This article recounts British Aikido history, from the early days when Sensei Williams began studying under Abbe Sensei.
At the age of 24 years, Sensei Williams began to practice Judo at the London Judo Society in Kensington. Two weeks later, Abbe Sensei arrived from Japan, and Sensei Williams started private lessons with him. He learnt Abbe Sensei’s theory of “Kyu Shin Do” through the arts of Judo, Aikido, Karate, Kendo and Naganata. Two years later he became Abbe Sensei’s number one assistant. By now Sensei Williams knew that this way of life is what he had been looking for all along. After a while, he gave up his electrician’s job and went full time, opening his own club – The Abbe School of Budo.
Abbe Sensei also now had created his own British Budo Council.
Sensei Williams was asked by Abbe Sensei through which art he felt he could teach the principles of “Kyu Shin Do”. His decision was Aikido. Sensei continued to practise and teach and then, in 1958, was awarded his 2nd Dan. In the same year, he became the National Coach for Aikido and representative of the Aikikai in Japan. He then travelled all around Scotland, England and Wales, to teach and introduce Aikido to Britain.
Abbe Sensei invited many teachers from the Aikikai to teach in Britain. Sensei Williams studied under. Nakazono Sensei, 8th Dan, Tamera Sensei, 7th Dan, Noro Sensei, 7th Dan and Tada Sensei, 8th Dan. Nakazono Sensei was the Aikikai representative for Europe and Africa.
In 1966 a problem arose within the British Budo Council. So Nakazono Sensei wrote the attached letter (click here) asking students to follow Sensei Williams and to start a new Aikido organisation.
Sensei Williams was left saddened by Abbe Sensei’s return to Japan. However, he continued to teach and practise under the direction of Nakazono Sensei. He then moved to Wales and opened his club – The Aikikai of Wales. Abbe Sensei did return to this country in 1970 and stayed with Sensei Williams for a time. Before returning to Japan, Abbe Sensei awarded Sensei Williams his 5th Dan.
Nakazono Sensei moved to New Mexico in 1972. So Sensei Williams continued on his own for a number of years.
In 1976 Sensei Williams travelled to Japan to meet Tohei Sensei. On his return to Great Britain, he founded the Ki Federation of Great Britain. After 10 years with Tohei Sensei, Sensei Williams decided to teach Aikido using his own method. This method would be easier for our Western minds to understand. Sensei Williams continued to teach Aikido around Great Britain and abroad. In 1979 he moved from Wales to Burnham on Sea, Somerset, opening a dojo in the grounds of his home.
In his mind Sensei was always looking for a permanent dojo and in 1998 the opportunity came about. In all this time, he only took a wage, and all the fees from courses etc were put into the Ki Federation to help create the Headquarters.
With the Federation funds, and fund raising by members, the Ki Federation was able to buy the Old Foundry Garage on The Causeway, Mark, Somerset. The Headquarters building was designed by Sensei Williams, and the plans were drawn up by Mr lain MacAskill – a Dan Grade from Scotland. The garage was demolished, apart from the lounge area, and the Headquarters was built and opened in 1999.
Sensei Williams has devoted his life to the study and Teaching of Aikido. His ultimate purpose was for people to benefit in their daily life from the study of Aikido. The real spirit of Aikido seeks to help others as well as oneself.
As you learn the various arts of Aikido, you will, at the same time, train your mind, improve your health and develop self-confidence.