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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 the Aikikai.

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 Sports England.

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 Community.

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 below.

Aikido Circle
Aikido Circle Black Belt Academy
Aikido Development Society
Aikido Fellowship GB
Aikido For Daily Life
Aikido Research Federation
British Aikido Association
British Aikido Federation
British Aikido Yoshinkan Fed.
British Birankai (British Aikikai)
British Ki Society
Devon Aikido Association
Furo Ryu Aikido
Institute of Aikido
Isshinkai Association
Kai Shin Kai
Ken Shin Kai
Kobayashi Aikido Dojos
Kobukan Aikido Association
Komyokan Aikido Association
KSMBDA Kolesnikov School
Lancashire Aikikai
National Aikido Federation
Seijitsu Aikido Ryu
Shin Gi Tai Aikido Society
Shobu Aikido UK
Shudokan Institute of Aikido
Shun Poo Kan
Takemusu Iwama Ryu
Tenchi Ryu
United Kingdom Aikido Federation
United Kingdom Aikido Union
United Kingdom Aikikai
United Kingdom Shinwakai
United Traditional Aikido
Welsh Aikido Society
Yama Arashi UK
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