Truth of the Early History of Aikido in Britain:
Aikido Article by Henry Ellis Sensei 6th Dan


Re-produced here by kind permission of Henry Ellis Sensei, a leading authority on Aikido in the UK


Aikido was introduced to Britain by

Sensei Kenshiro Abbe

He was principally a Judo Master, but when he received a letter from O'Sensei, giving all overseas Instructors permission to teach Aikido,  he took on a few select students to study this new art.


These first students were selected from those already well versed in Judo and were Ken Williams, his brother David Williams and Eric Dollimore. These would have started their training shortly after Kenshiro Abbe's arrival in 1955.

Kenshiro Abbe (circa 1960)

This all took place in Ken Williams Club, located in Hillingdon named the Abbe School of Budo. The Dojo was a small wooden building behind a pub called 'The Hut'.

The Dojo was also known by this name and still exists today with Aikido still being taught.


Sensei Ken Williams became the first British Aikido Dan grade under the direction of Sensei K. Abbe and became the Senior British instructor in the United Kingdom and National Coach.


His first assistant was Henry Ellis, who became Assistant National Coach, a position he held for 15 years.


The Abbe School of Budo was by then the foremost school of mixed Martial Arts in Great Britain, where under the direction of Sensei Abbe the following instructors taught:

Judo by Sensei W. S. Woods - 4th Dan.


Aikido by Sensei K. Williams - 4th Dan and National Coach.

Kendo and the Bayonet arts by

Sensei Tomio Otani - 3rd Dan.


Karate by

Sensei Mitsusuke Harada - 5th Dan.


Many instructors came to see and teach with Sensei Abbe, including:

Sensei Matsutaru Otani - 7th Dan, National Coach for Judo.


Sensei Shohei Hamano - 9th Dan Judo. A great Master of the Kodokan (Judo Headquarters in Tokyo), and head of the Japanese Judo Panel.

Sensei Tadashe Abbe - 7th Dan Aikikai


Sensei Mutsuharu Nakazono

 6th Dan Aikikai.

Sensei Masamichi Noro - 5th Dan Aikikai           

Sensei Hiroshi Tada - 7th Dan Aikikai

Sensei Hishamura - 4th Dan

Sensei Nobuyoshi Tamura

7th Dan Aikikai

Sensei Kazuo Chiba - 5th Dan Aikikai



(The grades above were what these instructors held at the time.)


The first UK students to be taught the new martial art of Aikido in order of rank are -

Ken Williams,

National Coach

David Williams

Eric Dollimore


Haydn Foster

(The Godfather)

Henry (Harry) Ellis, Assistant National Coach

John Caldwell


Lennie Ballard       

Peter Dowden            



Today there are only three of the original eight still involved and teaching aikido. They are K. Williams Sensei, Haydn Foster Sensei and Henry Ellis Sensei


Sadly Haydn Foster Sensei passed away on 13th February 2011