BAB Webmaster and Executive Member – Stephen Billett FIAP 6th Dan
Born in 1955, Steve found his first martial art ‘Judo’ during his 16th year. His first contest was within weeks of starting and fought against a team from a school for the blind in the British Schools Judo Open. From that day onwards he learned never to underestimate an opponent, he was lucky to win these contests.
During the mid to late 1970’s his judo lead him onward to become the ‘IBF European Champion’ several times at both 63 & 65 Kilos. Around this time he was introduced to Don Bishop 7th Dan ADS (Tomiki Aikido) and began to practice aikido, mainly for fun, but with Don’s help to also improve his contest judo by using some of the allowable aikido techniques.
He started teaching judo from the age of 18 to both adults and children, achieving some success, bringing pupils through to international level.
His aikido career ran in parallel with his judo, both in teaching and contest. His first aikido dan grade was awarded by the ‘Belgian Tomiki Aikido Association’ in 1976 (upon recommendation of Bill Woods) when he competed in a ‘Open Weight Tanto Randori’ competition that was run during the break of the ‘Belgian Judo Open’. He entered for fun and due to Don’s superior coaching won the event (He subsequently carried on to win the Judo event as well). Fifteen years later he graded to 1st Dan by his own Sensei Don Bishop (He was a hard man to please in those days).
His training in Japan illustrated that there is more to martial arts that just competition and it was this that motivated him to begin teaching aikido. Aikido has now overtaken judo as his first martial art with its requirements for skill rather than strength, being more appropriate these days…. Steve has been a Tomiki 6th Dan since 2012 and a Judo 4th Dan since the 1980’s, He also has a 1st Dan In Ju Jitsu and working towards his Wado Ryu 1st Dan at the moment after originally starting with Prof Tatsuo Suzuki 8th Dan and has been Chairman of the Aikido Development Society since 2000.