THE THEORY OF KYU-SHIN-DO, WHAT IT IS,
OR, MORE PRECISELY, WHAT IT ISN'T!
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 1915 – 1985
by Henry Ellis
Kyu = Desire – Yearn – Sphere – Circle – Search – Study.
Shin = Heart – New – Spirit – True – To be true to ones self.
Do = Way or Path , a way of life or self discipline.
I honestly believe that Kyu-Shin-Do has lost its true path in Britain and has become many things to many people. Kenshiro Abbe Sensei came to Britain in 1955 at the invitation of the London Judo Society ( LJS ). He considered the Judo that he saw to be too concerned with strength, also too physical and hard. It was his intent to introduce his theory of Kyu-Shin-Do to the British Judoka. They in turn found it hard to understand that if they followed his teaching of Kyu-Shin-Do Judo which he himself had studied from as early as 1940 their own Judo skills would become stronger by technique rather than strength. Abbe Sensei would often say when speaking of KyuShinDo that “one must have the right mind “. On one occasion he lined up 31 Judoka dan grades, he walked along the line and informed each Judoka what technique he would use, and whether it would be left of right handed. Abbe Sensei then proceeded to throw each and every single one of the 31 students just as he had said. It is worth being reminded that Abbe Sensei was 40 years of age at that time.
In 1937 Kenshiro Abbe Sensei fought the great Japanese Judo legend Masahiko Kimura, Abbe Sensei beat Kimura and that was Kimura’s only defeat. Kimura Sensei said of Abbe Sensei after his defeat “It was as if I was fighting a shadow and trying to catch the wind”
My good friend Gerry Gyngell Sensei said to me on this subject of KyuShinDo “ I believe it is as much about mental attitude as it is technique. I also believe that one can only learn by example and this ( I think ) is why so many failed to understand his teachings as they only looked at the physical and not the mental side of what Abbe Sensei was teaching.
Yes . . . the techniques had to be performed correctly . . .
Yes . . . it is not about how strong physically you are . . .
More importantly it is not about winning and losing, but about the balance of nature and the attitude of one to another.
I know this may start to seem that I am bringing in religion to the subject, In a way Budo is a religion but without the worship of a Greater Being etc. You Henry, are fond of Sensei’s saying “ no matter what your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more!” I also believe that Abbe Sensei practiced the old philosophy of "To thine ownself be true".
This is in my opinion a big part of what KyuShinDo is . . .
All nature is a circle, so all correct movement is circular and by blending ( adapting ones technique ) with an opposing movement in an honest and open way the result will be harmony of thought and action . . .
Gerry Gyngell Sensei was a member of Abbe Sensei’s Olympic squad 1964. Three time the Welsh Judo Champion. Also worked in Abbe Sensei’s London office for the British Judo Council…
I would suggest that the true intention of Abbe Sensei was to teach his students that they too could be as smooth and elusive as a shadow rather than a brick wall.
Since the passing of Kenshiro Abbe in 1985 there have been so many that now claim to have known him, and to be great personal friends Abbe Sensei. There are now so many, but the worst of these characters is the late George Mayo and sadly his present day followers. Mr Mayo himself shamelessly claimed “ I am the founder of KyuShinDo “ he also later claimed that he `helped` Abbe Sensei to develop Kyu-Shin-Do . . . These claims are totally fraudulent and an insult the the memory of a great Budo Master.
I now see the name ` Kyu-Shin-Do ` attached to so many things in the martial arts that I now believe many consider the term to be a ` really good ` sounding Japanese name without a dollop of the concept of understanding of its true meaning.
From 1957 I attended almost every public Budo demonstration that Abbe Sensei ever took part in. He did on some occasions demonstrate Karate, yet to my knowledge and my associates he never taught Karate other than to teach us how to kick and punch. NEVER ONCE did he ever refer to Karate as “KyuShinDo Karate “ and he never ever taught KyuShinDo Karate . . .
Abbe Sensei invited Harada Sensei to Britain in 1963 to teach Karate for the British Karate Council ( BKC ) Harada Sensei taught Shotokai Karate…
The same applies to KyuShinDo Aikido. Kenshiro Abbe Sensei introduced Aikido to Britain in 1955 and as a direct student from 1957 I never ever heard the word KyuShinDo used in the teaching or study of Aikido. I do believe that when people use and abuse the name of “ Kyu-Shin-Do “ there is a deliberate attempt to imply a connection or relationship to Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.
It a sad fact that Abbe Sensei was unhappy that so few Judoka were able to understand the teachings and principles of KyuShinDo even though they were receiving his personal tuition. Gyngell Sensei stated “I also believe that one can only learn by example !! “ So how would all these KyuShinDo groups ``really `` understand the meaning of KyuShinDo? If one places KyuShinDo in the Google browser there are thousands of sites using the name.
Co-author of Positive Aikido