The Way of Spiritual Harmony

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs.

The Aikido we practice includes throws, joint locks and immobilisations, all carried out in a ‘Self Defence’ manner.

The weapons of Aikido, Bokken (Wooden Sword) and Jo (a 4´ wooden staff), are used extensively to underpin the basic precepts of traditional Aikido movements.


Traditional Japanese Cultural Matters at The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School

The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School prides itself in attempting to provide not only one of the very few permanent learning Centres here in the UK for the traditional Martial Arts of Japan, but also in its past and ongoing commitment to the many cultural aspects related to Japan.

As such, The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School has its own Cultural Advisor, Akemi Solloway (nèe Tanaka) Sensei. Akemi is the eldest daughter of an old Samurai Family, descended from the Karo of Iwatsuki Castle in the time of Lord Ota Dokan (1432-1486).

Roger Payne, the Dojo Head of MSMAS is a Founding Committee Member of The Japan Society of Brighton & Mid Sussex, acting as Martial Arts advisor, whilst another MSMAS Sempai, Ian Chapman advises on Japanese Swords in his position within the Token Society.


The Way of the Sword

Iaido is the art of drawing and using the Japanese Samurai sword, with its origins in the feudal past of Japan, when the Samurai were the predominant caste.

Over hundreds of years of warfare, the art of swordsmanship was developed to an extremely high degree as individual swordsman would travel the country testing their technique at sword schools by challenges and matches. Probably the most famous was Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) who had over 60 duels, and wrote Go Rin No Sho (book of five rings) a book on technique and strategy.

However, one clan, the Tokugawa, subdued the country in 1600 after the battle of Sekigahara, this led to a relatively peaceful era which lasted almost 250 years.

Thus the Martial Art of Iaido was developed from one of war, to one of peace.

In Japan, as around the world today, there are many styles of swordsmanship, with people teaching and passing their knowledge on. Some have formulated Kata or set forms so that a standard can be used to rank practitioners, whilst others include cutting (tamagashiri).

Regardless of style or school each in their own way are contributing to keep this ancient art alive.

At The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School Iaido is sometimes used to build a better understanding of the other Martial Arts practiced in the Dojo, thus knowledge of Zanshin, Maii & Bushi are prized, above the simple knowledge of perhaps many varied techniques, as favoured by some Iaido Groups.


The Way of the Sword

Kendo is the modern Japanese martial art of sword-fighting which is based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship, or Kenjutsu.

Kendo is a physically and mentally challenging martial arts that combines strong values with sport-like physical elements.

Practitioners of Kendo are called Kendoka, one who practices kendo or occasionally kenshi (swordsman).

There are estimates that about 6 million people world-wide practice Kendo, with approximately 4 million in Japan, 1 million in Korea, with more in Europe, North America, South America and other countries of Asia.

Kendo is a way to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana.


Molding the mind and body cultivates a vigorous spirit through correct and rigid training

Whilst striving for improvement in the art of Kendo we hold in esteem human courtesy, honor and sincerity

Whilst pursuing the cultivation of oneself.

Thus will one be able:

To love ones country and society;

To contribute to the development of culture;

To promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.


Since the earliest Samurai government in Japan, during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), sword fencing, together with horse riding and archery, were the main martial pursuits of the military clans. In this period Kendo developed.

Those swordsmen established schools of Kenjutsu (the ancestor of Kendo) which continued for centuries and which form the basis of Kendo practice today.

The names of the schools reflect the essence of the originator’s enlightenment.

Thus the Itto-ryu (Single sword school) indicates the founder’s illumination that all possible cuts with the sword emanate from and are contained in one original essential cut.

The Muto-ryu (swordless school) expresses the comprehension of the originator Yamaoka Tesshu, that “There is no sword outside the mind”.

The Munen Muso-ryu (No intent, no preconception) similarly expresses the understanding that the essence of Kenjutsu transcends the reflective thought process.


The formal Kendo exercises known as Kata were developed several centuries ago as Kenjutsu practice for warriors and are still studied today, albeit in a modified form.

The introduction of bamboo practice swords (shinai) and armour (bogu) to sword training is attributed to Naganuma Sirozaemon Kunisato during the Shotoku Era (1711-1715) who developed the use of bogu and established a training method using the shinai.

Use of the shinai and bogu made it possible to deliver strikes and thrusts with full force but without injuring one’s opponent. These advances, along with the development of set practice formats, set the foundations of modern Kendo.

Concepts such as mushin (empty mind) are borrowed from Zen Buddhism and are considered essential for the attainment of high-level Kendo.

Fudoshin (unmoving mind) is a conceptual attribute of the deity Fudo Myo-O, one of the five “Kings of Light” of Shingon Buddhism.

Fudoshin, implies that the Kendoka cannot be led astray by delusions of anger, doubt, fear or surprise arising from the opponent’s actions, collectively called the four Kendo sicknesses (shikai, lit. four admonitions).

Thus today it is possible to embark on a similar quest for spiritual enlightenment as followed by the samurai of old.

The Dai Nippon Butoku Kai was established in 1895 to solidify, promote, and standardize all martial disciplines and systems in Japan and changed the name of gekiken (Kyujitai, Shinjitai, hitting sword) to Kendo in 1920.

Kendo (along with other martial arts) was banned in Japan in 1946 by the occupying powers as part of “the removal and exclusion from public life of militaristic and ultra nationalistic persons” in response to the wartime militarization of martial arts instruction in Japan.

However, Kendo was allowed to return to the curriculum in 1950 (first as “shinai competition” (shinai kyogi) and then as Kendo from 1952).

Equipment and clothing

Kendo is practiced wearing a traditional Japanese style of clothing, protective armour (bogu) and using one or, less commonly, two shinai.


The shinai is meant to represent a Japanese sword (katana) and is made up of four bamboo slats, which are held together by leather fittings. A modern variation of a shinai with carbon fiber reinforced resin slats is also used.

Kendoka also use hard wooden swords (bokuto) to practice kata.

Kendo employs strikes involving both one edge and the tip of the shinai or bokuto.

Protective armor is worn to protect specified target areas on the head, arms and body.

The head is protected by a stylized helmet, called men, with a metal grille (men-gane) to protect the face, a series of hard leather and fabric flaps (tsuki-dare) to protect the throat, and padded fabric flaps (men-dare) to protect the side of the neck and shoulders. The forearms, wrists, and hands are protected by long, thickly padded fabric gloves called kote. The torso is protected by a breastplate (do), while the waist and groin area is protected by the tare, consisting of three thick vertical fabric flaps.

Judo at The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School

Judo : The Gentle Way

The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School is BJA Judo Club Number 2075, The British Judo Association which is supported by:

Mid Sussex Martial Arts Judo School hold a Bronze Award for Club Mark from the The British Judo Association.

Junior & Youth Judo at The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School

The Junior Judo Group at MSMAS is currently home to:

  • Junior Boys
  • BJA National Judo Champion
  • BJA Sussex County Champion
  • 5 x BJA Sussex County Medallists
  • BSJA National Judo Champion
  • 3 x BSJA National Judo Medallists
  • Junior Girls
  • 2 x BJA Sussex County Champion
  • 3 x BJA Sussex County Medallist
  • BSJA National Judo Medallist

At the 2008 Sussex County Trials, just 13 Junior Judo Players from our School were still able to secure 2nd place overall in Sussex County, competing against specialist ‘competitive & sports’ Judo Clubs from across Sussex. This followed our 100% Medal success at The British School’s National Individuals where all our Players medalled at this National Event.

These results only go to affirm our belief that the traditional Martial Arts training, that has always been offered at our School, underpins the longevity of our success over the past 20 years.

Over the years many, many Juniors who have entered The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School’s Judo programme as complete Novices have gone onto represent their County, their Region and in some cases Great Britain, competing both Nationally and Internationally.

At The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School we also believe that Judo is the ideal starter Martial Art for youngsters and we have a history of teaching children Judo in Sussex dating back to the late 1980’s.

The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School also fully subscribes all aspects of the Child Protection Act. Nationally, Roger Payne of The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School has been enlisted by the British Judo Association, the National Governing Body for Judo as a ‘Responsible Official’, to assist in the documentation verification of other BJA Judo Coaches in Sussex. BJA Child Policy Document

Adult Judo at The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School

The Adult Judo Group at MSMAS is currently home to:

  • Senior Men
  • 2008 Great Britain Heavyweight Masters Champion
  • BJA British Ranking Medallist
  • BJA Southern Regional Champion
  • BJA Sussex County Champion
  • 3 x BJA Sussex County Medallists
  • Senior Ladies
  • 2009 Great Britain U20 Squad Member
  • 2008 World Masters Medallist
  • BJA British Masters Judo Champion
  • BJA GB British Masters Squad Member
  • 2 x BJA Sussex County Champions
  • 2 x BJA Sussex County Medallists

Seniors must be 16 years or over, although there is no upper age limit and all begin as Novices, training at our Honbu Dojo in Scaynes Hill near Haywards Heath.

At the Mid Sussex Martial Arts School the emphasis is still on Judo as a Martial Art.

“ Contest success is simply a by-product of training, never the point of it. ”

As an example, Minoru Mochizuki who began Judo in 1912 aged just 5, had the good fortune to study directly under Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, plus Kyuzo Mifune, the 10th Dan Judo great. At 19 he joined the Kodokan and in less than 2 years was ranked SanDan (3rd Dan), an outstanding achievement at age just 21.

Jigoro Kano then told him:

“You have the makings of a leader, in the future you will be a top Teacher here at the Kodokan.”

Kano asked Mochizuki to report to him once a month concerning his training progress, so to guide him concerning the true purpose of Judo and the pitfalls of sports. This led to a series of meetings at which the philosophically oriented creator of Judo attempted to stimulate the mind of the young Mochizuki who, at that time, could only think of winning tournaments.

As a direct student of the founder of Judo, Mochizuki Sensei, then aged 23, made this perceptive observation in 1930, but still very apt today:

“One situation leading to delinquency involves a young person dropping out of his group of friends on a sports team. Some coaches are only interested in training team members in the question of winning and losing. They pay no attention to those who drop out because they are only interested in winning. In sports there is no place for the weaker or the less competent. Personally, I would rather see various sports transformed into Martial Arts, so that they become more concerned with spiritual development and the prevention of bad behaviour. They should be more concerned with developing young people who are no trouble to their parents, who get along well with their siblings, and with promoting good relations between husbands and wives.”

Thus, at The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School, we try to avoid wherever possible, referring to Judo as a Sport. We still view Judo as the Founder Jigoro Kano intended it, a Martial Art, suitable for all. However, even with that outlook, we have still enjoyed tremendous Competition success over the years. Indeed many of our Players have represented not only County, Region but indeed their Country, plus even Medal success at Commonwealth level. As such, we are now happy to leave to those who view Judo simply as a sport, focused only on the next Tournament, whilst we still hold firm to the original precepts which have stood the test of time over the years.

Some comments from others:

“I stated a number of years ago, your technical ability and discipline is by far the finest I have witnessed in my 36 years in Judo.
This is also reflected through your students”

Graham Turner (Commonwealth Games Judo Referee)

“Duncan and I were pleased with the turn out and were impressed with your pupils enthusiasm and willingness to join in.
We really like the traditions that your School upholds and the respect your students have for the Martial Arts they study.”

Maclean brothers (BJA Sussex County Coaches).

“I would like to reiterate how impressed I was with the standard of Judo, Dojo discipline and etiquette at MSMAS.
It is evident to me that the Judoka at MSMAS are getting their guidance from a genuine Sensei rather than an IJF Rule Book.”

Dr Llyr Jones (BJA Kata Examiner).

“Firstly, a huge, huge, thank-you to all involved at MSMAS, who provided us with the greatest gifts possible experiences and memories.
These will last with us forever. It was a fantastic learning experience for all members who attended.”

Honto Judo Dojo (Cardiff)

mid Sussex martial arts school

Tenshin Kan Dojo

Now in our 3rd decade of training in the Martial Arts of Japan, The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School (MSMAS), is probably now one of the oldest and most traditional mixed Martial Arts Centres in the UK today, know internationally as Tenshin Kan UK Dojo.

The Mid Sussex Martial Arts School was originally founded in the late 1980’s as a not for profit Mixed Martial Arts School, and today is still located just outside of Haywards Heath, in the very heart of the Mid Sussex countryside.

Training takes place in our very own traditional and permanent Dojo (Training Hall), converted by hand by some of the Founder’s original Students as their own unpaid contribution to the Dojo, today professionally Health & Safety Assessed, offering two fully matted areas, plus ample free car parking.

Regular Sessions of Judo (separate Sessions operate for both Juniors & Youth/Seniors), Traditional Aikido, Iaido & Kendo are held throughout the week, also at weekends.

All ages and abilities are welcome to try FREE no obligation Trial Sessions to experience any of our Martial Arts, in a safe and relaxed environment, with no pressure, under the careful guidance of one of our many instructors.

The School has both full Child Protection & Equity Policy in place, two appointed Welfare Officers, is an approved Leisure Provider to the West Sussex County Council Children & Young Peoples Services, and operates Judo within the British Judo Association.

MSMAS Judo has also received the prestigious Sport England Club Mark Bronze Award from the British Judo Association for excellence.

MSMAS is home Dojo of Official UK Representative (Daihyo), Dai Nippon Butoku Kai International Division, Kyoto, Japan. Dai Nippon Butoku Kai is an ancient and prestigious Martial Arts Society, presided over today by His Royal Highness, Sosai, Higashi Fushimi, Jigo, the Chief Abbot of Shorenin Temple and brother to late Empress Kotaigo of Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

The Videos spooling on this page show just some of the activities at the School, not only in our own Dojo, but also at events, both national & international.