In 1955 Kenshiro Abbe Sensei introduced Aikido to the UK and established several Japanese martial art councils in various regions. Whilst in South Wales he taught Les Hart who subsequently taught my first sensei Gary Williams.
Gary Williams taught Aikido In Stafford and under his tuition I attained 1st Kyu. I moved to Mirfield in 1973 and joined Budokan in Leeds under Shihan Frank Ryder. Shihan Frank Ryder knew Abbe Sensei because in 1957 Shihan Ryder was the national judo champion and Abbe Sensei was a judge. Shihan Ryder was so impressed with Abbe Sensei’s Aikido that he invited him to Yorkshire to instruct Aikido and so Shihan Ryder gained his 5th Dan under Abbe Sensei’s teaching. I attended a weekend Aikido course run by Sensei’s Les Hart and Gary Williams and was awarded my 1st Dan in Aikido. Over the years many budo associations were formed not always with harmonious relationships.
Luckily both associations to which I belong, United Martial Arts and Tokushima trace back to Abbe Sensei who was a past president of Tokushima. I have attended many courses over the 40 odd years I have practised Aikido and have been very fortunate attaining the Dan grades I have.
I started Mirfield Martial Arts Club in 1974 on a Sunday night in a gym at Ravensthorpe Boys Club with very scanty matting. I was invited by Kirklees Adult Education to run an evening class in Aikido at Mirfield High School. After four years we moved to Battyford Junior School. Aikido became so popular we opened another class at Wellhouse Junior School. In 1994 we were offered the opportunity to open our own Dojo in Ledgard Bridge Mill. The members gutted the second floor of the mill and converted it into an impressive training room. Since we had unrestrictive use of the dojo we were able to start additional classes. As time passed ownership of the mill changed and the mill use was scheduled to be converted to apartments. The new owners, Binks Development, converted an existing office block into a fantastic new training dojo for us. The club now has Aikido classes every night of the week and at weekends and caters for all ages.