Wednesday, 20 January 2016

" If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything " - Mark Twain

The Book ` Positive Aikido ` available on Amazon

Aikido Articles  

Aikido - 1955 - 2015 - For those that studied with Sensei's  Kenshiro Abbe - Tadashi Abe -Masahilo Nakazono - TK Chiba Sensei in those early days will remember their Aikido being true Budo, something that very few will ever see or feel again.  Read  -  " Aikido Then and Now - 1955 - 2015

Visit the Kazuo Chiba Sensei Memorial Site - Click ->  " Kazuo Chiba Sensei "

"Man who builds his dojo with bullshit, should stand well clear of the fan " - Henry Ellis


Aikido - Then and Now - 1955 - 2017

Henry Ellis - I am often asked the following question.

 What is the difference between the Aikido of the 1950s and the Aikido of today ?"

1950s - This was a time when kyu and dan grades were highly respected, simply because everyone knew that even the lowest grade had been honestly earned through blood sweat and tears, unlike today, when often grades are given as a Christmas present by your fellow  students, grading certificates can be ordered online from the inept British Aikido Boards website for a modest fee, thus the now common claim " British Aikido Board Approved " 
Unfortunately for  those that know no difference, this claim would appear to add the appearance of some form of credibility and legitimacy,  yet, for those that know the truth, they know it is nothing but crusty unadulterated BS .

In those early days students never handed out titles to their own teachers, such as Shihan - Grand master - Soke - Hanshi - Doctor - Professor, or any other grand title  you can think of..

Just imagine being back at school and the kids collectively informing the teacher that the class had jointly awarded him/her a PhD,  now that would be worth six strokes of the cane on both hands and time in a small cupboard for their stupidity in my war time school days.

My teacher - The legendary humble Budo master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 8th dan - only ever used the title of `Sensei ` - yet, since his death in 1985,  I often see him referred to as Shihan - Professor  - and even Doctor - Abbe Sensei is now referred to as 10th dan - why ?  

One Aikido teacher claimed in a newspaper article posted on the internet 

Sensei Blogsworth  was so surprised and proud when his senior students promoted him to 7th dan - he is now one of the highest graded professional  Aikido teachers in the world ".

As I type this, I am thinking to myself  that by now his students will have probably graded him to 8th dan.  Its enough to make an old man cry.

1960 - Photo Left: Kenshiro Abbe teaching - Henry Ellis centre.

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei taught that uke should always attack on balance - today it is more often a ukemi flying attack with uke being overly compliant and acrobatic and the attack is a combination of 50% attack and 50% ukemi  ( break falling ) which contributes the mockery of Aikido.

Abbe Sensei's teaching - If  one attacks on balance, then the techniques have to be good to control the attacker - the nod of the head, and no touch throws would then be comical and ridiculed, sadly, many students show as much resistance as an unattached piece of string.

It was also a time when there was no Aikido with ribbons, if anyone had been daft enough to come into the dojo with a bundle of coloured ribbons ?  they would have been found hanging by them from the Hut Dojo roof beams or directed to the nearest ` Morris Dancing ` club.
There was never ever Aikido to music in the dojo, I will admit there was often a hum from sweaty feet.

It was a time when Aikido was a respected martial art, respected by all the other m/a.
If Abbe Sensei thought his teaching wasn't getting through - no words were spoken - Sensei would `tap` the offending body part with the light crack of a Shiinai - this was a very successful method of teaching, it gained immediate attention, it would be a reminder, and an indicator to the student what their problem was, no one ever complained - The Ki people would be in tears today.

It was a time when students would train hard, and the techniques would be strong and effective, everyone attacks a little different, therefore you cannot plan what your defense would be, the attacker makes your defense ( or not ) It was a time when people trained hard to understand the techniques - if, as so many do today, trying to scientifically analyze Aikido with engineering and physics, Aikido is natural feeling and movement, not for some,  for example, if a student asked Kenshiro Abbe or Mutsuro Nakazono anything of a technical nature, they were told to practice with an ` empty mind ` only a clear mind will adsorb the  knowledge.

Left: The 4th dan certificate presented to Kenshiro Abbe Sensei by Emperor Hirohito of Japan in the 1930s.


This was a time when Kenshiro Abbe sensei was the only 8th dan in the UK .

We now live in a different age, a crazy age, where 7th and 8th dans and now 9th dans are like post-boxes, with at least one in almost every town and village in the UK,  thanks to the inept - " BAB   -  you can grade yourself, or ask your students to grade you - and simply add ``British Aikido Board Approved ``. It is as creditable as ordering a doctorate online.

Aikido training In those early days with Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and a little encouragement of a Shinai, the training  was very physical, building fitness, fighting spirit, and physical and mental strength and a positive attitude towards your training and daily life, 

I was an dan grade in Aikido before many of of the so-called modern Aikidoka were born - yet, they state  " There is no kicking or punching in Aikido " - they should say ` there is no kicking and punching in their tree hugging Aikido `.
With Kenshiro Abbe Sensei, after the warm up session, there was always a 30 min session of kicking and punching techniques, this was followed with push-ups, depending on grade, with between 20 for beginners and two hundred for dan grades, the push-ups were on the back of the wrists with fingers pointing inwards followed by fingers pointing  outwards.

It was also a time when all Aikido came under the respected `British Aikido Council` [BAC] overseen by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and Ken Williams Sensei the BAC national coach.

In later years we would see the creation of the so-called governing body for Aikido, the ` British Aikido Board` [BAB] 

This was a group that started with good heart and honest intentions, only to become  an overly bureaucratic body that would recognize its own grandmother as an ` approved ` Hanshi or dan grade,  an organisation that would later offer online dan grades for money. an organisation that would support the corruption of the true proud history and lineage of British Aikido from 1955, a support that failed miserably, which brought the British Aikido Board in to disrepute  slow decline.

The BAB would knowingly recognize well known fraudulent practitioners grades, publicly promote the offenders profile to its membership and the genral public. 

The BAB allow the endless use and abuse of `` BAB Approved `` for the promotion of self appointed titles of Shihan - Hanshi - Grandmaster - Professor - Doctor - Soke .

The British Aikido Board has now become a home for the homeless Aikidoka, the established organisations such as the JAC and the BAA, which are creditable organisations who are all associated with their Japan HQ - these organisations have resigned from the BAB.

Times change, people change, and Aikido will change - but sadly it is not always for the better.

Admin - Henry Ellis

Co-author of Positive Aikido`

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 `hammer`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.

I intend to start visiting a few more aikido dojos as I travel around.

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"

Aikido in MMA
Rik Ellis demonstrates his use of the application of Aikido in MMA.

Traditional Wrist Exercises
Push-ups on the backs of the wrists as taught by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei in the 1950s - These exercises are still continued in the daily execise at the Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido.

Fight Science Gym - Aldershot

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