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Report from Masahilo Nakazono Memorial Aikido Event Nov07

Saturday the 27th of October 2007 was a
great day for the history of British Aikido,
as approx 250 students gathered to remember
one of the greatest names in the origins and
development of Aikido in the United
Kingdom “ Masahilo Mikoto Nakazono
Sensei “. The Event was sponsored by
Gwynne Jones Sensei of the Shin-gi-tai
Aikido Society Wales UK and organise by
Sensei’s Henry Ellis – Derek Eastman – Nigel
Jones. The whole Event went as perfectly as
a Harrison clock .

First UK Aikido Dan Grades

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei first introduced Aikido
to the UK in 1955. Abbe Sensei taught the
very early style of Aikido as taught to him
by O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. In 1963 he
invited Nakazono Sensei to visit the UK
from his base in Paris France. Nakazono
Sensei brought with him the then more modern
approach to Aikido, which had changed from
the pre-war days as taught by Abbe Sensei.
Nakazono Sensei left an indelible mark on
all those students that had ever studied
with him. Of all the Japanese teachers that
have ever visited the UK there is no one
that the original dan grades respected more
than Nakazono Sensie.
There are now only four students left from
that incredible period in the 1950’s & 60’s
who had been graded to Yudansha in Aikido by
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and Nakazono Sensei.
They are Sensei’s K Williams – H Foster –
H Ellis – D Eastman. Williams Sensei could
not atend the event but sent a letter of
support. Sensei’s Foster – Ellis and Eastman
were there.

Principal Teacher ` Jiro Nakazono Sensei`

The acceptance of Jiro Nakazono Sensei the
second son of Masahilo Nakazono sensei to
attend this Event, to honour his fathers
name, was now going to make this event all
the more memorable. Nakazono Sensei
travelled from his home in Manhatten, USA
to attend this one day event at the Neath
Sports Centre, Neath, Wales. There was an
incredible atmosphere in the large hall of
the Neath Sports Centre as the Kodo drums
played in the background. The drums were
silenced as Henry Ellis went on the mat to
speak of the early days of Aikido and the
influence that Masahilo Nakazono had on the
developmeant of British Aikido. Ellis
Sensei then introduced the teaching line up
of Jiro Nakazono Sensie – Dang Thang Phong
Sensie – Gwynne Jones Sensei - Haydn Foster
Sensei – Derek Eastman and not forgetting
himself. There were several prominent VIP
guests who were then introduced. There were
letters of congratulations from N Tamura
Shihan and K Williams Sensei for both
Foster Sensei and Ellis Sensei as they
celebrated their 50th year of Aikido.

The introductions were now over and the
students sat in total silence as Nakazono
Sensei stepped on the tatami to teach his
first class of the day. The three old
students of his father looked at each other
and commented “ It’s just like seeing
Masahilo Nakazono Sensei again” It was a
touching moment. Sensei then proceeded to
demonstrate some of the techniques that his
father had been famous for. For the students
who had only read and heard stories of
Masahilo Nakazono Sensei this was a day they
will talk about long into the future.
Nakazono Sensei left the tatami to a
tremendous round of applause from
appreciative students.

Guest Teacher Dang Thong Phong Sensei

Dang Phong Sensei had studied with Masahilo
Nakazono in South Vietnam in the early
sixties whilst training the South Vietnamese
Paratroopers during the conflict there.
Phong Sensei had studied at the Aikikai with
O’Sensei. He had been a prisoner of the
Viet cong Army for over 8 years and finally
escaped on his 18th attempt.

Phong Sensei although well known in the USA
and France was relatively unknown to the
organisers of this event. After he stepped
on the mat and demonstrated just a few
techniques we all looked in awe at this
incredible man who has left his mark here in
the UK.
Phong Sensei is a gentle mild mannered man
until he steps on the mat where he becomes a
human dynamo he is a most impressive

Haydn Foster Sensei

Haydn Foster Sensei one of the first Aikido
dan grades in the UK and a student of
Kenshiro Abbe Sensie – Tadashi Abe Sensei –
Masahilo Nakazono Sensei - took the next
class and certainly did not look like his 80
years. He still teaches with a passion that
has never wavered, his irimi nage looked as
powerful to day as it did when we were all
at the Hut Dojo in the early days.

Derek Eastman Sensei

Derek Eastman who will celebrate his 50th
year of Aikido next year ( 2008 ) was next,
Eastman sensei is unique in his style as he
remembers all the different styles of the
early teachers and demonstrates them all to
the fascinated students. He demonstrated how
the various early masters varied in their
techniques and with an incredible memory for

Henry Ellis Sensei

Henry Ellis taught the only way he knows
with very powerful nykkyo and techinage
projection techniques, explaining to the
students that working with a overly
compliant uke can damage your technique as
one will never learns to adjust to
``different`` variations of attack. He also
explained that in the early days ukemi was
no more than escape or protection for your
uke, where as now most uke’s are more like
gymnasts or acrobats as they virtually fly
around the mat as they are used more to make
their teacher look ```fantastic ```. Ellis
Sensei said
“ Whether you go prettily or ugly, your
going ! “…..

The Tanto Presentation

Jiro Nakazono Sensei was surprised as his
second session was politely interrupted to
present him with a beautiful hand made tanto
to the memory of his father. The tanto had
been lovingly created by Dave Rogers Sensei
in Albuquerque New Mexico USA . Rogers
Sensei makes individual hand made Bowie
knives for the USA Special Forces. This
tanto for Nakazono Sensei was the most
special task he had ever undertaken,
including a beautiful carved presentation
case. Nakazono Sensei was very pleased and
said his Mother would place the tanto
alongside his fathers shrine.

Later in the day Sensei Ellis was also
interrupted and he was also presented with a
hand made tanto by Sensei Rogers to
celebrate his 50th year of Aikido. There
were many people involved in the planning of
this presentation, yet Ellis Sensei was
taken fully by surprise and could not speak
for a while. It is rare to see any emotion
from Sensei, yet for those that know him he
was a very happy man.

Gwynne Jones Sensie

Jones Sensie is known for his fluid style of
powerful but very smooth style of Aikido as
he demonstated various Tenchinage
movements. Jones Sensei was the host for
this Aikido spectacular which will talked
about for a long time to come.

Spectacular Success

There was no doubt that the event was a
spectacular success which ended with a
raffle with a first prize of an valuable
Shinken sword presented by Nine Circles
Budo Supplies. Next, a Nakazono family
Hakama with embroided kanji presented by
Jiro Nakazono Sensei.
Phong Sensie presented nine of his books
which were all signed. Henry Ellis
presented 3 copies of the book Positive
Aikido all signed. Billy Doaks Sensie and
Keith Morgan Sensei presented several of
their DVD’s.

All the participants received a high quality
souvenir programme designed on the famous
Event with Kenshiro Abbe Sensei and
Masahilo Nakazono Sensei at the Royal Albert
Hall. London, in 1963.
There will be a DVD available of this event
available very soon and supplied and
produced by Jon Stokoe Sensei of CUA Aikido.

It was the best day of my
50 years of Aikido.

by: Henry Ellis,

Article date: November 2007.

Right Path London Personal Training | Goya-ra-ru Martial Arts, Birmingham.