History of the BAB
This history has been put together by Steve
Billett Chairman of the ADS and current webmaster for the BAB, I am
sure there are members of the BAB who have far greater knowledge of
the history of the Aikido in the UK and it's links to the BAB, If so
please contact the BAB Webmaster
with the details.
Aikido in the U. K. traces its roots
back to 1955 when Kenshiro Abbe, who established the British Judo
Council in London, began to give instruction in aikido. Abbe had
come to the U. K. through the intervention of the London Judo
Society. Among his first students was Ken Williams, one of the
pioneers of aikido in this country. Sensi Abbe visited the Aikikai
of London operated by Ken Williams of the British Aikido Cultural
Council in 1956. This first aikido dojo was under the auspices of
the British Budo Council. In 1958, Sensi Abbe established the
International Budo Council and about this time brought Tadashi Abe
from France to demonstrate and instruct aikido.
Also in the late 1950s, Tomiki
Aikido began to be practiced in the U. K. due to the efforts of
Senta Yamada, a 6th dan in both aikido and judo, who taught for the
British Judo Association. Yamada, who had studied under Morihei
Ueshiba and Kenji Tomiki, encouraged his top judo players who were
approaching the end of the competitive careers to try the then
little known aikido. A number of independent clubs led by Yamada's
judo students began to spring up.
Ken Williams was awarded a 1st dan
by Abbe in 1959, and a 2nd dan the next year at the same time Haydn
Foster, another early figure, received his 1st dan. Ken Williams and
Haydn Foster became National and Assistant National Coaches,
respectively, in 1961. Another Japanese instructor residing in
France, Masamichi Noro, began a regular series of visits to 'The
Hut', as the Aikikai of London had come to be called, in 1962. The
dan grades and coach positions of Ken Williams and Haydn Foster were
later ratified in 1963 by Mutsuharu Nakazono, representing the
AIKIKAI HOMBU in Europe. Kenshiro Abbe returned to Japan for the
Tokyo Olympics in 1964 after completing a one-week judo course
during which aikido was taught by Nakazono.
On the Tomiki Aikido side, Senta
Yamada returned to Japan in 1965 leaving some ten clubs run by his
students. These groups had infrequent contact and no common training
or grading program. Among the dan grades promoted by Yamada were
John Wilkinson, John Waite, Ah Loi Lee and Bill Lawrence. Yamada's
vacancy was filled by Riki Kogure, a businessman and student of
Tomiki at Waseda University who was transfered to the U. K. in 1966.
From Japan shortly thereafter, Yamada urged the formation of an
organization to group together the various Tomiki Aikido clubs. The
result was the foundation in 1966 of the 'British Aikido
Association'. Among the leaders of the newly formed organization
were Jim Elkin, who shouldered various administrative
responsibilities, and John Waite. Sensi Kogure, a skilled
technician, taught a high level of Tomiki Aikido techniques.
Elsewhere, after a recommendation
by Nakazono that members of the British Aikido Cultural Council
become independent, a new organization called the 'Renown Aikido
Society' headquartered at the Aikikai of London was founded in 1966.
The Society already had a number of affiliated clubs in various
parts of the country. January of 1966 saw the arrival of Kazuo Chiba
to the U. K. as the official representative of the Aikikai Hombu. He
received final approval from the Aikikai Hombu to establish the
'Aikikai of Great Britian' in October 1966. Chiba visited the
Aikikai of London in 1967 for a seminar and became increasingly
active as the director of the newly-formed Aikikai organization.
Chiba spent ten years in the U. K.
and was a highly influential figure. In 1970, he introduced a 'Fuku
Shidon' system whereby senior students were taught a basic teaching
system for dissemination to their students in an effort to achieve
uniformity of instruction. He also introduced the practice of the
'Aiki Ken' and Aiki Jo' on a regular basis in his courses. By 1974,
aiki weapons became part of the grading syllabus for higher grades.
Chiba, moreover, invited many Aikikai Shihan to teach in the U. K.
during his stay. Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba paid a visit in 1975.
In 1968 two young Tomiki Aikidoka
arrived in the U. K. and assisted Kogure in providing instruction.
They were Tsunemitsu Naito, a 4th dan Tomiki competitor from Waseda
University, and Takeshi Inoue, a 5th dan. Naito stayed for less than
a year, but taught the junanahon kata (basic 17 movements) for the
first time. Inoue introduced various koryu kata and remained until
1972. The first Tomiki Aikido Championships were held in 1969 with
Kogure, Naito, and Inoue as referees. Kogure also awarded a number
of dan and kyu rankings. He was the major figure on the Tomiki scene
in the U. K. until his return to Japan in 1969.
Ken Williams left the Aikikai of
London in 1968 in the hands of Haydn Foster as he moved to Wales to
establish the Aikikai of Wales. Later, in the mid-1970s, he
established the 'Ki Federation Of Great Britian' under the guidance
of Koichi Tohei. The next year in 1969, Ken Williams severed all
connections with the Aikikai of London and shortly thereafter the
Renown Aikido Society dissolved. During this time, Noro and Chiba
were the most frequent visiting instructors at "The Hut."
In addition to those already
mentioned, the following Japanese instructors visited and taught in
the U. K. during the 1960s period: Katsuaki Asai, Toshikazu Ichimura,
Hiroshi TADA and Nobuyoshi Tamura.
Haydn Foster was approached in 1973
by ex-instructors of the Renown Aikido Society with the proposal
that a new organization be formed. The new group was dubbed the
Institute of Aikido, which allowed member dojos to retain their
autonomy while forming a functional political unity. In September
1974, Foster and David Timms entered into negotiations with the
British Sports Council and British Karate Control Commission to urge
the creation of a martial arts control body to prevent the
proliferation of undesirable elements. This tentative effort also
had the support of Jim Elkin of the BAA. The result was the creation
in January 1977 of the Martial Arts Commission (MAC) which together
with the Sports Council advised county councils within the U. K. who
were bona fide martial arts practitioners and therefore in
possession of adequate insurance for use of county council premises.
Shortly after the creation of the
MAC, the BAA approved the entry of the Kai Shin Kai group, headed by
Mike Smith, to its ranks. What was unique was that Smith's group,
which practiced Aikikai Hombu-style Aikido, was admitted into an
organization of Tomiki Aikido practitioners. A Kai Shin Kai Division
of the BAA was formed to accommodate Aikikai-style dojos. This
resulted in a certain amount of interaction and exchange among the
two forms of aikido within the BAA.
Kazuo Chiba left the U. K. to
return to Japan in 1976 leaving Minoru Kanetsuka, a 4th dan at that
time, as his successor. A name change soon followed and the Aikikai
of Great Britain became the 'British Aikido Federation'. Kanetsuka's
BAF was the sole organization recognized by the Aikikai in Tokyo for
some ten years.
Following talks initiated by Haydn
Foster and William Timms two years earlier with Jim Elkin of the
BAA, the Aikido Liaison Board came into existence early in 1977 in
an effort to create an umbrella aikido federation for all styles.
This body was renamed the 'BRITISH AIKIDO BOARD' on 2 June 1977. The
founding members and their directors were: the Aikido Development
Society (A. Saeed), British Aikido Association (J. Elkin), British
Aikido Federation (M. Kanetsuka), British Yoshinkan Aikido
Federation (J. E. Yu), Institute of Aikido (H. W. Foster), Ki
Federation of Great Britain (K. Williams), Shudokan Institute of
Aikido (E. Stratton), and the United Kingdom Aikido Federation (J.
Cornish). On 8 April 1978 the British Aikido Federation withdrew
from the BAB due to political differences and was followed soon
after by the Ki Federation of Great Britain.
The BAB is actually a committee
consisting of representatives from all members aikido organizations
with a membership of more than 9,000. The committee represents the
interests of aikido in the U. K. The following are the member groups
in alphabetical order with their representatives: Aikido Development
Society (A. Saeed), Aikido Fellowship (R. Reynolds), Aikido Research
Federation (M. Sheridan), Aikido Society of Wales (D. G. Jones),
British Aikido Association (B. Lawrence), British Yoshinkan Aikido
Federation (A. Yates), Ellis School of Traditional Aikido (H.
Ellis), Institute of Aikido (H. W. Foster), Ken Shin Kai (D. EAYRS),
Kolesnkikov's School of Mind & Body Development Association (W.
Kolesnikov), Lancashire Aikikai (M. Mucha), National Aikido
Federation (M. Narey), Shudokan Institute of Aikido (E. Stratton),
United Kingdom Aikido Federation (J. Cornish), United Kingdom
Aikikai (W. Smith), and Washi Aikido Federation (R. Tabberer). Of
these groups the largest was the BAA comprising some 80 dojos, and
the Institute of Aikido. BAB meetings were held on a quarterly basis
in alternating venues followed by open training sessions. It is was
the only aikido organization to have official approval.
Several groups remained outside the
BAB umbrella. The major one was the 'British Aikido Federation' of
Minoru Kanetsuka who served as the Aikikai Hombu's official link
with the U. K. The Technical Director of the BAF is Masatake Fujita
of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. In 1986, a group of former BAF
instructors who were disenchanted with current teaching methods
withdrew and created the 'United Kingdom Aikikai'. The leader of the
group was W. J. Smith, a former BAF head shidoin and Superior
Councillor of the 'International Aikido Federation'. This group
became a member of the BAB and approached Kazuo Chiba, instructing
in San Diego, California, to accept the position of its technical
director. Chiba accepted and this organization is also recognized by
Other major Japanese instructors
who have developed a presence in the U. K. are Nobuyoshi Tamura, who
provides technical direction for the National Aikido Federation
headed by Michael Narey, and Morihiro Saito.
The British Aikido Board is recognised by
Sports England, (formally the British Sports Council) as
the only governing body for Aikido in the United Kingdom. The constituted purpose of the British Aikido
Board is to further the advancement of all styles of Aikido in the
United Kingdom and to establish and monitor standards of safety and
behaviour conducive to the safety of practitioners of Aikido. The Board also acts as an agent for insurance
which is compulsory for both students and instructors. It also
promotes a nationally recognised coaching scheme in conjunction with
The Board's Executive Committee controls the administration of
insurance, coaching child protection and promotes a code of
conduct and other rules to ensure control and regulation; it also
frames future policy and direction based on changing circumstances
and legislation arising both in the UK and through the European
The Board itself, is an association not a club
based vehicle; the membership ranges from national to regionally
based associations. Member associations remain independent both
technically and financially. Currently there are over 960
instructors holding current Coaching Awards and over 9,500 members
representing over 35 associations.
It is hoped that all Aikido groups within the
United Kingdom will eventually join together under this "Aikido
Umbrella". The current list of member associations is show