Meet the Instructors

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Dennis Cantillion
6th Dan Shidoin

Dennis started out in martial arts with Judo in the 1960s at the Dowty Judo club, where he was a local champion; and encountered Aikido when it was introduced into the UK via Abbe Sensei through various Judo dojos.

 

He originally trained in Aikido with Ken Williams Sensei at "The Hut" and received direct instruction from Noro Sensei and Nakazono Sensei, two of O'Sensei's direct students prior to the arrival of Chiba Sensei in the late 1960s. This relationship with Chiba Sensei was further enhanced through the British Aikido Federation and Kenetsuka Sensei. 

 

When the United Kingdom Aikikai separated from the BAF, the Gloucester Aikido Club became very closely linked with Shihan William Smith, MBE, another Chiba Sensei protégé and Dennis's Aikido developed further moving through the black belt (dan) ranks.

Dennis was awarded 6th Dan by the Doshu, Aikikai Foundation Hombu Dojo on his 70 birthday and is now deputy principal of the Go Shin Kai association.

Steve Brignall
4th Dan Shidoin

Steve started Aikido in Seaham, Co. Durham in 1971 aged 16, training under Ron Myers, one of Chiba Sensei's first dan grades in the UK. Whilst at Manchester University, Steve continued practicing at the Lancaster Aikikai under Mario Mucha and Bob Spence. After moving to Gloucestershire in 1977, he started his long friendship with Dennis Cantillion.

 

He has trained with many of O’Sensei’s last direct students, including Chiba Sensei, Tamura Sensei, Yamada Sensei and Segano Sensei; and has been to Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan twice.

Steve gained Shodan (1st dan) in 1995 under Mr. William Smith, MBE and Yondan (4th dan) in 2020 under Mr. Michael Smith. Steve is also a Shidoin (senior instructor) and Chairman of Go Shin Kai. He has been a BAB Coach Level 1 since 1998 and teaches on Sundays in Stroud and Wednesdays in Tetbury.

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Andy Packer
4th Dan Shidoin

Andy began training in Judo 1979, spending five years under the guidance of Sid Parker, a member of the British National Judo squad. 

 

On starting a teaching qualification in Durham in 1989, Andy started his training path in Aikido under the formidable Arthur Lockyear, a student of Chiba Sensei. On returning to his home county of Gloucestershire in 1990, Andy continued his Aikido training at the Gloucester Aikido Club under the direction of Dennis Cantillion Sensei. He has trained under Dennis Sensei since then, and under the late Bill Smith (MBE) Sensei and Mike Smith Sensei, both former students of Chiba Sensei. 

 

Andy has held Yondan grade in Aikido since 2006, a position of Shidoin within the Go Shin Kai Association since 2018 and is a qualified BAB Aikido level 1 instructor.

 

He teaches at the Gloucester and Stroud dojos on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Darren Wells
3rd Dan Fukushidoin

Darren began practising Aikido in 1995 under Dennis Cantillion at Gloucester.

 

He gained Shodan (1st dan) in 2005 under Mr. William Smith MBE, Nidan (2nd dan) in 2011 under Mr. Gordan Jones and Sandan (3rd dan) in 2017 under Mr Michael Smith.

 

Darren visited Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan in 2017 where he was privileged to meet and train with Moriteru Ueshiba, the current Doshu (Head of the Aikikai).

 

He has been a BAB Level 1 coach since 2011 and was awarded Fukushdoin (Assistant Instructor) in 2018.

 

Darren teaches regularly at Gloucester on Tuesdays.​

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Philip Cooke

Philip Cooke

Sandan

Eric Weir

Eric Weir

Nidan, GSK Fukushidoin

James Darke

James Darke

Shodan

Lee Knickenberg

Lee Knickenberg

Shodan