The First British Aikido Dan Grades from 1955
Direct Students of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 1915 - 1985
Of the original group there are now only Sensei's Ken Williams - Henry Ellis - Derek Eastman still involved after 58 years.
Top L to R: Ken Williams - Dave Williams - Eric Dollimore.
Centre: Haydn Foster - Henry Ellis - Derek Eastman.
Bottom: Andy Allen - Hamish MacFarland - Trevor Jones.
Names in Italics /underlined are sadly deceased - see the Memoriam.
The first dan grades later promoted outside of the `Hut Dojo group were as follows.
Left: Ralph Reynolds - deceased - he became the British Aikido Council representative for Birmingham and the Midlands.
Right: Tom Weir became the first British Aikido Council dan grade representing Scotland.
1950s - Britain was still suffering from the after effects of the second world war, bomb sites were everywhere - food, clothing, petrol was still only available with rationing coupons until 1957. Both Henry Ellis and Derek Eastman personally experienced a hostile attitude from fellow work colleagues for being involved with the Japanese in martial arts - some workers had actually been Japanese prisoners of war. Today, one would probably find it difficult to understand such difficult times.
Each of the pioneer UK Aikido dan grades were based in the one dojo - " The Abbe School of Budo " - affectionately known then, and now, as `The Hut Dojo `, they had all been graded by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.
Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei was the official AikiKai representative for Europe and North Africa.
Kenshiro Abbe's ` British Aikido Council ( BAC ) was the first British Aikido organisation recognised by the Aikikai Hombu and Osensei Morihei Ueshiba,
1961 - Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei was invited from France to teach in the UK by Abbe Sensei - there was a shock in store for all of us on that first day on the mat with Nakazono Sensei.
Abbe Sensei had asked Sensei that we ``all `` be re-graded to meet Nakazono's Sensei's own standard, and
that of the then AikiKai.
All the dan grades were approved, and we were also highly complimented by Nakazono Sensei.
Our diplomas were written by Nakazono Sensei and signed by Osensei Morihei Ueshiba.
That is, except for one student, he was one of our best dan grades, he was a second dan, he was to our surprise demoted to first dan by Nakazono Sensei. - We were never told why ? - - It was rumoured there was an edict from Japan to keep the dan grades low in number to enhance the image and grades of the following visiting Japanese teachers - true or not ? I do not know.
Nakazono Sensei then spoke those immortal words to him " Necessary sell your gi and hakama whilst prices are high ! " -
Sadly, the demoralised student did not see the humour, he would leave the Hut, and Aikido, never to return.
Jiro Nakazono Sensei, the second son of Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei, personally told me the following story.
" As a 14 year old schoolboy in Paris France, I would wait eagerly for my father to return from England, he would tell me many wonderful stories of the Budo men of England - my father said the English were the toughest Budoka in all Europe.
I still remember those stories today.
Jiro Nakazono Sensei
Read the story of Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei - Click Man of Peace & Pieces
Admin: Henry Ellis
No - 2 - 1963 - UK - USAF - AFB - Earliest UK Video.
1963 - Earliest known UK Aikido Demonstration - Henry Ellis & Derek Eastman at the USAF European Judo Championships - West Drayton London..The video is converted from 8mm film of poor vision but still a valuable piece of history.