Ben Peacock  

 

 

May 27th 1981 - August 6th 2013

 

 

 

The first time I met Ben was at the dojo in Huntingdon in 2005. The week before he came, Sensei Peter Hammond received a phone call asking if he would train a "bloke" in a wheelchair. 

 

We both had no idea what to expect: how disabled would Ben be? How would he be able to move on the mat and do the techniques? And there was the worry of whether training would injure him. 

I admit that when I saw him getting out of the taxi that evening I was surprised. Ben was a lot smaller and had less range of movement than I imagined. But when he flew across the car park and into the hall on his wheelchair, he taught me two valuable lessons: never pre judge a person and don't judge a book by its cover. 

 

Sensei Peter did a great job of adapting techniques for Ben, working out which ones would and wouldn't work both in and out of his wheelchair. It soon became clear that Ben was a very focused and determined individual, who applied himself 100% to the evening's training and, if a certain technique didn't work for him, he would persevere and adapt it until it did. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

After training, a few members of the club would quite often go for a drink in a local pub, to discuss the events of the evening and wind down. When asked if he would like to join us, Ben explained that it might be a bit tricky as he had to get a taxi there and then a taxi home. I offered him a lift and then, realising how close to training he lived, offered to pick him up and take him home whenever we trained. We soon became good friends and I looked forward to our chats on the journey, as we realised we had lots in common besides Aikido: music, films, TV shows, sense of humour, etc. 

 

 

 

 A few months later, a room became available in the shared house where I was living. As Ben was so well liked by my fellow housemates, it seemed a perfect solution for everyone that he joined us. We spent many hours discussing Aikido and the martial arts, travelling to training together and generally having a great time. I know we both fed off and encouraged each other during this period, which helped us obtain the grades we achieved. 

 

 

For a while, club numbers dwindled and it was fairly common that Ben and I were the only students training on the mat. We both made the most of this opportunity, soaking up the attention that we got from Sensei Peter like sponges and our skills and knowledge improved greatly.  

We attended many budo days and courses run by the TBCI, where we made many friends and continued to expand our knowledge. 

 

 

 

Ben attended two grading's during his time training. The first time he actually jumped a grade going straight to orange belt (4th Kyu), a true display of his abilities, and the second time achieving a green belt (3rd Kyu).  

During the time leading up to his second grading, I was also preparing towards my black belt (1st Dan) and expressed my concerns to Ben about my nerves and whether I was truly ready. The next morning I found a book "The way of Aikido, life lessons from an American sensei" (George Leonard) outside my bedroom door. This book and Ben's encouragement helped me overcome my anxieties and enabled me to gain my black belt so I will always be grateful to him for where I am today. 

 

 

One of my favourite memories of Ben was at the TBCI Christmas party. It was the usual party food, kids' games and questionable music, along with the awarding of certificates from the junior grading earlier that day. After the certificates were handed out, it was time for the presentation of the Heather Hammond memorial trophy: a large polished tray in memory of Sensei Peter's late wife, presented annually to the student of the club who displayed most spirit during the past year. A small speech was given and then Ben's name was called out. His look of surprise was a clear and humble indication that he hadn't even the faintest idea he'd be considered for the award. After collecting the trophy he returned to our table only to be called up again for the Andrew Bentley memorial trophy: a smaller polished tray in memory of a TBCI student who passed away suddenly, presented for spirit, but this time from within the whole of the TBCI student body. 

The look of shock on his face was priceless, like an actor winning an Oscar, and when he returned again he was trying to hold back a tear. I was very proud and happy for him. I know it meant a lot to him and I remember him saying afterwards what a complete but happy shock it was but how he wished he hadn't worn that t-shirt that can be seen in the photos.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Throughout Ben's time in the club he trained with many students, from children to adults of all shapes and sizes and adapted techniques to suit each of them.

 

 

 All were very impressed with his attitude, determination and abilities, enjoyed training with him and learnt greatly from working with him. 

 

 

In Easter 2007, members of the club attended the TBCI annual training course at Tenby: a whole week's worth of training set on a holiday park. It was the first time that Ben, Christine Dyson and I had been to this event and we shared a caravan for the duration. During the course, we trained with many Aikido students from The Mirfield Martial Arts Club who were amazed at Ben's abilities and skills on the mat and all of them took time to work with him. It was a fantastic week, with training during the day and socialising in the evenings, forging strong friendships that will last a lifetime.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later on that year, Ben decided to take a break from training for a while and try other things. I would be lying if I said we weren't disappointed, but we always knew one day he would return, which he did from time to time. 

 

 

In late 2012, I took over the running of the club. It was a scary and exciting time, and when Ben found out the news he assured me that it would be fine and expressed a great interest in returning to the mat again the following year. 

 

It was during the time we were texting and talking about meeting up again that I received the devastating news that Ben had passed away. Words could not have described my shock, sadness and disbelief and the wish that I could have seen him more often.  

 

News of Ben's passing came as a massive shock to everyone who knew him and quickly spread through social media around the world. Many people wrote tributes and messages of condolence. It was a heart-warming surprise to learn how so many lives had been touched by him and the love people had for him. I have included all the tributes and memories here that came from the martial arts world. 

If anyone else would like to say a few words or share their memories about Ben, they can do so by contacting the club or contributing to his memorial website: 

 

http://memorial.yourtribute.com/Benjamin-Peacock/ 

 

Ben Peacock was my friend, tori, uke, housemate and brother. He was and will continue to be an inspiration to me. It was a true joy to have known him and I have been blessed to have him be a part of my life. He will be forever missed. 

Till we meet again my friend. 

 

Sensei Ed Chambers 

 

 

 
 

 

Thoughts and Memories from the Martial Arts World 

 

 

 

I made the comment many years ago that I would teach anyone willing to learn aikido! Teaching Ben was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. His enthusiasm was infectious and although some were initially worried about hurting him during training warmed very quickly to his willingness and, although he would never say it, bravery! I will always remember him managing to raise his arms higher and higher and trying to get the best from his disability during training, it made me think how approach each technique to make it easier for him.  What a truly great guy, we will miss him. 

 

Sensei Peter Hammond (Willow Tree Aikido Club) 

 

 

 

 

 

The first time I heard Ben's voice was when he rang to ask if Sensei Peter would train a "guy in a wheel chair". Little did I know what an impact the "guy in a wheelchair" would make on my life and those of us that met him thru this short phone call. His courage, determination, humour, and love of life was a lesson for us all to learn. Best memory of Ben was in Wales at the TBCI course, when he asked Christine for some hair spray and used the whole can....... when we went out for the evening entertainment there was Ben with Green Hair spiked and Black Nail Varnish in his chair smiling from ear to ear saying, I am ready, now lead me to it.     He may have left us early but in that short time has hopefully taught us all how precious life is and no challenge is too great. Oh and beware the wheelchair, it was Ben's Lethal Weapon. 

 

Christine Hammond (Willow Tree Aikido Club) 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife and I knew Ben through the Willow Tree Aikido Club in Huntingdon. We will always remember him for his sense of humour and wacky hairstyles. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him. 

 

Maurice Margetts (Willow Tree Aikido Club) 

 

 

 

 

 

My sons, Douglas and Max, and I all knew Ben through Aikido.  We were all really impressed by his approach to life and his willingness to give anything a go, not to mention the changing hairstyles! 

 

Mark Robinson (Willow Tree Aikido Club) 

 

 

 

 

 

I met him once through aikido in Huntington. I was also uke for him. He was really good. I was impressed by his skills. And after that we had a beer together in a pub.  

 

Zbigniew Marcin Bandkowski (Willow Tree Aikido Club) 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Ben when I was 13. He was the first person I had ever properly encountered in a wheelchair. He taught me many things, things I have never forgotten. The first thing was to never judge a book by its cover! He was an absolutely hilarious man, and despite everything life threw at him, he never let it get to him. I never thought he'd be gone. We'll always remember him. 

 

Sophie-Jo Campbell (Willow Tree Aikido Club) 

 

 

 

 

 

I trained and socialised with Ben on various courses. He was always fun to be with. The last time I saw him was at Stansted airport. He was on his own sitting outside departures; he was off to see his Mum in Spain. 

 

Trevor Parmenter (Tokushima Shotokan) 

 

 

 

 

 

Really sad news. He was a top lad on and off the mat!  

 

Keith Parmenter (Tokushima Shotokan) 

 

 

 

 

 

Very sorry to hear this, although we only saw him once at Tenby he was a great person and it upsets me a lot to hear this news

 

Michael Rowley (Mirfield Martial Arts) 

 

 

 

 

 

I have enjoyed training with Ben at the Tokushima Budo course in Tenby. He struck me as very bright and cheerful and when he was on the mat he was surprisingly adept for such a small guy.  

Really liked him. I will always remember Ben as inspirational. 

 

Jonathan Paul Greenwood (Mirfield Martial Arts) 

 

 

 

 

 

The first time I met him was at a course down south, I think he was taking orange belt? I took ukemi for him. He put Nikkyo on with such ferocity, if I think about it I can still feel it now! And then threw me with it! 

Great memory.

 

Dave Thomas (Asoryu Aikido)                     

 

 

 

 

 

Very sad to hear the news, my thoughts are with his family and friends.

 

Wayne Tippett (Yokohama Sedgehill) 

 

 

 

 

 

So sad to hear of Ben's passing he was and will remain an inspiration. 

 

Phil Benge (Rising Sun Aikido)