In Photo (left to right) Tony Cumby, Michael Skipton, Donovan Waite Sensei, Mike Clair, Alex Lau (March 2013)
The teaching team of Fudoshin are all black belt instructors with many years of teaching experience. They are adept at teaching kids, youth and adults, from beginners to advanced students. They have also received LGBTQ awareness training. (Donovan Waite Sensei of Philadelphia is a 7th degree black belt and is the dojo’s main connection to the United States Aikido Federation.)
Mike Clair is the Head Teacher of Fudoshin Aikikai. He has been practicing Aikido since 1981. He acquired his shodan (1st degree black belt) in 1990, his nidan (2nd degree) in 2004, his sandan (3rd degree) in 2008 and his yondan (4th degree) in 2012. Mike has been part of the Fudoshin family since 2008.
In his teaching, Mike attempts to maintain a balance between the “martial” and the “art” of Aikido. He focuses on the precise execution of movement, as it is from this precision that power arises, while also encouraging the improvisation required to deal with unexpected situations. He fuses the five elements of physical fitness (strength, flexibility, balance, aerobics and coordination) into his teaching of Aikido.
O Sensei’s genius was to discover a way to defend oneself effectively against all types of attacks (strikes, holds, knife, sword, multiple attackers, etc.), without causing serious harm to one’s opponents. Mike emphasizes how to neutralize attacks safely, for both attacker and defender.
In his professional life, Mike is an administrator at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is married to Mary Win and has two grown sons, André and Luc.
Mike Skipton has been a student of Aikido for over 20 years, and is currently ranked Third Dan. He joined an Aikido club in St. John’s as a way to keep fit. He soon found, however, that “it got into his head,” as nothing else matters when you are on the mat. He has found that, on top of helping towards physical fitness, Aikido is an effective means for mental relaxation and stress reduction. Becoming centred in oneself and in the “here and now” can be learned through practising Aikido and can be applied in other areas of one’s life.
He has visited and practised in dojos in Canada, the United States and England. As for all aikidoists, his style of Aikido is his own, as a synthesis of what he has learned – and he is still learning. If he has a motto for aikido it is “Relax, Move and Act.” What else is there?
Born in St. John’s NL in October 1958, Tony Cumby shares his life with his wife of 25 years, Diane and their daughter Penny.
In September 1971, at age 12, Tony had been the victim of a beating by three boys in Bowering Park in St. John’s. He was highly motivated to prevent this happening again and joined the YM-YWCA then located on Kenna’s Hill. A very soft-spoken and kind English gentleman by the name of Graham Burt was the instructor for both Judo and Aikido and so began Tony’s lifelong study of Aikido. Within a few months, at the age of thirteen he was recruited to 510 Lions Air Cadet Squadron only to find that Sensei Burt also volunteered to teach both Judo and Aikido with this organization. He continued with both arts for 6 years, at which time he dropped Judo to follow Sensei Burt’s aikido teaching exclusively. In 1976 he graduated from the cadet program but stayed on as a civilian instructor teaching Aikido. This continued on and off over the years and he still remains with the Corps in this role. After the untimely death of Sensei Burt on August 4th 1979, he continued to train with Derm McDonald Sensei, who honoured the teachings of Sensei Burt.
In 1999 Tony recruited a small group of coworkers at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital to practice Aikido, this was named Bunch of Guys (BOG) Aikido by one of the members who shortly after, proposed a name change to Fudoshin Aikido. This fledgling group evolved with the addition and leadership of Tom Alteen Sensei to become Fudoshin Aikikai, an officially recognized member of the United States Aikido Federation.
Tony has found Aikido to be invaluable in coping with daily stress and has always found peace and support during practice. As founder and president of Fudoshin, he is driven to protect the ideal of a not-for-profit, membership owned and directed club with a focus on making Aikido fun and available to everyone.
In his long and diverse journey through Aikido, Tony has been influenced by many different teachers including Graham Burt Sensei, Derm McDonald Shihan, Tom Alteen Fukoshidoin, Kevin McDonald Shidoin, Bill McDonald Shidoin, and Mike Clair Sensei. He has also been fortunate to attend classes and seminars by Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan, Yukio Kawahara Shihan, Donovan Waite Shihan, Claude Berthiaume Shihan, Robert Zimmerman Shihan, Yumi Nakamura Sensei, Isshu Ishiyama Shihan.