Dave Rogers, Henry Ellis and Derek Eastman
Henry Ellis was born
May 3rd 1936 in a tough coal mining town in the
County of Yorkshire, North of England. This was
pre-war Britain, and growing up as a child during
the austere war years of the 1940’s all
Henry knew was hard times and discipline as
the son of a tough coal face miner. Henry
didn't realize that this tough life with strict
discipline would stand him in good stead in the
years to come.
1956 he became a member of the Abbe School of
Budo at the now famous Hut Dojo. His first introduction
to Martial Arts was in the Judo section. After a
full year of Judo, Henry saw the great master Kenshiro
Abbe sensei demonstrate Aikido which had only recently
been introduced to Britain ( 1955 ).
Henry Joined the Aikido section in 1957 while continuing
with his Judo studies.
The Hut Dojo 1957. Centre K Abbe and to his right K Williams.
Back row 2nd from right a handsome young Henry Ellis.
The Hut was the Hell Dojo of all Hell Dojo’s.
The discipline was very strict and very few continued
to study. This was the only Aikido dojo in the UK.
Abbe sensei and Williams sensei would teach with
a shinai, words were wasted
but the shinai always received the students full
attention. Abbe sensei said many times that his English
was bad but his shinai spoke excellent English.
The famous Hut Dojo, the birth place of British Aikido.
Very early Aikido photo at the Hut Dojo 1950s.
Grange Farm Summer School with Kenshiro Abbe Sensei. 1963.
Henry Ellis far left with Tomio Otani on the ground.
Henry fit well into this disciplined routine where
a mistake would receive a whack with the shinai or
between 100 and 200 press-ups on the back of the
wrists. At third kyu Henry was promoted to personnel
assistant to Williams sensei, he then travelled around
the UK with his teacher taking the very first Aikido
seminar in the UK in the town of Devises near historic
Henry Ellis Sensei and David Warne
Sensei demonstrate shiho-nage.
Basingstoke Dojo 1986
When Henry reached first dan he was instructed to take an assistant,
the assistant was Derek Eastman who is still associated with the Ellis
Of this early select group eight became dan grades ( black belts )
these were the only dan grades for Aikido in the UK. Henry was the
first Aikido teacher to introduce Aikido into the British education
system in the early sixties.
In the very early sixties Ellis and Eastman, on the
instructions of Williams sensei, travelled around
Britain teaching Aikido to Judo and sports clubs
for free. They worked a few days here and there
for a meal and a bed, often sleeping in the car,
in an effort to promote the art to anyone who would
give them the opportunity to teach and demonstrate.
The two spent one year “on
the road “ .
Ellis and Eastman both studied Kendo with their best
friend Tomio Otani Sensei the British National Coach
for Kendo. They in turn taught Tomio Aikido.
At this time Harada Sensei was teaching his ShotoKai
Karate at the Hut Dojo. Henry studied with Harada
Sensei, Henry using Karate in his Aikido and Harada Sensei using Aikido
movement in his Karate.
Harada Sensei had last been graded to 5th dan in
1957 by the founder of modern Karate Gichin Funakoshi.
Harada Sensei had developed the art of ShotoKai Karate.
When asked why he was still 5th dan as he is today,
Harada replied “ Any
grade above 5th dan is totally pointless “.
This impressed Henry who himself was now sick at
the sight of so many self appointed egotistical self
aggrandising so called masters who cared more for
titles than the Martia Art they represented. Ellis
and Eastman agreed to follow Harada Sensei’s
stand and they made the highest grade in the Ellis
Schools of Traditional Aikido to be 5th dan.
Henry Ellis with Mikito Nakazono Sensei
Henry has personally studied with many of the great early names in
Aikido. Sensei’s Kenshiro Abbe – Tadashi Abe – Mikoto
Nakazono - Misamachi Noro – N Tamura – Kobayashi – Kazuo
Chiba to name a few.
Henry is proud of the expansion of the ESTA to the USA in Alamogordo
New Mexico and Dallas Texas.
On the 17th of December 2004 the release of the book “ Positive
Aikido “ was of great satisfaction after almost 50 years of Martial
C/o Author: Positive Aikido