The great masters: Virginia Bailey (Part 7)

Part 6.

While in Tokyo, Virginia met a Hong Kong woman and the two got along so well that she latter invited Virginia to Hong Kong to become her personal aikido teacher. Instead of staying five years in Japan as she had initially planned, Virginia therefore only stayed two before moving to Hong Kong in 1966 at the request of her friend.

She received permission from O Sensei to start a dojo and before leaving, he presented her with a handwritten scroll so that she could display it in her dojo. She arrived in Hong Kong on a Tuesday. Wasting no time, she put up a demonstration the following Friday at the YMCA in Kowloon and began teaching classes the Monday after.

The following year she secured a more permanent location in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon and established the Hong Kong Aikikai. She also taught in a number of other venues, including another YMCAs, the Hong Kong Airport, a dancehall, and local schools including St. Francis School for Boys. She had close to 300 students in total at the height of her stay in Hong Kong.

Given this success, she realized that she needed support with the teaching, and both Kono and Ruddock came to help her on several occasions. Alan Ruddock actually spent several months teaching in Hong Kong at the end of his stay in Japan, prior to returning to Ireland.

According to one of her students at the time, Virginia also used the skills that she had acquired on the tatami in real life. She allegedly assisted a Royal Hong Kong Emergency Unit cop escape from a mob of rioters in the Sham Shui Po district, Kowloon. The man is said to have become her student afterwards.

After Ueshiba Morihei’s passing on April 26, 1969, Virginia decided that it was time to move on and she returned briefly to Tokyo in the aim of arranging her replacement. This proved unsuccessful and the school ended up without an instructor for about two years, until Ken Cottier was sent by the Aikikai to restart the organization. He founded the Hong Kong Aikido Association, which is still running today.

Source: Aikido Journal

To be continued…

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