The Memories of Henry Ellis Sensei – 1957 - 2007
In the past 50 years I have been most fortunate to not only meet but study with many of the great Budo Masters who have visited the UK and Europe. I would like to place my memories on record in the hope that they may one day be of interest to others in the Martial Arts.
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei, 1915 – 1985
I began my Martial arts journey in 1956 at the now famous Hut Dojo. I started with Judo under the instruction of Ken Williams Sensei. Abbe Sensei had arrived in the UK in 1955 at the invitation of the London Judo Society ( LJS ) . He would soon become disillusioned with the LJS and join forces with Matsutaro Otani Sensei which would eventually lead to the formation of the British Judo Council ( BJC ) – British Kendo Council (BKC )
British Aikido Council ( BAC ). Williams Sensei was there with Abbe Sensie at the very beginning of this exciting period in British Martial Arts history. The new association with Otani Sensie would make Abbe Sensei a regular visitor to the Hut Dojo. Which would soon be renamed The Abbe School of Budo. I first saw Abbe Sensei when he attended a grading at the Hut. I realised even on this first occasion that I was in the presence of someone very special. Abbe Sensei appeared to me to be an awesome man . I would later get to know sensei much better and engage in some conversation although his English was very poor. Many people today claim to have been friends of Abbe Sensei, I never met one person who was a friend of Sensei, we were all privileged students. I would soon start Aikido and would see Sensei on both the Aikido and Judo classes. I also became a regular at Abbe Sensei’s own Sandwich Street Dojo in Kings Cross, London.
At this time Abbe Sensei was in his early 40’s and still a force to be dealt with in randori or competition. I was not at the LJS when the following happened, Sensei thought that he did not receive the respect due to a man of his lineage and stature, he lined up all the 31 Judo dan grades and walked along the line and told them individually what technique he would use on them and whether it would be right or left handed, he did exactly that, he went down the whole line and beat each and every dan grade.