The Sussex University Aikido Club had been founded in 1970 when Norio Tao — a 3rd dan Japan Railways employee who had been given his black belt by O'Sensei [Wiki] himself — arrived on an exchange scholarship and persuaded a few hardy fellow students to join him.
After several instructors took the lead role, direction in the club changed when Sensei Danny Gunn took over. Gunn Sensei had been heavily influenced by the late Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei [Wiki] whilst training in Japan. Danny began the four times a week training and strengthened the connection with Yamaguchi Sensei by repeatedly inviting Kenjiro Kimura from Japan - then 4th dan Aikikai and a student of Yamaguchi Sensei - to teach courses at Sussex.
When Gunn Sensei left Brighton in the early 80s the two instructors were Rick Smaridge 5th dan Aikikai, and Nik Doyle 5th dan Aikikai. Nik subsequently moved to Spain, and Rick took on the running of the club.
In 1987, after graduated from Sussex University, Rick (a Sussex Full Blue in Aikido) decided to commit himself full-time to developing Aikido practice by creating the Brighton Aikikai; combining the Sussex University Aikido Club with the Brighton Polytechnic Aikido Club and opening new venues at the Brighton Natural Health Centre and SAMA Karate Club. Rick also taught regularly at Chichester Aikido Club, as well as at the Eastbourne School of Physiotherapy. He also became a Security Consultant to Brighton Council and ran course for 'front-line' staff in this context. At this point the club had 16 classes per week for students to choose from.
Rick had begun training in 1979 and, after meeting Pascal Durchon - now 6th dan Aikikai - at a Yamaguchi course in the UK, was introduced to the idea of visiting Christian Tissier Shihan [Wiki] in Paris. Pascal was a direct student of Tissier, who had in turn been a direct student of Yamaguchi whilst he was living in Japan.
Being completely inspired by the authenticity, clarity and professionalism of Tissier Shihan, Rick began the routine of inviting Pascal to teach in the UK twice a year, and travelling to Paris each month to attend Tissier's monthly courses (whenever possible!) as well as the yearly courses by Yamaguchi Sensei and Seishiro Endo Sensei.
Rick left Brighton in the 1997 and moved to Devon, where the Devon Aikikai was set up, leaving Brighton to his students Jeff Balmer and Mark Hale. Tuition under Tissier's direction therefore continued within the Brighton club. In 1998 Phil Rozier joined as a student of Brighton Aikikai. Taking a lead role in 2001, Phil grew the relationship with Tissier Shihan a step further by having an almost monthly presence in Paris.
Between 2004 and 2012 Phil Rozier and Nik Doyle (having returned from abroad) ran the Brighton club, developing a presence within the UK and obtaining BAB recognized coaching qualifications. In October 2012, Nik Doyle moved to Germany, leaving the instruction of the Brighton Aikikai to Phil Rozier. Now 5th dan Aikikai, Phil continues to build the club and follow Tissier's instruction. With regular UK visits from Pascal Durchon and now Tissier himself, the Brighton Aikikai exists as the principle club following the instruction of Tissier Shihan in the UK.
Having established a following of his own, Phil is currently the technical head of a group of Aikikai clubs within the UK and abroad. Brighton, Devon, and Cyprus Aikikai have formed a group of clubs dedicated to the practice of traditional Aikikai Aikido.