Our instructors

[photo – instructors Imogen Burman, James Burman and Sara Kovacs with Nariyama Shihan]

Diarmuid (Di) Buckley (4th dan). Di started training under Philip Newcombe Sensei in 1992. He started a club of his own (ICE, in Tonbrige) in 1999 and along with Newcombe Sensei helped to develop and promote the Shodokan system in Spain. Competitive highlights include winning consecutive national Ninin-dori gold medals, numerous national level embu (kata) medals and competing in four world competitions for Shodokan GB, including competitons in Tokyo and Osaka (he also represented Shodokan Spain in the world competion in Katsura, Japan). Di has trained at the Hombu Dojo in Japan under the direct teaching of Nariyama Shihan and has attended seminars in several countries with many of the world’s top aikidoka.

James Burman (3rd dan). James started aikido after reading ‘Angry White Pyjamas’ by Rob Twigger. He began training at ICE under Di Buckley. He then continued his training in Orpington and Bromley under Phil and Jim Newcombe and Chris Stamate. On returning from a three-month stint in Japan with his black belt in 2003 he went on to open his own club in Tunbridge Wells. Competitive highlights include twice winning gold medals at national competitions in Goshin no Kata, and World Kongo dantaesan Silver medallist. James also met his wife Imogen on an aikido trip to Bordeaux in 2005.

Sara Kovacs (3rd dan). Sara began practicing aikido in 1996 after watching a demonstration. Her first instructors were David Fielding and Vanda Fairchild, who run the Tanseikan aikido club in south London. These two experienced teachers nurtured her through the long process of learning one of Japan’s more complicated martial arts – from ki-hon to free application. Sara attained her 3rd dan in 2015, and runs her own club in Cranbrook for adults and children. She is a veteran of many aikido competitions, most recently winning bronze in the Goshin no Kata event at Worldwide Sport Aikido Federation’s first international championship competition, in 2017.

Imogen Burman (2nd Dan). Imogen began practicing aikido in 2003, where she started at the Central YMCA under Marlon Hoating, 4th Dan, before moving to the Tunbridge Wells dojo to train with her future husband, James (3rd Dan). Imogen has competed nationally and internationally, most recently at the 9th International Aikido tournament in 2011 where she was highly placed for the Goshin no Kata event. She also won silver in the UK Championships earlier in 2011 for the same event. She has trained in Japan under Nariyama Shihan at the Shodokan headquarters in Osaka and also at Waseda University whilst attending the 6th International Aikido Tournament in Katsuura, Japan in 2005.