Helen Stott (2nd dan)
I have been a member of Riai Aikido since 2000, when my son’s interest in martial arts meant that I sought out an Aikido club with children’s classes and I have been training ever since. As a member of Riai Aikido Wellington I trained under Sensei Henry Lynch and other teachers, and eventually took over teaching the children’s classes. I gained my Shodan in 2006.
Riai Aikido was not my first introduction to Aikido. In 1980 I went to Tonga as a volunteer teacher, and there a fellow volunteer from Australia, Felicia Birman from Melbourne Aikikai started an Aikido class. For the first time I became aware that a martial art was much more that fighting. Aikido, with its focus on peace, harmony and conflict resolution became an important part of my life. Aikido has at times given my life focus that has helped me fight depression.
In 1982 I followed my teacher to Melbourne, developing basic skills with Aikikai Australia. On return to Wellington in 1983, I joined the Wellington Aikido club under Rueben Perenara (3rd Dan). In 1986, I went to Japan with another club member and trained under the teachers at Tokyo Hombu, and at the Iwama dojo with Morihiro Saito Sensei.
From 1988-2000 I had long break from training, for family reasons, until returning to Aikido with Riai Aikido. In 2011, I went to Samoa for work for three years, and trained with Aikido Samoa, assisting as needed. On return from Samoa in 2014 I settled in Auckland and trained with the teachers at the Riai Aikido Learning Centre since. I gained my Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt) in 2014 and started teaching children’s classes again, and occasional adult classes at both the Riai Aikido Learning Centre and Riai Aikido West Auckland dojos/schools.
I have been influenced by many great teachers in different ways and hope that I can share some of what I have learnt. Aikido is a constant stabiliser and influence for harmony. Applying this discipline to everyday life is very hard but very rewarding.