Monday, August 08, 2005

An Insert to Kenshiro Abbe Celebrations Memories Section at

Derek Eastman and I were invited to the Bushido ZaZen Annual Dinner in February 2004 by Mr Arnold Davies Hanshi and Mr Clive MacDonald of the Essex Aikido Forum, as we sat down for the first drink of the evening, I remarked to Mr MacDonald “ Do you realise that next year it will be fifty years since Kenshiro Abbe Sensei arrived in the UK and introduced Kyu-Shin-Do and Aikido. It was only intended as a casual remark but the subject dominated the rest of the evening.
The Venue
We discussed the possibility of organising an event between the member clubs of the Essex Aikido Forum “ EAF “ . We soon realised that this event was going to be too big for the EAF dojos. we decided on a committee of like minded people to organise this event.
At our first committee meeting it was soon apparent from the interest already generated that a prestigious venue would be needed and we looked at several possible venues and finally decided on The Crystal Palace Sports Centre, which later proved to be an excellent choice.

We had almost eighteen months to plan this event which seemed a long time then, It actually took all that time to put the event together. The interest from every quarter was nothing short of amazing, showing that the name of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei was revered by so many genuine MartialArtists. I contacted many old students of Abbe Sensei such as Sensei Haydn Foster and Sensei Ralph Reynolds who without hesitation agreed to take part along with Sensei Phillip Smith who represented his father Mr William Smith MBE Shihan.

We had a most impressive guest list with representation from the Japanese Embassy with Mr Motai. It was a very proud moment for me when I saw Sensei Bill Woods arrive, despite his serious illness he insisted on attending to pay tribute to his teacher. It was a special moment also to meet Sensei Robin Otani again after so many years.

I had stayed at the Crystal Palace “hotel” and walked down to the centre on the big day, as I walked into the main hall there was already an atmosphere of something very special was taking place as sound of the Taiko Drummers filled the Great Hall with their electrifying sound. I then walked onto the concourse and looked down onto the large matted area where the drummers were playing, I was amazed to see so many students down below mingling with other students some of whom they had never met before and many making new friends.
I have never been an emotional man yet I will admit to a few tears trickling down my face as I looked around and surveyed the scenes below and on the concourse where all the stands were. I stood there and recalled the very first UK Aikido seminar at a small Judo Dojo in Devises run by Graham Burt which was about 1959 where I was assistant to Ken Williams Sensei and here I was at the latest seminar which was the greatest Aikido event I had ever attended.
This event from the discussions over the ZaZen dinner to the actual day had run so smoothly almost as if Abbe Sensei himself had guided us. I am certain that as he looked upon that day of Celebration to his name and achievements he would have been honoured and very proud.
Henry Ellis.
Event Liaison Officer


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