History of Aikido in United Kingdom

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. Abbe visited the Aikikai of London operated by Williams of the British Aikido Cultural Council in 1956. This first aikido dojo was under the auspices of the British Budo Council. In 1958, 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. Williams and 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

Josh Gold

I am Executive Editor of Aikido Journal and co-founder of Ikazuchi Dojo. I began my aikido journey in 1991 under Haruo Matsuoka.

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