Our firm friend and companion in Aikido Paul has died
Paul Mitton, from Bath Aikido Society, has died after suffering pancreatic cancer for several months.
Paul was with us since the beginning - before the beginning, in fact, because his association with members of the club pre-dates it by many years.
Through all that time he remained a true friend and companion; he was supportive of individuals and the club, and generous with his time and energy.
His approach to Aikido and life was permeated with his good humour and the kind of common-sense that counts as wisdom, and which promptly evaporated any pompousness or overbearing solemnity that wandered into his path. At the same time he wore his own dignity lightly.
Once, Paul was informed by the British Aikido Board that the name Bath Aikido Society would not do - it was too parochial. He was never one to indulge in pointless battles or disputes, so after giving the matter a little thought, he put forward an alternative which was duly accepted as a suitable improvement: Furo Ryu Aikido. In other words, Hot Bath Aikido - because he wasn’t one who was willing just to give in either.
As was often the case with Paul, his solution meant that he got what he wanted, the other side were happy - and everyone else got an object lesson in how Aikido works in real life.
To his Aikido practice he brought a playfulness that we loved. At a seminar on a mat full of people you’d be grabbed from behind (Paul’s favourite way of inviting you to practise with him) with the words “Let’s play!” and turn round - if he let you - to see a grin on his face and a glint in his eye.
He took everyone he practised with equally seriously. No-one, however mismatched to his strength or experience, ever felt that he was just going through the motions for them. This attitude was equally evident off the mat - at an Aikido dinner he’d be as generous and sincere with his attention towards a child at the table as towards an Aikido luminary on his other side.
Paul was not just an Aikido teacher but an educator in his professional life as well, and education was not merely his job; nearing his retirement from City of Bristol College, he set up Hedley Hall Training, an educational charity. Typically of Paul, it’s another thing that he made sure would continue to exist and work without him - he was no jealous guardian of the products of his labours.
We have been lucky to have Paul’s friendship, though cruelly cut short, but he left a lot to remember him by and those things will stay with us. He was a fine friend to have had.