“Aikido in the UK – The Beginning,” by Henry Ellis

“In 1951 at the age of 15 years I was just leaving school. I had already started a career at the age of 14yrs as a Time Trial racing cyclist, eventually becoming a club first team rider. At that time I could never imagine doing anything other than cycling and racing for the future. That was until early 1956, when I visited a local Judo club in the London suburb of Hillingdon, `The Abbe School of Budo` the only reason I went was to encourage my then girlfriends younger brother to join. I was instantly attracted to Judo and I joined that same evening, the young boy lasted for about one month. It was during the following year in 1957 that I saw the new Aikido class which was being taught by Ken Williams Sensei, who I later found to be the very first Aikido student in the UK of the legendary Budo master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei who was now resident in the UK.”

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  1. Ellis Sensei,

    I hadn’t realized that Aikido had such a foothold in Great Britain. I figured it was practiced there, but it is enriching to read the details you provide. I am glad you are one of a hopefully increasing many who found Aikido more important than sports. Of course, sports provide much worldwide entertainment, which is indeed worth something. I read that O’Sensei said that sports do not train the whole person, and I agreed with it before reading it. This is probably in Mitsugi Saotome’s brilliant work, “Aikido and the Harmony of Nature.” I am thinking I read this quote in the first or second chapter of Shihan’s book. Whether O’Sensei was speaking directly and personally to Saotome, I don’t recall.

    Your piece of writing here is inspiring, Sensei, and I thank you for taking the time to write it and post it here. I hope one day you might convince your son to return to his origins, i.e. return to his more positive roots, return to the source. Still, if he makes a good living and really enjoys his career, everyone’s kind of the same and kind of different.

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