Friday, 29 June 2012

Marfest 2012 – a great success!

Aiki with Geoff Aisbitt
Despite a dip in public attendance this year the festival was still a fantastic event.  Martial Artists from all over the North East descended on the CitySpace centre with their families and friends to watch or participate in the demonstrations and taster sessions on the ‘come and try it’ mats.

DFM with Phil Doherty
Marfest is as much about the camaraderie between martial artists as it is about the displays of martial art. Over the 12 years the festival has been running a community of martial artists from all disciplines has gradually gelled together to not only demonstrate their art to each other and the general public but to also exchange knowledge and information, support and encourage each other, and to form strong and lasting networks and friendships.  

Judo with John Simpson
The strength of this support network was demonstrated very clearly in the afternoon when there was a gap in the order of events. To fill the gap, Peter Seth (Marfest organiser and 4th dan Aikido), Geoff  Aisbitt  (4th dan Aikido, 3rd dan Aikijutsu) and student’s of Christine Poole’s Jujitsu club (British Jujitsu Academy NE) did an impromptu display of Aikido and knife defences. This was impressive because these people do not normally train together (though Geoff does sometimes do some aikido training with Peter), practice different though related arts and had not rehearsed this display at all! This required a lot of trust and cooperation which was possible because the Marfest has brought these people together on several occasions now and so they know each other. Here is some video footage of this impromptu display…..

The video shows Geoff Aisbitt doing some knife defences with a jujitsu student.

Peter Seth demonstrating an Aikido principle

Geoff again showing some aiki principles

The other demonstrations though were definitely planned, well rehearsed and displayed professionally. Here’s some video footage of some of this year’s participating arts…

Phil Doherty (DFM)  showing a knife defence technique

Two of Christine Pool's jujitsu students.

Bill Patterson's ninjutsu students

There were some last minute programme changes.  Sensei Paul Simpson (Kempo Jujitsu) was unable to make it. However, John Barrass (founder and senior instructor of ESDCS – Evasive Self Defence Combat System) stepped in to cover the vacant ‘come and try it mat’ for the afternoon, teaching his style of close-in reality based street defence. John is a very experienced martial artist who has attained black belts in four arts, including 4th dan in jujitsu.

Ninjutsu weapons
Peter Gruffity (Capoeira instructor at Group Senzala North East) has supported Marfest over many years but was unable to put on a demonstration this year. However he did attend the festival and did a couple of taster sessions on our ‘come and try it mats’. For those of you unfamiliar with capoeira, it is a Brazilian art form developed by African Slaves in Brazil over 400 years ago. “It combines the potency of violence and fight, the fluidity and expressiveness of dance, the soul-calling power of music, the wit and playfulness of clever games, and the showmanship of acrobatics into one beautiful art form.” (source:

Joe Harte (Taiji, Northern School of Taiji in Co. Durham) was also present and led a short taiji session over lunchtime. He was also available throughout most of the day to talk to people about the principles and practice of his art form – an opportunity taken up by several people.

more judo
Of course many of our regular participants were in attendance giving their time freely and generously for this charity fund-raising event – Geoff Aisbitt (Aiki arts), Christine Poole (jujitsu), Phil Doherty (DFM), Mike Campos (taekwondo) and Paul Tennet (Kung Fu).  Newcomers this year included John Bruce (karate), John Simpson (Judo), Mick Farrow (Cane-do) and Bill Patterson (Ninjutsu)

And I’ll leave you with the ever popular lion dance (performed by members of the Moi Fa Wing Chun Academy)….

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