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Chris Mooney (Aikido)

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Christopher Mooney
Portrait of an elderly man in keikogi.
Seminar at The University of Warwick Aikido Dojo.
Born(1958-10-17)October 17, 1958
Birmingham, United Kingdom
NationalityBritish
StyleAikido
Teacher(s)Ralph Reynolds, William Smith, Kazuo Chiba

Chris Mooney is a martial artist in the Japanese martial art of aikido, and dojo-cho of Ei Mei Kan Aikido Dojo in Birmingham, UK. He was a student of Kazuo Chiba Shihan who was the Technical Director of the British Birankai, a direct student of the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.[1] He holds 7th Dan in Aikido, accredited to him by the founder's grandson third and current Doshu (hereditary head) of the Aikikai, Moriteru Ueshiba, the 2008 Kagamibiraki.[2] He has also been awarded the title of Shihan by Hombu Dojo in 2006, also conferred on him by the third Doshu.

Apart from maintaining his own dojo, Chris Mooney teaches in many countries around the world including France, Germany,[3] Greece, Israel,[4] Kazakhstan,[5] Switzerland, Turkmenistan, and around the United Kingdom.[6] He has also taught Aikido at several universities including Ashton University, Birmigham University, and The University of Warwick, the last of which has a dojo called Gen Sen Jyuku which was established in 1988.[7]

Aikido[edit | edit source]

Training History[edit | edit source]

Chris Mooney Sensei began his training in 1973 under Ralph Reynolds Sensei at the Birmingham Athletic Institute. He stayed there four five years, and received his Shodan accreditation from him. Subsequently, he became a member of the West Midlands Aikikai and a student of Reynold Sensei's teacher William Smith Shihan, and finally the teacher of the line: T.K. Chiba Shihan, with whom he spent several decades.[6]

In 2005, on the tenth anniversary of the formation of the British Aikikai, Chiba Sensei awarded Mooney Sensei the title of Shihan. On 17 November 2006 Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba presented Aikikai Shihan certificate to Chris Mooney Sensei at a ceremony held at Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan.

He was promoted to 7th Dan by Aikikai Aikido World Headquarters at the Kagamibiraki celebrations on 14th January 2018.

Philosophy[edit | edit source]

The founder of Aikido, O'Sensei, said that the objective of Aikido was 'to unify the world',[8] Chris Mooney Sensei reflects on this in modern times:

Martial arts training reaches far beyond the dojo. Now, in swordsmanship, three things are necessary in order to triumph in any encounter: timing, distance and the centre-line. My question to all martial artists is, in the broader picture of our society, how is our timing?

— Chris Mooney Shihan

In particular, he believes in the continual improvement of people though the practice:

I am convinced of the value of martial training for now and the future. Therefore, on this celebratory occasion, we can also look to the future and even greater things. This strong sapling can yet grow into a mighty tree.

— Chris Mooney Shihan, Anniversary Course Articles. Warwick Aikido. 2018.

Chris Mooney Sensei is a practitioner of zazen, one of the pillars of the Birankai school, and is ordained in the school of Rinzai Zen:

A cornerstone of the development of both the students and the teacher of the Dojo, is the practice of Zazen. [...] Many of the students have attended several sesshins. Zazen training for the Dojo is like the keel to the vessel; the unseen part which allows the ship to hold a true and steady course.

— Chris Mooney, Ten Year Voyage of a Dojo. Musubi. 2005. pp. 6, 8.

Ei Mei Kan[edit | edit source]

Mooney Sensei first began teaching at Aston University in 1981. He preserves his connection to British universities to this day, believing that the message of Aikido has particular relevance for young people in the modern world. In the mid-1980's, he established a dojo in Bearwood, Birmingham. By 1994, the dojo had relocated to Digbeth, Birmingham.

Fazeley Street[edit | edit source]

Chris Mooney's dojo began at the end of 1994 at Fazeley Street in the industrial heart-land of Birmingham, UK, though he had been teaching before that. It was housed in a large factory room with a tin roof and a large pillar right in the middle of the mat, situated above a reggae recording studio. There was a lot of natural daylight, due to a large area of single glazed windows, which created excessive heat in the summer months and a freezing cold during the winter. Many of the materials needed to build the dojo were scavenged from the industrial waste found nearby; including light fittings found in skips and old pieces of carpet and wood. The dojo lasted there for six years.[9]

Northfield[edit | edit source]

in the year 2000, the dojo moved to the YMCA in Northfield, where the grim industrial surroundings were exchanged for the more populous South Birmingham suburbia. It was now a converted a squash court, using all the materials brought from Fazeley Street, and a lot of volunteer effort members and supporters. Although the tatami at Northfield was much smaller than at Fazeley Street, there was no longer had a pillar in the middle of the mat.[9] The dojo stayed therefor nine years,

At that time, Chiba Sensei gave Mooney Sensei's dojo the name that it bears today: Ei Mei Kan“the House of England's Light”.

Barnt Green[edit | edit source]

In 2009, Ei Mei Kan moved to its present home near Cofton Hackett, Birmingham, with the aid of many students. It was opened by Kazuo Chiba Sensei at a Shinto ceremony held in the same year. It now resides in a renovated church, the old mission hall.

Universities[edit | edit source]

Chris Mooney Sensei was asked to begin teaching at Ashton University in 1981 by William Smith Shihan, at the age of twenty three. He later began to teach at Birmingham University, and in 1988 hosted his own master, T. K. Chiba Shihan, at the Munrow Sports Centre of Birmingham University for the 1988 summer school.

At the same time Ian Grubb, 6th Dan Shidoin, opened a dojo at the University of Warwick. He served well, leading the club until the class of 1993–94, when work commitments meant that he had to move away from the university area. Grubb Sensei was training at Ei Mei Kan, so it was natural that Chris Mooney would look after the continued instruction of the group. However, because of his own commitments at his dojo, Aston and Birmingham Universities, he sent David Cope (now 5th Dan, Shidoin) to take over the running of the class. He served for a long time, leaving in the spring of 2002 – when, finally, Chris Mooney Shihan began teaching there himself.[10]

...the treasures of the future are contained in the young, so where better for me to invest my time?

— Chris Mooney, Shihan

The Univeristy of Warwick aikido club was given the name Gen Sen Jyuku by the master T.K. Chiba Shihan on his visit in 2008. The meaning literally translated is "essence of a spring" inspired by the position the club has of being the launching point of many aikidoka's careers.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Chiba Sensei Profile". British Birankai.
  2. "Kagamibiraki 2018" (PDF).
  3. "About Us". Birankai Deuchland.
  4. "Amnon Tzechovoy". Birankai Israel.
  5. "Chris Mooney Profile". Birankai Kazakhstan.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Chris Mooney Profile". British Birankai.
  7. "Warwick Aikido".
  8. Ueshiba, Kisshomaru (1975). Aikido. pp. 177–181. ISBN 0-87040-268-4.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mooney, Chris (Summer 2015). "Ten Year Voyage of a Dojo". Musubi. 31: 6, 8.
  10. Mooney, Chris (Spring 2018). "Warwick Anniversary Articles" (PDF). Warwick Aikido: 4–5.


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