, waving to people, and making all sorts of funny gestures...
Also, during weapons practise, he tends to urge the students to count the moves loudly -- in whichever language they feel appropriate -- yet shortly after doing that rushes to shut the windows of the dojo commenting sarcastically that we shouldn't disturb our millionaire neighbours (the dojo is located at the heart of Chelsea!).
A few descriptions of attacks:
- Hold on to his arm with both hands as if you are in the Tube and are holding the rails trying not to fall!
- Are you a drinking man? Good! Then, grab his wrist as if you are grabbing a pint of lager! [...] I said lager, not wine!
Finally, I'd also like to add my voice to those wishing Cornish Sensei a long and pleasant retirement. It was a pleasure to get to know him and I feel fortunate to have benefitted from his wisdom. He will be sorely missed at the Budokwai.