BRADFORD Tomiki Aikido Club made their long-waited return to action after overcoming the difficulties which the Covid-19 pandemic posed.

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art that is split into many different styles, including Iwama Ryu, Iwama Shin Shin Aiki Shuren Kai, Shodokan Aikido, Yoshinkan, Renshinkai, Aikikai and Ki Aikido, and it’s the basis of several martial arts, including judo and jiu jitsu.

The club operate at the Sedbergh Sports and Leisure Centre, Bradford, and prior to lockdown they were thriving under the guidance of lead instructor Garrett Baxter (5th Dan), with around 40 people, both juniors and seniors, attending their Thursday night sessions on a frequent basis.

But the pandemic threw up several growing issues for the Bradford based Aikido club, with classes having to be brought to a halt.

However, normality has resumed and the British Aikido Association were able to hold their comeback National Competition on April 10, with many students from the Bradford based club shining at this event and trainee instructor, Bradlee Clarkson, spoke of his delight following the return of Aikido in Bradford.

He said: “It was an extremely tough time during lockdown at the Bradford Tomiki Aikido Club because we had to close with immediate effect.

“Before Covid we had extremely positive numbers at training, that number between 35 and 40 on a frequent basis. We had a lot of young kids between four and fifteen attending those sessions, but the pandemic spanned over a two-year period and obviously those youngsters got older, some two years older.

“It was a massive relief to hear that we could open up again after the pandemic, but our numbers were far worse than previously and it would have been difficult to sustain and keep running without the input of our money. We had to help keep the club alive.

“It was only until about three weeks ago when we started to see a good return in numbers, and we are slowly getting back to the 35-40 person attendances that we had before, which is phenomenal.”

Clarkson added: “And for our club to bounce back and compete in the Nationals at the start of April, it was just fantastic and I’m proud of everyone involved. We also performed brilliantly at the competition and showed our quality, succeeding in winning age groups u8’s and u10’s with other participants gaining medals, and having three of our students win the best individual (most recognised player throughout the day) in u8’s, u10’s and u12’s. “

Clarkson, who has participated in Aikido for the past 15 years, is looking for ways to increase numbers at the club’s classes, whilst he also wants to push the sport of Aikido to a greater mass of individuals, particularly in the Bradford area.

He said: “Aikido is a brilliant sport and it has so many benefits. It’ great for the physical and mental wellbeing, but most importantly it’s a great self-defence method. In some areas of Bradford there is high crime rate, which includes knife crime. People need to know how to defend themselves when a situation like this comes around. A big part of Aikido is learning how to defend yourself from a weapon, so it’s great to have as a skill.

“Not many people know about this martial art form, but Aikido is the basis of pretty much all martial art sports, and we at the Bradford Tomiki Aikido Club want to make people more aware of the sport and bring more people to the sport. We want to have 100 people attending our classes on a frequent basis in the future and we believe we can do that.”

For those who are interested in joining Bradford's Tomiki Aikido Club, there are two classes to join up with, the first being on a Thursday evening from 6:00-9:30 (pm) at the Sedbergh Sports and Leisure Centre, Bradford.

The second session is on a Saturday morning and it gets underway at 11:00 am and finishes at 1:30 pm.

The first three sessions are free, and after that the sessions become £4 for juniors and £5 for adults. For more information, contact Bradlee Clarkson at: