“Never with a whimper”
Tony Neal Sensei has retired from teaching Aikido and has handed on his Liverpool Dojo in Sydney’s south-west to his students.
We’d like to acknowledge Tony’s contribution to Ki Aikido in Australia. We look forward to the promised occasional visits in the future and further enjoyment of his appalling yet infectious sense of humour. Tony’s participation is never with a whimper, always with a bang.
Tony began training in 1995 with Michael Stoopman at Griffith University. He soon became a key supporter of the Cleveland dojo and pretty much ran the club for head instructor Thom Hansen, bringing lots of enthusiasm, support and new students. Some of these, like Colin Staples, became long-term practitioners themselves.
At the same time Tony was an enthusiastic supporter of Griffith Aikido as it transitioned from a dojo running three styles of aikido (Ki Society, Shinkondo and Aikido Yuishinkai). He was also a supporter of Steve Dows’s Coorparoo dojo and for a time Tony ran the Logan dojo.
There was a 6 am class at Griffith in those days that attracted up to 15 people in part because of Tony’s enthusiasm. The after-class showers were something of a feature (but that’s a story best shared over a few drinks).
One of Tony’s greatest achievements is the Capalaba dojo he established with Darren Cowles in 2002. Now known as the Onami dojo it is still running today.
Tony relocated to Sydney and opened Aikido Liverpool in 2008. He has hosted numerous events and guest instructors in Sydney over the past seven years.
Tony has always been a wonderful supporter of the aikido community, often travelling long distances to attend seminars in Hobart, Perth and Hawaii, to name a few. He was a stalwart of Brisbane-based aikido seminars when he lived there, hosting both Williams Sensei and Maruyama Sensei. Tony initiated Bokkens on the Beach (Stradbroke Island) and ran it annually for several years, typically with Murray Loader instructing. He billed it as “Five star location, one star accommodation”.
Tony never seeks the limelight but seems instead drawn to doing the jobs others might shirk, helping out with the practical side of things. He always does his best to present the gruff exterior of a boofy bloke but Tony’s actions reveal a man with a deep sense of justice, concern for society and the will to do something when he sees a need.
Tony has been an informal mentor to many a young adult, helping them through rough patches with quiet generosity and raucous good humour.
There are precious few who take such an unassuming role, quietly working in the background for the good of the art, many a dojo, and the individuals therein.
Tony is a shihan in the art of life who always has a sneaky technique to spring upon the unwary on the mat.