Aikido Morihei Ueshiba & Sensei, Kenshiro Abbe



Some extracts and historical information taken from Wikipedia 2010

Benefits of Aikido


Morihei Ueshiba 1883 – 1969 Since Aikido does not require physical strength or aggressive spirit, it can be practised by people of all ages and sexes. Based on full and natural body movement, Aikido exercises the whole body. It teaches and develops flexibility, co-ordination, balance and quick reaction.

Because Aikido is essentially a method of practical self-defence, the practitioner will eventually acquire a sound basis of quick reaction and effective movement which should prove useful if an occasion should demand it in real life.

The name Aikido means ‘the way of harmony of ki’. Just exactly what is this ki that one supposes to harmonize with is a controversial topic among Aikidoka’s. Some believes that the physical entity ki simply does not exist. Instead, the spirit, the intention, the bio-physico-psychological coordination through relaxation and awareness are concepts being used in the teaching. These Aikidoka’s sometime tend to frown upon the philosophical/spiritual aspect of ki.

Other Aikidoka’s believe that ki does exist as a physical entity and can be transmitted through space. They, on the other hand, make use of concepts such as ki of the universe, extending ki etc.. By citing these two extremes, the author does not wish to imply that the ‘truth’ lies somewhere in between. But the fact of the matter is that there is a large portion of Aikidoka who are still, and no doubt will continue be, on their ‘quest for ki’.

The task is not simple since many sensei’s are reluctant to talk about ki. Those who do, do it in a very oriental way: full of metaphor, image and lack of clarity. The aim of this article is surveying the writting and teaching of Kaiso, his deshi’s: Ueshiba, Tohei, Yamada, Shioda, Saito, Saotome, Nadeau, Dobson, Homa … (listed in no particular order) to find out what they did mean when they mentioned the concept ki, or to find out whether one can come up with a definite answer at all. For the sake of simplicity, let’s propose three simple definitions of ki:

1. Ki: the principle that governs the universe AND the individual, the cosmic truth.

2. Ki: the action from a particular state of mind and body that can have physical/psychological/physiological effect. This ki can be expressed, and hence, perceived through physical appearance, behaviour, and body language.

3. Ki: similar to (2). However this ki can be expressed and perceived by means including but not limited to those listed in (2).

One can see that from (1) to (3) the degree of abstract decreases while the physical component increases. The meaning of ki of course is not limited by the individual or combined definitions mentioned above.

The concept of Ki in Aikido

A Literature survey by Minhhuy Ho

In Aikido, zero (or nothingness) is necessary most of the time. Kokoro (heart and mind) is one thing while Ki is something else. Many people believe that they are identical, but it they are not. Heart and mind remain innocent for your entire life, while Ki is always fluctuating. You must purify yourself to become nothing. What you do in Aikido never fails to reflect the state of your Ki. If your Ki is clouded, you cannot accept or lead your opponent.

Aikido Dobun

One spirit

Four souls

Three elements

Eight powers

YouTube – “Divine Techniques” featuring Aikido

Promotional clip for Aikido Journal’s release of a film documentary presenting rare film clips of Aikido

Founder Morihei Ueshiba covering the period of 1962 until shortly

Sensei Kenshiro Abbe

Starting at Busen, Kenshiro trained hard under Korei Isogai and in his first year he became the youngest student to gain his Yodan (4th dan) in judo. Korei Isogai was said to be a hard task master, every Saturday afternoon tournaments were held at the Busen which involved Kenshiro fighting five opponents in succession with each contest lasting five minutes. Kenshiro never lost a fight. In the autumn of his second year Kenshiro was awarded is Godan (5th dan). In May 1935 Kenshiro took part in the 5th dan division championship and defeated the great Masahiko Kimura.

All of Abbe’s success so far led him to become arrogant, something which he admitted himself. Henry Ellis reported the following story which demonstrated Abbe’s attitude at the time, but also documents his first meeting with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido and how Abbe was accepted to train under Ueshiba.

It was during a train journey in Japan that Abbe first met Ueshiba. Abbe didn’t know who he was and he reacted to Ueshiba looking at him, saying: “What are you staring at, old man?” Ueshiba replied: “I know who you are”, to which Abbe modestly retorted: “Everyone knows me, I am Kenshiro Abbe, Champion of All Japan”. Ueshiba then introduced himself as the Founder of Aikido, and was told by Abbe that he didn’t look strong enough to be a martial arts master.

Ueshiba then offered Abbe his little finger, and said: “But young man, you look very strong indeed. Please break my finger”. Abbe at first declined, but eventually accepted the challenge, presumably to shut the old man up. Abbe claimed that, as he took hold of the old man’s finger and tried to break it, he found himself on the floor of the carriage and totally immobilised. Whilst on the floor Abbe asked Ueshiba for permission to study under him. Abbe studied for ten years under Ueshiba and became one of his senior students and it was during this period that Abbe started formulating his own budō philosophy of Kyushindo.

In 1945, the Butoku-kai granted Abbe his 7th dan judo and 6th dan kendo, but at the end of the war the Butoku-kai and Busen were both deemed to be “radical organisations” and disbanded, and budō became illegal. Despite this he was able to take up the position as a judo teacher for the Kyoto Prefectural Police Department.

Whilst working for the Kyoto Police, Kenshiro ran a controversial campaign to free Prince Nashimoto, who had been arrested by American forces at the end of the war. Despite receiving no support from former Busen students or the Kyoto Police, Kenshiro persisted with his campaign, jeopardising his position with Kyoto Police.

In 1951, Kenshiro became the editor of Judo Shinbun, the Japanese Judo Magazine and the Director of the Judo Social League. He was also official referee of the All-Japan Police Championships and the National Tournaments.

In 1955, after an invite from the London Judo Society Abbe, now an 8th dan, came to the UK. The initial invitation was to become the chief instructor but after a series of disagreements he parted company with them and launched his own philosophy of Kyushindo. Within two years he had formed a number of martials arts councils, including: British Judo Council (BJC), British Kendo Council, British Karate Council, as well as an overall governing body: the International Budo Council (IBC). In 1957 Abbe received a letter from Morihei Ueshiba, stating that all instructors outside of Japan now had permission to teach aikido to anyone who wished to learn. He was the first master in the UK to be allowed to teach aikido outside Japan as before that time the teaching of aikido was kept solely for the Japanese.

Sensei Reg Bleakman

Sensei Reg Bleakman, who was responsible for setting up the Budo of Great Britain (1960’s) in Birmingham, England. Sensei Bleakman in the photo with Professor Withey & his brother Lee below in 1978 was 9th Dan Atemi Jutsu, 6th Dan Judo and 5th Dan Aikido.


Sensei Bleakman ran the Budo of Great Britain from his Kyu Shin Kan Dojo in Kings Norton Birmingham until he moved his dojo to new premises in Stirchley Birmingham which continued until after his death for a short time.

Sensei Bleakman had 13 Japanese Masters during his martial art career.


This photo was taken at Professor Soke Smiths Dojo at Chances Glass Social Club in West Bromwich, Where Sensei Bleakman was a regular visitor. On the right is Sensei Carl Withey and on the left is his Brother Sensei Lee Withey.

Professor Soke Smith (Left) together with Sensei Bleakman (centre) at his famous Dojo in West Bromwich.

Sensei Carl Withey (Left) together with Sensei Bleakman (centre), Sensei Lee Withey (right) at Soke Smiths famous Dojo in West Bromwich.

Professor Soke Smith (Centre) together with His Dan grades. Sensei Tony Benson formally Hitchcock deceased (back row Right).

Professor Soke Smith (Centre) together with His Dan grades. Sensei Tony Benson formally Hitchcock deceased (back row Right).

Senior instructors from other styles would often be seen at his Dojo, in order to learn Atemi Jutsu and Aikido.

Taken 1974 Smith sensei’s club became one of the biggest and arguably the best Martial art clubs in the West Midlands at the time.

With members traveling the country giving demonstrations and Smith sensei being requested to visit and give guest classes from London to Cumbria. When Chances Glass works closed in the very early 1980’s, so did the club.

Then Smith sensei opened five clubs around the Midlands area. He achieved his life long ambition to visit Japan in the mid 1980’s along with his young son who was invited to stay on in Japan for elite training under Japanese Master Hiyabuchi Sensei. Smith sensei has trained with many Aikido masters over the last 50 years, from Sensei Kinshro Abbe, Sensei Reg Bleakman, Sensei Noro, Sensei Nagazono, Sensei Richard Gosling and Sensei M. Kanetsuka who named his Aikido Seki Shin Kan, just to name a few.