Sunday, 3 July 2016


Wherever you are - If you wish to follow the teachings and path of  TK Chiba Shihan's Aikido  - contact any one of  the various ` BiranKai `organisations in the UK or Internationally.
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" If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything " - Mark Twain
The Book  ` Positive Aikido ` available on Amazon
TK Chiba Sensei - Memorial Site
1940 - 2015


Right: The Shrine in Japan where Chiba Sensei joins in peace with his parents and sister.

We offer our sincere condolences to Chiba Sensei's family - friends and students.



TK Chiba Shihan San Diego Dojo 1993


Henry Ellis - Tribute article, 1966 - Recalling the early days with Chiba Sensei - Aikiweb article .

" SCROLL DOWN FOR "

" Chiba Sensei - UK - The Early Days " 
" The Challenges of Chiba Sensei "
" Chiba Sensei - UK - Historic Facts "
" Chiba Sensei - Video Message for Students and Teachers "
" Tribute Speech to Chiba Sensei by Henry Ellis - Video and Text "
" Mitsusuke Harada Shihan - Speech to Chiba Sensei " [and a Friends Betrayal ]
TK Chiba Sensei interview by Arthur Lockyear - Aikido Journal


TK Chiba Sensei - 1940 - 2015 
 Aikido Seminar 1967
Summer School 1967 - centre : K Chiba Sensei - Henry Ellis on Sensei's right side. with Ralph Reynolds (glasses) on Sensei's left. - Click image to enlarge.


For those that studied with TK Chiba Sensei in those early days, they will remember his Aikido being true Budo, something that very few will ever see or feel again.

Read " Aikido Then and Now - 1955 - 2015.

Henry Ellis pays tribute to his teacher  TK Chiba Shihan - the last of the original UK Japanese Budo masters.

Chiba Sensei - UK The Early Days.

Below Left: Admin:  Henry Ellis . Assistant to Chiba Sensei from 1967 to 1972

Co-author of the traditional Aikido book " Positive Aikido "
Diplomas signed by Osensei M Ueshiba (2) Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - Masahilo Nakazono Sensei - TK Chiba Sensei - Doshu M Ueshiba.

I have so many memories of Chiba Sensei over the almost 50 years that I knew him.  Including the five years between 1967 and 1972 when I was assistant to Chiba Sensei.
As so many do,  I have never considered myself a friend of Chiba Sensei - I was, simply a very privileged student,  just as I was under my first Japanese teacher Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei had visted OSensei Ueshiba in October 1964 whilst attending the Tokyo Olympics with his good friend Haku Michigami Sensei who had trained the heavy weight gold medalist Anton Geesink. 

Abbe Sensei asked OSensei for a permanent UK Aikikai representative. - two years later in 1966 TK Chiba Sensei arrived.

1966 - The memory I could never erase was the first time Chiba Sensei walked into the ` Hut Dojo` - he looked very menacing - stern and severe as he entered the dojo and surveyed all around him.

He had been fore warned by Abbe Sensei and Nakazono Sensei how hard we trained.
Chiba Sensei stepped on to the mat,  from that instant,  and just in case we had any doubts - he demonstrated who he was, and why he was here to stay

We, the original first UK  aikido dan grades ( now regarded as UK pioneers ) were not expecting a permanent based AikiKai teacher, which would replace Ken Williams Sensei as National Coach of the ` British Aikido Council `. [ BAC ]

I had been assistant to Ken Williams sensei since 1957 - It had never crossed my mind that I would ever leave the Hut Dojo, yet, ten years later I would leave and join Chiba Sensei as his assistant in 1967, this was when he moved to London. - read the story here ->. `` There we were Two Handsome Young Men ``

Chiba Sensei told me that his hero had always been   Tadashi Abe Sensei  - judging by their equally powerful fighting spirit, I could understand his admiration.
I had lunch with Chiba Sensei just a few months before he sadly passed away, he said  " most dojos have become no more than social clubs " - I agreed - perhaps he had something like these in mind ->  Aikido Dancing   -  Aikido Ribbon Dance  -  Nodding Aikido  - Fantasy Aikido - 
 

Please support the Chiba Family Fund with a small donation.
UK visit -> `` Chiba Family Fund ``  USA visit -> `` Chiba Family Fund ``


TK Chiba Sensei - 1940 - 2015 - R.I.P.  
 Historic Facts

TK Chiba Shihan was the ``first `` UK ` Resident Aikikai Hombu Representative 1966 `


Kenshiro Abbe Sensei was the first Aikikai UK approved Aikido teacher  1955 - followed by Tadashi Abe Sensei 1957 - Masahilo Nakazono Sensei 1960 - Masamichi Noro Sensei 1963. 

Ken Williams Sensei was the first UK student of Aikido to Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - Henry Ellis was personal assistant to Williams Sensei from 1957 to 1967.

TK Chiba Sensei - passed away peacefully aged 75 years at his home in San Diego USA on the 5th - June - 2015


The Times of London - Aikido Dojo

TK Chiba arrived in the UK in 1966, after a miserable year in the cold nothern city of  Newcastle, he moved to London in 1967,   Chiba Sensei  was having a difficult time financially, Osensei Ueshiba  no longer provided the meager Aikikai allowance ( read story )  Henry Ellis had four dojos, one being at the international newspaper `` The Times of London ``  - Ellis Sensei gave this dojo to Chiba Sensei - It was at this dojo that Chiba Sensei and Henry Ellis did a very successful 30 min  " BBC  World Service "  broadcast , followed by TV demonstrations.





Left: Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 1915 - 1985.

In 1964, Abbe Kenshiro sensei went to Japan with his friend, Michigami Haku sensei to see the
latter's student Anton Geesink win the Judo Olympic Heavy Weight Gold medal.
 Whilst in Japan, Abbe sensei went to the Aikikai to see O-sensei Morihei Ueshiba,  Abbe Sensei  asked Osensei for a representative of the Aikikai to take full control of his organisation, the `British Aikido Council` (BAC), the main body for UK Aikido. We, the first group of UK Aikido dan grades and pioneers were unaware of Abbe Sensei's plan before Sensei left for Japan, and we were no wiser on his return to the UK.

Two years, later, in 1966, TK Chiba sensei arrived in the UK as the official Aikikai representative. He initially stayed with a Mr B. Logan, a director of a large shipping company, on whose ship, the `Al-Sabbayah,' Sensei had made his long journey from Japan to the UK. Mr Logan lived in Sunderland, a bleak cold northern UK city. Chiba sensei found the weather there cold, miserable and unpleasant, this was the most unhappy time in Chiba Sensei's 40 years in the UK.



Left: Ken Williams Sensei - First UK Aikido student.

To say the least, the situation could have, and should have, been handled much better by Abbe sensei.
 Perhaps if matters had been handled differently, had we been prepared, maybe Williams sensei and Chiba sensei could have worked together for a stronger BAC, but when Chiba sensei arrived at the Hut Dojo for the first time for what we thought was an ordinary seminar, Chiba Senei was introduced as the new official Aikikai representative. The dan grades were fiercely loyal to Williams sensei. They were the original pioneers of aikido to Britain from its inception in 1955. To these dan grades, Williams sensei was the undisputed head of the BAC and UK aikido. There is no doubt that Chiba sensei was aware of the resentment, as he and Williams sensei just did not get along from the moment they met, but Sensei had no idea why he was received that way.

One had to have been in the Hut Dojo that day to feel the atmosphere, to understand the shock and
dilemma of all that attended that first course. Chiba sensei was not a visiting Aikido teacher as Abe Tadashi, Nakazono Masahilo and Noro Masamichi sensei(s) had been. This teacher was here to stay, and to his credit, despite all the hardships ahead of him, Chiba Sensei did stay for a further forty years.


The above is taken from the Aikiweb article by Henry Ellis - for more please visit the above link.

Right: 2006 - Henry Ellis - K Chiba Sensei - Derek Eastman at the British Birankai celebration dinner to mark Senseis 40th year of teaching Aikido in the UK
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Hombu Dojo 1959 - L to R - K Chiba - Y Kuroiwa - M Noro - N Tamura - K Ueshiba - Osensei. Ueshiba.


TK Chiba with Osensei Ueshiba  circa 1959 
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This is the programme for the 1969 Budo Festival which was the main event for TK Chiba in the UK at that time. This was an international event with Paris France and Tilburg  Holland. This was the last event held by Kenshiro Abbe before he left for Europe, never to return to the UK. - Sorry for the poor quality, I am working on it.

Programme reads as follows.

British Judo Council - International Budo Festival  1968
1.- Address by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei founder ` KyuShinDo ` - 2 - London vs Paris - 3 - Display of Budo by K Abbe & R Otani - 4 - Tilburg vs Provinces - 5 - Display of Aikido by Mr Chiba 5th dan - 6 - London vs Tilburg - 7 - Display of Karate by K Abbe and Display team - 8 - Paris vs Provinces - 9 - Display of Kendo by Abbe Sensei & Tomio Otani . - 10 - Demonstration of Naginata by K Abbe & R Otani - 11 - Demonstration of JuKenDo by K Abbe & R Otani . -  12 - Special Item - Demonstration Kyu Shin Do Kata by K Abbe 8th dan - & Masutaro Otani 7th dan.


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2015 - Chiba Sensei's last message to both Students and Teachers.




Below - Video of Henry Ellis's speech at the 40th Anniversary of TK Chiba Sensei's arrival in the UK in 1966. 2006 - Henry Ellis Sensei pays tribute to the early years as assistant to Chiba Sensei 1967 to 1972 - Ellis reads his speech in tribute to TK Chiba Shihan at the 40th anniversary of Sensei teaching in Britain


The Speech by Henry Ellis at the `British BiranKai - TK Chiba 40th Anniversary Dinner. 2006.


Tribute to TK Chiba Shihan.

By Henry Ellis Sensei

I am most honoured to have been asked to write a letter of tribute to TK Chiba Shihan on this auspicious occasion by the British BiranKai.

I am also very pleased to see the world wide recognition and respect that Chiba Shihan has gained in his dedication to promote his very special style of dynamic Aikido. To see the realisation of every Aikido teachers dream with the opening of the new superb San Diego dojo.

This is all in sharp contrast to the many hardships that Chiba Shihan faced on his arrival to Great Britain in 1966. I vividly recall the day when Sensei first visited the ` Hut Dojo ` to a very mixed reception.
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei had not discussed with the senior Aikido instructors of the ` British Aikido Council ` (BAC) of his planned meeting with Osensei Ueshiba in 1964 when he returned to Japan for the Olympic's - to invite a Hombu instructor to be the first full time Japanese Aikido teacher to the UK.

There were serious tests of loyalty to the structure of the BAC based at the Hut Dojo and its further development by senior instructors, and now Abbe Sensei wanted to hand the control of the BAC to Chiba Shihan.

I truly believe that this was a most difficult time for Chiba Shihan, this would be a challenge suitable only for a man of the strength and determination of this powerful young man.

My own loyalty was also tested to the full, I made the decision to leave the Hut Dojo and join Chiba Shihan for what was to be a very interesting and exciting period of seminars, television and BBC world radio exposure.

I would like to add that of all the Japanese Aikido masters that I have had the pleasure to meet and study with, there are two that stand out in my memory above all others, namely Chiba Shihan and Tadashi Abe Sensei.

I wish Chiba Shihan and the British BiranKai continued success in the years ahead.

With sincere respects.

Henry Ellis

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 Mitsususke Harada the Shotokai Karate Master speaks of his long friendship with Chiba Sensei.

A ten year old person is a youngster, a ten year old association is mature, showing signs of stability and development, and as such it should be celebrated.
But my acquaintance with Chiba Sensei goes much further than that. It goes a long way back to the early days of Martial Arts in Europe and places such as Brussels, London and Paris.
Along the years this acquaintance has developed in to a sincere friendship,a gift which in life is to be treasured.

However from the beginning I was greatly impressed by his dedication, enthusiasm, and total commitment to his art. Not only was he interested in teaching it to other people and nations, but he was also, and still is, eager to improve personally, to research and develop what he had learned from his own teacher Morihei Ueshiba, of whom he was one of the closest pupils.
But a Master,however great he maybe, can only show the way - which in itself is already quite an achievement - show the way to the pupil who must then cover the road for himself or herself, and put in the necessary work and commitment.

Chiba Sensei indeed covered this path with true dedication, built enthusiastic groups of followers in Europe and elsewhere; and when he was  disappointed after entrusting his European pupils to a person who did not prove to be trustworthy, he came back, started again and rebuilt this association
whose anniversary we celebrate today.

The task is never ending, failiure is part of success, but the true martial artist continues no matter what, such is the way. It has been the way of your Sensei all his life.
May you all continue successfully along the path he has shown you, and long live your association.

Shihan Mitsusuke Harada
Principal, Karate-Do Shotokai

Presentation on the occasion of Chiba Sensei's association's tenth Anniverary, 10th August 2005 - Bangor.

Photo Left: Chiba Sensei's 40th Anniversary 2006.
Henry Ellis - Harada Sensei - D Eastman

Derek and I have known Harada Sensei since 1963 when he arrived in the UK at the invitation of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.
Harada Sensei did not have a dojo at that time, so he was allocated times at the Hut Dojo after Ellis Sensei's classes finished, Ellis and Eastman would study Karate with Harada Sensei and he wanted to learn some Aikido, this can be seen in his own developed style of ` ShotoKai Karate.
From Wikipedia.
Harada was born on 16 November 1928 in Dairen, Manchuria, which was then part of the Empire of Japan; his father was a Japanese army officer.[2][3] He lived there until the age of 9 years, when his family returned to Tokyo.[2] Harada began training in karate in 1943 at the Shotokan karate dojo (training hall) in Zōshigaya, Toshima Ward, Tokyo.[4] His first class was taught by Genshin Hironishi, then ranked 4th dan.[4] He later met Gigō Funakoshi there, only two years before the latter's death due to illness.[2][4] On 29 April 1945, an Allied bombing raid on Tokyo destroyed the Shotokan dojo; Harada wrote a letter to Gichin Funakoshi requesting to continue training if possible, and Funakoshi invited him to train at his eldest son's home, in Koishikawa.[4] Harada studied directly under Gichin Funakoshi.[5]






Monday, 18 January 2016

The Challenges of TK Chiba Shihan

1 - T.K. CHIBA vs GANGSTERS

Chiba Sensei

Well a gangster attacked me with a knife once in Japan. He lunged for my belly, so I blocked him
with Gedan Barai, and broke his arm with Kata Katamae. On another occasion I was in Paris with Noro Sensei, and we visited a night club together. I was having a drink in one room and Noro Sensei was sitting in another room playing cards, or something. Suddenly there was a terrible commotion from where Noro was, so I went in to see what was happening. It was a fight. An old gentleman was lying on the floor and a young man was kicking him. It was terrible there was a lot of blood on the floor. I think he would have killed him, so Noro Sensei said to me “Chiba, sort that out!” He did not want to get involved. (Laughter). I took hold of this man, and stopping his attack, I asked him what he thought he was doing. He spoke to me in French, so neither of us understood and so I pulled him outside… then something happened. My body reacted and I threw him down with Osoto Gari, the judo technique. He hit the ground very hard and I heard a clatter of metal. It was then I realized that he had pulled a knife. My awareness had been such that I reacted to the situation from my subconscious. This guy was a gangster from the Pigalle area and that was why no one stopped him. He was well known apparently . . . but not to me! It made no difference who he was”.

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2 - T.K. CHIBA vs SERIAL CHALLENGER

Chiba Sensei


When I returned to Japan from England, in 1978, a man issued a challenge to us. But Hombu Dojo refused it, despite his persistence.
(…) As I said he was persistent, and every few weeks he would return to challenge us. Each time I had to explain that we could not accept. I think that the man was not quite “right” in the head. Anyway, eventually I personally had enough of him and accepted his challenge. We arranged to meet and sort it out. I insisted that we agree not to press charges in the event of serious injury and we exchanged letters to that effect. I told him as a martial arts teacher I was prepared to die if need be. Well we met and I initiated with offence, moving directly to him and I struck him first. This threw him back against the wall and as I came to him he jumped on me: he was like a tiger. I then finished him with Nikkyo. He had had enough by then. There was much blood and he was on the floor screaming. That was the last challenge he offered us – it seems that he did not expect an Aikidoist to initiate an attack.

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The Mysterious Fate of O'Sensei's Dog.


3 -  Chiba Sensei.



There are lots of amazing stories about the founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba, some really incredible and bordering with folklore – O’Sensei moving faster than light, O’Sensei pulling pine trees from the ground and similar. Therefore we thought to add another metropolitan legend to the saga, relaying to you the presumed story of Chiba Sensei and the sad fate of O Sensei’s dog



It is the typical story of a man who told another man that another man had done such and such, so take it for what it is: a funny story. Apparently Morihiro Saito let it slip with one of his students after a serious sake session, and this man then told the same to a student of his, probably during another pub night.
The story goes that O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba was ready to leave Iwama to go on one of his teaching trips. He was going to be away for a while, therefore Morihiro Saito and T.K. Chiba were left in charge of the Iwama dojo.
The fact is that at the time O Sensei enjoyed the company of a little lively dog – a shih tzu it would seem – which Chiba hated with all his guts. Shortly after O Sensei left, the dog ran up to Chiba and started yapping and making a fuss around him, which was really driving Chiba insane. So what does he do? He took hold of a boken that someone had left against the wall and hit the dog in the head.
Unfortunately the dog decided to die! Morihiro Saito was totaly freaked out: Chiba had killed O Sensei’s dog! Ueshiba was going to be 100% angry about it, throwing one of those tantrums he was famous for.
A solution had to be found! So the future founders of Iwama Ryu and Birankai crawled under the dojo, and buried the dog in a shallow grave. Eventually O Sensei returned from his teaching trip, saw that the shih tzu wasn’t around and asked the two boys about his dog. Chiba told his teacher that he had been sick worried for days, because the dog ran off the day after O Sensei had left…
Supposedly O Sensei’s dog is still buried under the Iwama dojo!

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4 -KAZUO CHIBA vs Mr. WANG

Interview with Arthur Lockyear .


As we are talking about challenges would you mind telling me about your confrontation with Mr. Wang, the Tai Chi master from China?
CHIBA
(…) I was in a big demonstration of martial arts in Tokyo in the early 1960s, and Tai Chi Chuan was being shown by Mr. Wang. He was from Taiwan and he was very big indeed. He became quite famous later in Japan. Well, at the end of his display he had a number of Karateka line up in front of him, and each of them punched him in the belly. It had no effect on him. I was not impressed. I would have done something else (Sensei demonstrated a groin kick and face punch whilst saying this). So, anyway two of my private students were also studying Tai Chi under Mr. Wang, and they were very impressed with him. They invited me to come along and see him. Eventually I accepted and went to watch his class. At the Dojo my students introduced us, and he politely asked me to show some Aikido. Even though his words were warm it was still a challenge! Well, we faced each other, and Master Wang made something like a Sumo posture with his hands outstretched. I stood and waited for an opening. This went on for some minutes until he moved forward to push me. So I met him, made Tai Sabaki (body evasion) and took his wrist with Kote Gaeshi, (wrist crush/reversal) … his wrist made a loud snapping noise as I applied it. Even though I applied Kote Gaeshi strongly and injured him, he did not go down. Master Wang snatched his wrist from me, and challenged me immediately. So this time he pushed me with both hands in the belly, and threw me quite a distance across the room. I landed, but I also did not go down. It was an amazing throw. My students then came between us, and that was that.

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5 -KAZUO CHIBA vs SAILORMAN

Interview with Arthur Lockyear.


On your voyage from Japan I believe there was an incident…?

Chiba Sensei.
Ah yes, we had a party on the ship when we crossed the equator, and I was asked to demonstrate. So I agreed, however there was no-one on board with any Aikido experience to act as my partner. (…) So one of the ship’s crew was asked to assist me, and he attacked me with a knife. At Hombu Dojo, in knife work, we made a positive attack with a Tanto (a dagger). But this guy was crouched low, moving around me, changing the knife from hand to hand. This was difficult, as when he made his attack I would not know which hand had held the weapon. So when he came at me I made Gedan Barai (the low sweeping block) with both arms, and I was able to deflect his attack. The point of his blade actually went through my Obi (belt) and just touched my flesh. From Gedan Barai I moved to a counter technique and broke his arm.


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TK Chiba Shihan - Aikido Journal Interview.

This is the most interesting interview I have ever read by TK Chiba Sensei 

Thanks to Aikido Journal. - Henry Ellis.


Aikido Journal - Interview with Kazuo Chiba.

As a young man of eighteen, Kazuo Chiba took one look at a photograph of Morihei Ueshiba in a book and knew that his search for a true master of budo had ended. Now 8th dan and chief instructor at the San Diego Aikikai, Chiba recounts episodes from his years as an uchideshi, and provides a detailed explanation of the concept of shu-ha-ri, as well as explaining his own view of the modern aikido world.

Aikido Journal: Sensei, I understand that you began martial arts with judo and later switched to aikido. Perhaps you could tell us about the way things were in those days?



T.K. Chiba Sensei
Kazuo Chiba: Well, I liked budo quite a bit, especially judo. One day I happened to find myself in a situation where I had to fight a match with one of my seniors who was a nidan. He was a fine person who had taught me quite a bit about judo ever since I first entered the dojo, and he had been good to me in matters outside the dojo as well. He had a small body but he did marvelous judo, and could throw larger opponents without using any power. He used a lot of taiotoshi (body drop) and yokosutemi (side sacrifice) throws of a caliber you don’t see much anymore. He was very fast, too.
He used to beat me all the time, but then, for some reason I won a match during a kachinuke shiai (match in which the judoka keeps fighting until he is beaten; he is then replaced by whoever beat him). He was mortified and said, “I can’t beat you in judo anymore, but I still have kendo!” (He was also a nidan in kendo.)
Then one night he showed up at my place and told me to come out because we were going to have a kendo match. Now, I had done judo and karate, but never kendo. I figured something would probably work out, so I went along and we found ourselves an empty lot. My sempai allowed me a handicap by letting me use a wooden bokken while he used only a bamboo shinai. He was so fast that I couldn’t even touch him, while his shinai smacked into my body again and again. I ended up taking quite a beating - For the full very interesting article visit this link - Click link -> TK Chiba Interview

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" Tadashi Abe Sensei was my Hero "  

by TK Chiba Sensei


During one of our last meetings at the `Hut Dojo` - we were in the Hut Pub having lunch when we spoke of the 1950s, a time when Tadashi Abe Sensei came over from France to visit Kenshiro Abbe Sensei. This made Abe Sensei the first Aikido teacher to be invited to the UK by Abbe Sensei. 

Chiba Sensei was rather impressed that we had actually trained with Abe Sensei who probably had the greatest fighting spirit of any other Japanese Aikido master.


I asked Chiba Sensei what he thought of Abe Sensei ? - he replied  " Abe Tadashi Sensei was my all time hero " .

Sensei told us that Abe Sensei had trained as a one man suicide submarine pilot on the  `Kaiten` ( Turn to the Wind ) just as Abe Sensei completed his training, the war ended - Abe Sensei was devastated as it was his wish to die for the Emperor and Japan.

In the late 1960s Tadashi Abe returned to Japan, he visited the Hombu Dojo - he was horrified at the then modern Aikido being taught at the Aikikai, he called for the attention of everyone there, he then publicly stated " I wish to apologies to the ladies who are present today, but this is not the Aikido I was taught and know as Budo - This soft Aikido is only fit for women " - with that he threw his Hombu diploma's on the tatami and walked out, never to return again.


Henry Ellis


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A story by Henry Ellis from the Aikiweb Article 

Click here for full article -> `` Two Handsome Young Men ``

"Too Friendly with no Forgiveness"

In 1968, I assisted Chiba Sensei at a week-long summer course in the far north of England. This boded well as many students from around the country gathered for this special event. I had just begun the morning preparation session when Chiba sensei called me to his changing room. Sensei said, "Mr Ellis, the students from the north are very good and loyal, but they do not have your strict etiquette and discipline. Can you speak with them now, please."

I asked Sensei what the problem was, and he explained that some of the senior students would put their arms around his shoulders in an overly friendly manner. They would refer to him as `Kazuo.' I tried to ease the problem by explaining that people in the north of England were known for their friendliness, but I added that I was sure that this was not going to be a problem once I explain the etiquette.

I rejoined the class, calling for their attention for what I thought would be a simple friendly chat. I was totally unprepared for their hostile reaction as I began to explain the etiquette for the event, which included Chiba Sensei's concerns. I was taken aback by their collective response. The group stood up as one, and in a defiant manner, they told me they would continue to call Chiba sensei by his "Christian" name as they always had. One guy said that at his place of employment, he worked closely with his CEO, a director of a national company, and he always called his boss `Bill.' I replied that if he could not differentiate between budo and business, then he should not be on this mat. Now, the northerners were not so friendly any more; my discussion had hit `Hadrian's' wall.

It was obvious that this discussion was going nowhere. Chiba sensei expected me to resolve it so I ended the confrontation by finally stating, "This is not a debate. You will refer to Sensei at all times as Sensei or `Chiba sensei.' If I hear differently, I will personally remove that person from the mat and take them outside to resolve their problem, and I mean it."

From that point on discipline and etiquette was maintained, but at a cost. It was obvious from their hostile attitude that my Christmas cards would be few next year.

There was an amusing aftermath to this story. Some thirty years later, I was being interviewed by Arthur Lockyear the correspondent for the popular martial arts magazine, "Fighting Arts International" (FAI). After the interview, Arthur and I went to the local pub, and as we talked of the early days of aikido, he said "Henry, can I ask you something that I have heard about you for many years?"

I smiled and said "yes," wondering what was coming next. Arthur repeated the above story, almost word for word. He asked if it was true. I replied, "Yes, it is true, but that was over thirty years ago. I'm sure they've forgiven me. "Arthur laughed and said "Henry, they will never, ever forgive you. " I thanked Arthur for making me laugh so much that I bought him another beer.

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Another story by Henry Ellis from the Aikiweb Articles - click here for full article -> 


Stars of Stage Screen and Radio

I will never forget in 1968 when Chiba sensei and I were asked to take part in a 30 minute BBC world radio broadcast; this was followed by a call inviting us to give a demonstration of Aikido on national TV. To my embarrassment, at one point I did something that I condemn in others; I actually made an exaggerated, longer than necessary, break-fall, Sensei was not at all impressed, as he held me in another vice-like technique, he snarled in my ear "Mr Ellis, I am capable of throwing you without your help! "The next technique proved Sensei's point.

Later in the hotel lounge across the road from the TV studios, Sensei and I sat in the bar, and suddenly several people pointed at us saying that we were on TV. There we were, two handsome young men.
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     Articles of Interest involving K Chiba Sensei 
by Joe Curran Shihan.

Interview with Joe Curran Sensei by Guillaume - Click here ->  `Interview with Joe Curran Sensei `
Joe Curran Sensei `President of the British BiranKai ` details his more that 50 years as a dedicated and loyal student of TK Chiba Shihan.
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Aikido - Then and Now - 1955 - 2016






Henry Ellis - I am often asked the following question.

 What is the difference between the Aikido of the 1950s and the Aikido of today ?"


1950s - This was a time when all kyu and dan grades were highly respected, simply because everyone knew that even the lowest grade had been honestly earned through blood sweat and tears, not like today, often given as a Christmas present by your own students, or ordered online from the inept British Aikido Boards website for a modest fee.

Students never handed out titles to their own teachers, such as Shihan - Grandmaster - Soke - Hanshi - Doctor - Professor and any others you can think of.  - Just imagine being at school and the kids informing the teacher that the class had jointly awarded him/her a PHD, now that would be worth six strokes of the cane on both hands in my school days.

One UK teacher claimed in a newspaper article posted on the internet " Sensei Blogs was so proud when his senior students promoted him to 7th dan - he is now one of the highest graded professional Aikido teachers in the world.
As I type this, I am thinking that by now his students will have probably graded him to 8th dan.  Its enough to make an old man cry.

Photo Left: Kenshiro Abbe teaching - Henry Ellis centre.

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei taught that uke should always attack on balance - today it is more often a ukemi attack with uke being overly compliant and acrobatic. 

If you attack on balance, then the techniques have to be good to control the attacker - the nod of the head, and no touch throws would then be comical, sadly, many students show as much resistance as an unattached piece of string.

Importantly, it was a time when students did not grade their own teachers as so many do today.
It was also a time when there was no Aikido with ribbons, if anyone had been daft enough to come into the dojo with a bundle of coloured ribbons ?  they would have been found hanging by them from the Hut Dojo roof beams.  

It was a time when Aikido was a respected martial art, respected by all the other m/a.
If Abbe Sensei thought his teaching wasn't getting through - no words were spoken - Sensei would `tap` the offending body part with a crack of a Shiinai - this was a very successful method of teaching, it gained immediate attention, it would be a reminder and an indicator to the student what their problem was, no one ever complained - The Ki people would be in tears today.

It was a time when students would train hard, and the techniques would be strong and effective, everyone attacks a little different, therefore you cannot plan what your defense would be, the attacker makes your defense ( or not ) It was a time when people trained hard to understand the techniques - if, as so many do today, trying to scientifically analyze Aikido with engineering and physics, Aikido is natural movement, not for some,  for example, if a student asked Kenshiro Abbe or Mutsuro Nakazono anything of a technical nature, they were told to practice with an ` empty mind ` only a clear mind will adsorb the  knowledge.

Left: The 4th dan certificate presented to Kenshiro Abbe Sensei by Emperor Hirohito of Japan in the 1930s.


1955

This was a time when Kenshiro Abbe sensei was the only 8th dan in the UK .


We now live in a different age, a crazy age, where 7th and 8th dans are like post-boxes, with at least one in almost every town and village in the UK,  thanks to the inept - " BAB   -  you can grade yourself, or ask your students to grade you - and simply add ``British Aikido Board Approved ``. It is like ordering a doctorate online.

Aikido training In those early days by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and with a little encouragement of a Shinai, the training  was very physical, building fitness, fighting spirit, and physical and mental strength, after the warm up, there was always a session of kicking and punching techniques, this was followed with push-ups, depending on grade, with between 20 for beginners and two hundred for dan grades of push-ups on the back of the wrists. 

It was also a time when all Aikido came under the respected `British Aikido Council` [BAC] overseen by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and Ken Williams Sensei.

In later years we would see the creation of the so-called governing body for Aikido, the ` British Aikido Board` [BAB] - a body that started with good heart and honest intentions, only to become a an overly bureaucratic body that would recognize its own grandmother as an ` approved ` Hanshi or dan grade,  an organisation that would later offer online dan grades for money.

The BAB would knowingly recognize well known fraudulent practitioners grades, publicly promote the offenders profile to its membership and the genral public. 

The BAB allow the endless use and abuse of `` BAB Approved `` for the promotion of self appointed titles of Shihan - Hanshi - Grandmaster - Professor - Doctor - Soke .

The British Aikido Board has now become a home for the homeless Aikidoka, the established organisations such as the JAC and the BAA, which are creditable organisations who are all associated with their Japan HQ - these organisations have resigned from the BAB.

Times change, people change, and Aikido will change - but sadly it is not always for the better.

Admin - Henry Ellis

Co-author of Positive Aikido`


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Video - Henry Ellis Narration of British Aikido Origins.


Henry Ellis shares his personal photos - documents - and early memories of the inception of Aikido to the UK from 1955.
The first Budo Masters - Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - Tadashi Abe Sensei - Masahilo Nakazono Sensei - Masamichi Noro Sensei - Matsutaro Otani Sensei - TK Chiba Sensei - N Tamara Sensei - Ken Williams Sensei.



Sunday, 18 October 2015


The Hut Dojo
Hillingdon West London

In 1955 the now famous " Hut Dojo " was a rather humble ` Boys Scouts Hall ` - Ken Williams Sensei a dan grade in Judo started Judo classes - He became the first student for Aikido of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and therefore the first student of British Aikido.

From those early humble humble beginnings there would be many legendary Budo teachers both Japanese and British to visit and teach at the Hut Dojo. The dojo had no winter heating and it was the job of Derek Eastman a sixteen year old assistant to all the dan grades to get in the dojo early and sweep the frost off the tatami.

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - Masahilo Nakazono Sensei - Masamichi Noro Sensei - H Kobayashi Sensei - Mutsuki Harada Sensei - Mutsutaro Otani Sensei - Tomio Otani Sensei - TK Chiba Sensei.

Sensei's Ken Williams - David Williams - Eric Dollimore - Haydn Foster - Henry Ellis - Derek Eastman -  Hamish MacFalane - Lennie Ballard - John Caldwell - Dave Downden.



The ` Hut Dojo `  was situated behind the old country ` Hut Pub ` so it was always stagger exhausted from the mat in to the pub for a couple of refreshing beers.








The `Hut Dojo` 1958.
Front row: second from left Eric Dollimore - Centre: K Abbe & K Williams.
Back row: Second left: Robin Otani - Fourth from left Haydn Foster - Second from right: Henry Ellis.





Saturday, 17 October 2015

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and Bill Reeve Sensei from 1955


I would like to thank Mrs Teresa Reeve for allowing me to use her late husbands treasured photos for this video. Bill Reeve was the first personal aid to Abbe Sensei  from 1956. I was amazed when I first saw this collection of photos of Abbe Sensei and so many other great personalites from those early days. Look for Fred Wainwright - Ken Williams - Tomio Otani and so many others,
There are so few of us left from those wonderful early days of British Budo, we that are left will treasure the memories of Abbe Sensei until our end.




The above video is of one of the greatest Budoka named Kenshiro Abbe Sensei