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Lessons from an ancient culture


by Ruth Lawrence T 34


As I stepped across the symbolic Tatami Bridge into the Dojo, the training hall of the Mid Sussex Martial Arts School (MSMAS), I felt I was leaving familiarity behind to enter a very different world.


he building itself is a surprise. A barn deep in countryside northeast of Haywards Heath is the last place you might expect


to find a door to another culture, yet inside is a small slice of Japan, steeped in traditions that stretch back for centuries. The School, probably the oldest multi-disciplinary martial arts centre in the country, exists due to the passion of Roger Payne, Dojo Head Teacher or sensei, who founded the Centre in the late 1980s. Roger is one of those people who gets things done.


SUSSEX LIVING March 2012


His absolute commitment to the school is unswerving and while talking to him I gained some idea of what it has taken to bring martial arts training of this calibre to Sussex.


The Dojo, a long, spacious building with white walls, high ceilings and fully matted floor has an air of spiritual discipline that permeates everything that is taught there. Converted by hand by the original students, who worked unpaid so that future generations might benefit from the Dojo’s evolution, the building is home to four traditional martial arts disciplines of Japan.


Judo (The Gentle Way) is considered the ideal start for youngsters. Roger began giving free lessons to 8-18 year olds through the ‘Junior Judo Scholarship Programme’ funded by the Tenshin Kan Youth Foundation located at the school. Kids from every spectrum of society have benefited from the training, travelling from as far afield as Hastings to learn. I had a taster session myself and was soon pinned to the mat by teenager Louis Hope with what seemed like embarrassingly effortless ease. I soon understood why youngsters love it; this is a great way to focus energy to give a real sense of empowerment backed up by a strong moral code. The respect and pride that this engenders was there to see in the attitudes of the boys I met. Their training continues to be free on condition of their commitment and they obviously thrive with the continued on next page


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