We are happy to present you Ray Butcher, dojo cho of Henshin Aikido, Dublin, Ireland. He will be sharing his energy during our EAC summer camp starting in one month! Come and join us for the first EAC summer camp in beautiful Montreux Switzerland, August 5th-10th. Sign up by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am co-owner of Balance Ireland where I teach Aikido (Henshin Aikido), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Self Defence, Yoga and mobility. I also specialise in Women’s Self Defence, teaching a program called ‘Reduce the Odds’. It uses scenario based training to deal specifically with awareness and sexual assault/rape prevention.
I started training when I was 10 years old in the 70s. I have studied various martial art traditions, including Judo, several styles of Karate and striking arts, Aikido and Gracie Jiu Jitsu. I started practicing Yoga in the early 2000s and completed my teacher training in 2011. I have worked in the field of Crisis Intervention teaching Control & Restraint and Defensive Tactics to security personnel and health professionals. I currently hold a 4th Dan black belt in Aikido and a 1st degree black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
As I started at a young age, I developed a passion for martial arts and eastern philosophy. In my late teenage years I began to feel, especially form a physical perspective, that there had to be a better way to resolve a conflict than winning at the expense of the other person, In my mid twenties I moved from Ireland to Australia, and it was there that I found Aikido at a University club in Sydney. I distinctly remember during my first class having a sense of belonging. As I delved deeper into Aikido, I found the answers I was looking for in the founder’s philosophy but I soon realised that it was going to take a lot longer for this to manifest physically.
Because of my experience in the other martial arts I felt confused and unsure physically about Aikido and its practically. In the early 2000s I began to feel a shift in my understanding and started to make some changes and progress. I finally found the way forward when I began to let go and start to trust the process of Aikido and realising that my previous concepts of self protection and conflict resolution were flawed. Two main influences that paved the way forward for me back then were with my study of Gracie Jiu Jitsu under Phil and Ricardo Migliarese, and then later in 2011 when I began to study Aikido with Patrick Cassidy Sensei and Evolutionary Aikido.
After almost 30 years of practice, Aikido obviously plays a very important role in my life. It has and continues to open up many avenues of growth, constantly keeping me creatively engaged and open minded. Rather than close the door on my past martial arts experience, Aikido opened up a new and wonderful way to look at all the arts I have studied. Utilising Aikido’s principles gave me a greater understanding and appreciation and helped me to continue my studies in other areas and arts, such as Gracie Jiu Jitsu and conflict management. I believe that the basic Aikido curriculum is a very important foundation to learn the principles. To keep evolving and truly understand the vastness Aikido has to offer, we need to step outside this box of just technique based Aikido, take a risk and explore all avenues, hopefully creating opportunities to discover new possibilities.
Currently I am working on a ground based flow. The goal being to seamlessly include a complete flow from all ranges standing to ground, with single and multiple attackers. An important part of my training is to put myself in physically difficult, sometimes restrictive scenarios. To find solutions under stress, all the time staying curious with the process and true to myself and the core principles of Aikido.
I think a good description of Aikido is that it is a tool for reconciliation. At its core, it helps us to embrace conflict (inner and outer) with curiosity and confidence, cultivating inward reflection and peace.
In conclusion I would like to say that I have met some amazing people on this journey. I am very grateful to all my teachers both past and present for sharing their knowledge. I feel very fortunate to walk this path, and to have the opportunity to study and teach.
Would you like to know more about Aikido?
More information on Ray’s dojo can be found here. You can find out information about Patrick Cassidy and the Montreux dojo at www.aikidomontreux.com, and more info on the Evolutionary Aikido Community at www.evolutionaryaikido.com.