Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Aikido in MMA

Mystery ` Why does Ki Aikido only work on their fellow Ki students ? `

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei taught  Ai Ki Do - So why not  Ki Ai Do  ?


Article by  Rik Ellis

UK1 MMA Light Heavy Weight Champion 2012

MMA / Aikido - Cage Fighter

I am often asked " Can Aikido techniques be truly effective in MMA ?" - My answer is always the same "YES" -  First you need the spirit and  courage to apply them. I am trying not to be disrespectful here, but to be honest I have rarely seen an Aikidoka that could adapt themselves to MMA.

Right ` The Unbendable Fingernail `
Left:   ` The Ki Finger fails against an un-harmonious attack.

Most Aikidoka lack the fighting spirit as Kenshiro Abbe Sensei effectively taught in the 1950s - The spirit of which I was fortunate to inherit from my father.

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei

Founder of KyuShinDo

Are you Prepared to Die ?

My father told me of an incident when training with Kenshiro Abbe Sensei in London.
1959 - It was late evening as Kenshiro Abbe Sensei left the Sandwich Street dojo in the King Cross area of London.
Sensei was just a few minutes  ahead of the following students.
As Abbe Sensei walked towards the underground station, there were four yobs sitting on a wall, as Sensei approached they made a semi circle in front of him and the leader demanded  “ Give us yer wallet mate !! “  – Abbe Sensei stopped, eyed them all carefully, he then reached inside his jacket for his wallet, he slowly pulled out his wallet and dropped it between his feet.
For a moment the yobs looked at each other a bit bemused, the leader spoke up again demanding “ Kick yer wallet over ere mate or else “ –  Abbe Sensei calmly replied  “ No ! – I am prepared to die for my wallet – are you ? “ – with that the yobs again looked at each other, unsure what to make of this man. Without speaking they all took a few steps backwards, with a few defiant words of abuse they bravely retreated into the night.
Abbe Sensei didn’t tell them that Aikido is love and he would give them his wallet and a cuddle, his very presence was so intimidating they knew he would destroy them.

We now live in a world where so many grade themselves or each other as if they are swapping cigarette cards. Abbe Sensei summed it up perfectly.

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 
“ No matter your pretence – you are what you are, nothing more “
Aikido during the last thirty years or so has gradually degraded from a martial art into little more than an art.
The inception of Aikido to the UK in 1955 by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei was the style of Traditional Aikido which consisted of hard physical training with kicking and punching as an integral part of its core spirit and strength, running was also included, along with push-ups on the backs of the wrists depending on grade of between ten to two hundred each session.

In modern Aikido there is little sign left of that fighting spirit as the martial aspect has given way to what they call `Aiki love` hard exercise is a thing of the past, giving way to nothing more than jumping up and down on the spot and flapping their arms up and down like a demented pigeon

Kenshiro Abbe Memorial Event - Crystal Palace London. 2005
 with my father Henry Ellis.

Much to the irritation of many in the Aikido community I am the only professional MMA - Aikido / Cage fighter in the UK with a serious background in Traditional Aikido.

Modern Aikido receives a great deal of criticism from the public, more so from fellow martial artists, the ridicule is most often totally justified.

I too have been vilified by some in the Aikido community for my involvement in MMA, coming from the safety of their computers and pseudonyms, as it has been with my father I have never had a visit or a challenge.

My Aikido is with the ` Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido`. I train MMA with ex-champion Suleman Raja of the `Prize Fighters Gym` Farnborough.
 My fight conditioning is with the `Fight Science Gym` Aldershot with Nick head-hunter Chapman. I am a dan grade in Traditional Aikido.

Steven Seagal Sensei
 There is a very interesting Steven Seagal video on the "Ellis Video Blog" - Click - Steven Seagal
The question is " an aikidoka who has done strong practical aikido, can also do dancing aikido ----- the student who has only done dancing aikido cannot do practical aikido ".

There has been a great deal of interest in the transference of Aikido technique and movement into MMA with the influence of the action movie actor Steven Segal sharing his knowledge with Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Seagal with his strong off screen dynamic style of Aikido, a style which is very similar to that taught to me by my father Henry Ellis 6th dan AikiKai, the last of the original UK Aikido pioneers from its inception the 1950s, my father is a direct student of the legendary Budo master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei from 1957.

I admire the Aikido of Steven Seagal as seen in his early training videos showing his positive style of traditional Aikido which is little different to what he . Actually demonstrates in his movies. Seagal Sensei is a man who shows Aikido to be a martial art, there are many in the Aikido community that do not approve of Seagal’s powerful tight body control techniques. As opposed to the greatly exaggerated flowing dance like movement we see today. Many students of modern Aikido have a pseudo religious approach to their half hearted training, they claim that Seagal portrays Aikido in a violent light, whilst they portray an art of peace.

Vaporised Aikido
My father met with T K Chiba Shihan for a pub lunch recently, Sensei said to my father “ Most Aikido clubs are little more than social clubs “. He also said how saddened he was to see how modern Aikido has been watered down, my father replied “ Sensei, Aikido is no longer watered down, it is vaporised ! “.

Kicking & Punching in Aikido

 I began my Aikido training at five years of age with my father both at home and in the junior section of my 
fathers dojo at the ` Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido`.

My father taught me the art of 'Traditional Aikido' as it was taught to him by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei in the 1950s and 60s. From an early age kicking and punching was an integral part of my Aikido training as it continues to this day.

Modern misguided Aikidoka say " there is no kicking or punching in Aikido! " Believe me, there is in my fathers Aikido as taught by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei ( See my photos and fight videos ).

I don’t see Aikido !

These same sad people bleat on my MMA video comments, " I don't see Aikido." The reason they don't see Aikido is because they are looking for their own stylised choreographed dojo Aikido where two people are harmonising with each other. In MMA my opponent has no intention of harmonising with me.

Anyone who has had to use Aikido in a truly hostile situation as I have, will tell you that it looked nothing like the Aikido training in the dojo, one needs to be able to adapt him / herself and their technique to any situation that arises. For me, my Aikido is in my mind and my body. Most Aikidoka work together so softly and caringly they could qualify for a spot on the popular TV show ` Come Dancing `..

The Need to Adapt

I make no pretence of offering myself on a plate to my opponent / assailant with a normal stylised Aikido defence posture, the biggest mistake one can make in the cage or street is to offer your opponent your leading leg or arm, you will be down before you know what has happened, and all their Aiki love will be pounded out of them. ( welcome to the real world ).
Most students of Aikido have their favourite uke ( student ) to practise with, that goes a big step further with senior teachers who travel across country or even abroad, they will take their personal uke with them, WHY ? My father when taking a seminar in the UK or abroad would use as many different students as possible. My father told me that when the Doshu Kisshomura Ueshiba came to Britain many years ago , he insisted that he must have his personal assistant with him, this came at some great additional expense to the organisers, yet there were many high grade teachers on the seminar who were quite capable of taking ukemi ( break falls ) from the Doshu. ( Doshu: world head of AikiKai Hombu Aikido ).

Aikido - Ego and the Birth of the Plastic Samurai
 Make no mistake, I respect Aikido and its principals. I do not respect the people who over the years with their inflated grades and ego's, they have tried to change what was once a respected martial art into some quasi religion to suit their own inadequacy or needs and purposes. These people use this BS to avoid a real situation or a conflict where they may one day need to apply some of the vaporised BS they have been harmonising and teaching for years. If a student like myself have a strong spirit they are often condemned as having ` a fighting mind `.
I believe it was Confucius that said
“ You build your house or dojo with bullshit it will eventually all fall in on you “.

Gladiatorial - As real as it gets.

Your opponent in the cage is for real, he is more real than your street assailant, the difference being, the MMA guy is a professional fighter who has no intention of trying to harmonise with you. You will not see me turn my back on my opponent, I will, and do, apply wrist locks and arm bars, but you will not see any large circular movements, if you open your closed Aikido mind to some reality, you may just see a fighter who is "very" relaxed before and during each fight. Look a little closer, you may just see some very condensed body contact techniques - irmi nage or an irimi tenkan to put my opponent into or off the cage wall.

Effective transferable technique

In ground work training I have often submitted my opponents with Kotegaesh ~ Nikkyo and Sankyo very effectively. My father, who came from Judo to Aikido, says that the best of the early Aikido masters came from Judo, such as Kenshiro Abbe, Tadsashi Abe, Masahilo Nakazono, Kazuo Chiba, the first British student of Aikido was Ken Williams Sensei who was a 3rd dan Judoka! These teachers knew how to apply their bodies to maximum effect in close contact with tight techniques. Judo is one of the basic foundations for MMA.

Ring a Ring a Rosies
I often read of Aikido students who actually believe that their pure mind and body will help them in a real `street situation' they are going to be sadly disappointed. Don’t believe me ?, just wait, whether they want it or not, trouble is never too far away in this day and age. If you are a student of Ki Aikido don't wait around for your assailants to fall down before you touch them, they don’t know they are supposed to do that ! And please, don't tell your street opponent that Aiki is love, when you wake up you will realise what a really stupid mistake you made.

Hug a Tree Today

Sadly Aikido now attracts so many of the tree hugging types, with Aikido to music, the idiotic bizarre examples of Aikido movement demonstrated with multi coloured ribbons complete with flashing strobe tube lights complete with music. Ki Aikido students being taught to breath through their toes. Ki students trying to knock apples off each others heads with the power of their Ki. They believe their fantasy technique is real, claiming " The first duty of an Aikidoka is to protect their attacker ", your first duty is to protect yourself, make sure your opponent does not get up and attack you again .are these people really so deluded as to believe they can totally control and dominate the outcome of any hostile situation ?.
I find it embarrassing to watch the ` no touch ` throws that are only effective on their own students, It is strange that in the early days we simply had ` Aikido ` until Koichi Tohei broke away from Osensei Ueshiba creating his own style of Aikido ` Ki Aikido ` . Ki has always been an integral part of AI-KI-DO.

 Quote by Gozo Shihoda

Gozo Shioda Sensei summed this issue up with the following statement, reflecting what I said earlier about lack of spirited training.Gozo Shioda, [Quote:]
Today’s aikido is so dimensionless. It’s hollow, empty on the inside. People try to reach the highest levels without even paying their dues. That’s why it seems so much like a dance these days. You have to master the very basics solidly, with your body, and then proceed to develop to the higher levels…. Now we see nothing but copying or imitation without any grasp of the real thing…. [Unquote]
My father has said many times that he would never have studied the Aikido that he sees being offered today. Aikido is a "martial" art and should be protected from the Plastic Samurai.

My father would say “
Do not come to me looking for spirituality – get that from your local church. Do not come here expecting me to make you a better person – that was the chore of your parents and school teachers. If it’s the mystical you are after, see Houdini. I am here to teach you the martial art of Aikido.”

The Samurai spirit is all but gone.

I have added the following message with my father’s permission, an extract from an email from my father’s friend Jiro Nakazono Sensei the son of my fathers teacher Masahilo Nakazono Shihan.I am 60; though I was too young to be a part of the "Pioneer Generation" of European Aikido, I lived right next to the warriors who at each demonstration they gave invited any challenger on the mat from the public.
When my father was invited to the Foreign Legion in Marseilles with Tadashi Abe sensei, they were met with two big soldiers hiding behind both side of the door with Baseball Bats... They were true Martial Artists, and their students were aspiring to follow their footsteps. Some did, and some chose a more civilised way, which is today's Aikido.
I met Henry Ellis sensei on the mat for the first time in 2007, I believe he was over 70, and he gave me a Nikyo I felt for 4 months afterwards. It was a completely different generation.
Jiro Nakazono ( 45 years in Aikido).

Rik Ellis

Rik's MMA Blog

Article " Is Aikido a Martial Art ? " - Click >  Is Aikido a Martial Art ?


Kenshiro Abbe ~ ~ Masahilo Nakazono ~ ~ Masamichi Noro ~ ~ Kazuo Chiba

Henry Ellis 6th dan AikiKai Hombu - Co-author of "Positive Aikido". Relates stories of direct training with the early Budo Masters from 1957 _______4 Articles - featuring 1st Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - 2nd Masahilo Nakazono - 3rd Masamichi Noro - 4th TK Chiba_______

1st - Article: Kenshiro Abbe _____“Trying to Catch the Wind”_____
Click Here - AikiWeB Article - "It Had to be Felt".~ Kenshiro Abbe - "Trying to Catch the Wind".

2nd - Article: Masahilo Nakazono ______”A Man of Peace and Pieces”______
.Visit Aikiweb Click here >- Aikiweb - Nakazono Sensei Article

3rd - Article: Masamichi Noro ______The White Tornado__
Visit Aikiweb - Click Here - "The White Tornado"

4th - Article: Kazuo Chiba ______Two Handsome Young Men___Click here - "Two Handsome Young Men"

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Is Aikido a Martial Art ?

  1. Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido

Is Aikido a Martial Art?

Henry Ellis Shihan Co-author of Positive Aikido.

At first sight of the above title I am sure that a lot of Aikidoist's will be angry, they will assume that this is yet another attack on the credibility of Aikido by other martial artist's.
On this occasion they are totally wrong, I have been a student of Aikido since 1957. In those early days I first started Judo in 1956 and Aikido in 1957 at the Kenshiro Abbe School of Budo.I studied Karate with M Harada Sensei and Kendo with Tomio O'Tani Sensei,with my background I feel that I have something to offer to this debate. 

First Impressions

The Aikido that I first saw being demonstrated by Abbe Sensei in 1956 was without doubt a positive martial art.
I was immediately impressed by its positive techniques and power, and in those days my fellow martial artists and I were in no doubt that we were witnessing a devastating new form of self-defence as demonstrated by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.
Abbe Sensei had begun his martial arts career at the age of five and became a legend in his own lifetime. At eighteen he was the youngest ever all Japan Judo champion and also the youngest ever 5th Dan at the world renowned Kodokan. He later became the oldest ever all Japan Judo champion at the age of thirty three.

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei arrived in the UK in 1955 he was 8th Dan Judo, 6th Dan Karate, 6th Dan Kendo, 6th Dan Kyudo, 6th Dan Aikido.
The question must be asked; would this Budo master have studied Aikido with Osensei Morihei Ueshiba if he did not believe it to be a martial art?

Knowing and studying with Abbe Sensei for many years It is my opinion that Abbe Sensei would not have studied the choreographed Aikido we see so much of today.

Please Break my Finger

As a direct student of Abbe Sensei I asked one day whilst we were traveling to a seminar
"Sensei, how did you first become a student of O'Sensei and Aikido"?
He smiled as he reminisced for a few moments; then told me the following story: 

Abbe Sensei was a young man at this time time and Judo champion of all Japan. As he was traveling on a crowded train across Japan to yet another Judo competition.
Sitting opposite him in the same carriage was an old man who was trying to make some conversation with him, Abbe Sensei had his eyes closed as he tried to sleep.
The old man said to him " I know who you are !" Abbe Sensei replied rather modestly " everyone knows who I am,I am Kenshiro Abbe, champion of all Japan" he politely asked the old man who he was ?, the old man replied
"I am Morihei Ueshiba founder of Aikido" Abbe Sensei nodded politely and suggested that they now try to get some sleep, the old man suddenly stuck his hand forward and offered the smallest digit to this powerfully built young man, Abbe was stunned as the old man said "please break my finger!" Abbe said he thought I will break his neck if he doesn't go to sleep, he was now becoming irritated by this old man, he immediately grasped the old mans finger in an attempt to shut him up, he freely admitted that in his frustration it was his intention to break the offending digit. To his total amazement he was suddenly slammed onto the carriage floor. As he lay prostrate and unable to move he knew there and then that he had to study with this master. He asked O'Sensei if he could study with him, O'Sensei agreed.Abbe studied with O'Sensei for ten years. Abbe Sensei also continued with his Judo competitions.

I would like to remind the reader that at the time of this meeting Osensei was not an old man, to a boy of eighteen a man in his 40s and 50s is an old man.

O'Sensei had spent many years studying various martial arts, I believe that the art of Daito-ryu and Ju-jitsu had more influence on the development of his Aikido than anything else he had studied,we know he went to Mongolia to fight and this would be the perfect opportunity to test his many skills in a truly hostile situation,we can be in no doubt that this incredible man was a true warrior and modern Samurai.

A Knife for my Enemy

It was this early positive style of Aikido that Abbe Sensei brought to the UK in 1955. At this time there was also the first Japanese master to Europe named Tadashi Abe Sensei 6th Dan AikiKai Hombu based in France. Tadashi Abe was a small man even by Japanese standards,to my mind he was the hardest man I have ever met.

When Tadashi Abe traveled he always carried a knife with him, this was not for his own protection, he carried it to hand to his shocked opponent, he would say "please, this is for you".
Abe said that an opponent with his bare fists was no challenge,a man with a knife was "very interesting". 

During the war Tadashi Abe had trained as a pilot of the one man suicide submarines which were little more than a torpedo.
TK Chiba told me at a recent meeting that Tadashi Abe was his hero,he added that Abe always regretted that the war ended the day he was due to carry out his duty to the Emperor.

I think we can safely assume that as these teachers were so hard and positive then this must have been the style of Aikido that was being taught at the Hombu dojo in Japan. This was the Aikido of O'Sensei as a young man,the Aikido being taught today is that of O'Sensei as an old man, there is no doubt that as people get older they lose the spirit of their youth and become more philosophical in their approach to life.

My father who was once regarded as the toughest man in town,later in life found his peace taking his dog for long walks. I believe that we now have two aikido's, traditional aikido which if truly traditional (this word is much abused) is the martial side of Aikido, the soft fantasy and dancing style of Aikido should simply be categorized as an "Art".

Those who are true Traditional Aikidoists will take no offence at this article, yet the dancers will probably be offended,I care little for their feelings as I honestly believe that this soft Aikido has no more right to call itself a martial art than synchronized swimming has a right to be a sport in the Olympics.

I have attempted to establish the hard style of Aikido that was first introduced to the West in the 1950's. I would like to emphasize the fact that I get no satisfaction from publicly criticizing Aikido.I also get a great deal less satisfaction when I see Aikido being brought into ridicule by the growing number of `Plastic Samurai`.

Hard training

The training and hard exercises in those early days were very physical, with karate style kicking and punching a very integral part of our warm up, followed by 200 press/push ups on the backs of the wrists, with fingers pointing both inwards and outwards, very often while you were in the raised position Abbe Sensei would instruct another student to sit on your back, as we were the only group of five Dan grades in Great Britain,all in the same dojo,obviously this was the training in all the Aikido dojos in the UK as Aikido spread from the Hut Dojo.Today we the Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido are the only organization in Aikido still doing these press/push ups.

The purists say "these press ups are bad for you" what they really mean is, they can't do them, this is all part of the watering down of traditional Aikido.
TK Chiba said to me recently that Aikido is now so watered down it is almost un-recognisable as a martial art. Chiba Sensei added "these are not martial arts clubs, they have become social clubs!"


Aikidoists are often accused of practicing " Choreographed Aikido" and to be honest I must admit that these claims are very often justified, with Uke (attacker) preparing to break fall long before he makes his attack, and most of them attack off balance , therefore making any multiples of techniques possible with the minimum of effort and of course this makes Tori (defender) look "fantastic", what is really sad is they believe they are fantastic.

What is also really sad is these people believe that this is good Aikido.
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei would always say to us that "two" students are training at the same time, one is Uke who is learning and improving his attacking techniques and his
opponent Tori is also learning and improving his defensive techniques, whilst we were training with Abbe Sensei if Uke's foot or heel came off the mat as he attacked Abbe Sensei would give the offending leg a good whack with a shinai (bamboo sword) he would then say " My English is very bad but my shinai speaks fluently!".

If Uke attacks on balance then it is obvious that Tori's technique must be good and strong to throw him, and as Abbe Sensei said so many times " two students are training" .
Mark Eastman a strong young Dan grade with me went on a seminar recently where there was a 6th Dan ( now Shihan ). The 6th Dan refused to use him as Uke stating " I can not use you, as you do not harmonize with me", Mark was not being awkward or difficult, simply attacking on balance.

Diluted training

Today all of these traditional exercises and training methods have now changed to a simple warm up routine with jumping up and down on the spot, waving the arms up and down like a demented pidgeon,followed with lots of deep spiritual discussion.
Hard exercise is now considered to be aggressive and not in harmony with the true spirit of Aikido.

Abbe Sensei said that hard training developed the spirit, he also rarely ever referred to Ki during those early days as he demonstrated the power of his technique, when asked to explain the meaning of Ki, he said not to worry about Ki as that would be a part of our training and development.

He then said "Only when you reach first Dan will you be able to understand the true concept of Ki as a further extension of your Aikido."
I still believe that line of thought, and the instructors in our dojo's very rarely speak of Ki although it is taught as a important and integral part of our training and study.

Ki Aikido

Although Ki is generally recognized as the spirit and breathing during the application of technique,

every teacher and student will offer a very wide and varied and sometimes bizarre interpretation of the meaning of this much abused word.
The main problems arise, and are created by the teachers themselves, who very often mislead their students to the extent that they almost believe that Ki is a form of magic. The following is one prime example from a very prominent Aikido magazines letters section.

The Spirit of Protection

I am a carpenter and 2nd kyu in Aikido. I was working in a large new home doing repair work, I had finished my job and was heading for a long staircase when I noticed the owners two year old son was heading for the same stairs from the opposite direction.
As he approached the top of the stair he was watching me and not where he was going. I was too far away to grab him, so I shot to him (irimi) and stuck my arm straight out to him, my "Ki" went through the little boys' face and out the back of his head, he fell backwards and started crying.
His mother heard the crying and came up the stairs, when I told her what had happened, she thanked me,
I said "Don't thank me, Thank Aikido".

That poor child may well now be as disturbed as the writer.

Harry Potter Ryu

There are many such misguided examples which I will refer to in future articles, it is this kind of nonsense that brings Aikido's credibility into doubt.I am fully aware that every martial art has its own version of " Harry Potter" in their ranks, what I fail to understand is that there are more of them in Aikido than all the other martial arts combined.

The reason that I am so critical and vociferous about Aikido is that every day I see these people watering down this great martial art that I have spent most of my life studying, teaching and promoting for the past 55 years. I am often asked "Sensei, which do you think is the best and worst martial art".

I always make the same reply " All the martial arts are good, if there is a problem with any martial art, then it can only be the people who represent that particular art who misrepresent their art

The Converted

I have covered the introduction of Aikido to the West, and the impact on other Martial Artists, Aikido progressed and developed in the UK by visiting existing dojos of all the various Martial Arts and offering to demonstrate and teach for free in the hope of starting a small class in the more receptive dojos, as one can imagine this was no easy task as more often than not our efforts were not an open invitation to most dojos.
In the end the positive style of the early Aikido won through, and this is a very important point to make in the early development of Western Aikido was that most of the new students of Aikido were from other Martial Arts. I do not believe that we could have converted other Martial Artists to Aikido had it not been so strong and effective.

Bad breath!

I have referred to the many changes in Aikido over the past 46 years from its history to training and choreography and Ki Aikido and also the many Harry Potters of the Aikido world, as a direct result of these articles I was contacted by a Aikido student in the UK to tell me that she had now stopped training in Aikido because her teacher stated that he was now going to teach the students "To breath through their toes".

Lets Dance

The most important of all the changes that have taken place in the past 46 years have to be the changes in technique and its application, the early style of Aikido was very compact and powerful. From the day of its introduction to the UK, Aikido was always taught as a circular moving Martial Art with Tori at the centre of all movement.
As Uke (the attacker) made his attack, Tori would turn within his own circle making it possible to carry out the technique in a very small area of maybe four square feet. Today the fantasy aikidoist need a football pitch.
I have seen some so called "masters" twirling Uke around on the end of one finger and pirouetting several times before being thrown the full length of the mat.


Kenshiro Abbe Sensei always taught that Uke would only "go" if the technique was effective. I often hear and have seen some of these people who say they can throw an opponent without touching them, sometimes by breathing and projecting their "Ki". I have also had the misfortune to see very high grades with several "*attackers*" :-) making a breakfalling attack at them, amusing? not really, as most of them really believe that the projectile uki is a serious attack.
You cannot do that if someone is attacking on balance, I have never seen anyone do that to a student of mine. Of course if you do attack on balance you will then be accused of "Not harmonizing".

Aikido for real

I have read various accounts of the first Americans to practice Aikido in the early 60's. There were Americans practicing Aikido in the UK in the late 1950's at "The Hut" The Abbe School of Budo.
The Americans were members of the USAF stationed in the UK. they were always questioning " How would that work in the street?" and we would often finish up in the car park of The Hut after class and engage in some real Aikido.
Afterwards everyone would be in good spirits and have a few beers.

Sunday mornings were always the best practice sessions with the dojo doors being locked to all but the Dan grades. It was then that the Dan grades would fight each other for real. This was the only way to truly evaluate your technique.
On one occasion I was fighting with Sensei Ken Williams (The British National Coach) he hit me hard and I went down clutching my chest and moaning loudly in agony.
It was known that I didn't go down and I never made a fuss, so now everyone was concerned for me and as Sensei Williams leaned over me asking "Harry, are you OK" I lashed out with my fist at his head, just making a glancing contact, he then stepped back and kicked me in the head putting an end to my cunning.

The smallest of all the Dan grades was Eric Dollimore, he was only about 5ft-6in in height and around 130 lbs.
I always felt that Eric was avoiding me on these Sunday morning sessions, as he was about to leave the mat I said to him "Eric, would you like to try against me" he just turned and said "Sorry Harry, I have to be at my girlfriends home for lunch". As he left the mat I smiled to myself and thought "That's what I expected" the smugness did not last long as I heard a voice behind me say
"OK then Harry, can we make it quick as I must get away".
It was Eric; for a moment I was surprised then I thought to myself if you want it quick I will accommodate you.
I moved in to take him out with the one punch and the next thing I knew I had gone through the dojo office partition wall and I was still lying stunned the office floor when I heard Eric's voice call out
"See you Monday Harry, gotta go".
That was a very important lesson to me, I have never underestimated anyone since the little guy taught me a lesson.

The Grading Lottery

If in the 1950's and 60's you saw a 5th or 6th Dan you would be in awe of him. I now see so many multi grades and to be honest they would not be graded first Dan in the old days. They make these claims knowing that if they are ever challenged and prove their mettle they know they can claim that this is against the principals of Aikido.
Another favourite of these people is to juggle around with their grades and come up with multiples of matching grades, for a prime example of this abuse check out the article British Aikido-The Controversy.

Mitsusuke Harada Sensei "5th Dan"
Henry Ellis ~ Harada Sensei ~ Derek Eastman.

Harada Sensei was my Karate teacher in the 1960's, he was then and still is a 5th Dan at the Shotokan dojo in Tokyo. he was graded by the founder of modern day Karate Gichin Funakoshi Sensei.
He taught Karate to the USAF at the Kodokan dojo after the second world war. He was graded 5th Dan by Funakoshi Sensei in 1957 and is still 5th Dan after 45 years, stating that "Any grade above 5th Dan is totally pointless".

This is exactly the feeling of Sensei Derek Eastman and myself, although we are two of the only remaining four of the original group left of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei's group from the 1950's, we both agreed that there were too many "Harry Potter" grades around, we then decided that like Harada Sensei we would make 5th Dan the highest level in our organization. We stood by this until 2010 when we were honoured by TK Chiba Shihan with 6th dan - In the same year the Doshu Moriteu Ueshiba asked to meet us in Cardiff Wales in his private hotel suite where he presented us with 6th dan AikiKai Hombu.


I do not know what direction the Martial Arts will take when all the "Old Timers " are gone. We can see the madness that is taking place now in our own lifetime,we have people grading themselves to grades that would bring a tear to Kenshiro Abbe's eyes. There are others that are not content to award themselves high but value-less grades they then give themselves titles such as Grandmaster - Shihan and any other title that makes them feel good. What is so sick about all of this is the fact that they are grading others.

Sensei Henry Ellis. 6th dan AikiKai Hombu.
Diplomas signed by: OsenseiUeshiba ~ Kenshiro Abbe ~ Masahilo Nakazono ~ TK Chiba ~ Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba.

British Aikido History

Thursday, 5 January 2017

CLICK - Tribute Slide-Show to TK Chiba Sensei - 1940 - 2015

SCROLL DOWN for the ARTICLE " Aikido in MMA " by Rik Ellis


Left: Front and Back Cover

The book ` Positive Aikido ` - began life as a dojo information booklet a project by Dave Rogers Sensei of N M - USA,
Rogers Sensei a news media editor and 3rd dan USA representative of the ` Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido `. Rogers Sensei began collecting all the background knowledge - history and lineage of both Henry Ellis Shihan and Derek Eastman Shihan, who were both direct students of the legendary Budo Master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei from the 1950s and the birth of UK Aikido with K Williams Sensei at the famous `Hut Dojo`.  Over a period of 15 years Rogers Sensei had collected so much information he asked Ellis and Eastman Sensei's for permission to turn all those pages in to a book - and ` Positive Aikido ` was born.

Visit ` Aikido Books `for ` Positive Aikido ` and a great selection of other books - Aikido Books -
See the collection of books from 1905 and books by Minoru Mochizuki from 1956 - books by Tadashi Abe Sensei - ` My Past Way of Budo ` by Masahilo Nakazono Sensei, including his books on Kototama and Inochi.

Ellis and Eastman's diploma's are signed by Aikido legends - Morihei Ueshiba - Moriteru Ueshiba - Kenshiro Abbe - Mutsuro Nakazono - Masamichi Noro - TK Chiba.

The book is a down to earth approach to Aikido as a Traditional Martial Art.
Take note of the  warning in the books introduction pages, advising student to keep their money in their purse if they are looking for fantasy Aikido, or floating around the universe. or other such bizarre modern Aikido Kidology this book is not for you.

Ellis and Eastman studied with many Aikido legends, such as Kenshiro Abbe - Tadashi Abe - M Nakazono - J Nakazono - M Noro - H Tada - N Tamura - T Ishimura - H Kobayashi - T Otani - M Harada - TK Chiba.
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei taught Aikido as Budo and so did Henry Ellis and Derek Eastman.
The book is available on Amazon UK £10-95 - Amazon US $ 15-45.

Monday, 28 September 2015

It Only Takes the Good Aikidoka to Stand Quietly By - For the Fraudulent Plastic Samurai to Succeed.

Tadashi Abe Sensei - 1926 - 1984.

"The Aikido I knew and learned with Osensei was Budo. Since my return to Japan, I realize that what we teach today has nothing to do with this martial art.
What remains of this art inherited from Samurai, which was formed by the founder for men. Today, it is a sport of women ! "  Tadashi Abe Sensei

Tadashi Abe Sensei began his Aikido study with Osensei in 1942, he was the first official AikiKai representative to Europe.

Right: Tadashi Abe Sensei and Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.

Tadashi Abe Sensei visited the UK in 1958 at the invitation of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei, he would make several visits before the arrival of Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei in 1961 and Masamichi Noro Sensei in 1962.

If only Tadashi Abe Sensei could see senior Aikidoka  today - throwing with a nod of the head - no touch throws - breathing through their toes - Aikido Ribbon Dancing - Touch Freezing students - Music in the Dojo - Ki Blasts /  Rest in Peace  Tadashi Abe Sensei.

Abe Sensei was a hard man in every way, he was small but powerful and dynamic. During the second world war he had trained and qualified as a one man suicide pilot of a ` Kaiten `  ( Return to the Sky ) submarine, which in reality was a glorified torpedo. TK Chiba Sensei personally told me that Abe Sensei was his hero and he told me how Abe Sensei was in preparation to go into action with the Kaiten when the war suddenly ended - Chiba Sensei said that Abe Sensei felt to the day he died that fate had cheated him of his destiny to die for his Emperor and Japan.

Henry Ellis Admin.

Visit ` Aikido Stories `  Click >  True Aikido Stories

Tuesday, 2 July 2013



Visit - Aikido Books - for `Positive Aikido`
   Rik `hammer` Ellis is proud to have been involved in the creation and publication of the book ``Positive Aikido`` with his father Henry Ellis Shihan whilst visiting NM USA.
                                                                                                          Rik         Henry Ellis      Jay

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Jay `Prodigy` Dods Ellis - Interview in " Addicted to MMA " Click  Jay Dods Ellis

Rik Ellis - Article - " Aikido in MMA " Click - Aikido Journal - Click - Aikido in MMA

Henry Ellis Shihan - " Is Aikido a Martial Art ? " - Click - Is Aikido a Martial Art ?

                                      Scroll down for Articles - Videos - Photos

                                                                       SCROLL DOWN FOR THE ARTICLE - " AIKIDO in MMA " by Rik Ellis

British Aikido History
1955 - 2012

The official British Aikido History site - Is dedicated to the true history of Aikido in the UK from its inception in 1955 by the legendary Budo Master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.

Right: Kenshiro Abbe Sensei with Ken Williams Sensei at the Hut Dojo.

Ken William Sensei was the first student of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - he was also the first British student of Aikido - Henry Ellis was the personal assistant to Williams Sensei from 1957.

The site is maintained by AikiKai Shihans Henry Ellis and Derek Eastman -  The last two surviving pioneers from that exciting era of the birth of Aikido in the UK at the famous "Hut Dojo"

Ellis & Eastman Sensei's are co-authors of the book `Positive Aikido` - they are proud to have their diplomas signed by legends - Osensei Morihei Ueshiba - Kenshiro Abbe - Masahilo Nakazono - Masamichi Noro - TK Chiba - Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba.

Right: Mitsusuke Harada Sensei

Right: Henry Ellis - Mitsusuke Harada - Derek Eastman join Harada Sensei at the TK Chiba Celebration in 2006. Harada Sensei was invited to the UK in 1963 by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei - He held his first classes at the Hut Dojo. Harada had no students to begin with - Henry Ellis and Derek Eastman studied Karate with Harada, he in turn studied Aikido with them - Harada began to incorporate Aikido moves into his Shotokai Karate as can be seen in his teachings today.

Click here for the British Aikido History Blog > British Aikido History Site

Earliest known UK film/ video of public Aikido Demonstration 1963.

USAF Air Base UK - European Judo Championships.

Henry Ellis - Derek Eastman - Geoff Goodwin.
Click here ->  Earliest known UK Aikido Demonstration.


Henry Ellis speech - Anniversary Dinner - TK Chiba's 40 years in the UK.

Henry Ellis Sensei joined Chiba Sensei in the 1960s shortly after his arrival in the UK.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

July 21st - UK1 MMA - Rik `hammer`Ellis wins UK1 MMA Light Heavyweight Title

Rik `hammer` Ellis Aikido/MMA -`Prize Fighters & Fight Science Team -  UK.

Rik Ellis the son of Henry Ellis Shihan, a student of Aikido from the age of five years . Rik continues to enjoy his Aikido as taught to him by his father who was a direct student of the legendary Budo master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.

Rik believes in his fathers teaching, whilst Aikido can be practised in harmony in the dojo - its dojo application is totally unsuitable for the street in a time of need.

Teachers should teach students how to adapt their Aikido to meet any, and all hostile situations - The problem is - many teachers are unable to adapt as they lack the fighting spirit which they hide behind the almost biblical teachings of cowardice by turning the other cheek.

Rik believes in `Positive Aikido` - If threatened - take a positive approach - deflect your opponents attack - enter - finish - no time to talk of aiki love, or floating around the universe - no time to breath through your toes or slap your attacker with a coloured ribbon. - This would be a good time to test your `no touch` throws , or perhaps try a `Ki Blast` ( reality check ) - Good luck

- Rik Ellis - Visit the Rik Ellis Blog -> Visit the Rik Ellis Blog.

Rik `hammer Ellis  vs  Kriston `hulk` Buxey -  UK1 MMA Title Fight - Fight Science Arena - Aldershot - Hampshire - UK
                                                                                      Sat July 21st - 2012

Rik Ellis  Aikido - MMA wins in 46 seconds - first round.

Rik Ellis with his father Henry Ellis being presented with the UK1 MMA title and belt by Grant Waterman.

The Fight in Brief

Kriston Buxey really up for this fight - he brought it on from the bell with a great opening shot that spurred Rik Ellis in to action - in a title fight Rik was just as determined to win as was Buxey.
After the opening shot from Buxey - Rik`s natural Aikido allowed his 18 pounds heavier opponent to push him back into the cage wall where Rik made a very quick and effective tight `Tenkan` turn off the cage wall taking his opponent down into some punishing `ground n pound` finishing Buxey with a rear naked choke in the 46th second of the first round.

Rik `hammer` Ellis fought Kriston`hulk`Buxey for the UK1 MMA light heavyweight title and championship belt. Rik won with a RNC in a hard  fought 46 seconds. Don't let the 46 seconds undermine the battle that these two men fought.
 Professional photos and video to be added as soon as available.

Visit the Rik Ellis Aikido MMA Blog > Rik Ellis Aikido MMA Blog

18 yr old Jay Dods Ellis wins ``Semi-Pro Lightweight Title` following 5 straight wins.
18 yr old Jay Dods Ellis made it 5 straight wins as a semi-pro MMA fighter by beating 30yr old Polish fighter Pavel Famel in 56 seconds of the first round to take the UK1 MMA Light weight semi-pro title. It was a great night for Henry Ellis as he watched his son and grandson demonstrate the Ellis family fighting spirit.