Bends the Branch or Bends the Truth.
A statement by Henry Ellis
Please visit the National Aikido Data-Base for forum comments on this issue.. .. www.aikido-database.co.uk
I am writing this brief statement to correct the serious errors stated within the MAI June 2005 article interview “Bends the Branch” with Mr Gwynne Jones. The article would have served the readership better had it been titled “ Bends the Truth “ . I have contacted Mr Bob Sykes the Editor of MAI who has kindly added my letter of complaint to the letters to the editor in "Fighting Feedback" letters page. It is my sole intention to set the record straight.
Mr Gwynne Jones has also chosen not to apologise for his confused perspective of the history of British Aikido.
Mr Jones makes misleading statements of a period before he himself had started Aikido, describing events as if he were actually there, he did not bother to contact any of the Abbe students of that time to verify his “ facts “ .
As it was proved with Mr Jack Poole’s serious memory distortions with the history of British Aikido, If left for a period of time these matters can soon be recalled as fact, and sadly history is altered for the genuine students of the future. One can only assume that Mr Jones has decided it would be prudent to follow Mr Poole and not apologise for their deliberate mistakes, they obviously stand by their statements. I find it most ironic that in the very same article of errors Mr Jones states with some pride "When I eventually go to the great dojo in the sky, the epitaph on my grave to read 'An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it ! '" Perhaps now is a good time to think of a new epitaph ?
I have never been surprised by any of Mr Poole’s bizarre claims or actions in recent years, I would add that I am surprised and disappointed by the statements of Mr Gwynne Jones who I once considered a friend.
The original dan grades of Abbe Sensei along with Sensei Ken Williams did so much in those early days to promote Aikido which then was a little know Martial Art. Teaching for free, Derek Eastman and I traveled around the UK teaching where ever we could for free. we never received any payment, just a bed occasionally for the night and a meal, many a night we spent sleeping in the car, we never complained, we actually enjoyed what we were doing. These efforts and sacrifices were to promote the name of Aikido. Derek and I were the first to introduce Aikido to the Further Education System. These original students should be recognised for their part in the inception of UK Aikido. People such as Mr Jones and Mr Poole and so many others now reap the benefit from the efforts and sacrifices of those early teachers.
Mr Jones refers to Kenshiro Abbe Sensei as “ Abe “… Matsutharu Otani Sensei as “Tani“
Mikito Nakazono Sensei as “ Nagezomo “ .
Although Mr Jones uses these strange names in every reference in the article, I will use the correct names for historical reasons.
Well, Ken Williams had trained under Abbe Sensei (Abe) who was a great Budo man and his style was very linear. YoshinKan formal Aikido.
Abbe Sensei nor Williams Sensei ever taught Yoshinkan Aikido , there were no Yoshinkan style when Abbe Sensei was with OSensei. ( Shihoda Sensei developed YoshinKan in 1955 the same year that Abbe Sensei came to the UK )
However, when Nakazono ( Nagezomo ) was called over by Abbe Sensei ( Abe ) to properly introduce Aikido to this country.
Mr Jones’s words " Properly introduce Aikido" baffle me, on the arrival of Nakazono Sensei ( Nagezomo ) there were eight dan grades, one 3rd dan and two second dans,five first dans, I think it is fair to assume that Aikido was well established and healthy on his arrival.
He Nakazono ( Nagezomo ) became famous for saying, while he was looking at four or five people on the mat wearing hakamas, that three of them should “ Best sell hakama today while you can get a good price” .
The previous statement is pure nonsense. Fact.. Nakazono Sensei ( Nagezomo ) looked at one student in particular and stated “ Necessary sell your Gi whilst prices are high “
He ( Nakazono) proceeded to downgrade them, Ken Williams kept his grade as did Hayden Foster and possibly Henry Ellis and Andy Allen with a few others who were the nucleus of Aikido then in the London area.
Nakazono Sensei ( Nagezomo ) down graded one student and one student only from second dan to first dan, which we all thought was so very wrong. No others were downgraded, Henry Ellis was not that student, Ellis has never ever been down graded or ever over graded.
For the record, Andy Allen was not there on this occasion, he was only a beginner at this time and had been introduced to Aikido by Henry Ellis.
Nakazono Sensei had been invited to the UK as he was the official AkiKai Hombu representative for Europe and North Africa. Kenshiro Abbe Sensei wanted to devote his time to his main objectives of promoting Judo and his philosophy of Kyu Shin Do. He had asked that Nakazono Sensei ( Nagezomo ) supervise the further promotion of British Aikido, and not to “ Properly introduce Aikido to this country “ .
I trust that students having read this statement will now be more aware of the facts.