Sometime in the late 1800's, the Otani clan
met to decide their fate. The Meiji resoration had outlawed the wearing of two
swords and the top knot, thereby the the days of the Samuari was drawing to an
During this meeting, led by Masutaro Otani's
father ( Tomio's Grandfather ), an argument started and insults were thrown. One
particular onslaught was directed at Masutaro's father by an uncle. The young
Masutaro siezed a nearby sword and swung at his uncle. This lack of control was
not looked at favourably by the clan members and resulted in Masutaro's father
suffering a loss of face.
Within a year Masutaro left school and ran
away from home, obtaining a job working on the trade ships. The work was menial
but it enabled him to see the world. In 1917 he arrived in Ceylon. As with all
Japanese children of the day he had recieved some instruction in Kendo and Judo
at school, however in Ceylon he met up with Master Judoka Seizo Usui and began
training in both Jujutsu and Judo.
Masutaro had always wished to visit England, a
wish realised in the summer of 1919 when he arrived in Liverpool. He resumed his
Judo training under Hikoichi Aida Sensei and subsequently, Yukio Tani Sensei. In
1926 he was appointed assistant instructor at the Budokwai in London.
Masutaro married Phillipa, an English girl, in
1938 and on the 8th September 1939 their first son was born, they named him
Tomio. From an early age Tomio was taught the arts his father had mastered: he
was a constant companion and student of Abbe Sensei, his fathers friend and
teacher. Abbe Sensei taught Tomio the skills of Kendo, Aikido, Iaido, Kobudo,
and the fundamental understanding of Kyu Shin Do.
Otani Tomio Sensei specialised in Kendo, Iaido
and Aikido and in 1961 was graded 1st Dan by Abbe Sensei and was appointed
national coach for Kendo. He was graded 2nd Dan Budo a year later. Otani Sensei
never spoke of grades he had aquired, but sources say he was graded to 5th Dan
Budo before Abbe Sensei returned to Japan.
Otani Sensei was in the Territorial Army (
Parachute Regiment ) and stories of him jumping from a plane with his Katana on
his back are often spoken of by his students, friends and family.
From the early Seventies Otani Sensei worked
seriously developing Abbe's work on Kyu Shin Do and establishing its place both
in the Dojo and everyday life. During this period he trained only two or three
students at a time at the house in Whyteleafe in Surrey that he shared with Yoga
In 1976 Otani Sensei was asked by Tudor Box
Sensei, a student of Masutaro Otani and Abbe Sensei, to present a demonstration
of his art at the Judo school in Carshalton. Otani Sensei presented a display of
Iaido which demonstrated an unrivalled purity, ease of movement, accuracy and
power. Both Mike Selvey and Tudor Box started traing the following week with
Along with Martial Arts training, Otani Sensei
taught the mental aspects of Kyushindo. Classes also contained discussion on
eastern philosophy, religion and the human condition. Otani Sensei was also an
accomplished artist, stategist and taught unusual aspects of Martial Arts such
as Ho jo jutsu ( The art of binding an opponent during battle )
In early 1980 saw the opening of the Yamabushi
Yodokan. the name reflected the Judo club that had been previously run: the name
"Yodokan was added by Otani Sensei. The meaning can be expressed as "Y0",
meaning essential, but also the pin which holds the Japanese fan together, "Do",
the path or way and "Kan", meaning hall.
In 1981 the Yodokan found a full time Dojo
above shops in Brockley, South London. The benefit of lengthened training
sessions, allied to the superb facilities presented the makings of a first class
Dojo. Sensei Box taught during the day and Mike Selvey during the evenings.
Otani Sensei would be there to oversee training and instruct the advanced
At the begining of 1990 Otani Sensei's health
started to deteriorate, he had suffered in the past with gastric problems that
had culminated in surgery and with this reccurance, Stomache cancer was
diagnosed. Sadly Otani Sensei died on the 6th June 1991, leaving behind hundreds
of students with a variety of skills.
On a final note, in Greenwich Park stood the
Queen Elizabeth Oak tree which Otani Sensei had an affinity with. This tree had
been standing for 1500 years, on the same day Otani Sensei died the tree
inexplicably fell over......