Testimonials about Martin Acton's Aikido Institute in Dromore

Have a look at what some of our students have to say about learning Aikido, one of the most modern forms of martial arts you can learn. Why not visit Martin Acton's Aikido Institute in Dromore to see if you'd like to attend our introduction course?

Maria Woodward

I have been attending Martin Acton's Meditation sessions for a few years now. Its such a welcoming and supported atmoshere. Its been an amazing journey of self descovery, getting to know my authentic self. Stripping away old beliefs and patterns and being aware of running on auto pilot. The awareness, being more authentic and understanding the true meaning of unconditional helps with healthier choices, relationships and a more enriched life. Martin's guided sessions truly bring insite , calm, gratitude and positive energy and how to put them all to good use in everyday life. I would recommend anyone to come along and try a session.

Stuart Gilmore

If you are interested in studying Aikido then this the dojo to join. I have been hugely impressed by the skill, dedication, teaching and patience that Martin Sensei gives to each and every one of his students. 
The atmosphere in the dojo is very traditional and respectful. Everyone is extremely helpful and welcoming without exception. 
Aikido itself is a challenging art with a huge amount to learn. The benefits however are well worth the hard work and despite having only joined the classes recently I can already see the positive effects in my everyday life. 
Thank you Martin Sensei. I am thoroughly enjoying the journey!

Gareth Heron

Aikido, a word I’d never heard of before and having discussed the potential of starting some exercise or sport with colleagues in work I was set to look for something that would be appropriate for me. I’d done the gym before and to be honest it was mundane and boring. I wasn’t even walking anymore and there was zero exercise being done during a busy week at work. As someone with a leaning towards spirituality I was keen to do something that would develop me mentally, emotionally and physically. So I went searching online and came across the Aikido Institute in Dromore. I was looking for an outlet from my work and to get some balance back into my life, I was also keen for some structure and discipline, I read the other students comments and decided to give the Institute a ring. I rang Sensei Martin Acton and we agreed I would attend the free session on offer. I had no idea what to expect and meeting new people in a new environment and the risk of looking stupid all rolled into one was not a great start for what was running through my head. I was conscious that there was an etiquette in the activity hall that I now know is called the Dojo an activity room but more than that a spiritual space for learning. First thing was, off came the shoes and the need for flip flops became apparent quickly. I found that there was something respectful about this and removing your shoes gave a sense of coming into a learning space, a spiritual space . On arrival I was brought into Sensei Martins office. I was asked three questions if my memory serves me correctly. One of the questions was, have you ever remained committed to anything before? Good question, it made me think and that question ruminated around my mind for the full 8 weeks that I started the Aikido introduction class. Was I just going to finish and leave or commit and stay ? Is this something I could do? Was I to fat? Was I to slow? Was I to unfit? Are the other student frustrated with me? And a thousand other questions past through my mind. I was then brought into the Dojo and I was made to feel welcome by both Sensei Martin and the students.
On entrance to the Dojo hall I was taught how to bow to Sensei Martin and to the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba on a photo on the wall. In Japan this is a sign of respect, something like saluting in our culture. One thing is for sure that any ego that anyone has is not appropriate in this respectful learning environment. Puffed out chest and arrogance are not in the Spirit of Aikido that I have observed for the past few months. To fully appreciate this art is to come with a humble and open and teachable spirit. When Sensei Martin instructs you about the etiquette for example cleaning up after yourself it is an opportunity to learn and to challenge your ego.
The most difficult aspect for me is the constant mistakes I make. However there is clearly an Aikido way to respond to these mistakes and it’s not one of bashing yourself over the head for getting it wrong but one of learning from it and trying again. I personally find an ability to laugh at yourself very helpful. The warm up is in my opinion insane at times and could be the maker or breaker for wanting to stay for some people, but I would encourage anyone to at least keep going as the personal benefits outweighs some of the warm ups. I have met some great individuals and found everyone to be supportive and encouraging. As for the question I posed of being too fat well I have been losing weight since commencing Aikido, however my forward and backward rolls have a long way to go. As Sensei Martin reminds his students often, it’s not a race and there is no need to compare yourself with others. Finally as someone who works in a therapy setting I am amazed at the insights I have discovered in myself over such a short period of time. The meditation class on a Friday night have also been hugely beneficial and refreshing and are available on a drop in basis. The meditation includes a short talk and different mindful breathing exercises as well as visualisation. The visualisation is new to me and I have found it energising and deeply relaxing. I hope this is helpful in representing my experience in the Aikido Institute Dromore, and goes some way in encouraging you to try something new, just like I did.

Maksimas Lajauskas

I got in touch with Sensei Martin Acton after researching different ways to keep fit. Aikido seems like a good choice to do just that, and learn something new and useful. Every lesson is a lot of fun, and always seems to be the right kind of challenge. Martin Sensei is very patient with his students, especially beginners like myself. Classes have helped me feel more alert during the day, greatly improve my coordination, helped self control and my ability to concentrate. The improved fitness always helps too. 

Master Peter Carroll

Sensei Martin Acton has a very methodical approach to his classes. Aikido is best learnt, through and with a positive approach. Sensei Martin gives you the authentic Japanese Aikido feeling. His dojo is always clean, tidy and in good running order. All of his students are friendly, helpful, and willing to make you feel part of the family. The dojo is easily located in Dromore, with access to and from the M1. Sensei Martin offers a varied training schedule, to help meet everyone's needs. He has various children’s classes, that are always well attended. Sensei Martin always has a positive approach to life and to his classes. 

5th Degree Black belt, Jujitsu.

Jamie McQuade

After 2 years of procrastinating I took a leap of faith and contacted Martin Sensei via email and after exchanging a few emails I was invited to try a free lesson to see if Aikido was for me.

When I entered the dojo I was warmly greeted by Martin Sensei and the rest of the class. After the first class it was obvious that Martin Sensei had trained with the masters in Japan as he makes Aikido look so graceful and fluid.

John Bell

I am a martial artist with 20 years' experience in various styles. Curiosity and an urge to understand and develop Ki recently led me to begin Aikido under the authoritative and expert instruction of Sensei Martin Acton. The classes are uplifting, superbly informative with a strong emphasis on traditional martial art principles including etiquette, philosophy and spirit. Techniques are taught and integrated with indispensable practical advice for day to day life. There is a friendly atmosphere with safety and respect for others being paramount.

Jan Smith

After being side-lined by illness I had long hoped to return to training. Having recently moved to Northern Ireland I needed to find a dojo that would help me to begin again.

A small amount of research coupled with some very good luck have brought me to Sensei Martin Acton's Aikido Institute. Here I am enjoying learning in a safe and welcoming environment. 

This is an excellent school where students benefit from Martin Sensei's patience and humour, as well as his extensive knowledge. I look forward to learning, training, improving and feel most fortunate to be here. 


I did not know what to expect from a dojo before finding Martin Acton’s Aikido Institute a month ago. My interest in self-defence lead me to karate and kick boxing classes some years ago, but the leisure centre environment hosting large volumes of students failed to inspire me. Those previous experiences also led me to believe self-defence was simply a co-ordinated series of behaviours with fancy names, outside my ability and comfort zone. Recently, a friend encouraged me to give self-defence another try, and I am grateful for her guidance. In such a short time, I have developed a fresh attitude towards self-defence and this is testament to Sensei Acton’s leadership, teaching and dedication to the lifestyle of Aikido. Arriving for my first session, I was delighted at how homely Sensei Acton’s dojo is. Every person I have met has a beautiful character and this for me has been vital because martial arts training demands trust and respect for oneself and each other. As a lifestyle Aikido generates a series of attributes that develop a strong character and as a result, my self-concept is improving greatly and I am stepping out of my comfort zone.

Phillip B

I have only been going to Martin Sensei’s classes for a short while now but I have learned a lot in a very small amount of time and already feel more confident in daily life than I did prior to beginning the classes. I had attended Aikido classes for several months in Belfast but found the classes lacking. I was a bit apprehensive at attending Martin Sensei’s classes at first due to the strong Japanese traditions but was made to feel very welcome and any nervous thoughts disappeared within minutes. I believe I have learned more in 3 of Martin Sensei’s classes than I did in the 6 months I attended classes in Belfast and I hope to attend the classes for a long time to come!

Colin and Christine Kennedy

At the beginning of 2012, we wanted to find an activity/hobby for our 5 year old son, Lewis to attend outside of school. We decided to go with Aikido as it was a martial art that was based around the ethics of defending yourself rather than hurting others. In May 2012 we contacted Martin Acton at Martin Acton’s Aikido Institute to arrange to go along and see the children’s Aikido class. Martin was very helpful on the phone and when we went to the dojo he was friendly, pleasant and helpful throughout the lesson. Over the past 5 months Lewis has grown enormously in confidence and has benefited greatly from the structured and disciplined environment at the dojo. He has learned to listen carefully and always does as Martin Sensei instructs, and through the hard work and dedication of Martin Sensei, Lewis gained his green belt in August this year. Martin Sensei has also been teaching Lewis to speak, read and write Japanese and I find this to be a great side benefit to his classes. Martin Sensei has been a fabulous Sensei and Lewis has great respect for him, he looks forward to every Monday as he knows he is going to Aikido class. Martin Sensei has also been very good to us as parents as he always explains what he expects from Lewis and we have every confidence that Lewis is in very safe hands when he is learning Aikido.


I am a martial artist with 20 years' experience in various styles. Curiosity and an urge to understand and develop Ki recently led me to begin Aikido under the authoritative and expert instruction of Sensei Martin Acton. The classes are uplifting, superbly informative with a strong emphasis on traditional martial art principles including etiquette, philosophy and spirit. Techniques are taught and integrated with indispensable practical advice for day to day life. There is a friendly atmosphere with safety and respect for others being paramount.


I have been studying Aikido with Martin since his classes started in Banbridge and have found them enjoyable, enlightening and very worthwhile. Starting as a complete beginner, I have gained self-confidence and self-awareness as my Aikido has improved week by week under Martin’s expert tuition. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned and apply it back to my daily life and noticed improvements in all areas because of this.
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Do you live in Banbridge, Lisburn or Newry? 
Interested in learning a modern form of martial arts? Call Martin Acton's Aikido Institute in Dromore on: 
07869 402 588
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