About Isshinkai

Explore the links below to find out more about the history of Isshinkai and its teachers and Dojos.

The Isshinkai Manifesto

Real Aikido teaches us to protect ourselves and others by trained instinct. In other words, to move quickly and effectively, becoming neither victim nor helpless bystander.

Never were solid foundations in technique more important, or consequences more serious.

Poor foundations result in overconfidence and bad technique, which literally put you in harm’s way.

It pays to go to a real Dojo with well Trained Teachers:- who themselves have solid foundations, and who know what they’re doing.

How can you tell?

Aikido is a Martial Art of great subtlety and depth with at least its fair share of overconfident blowhards and overstated résumés. But there are some signs you can look for:

Dojo

People who put a high value on their art, also care about the place they set aside to practice it in. Professionalism is about commitment, standards and attention to detail, not money. An established Aikido Dojo is an institution, held in trust for Aikido, cared-for by generation after generation of students, and passed on within a lineage. It should feel clean, peaceful and suitable for joyful, focused and uninterrupted practice. Look carefully and you will know, before you even get through the door, what kind of place it is. That will tell you something of the value to be found there.

Respect

Good Aikido Teachers are profoundly respectful and grateful to those kind enough to have taught them. A diligent student, well taught, has much to feel grateful for. Ingratitude indicates either a bad student, or a poor teacher, or that the Teaching/Learning relationship didn’t actually happen as claimed. So do not expect to learn good Aikido from a Teacher who does not speak of his or her own Teachers with respect and gratitude.

Energy

Good Aikido Teachers are recognisable by their Balance and Energy. They don’t sit around, tired, disconnected from their driving force and energy, being victims of circumstance. They live productive, energetic lives of integrity. You should feel energised around a good Aikido Teacher. If you want to develop the Balance and Energy in your life, make sure the Aikido Teacher you follow knows how to maintain these things in his or her life, and does so.

Unafraid

Good Aikido Teachers won’t pretend to be your mate when they aren’t. They say what they mean, and mean what they say. They can be gentle, often positive, respectful, sometimes surprisingly direct, and sometimes a little scary. An Aikido Teacher, who’s going to be fit for purpose, is someone who’ll be unafraid to be honest with you, or to take you beyond your comfort zone.

In an Aikido Teacher, do not confuse familiarity for trustworthiness, because real Aikido is not about flattery, or saying what you think people want to hear, just to get what you want from them.

That’s fake Aikido.

Real Aikido is about being able to live positively, sincerely and honestly, without fear, compromise, penalty or aggression.

History

Isshinkai Aikido was founded at the beginning of the year 2000 by Denis Burke Sensei at the Aikido Centre in Fyfield, Nr. Andover, now known as Isshinkan. Burke Sensei began studying Aikido in 1979 and is a former assistant (apprentice) to Sensei K Williams, Founder of the Ki Federation of Great Britain (K.F.G.B.), the first leading pioneer of British Aikido and undoubtedly among Aikido’s great teachers.

The name Isshinkai was ‘given’ to Burke Sensei during his first visit to Japan in 1987, in a personal expression of mutual respect. Thirteen years later, when he left the K.F.G.B., Isshinkai was the name he naturally chose.

He offered each of his direct students the choice to join him in Isshinkai or remain with the K.F.G.B. with his blessing. Burke Sensei was determined not to encourage anyone else to leave the K.F.G.B. He deplores the strategy of undermining Teachers and organisations with the intention of poaching their members, which we have seen used in recent years.

Nevertheless, from as soon as the news was out, individuals and groups leaving the Ki Federation began to turn up, looking for validation, a name to use, or perhaps something else. Burke Sensei acquiesced to the formation of the Isshinkai Association, but in time it became clear that Isshinkai Aikido was a bigger jump than anticipated for the teachers of those groups, and that most had different priorities. Since none of them brought any significant contribution to knowledge-base, quality or practice, and as some manoeuvred divisively to pull the Association in different directions, it became clear that the healthier option was to encourage them on their way.

During this time, Burke Sensei continued focusing on developing the Practice and Teaching of Isshinkai Aikido, making trips to the US to meet John Smartt Sensei Founder of New School Aikido, and to Japan to meet Hikitsuchi Sensei.

In 2004 Burke Sensei invited Maruyama Sensei to the UK and subsequently joined him in Aikido Yuishinkai. For the next few years Andover and Isshinkan became Maruyama Sensei’s base in the UK. After 7 years this arrangement was terminated by Michael Williams Sensei in Australia, then Aikido Yuishinkai International’s Chief Instructor. Burke Sensei and Maruyama Sensei parted with great warmth and on very good terms. Maruyama Sensei gifted Burke Sensei his calligraphy of “Aikido”, which now hangs as the Isshinkan Kamiza calligraphy.

We’ve learned many lessons since 2000. In the Aikido-world, amalgamations and coalitions are not the natural companions of quality or depth. The Isshinkai ‘Association’ was progressively superseded. ‘Isshinkai Aikido’ became increasingly explicitly front and centre; with our focus on the transformational benefit of what we do, and therefore, on doing it well. In short, Isshinkai has moved on.

The last few years for Isshinkai have been devoted to further consolidating quality and depth, developing teaching methods and our next generation of teachers. Burke Sensei published his in-depth book on Isshinkai “Purpose & Practice” in 2013. The next generation of Teachers are nearing completion of their demanding teachers training programme. They are an exciting and inspirational group!

ISSHINKAI LONDON

Original felt mat in London.

Original felt mat in London.

Isshinkai London was founded in London at the end of 2006 by Denis Burke Sensei. First opening in Ladbroke Grove we later moved to Westminster Abbey, a warehouse in Vauxhall and finally Tyres where we are currently residing.

Each Dojo in Isshinkai has a name and as such the London Dojo was given the name "Izumikan" which translates into english from japanese as "fountain" or "Spring" which is the area in Vauxhall we are located, Spring Gardens.

In 2014 Swain Sensei took over running the classes from Denis Burke Sensei in Tyres st. and Cooper Sensei set up a club in Central London. Both Swain and Cooper sensei now run classes in the Tyres St. Dojo.

Adam Cooper Sensei and Emile Swain Sensei teach the regular Monday/Tuesday classes and with their students regularly organise and attend seminars taught by Denis Burke Sensei.

Based in Vauxhall, South London, Isshinkai London is a not-for-profit club run entirely by volunteers. All fees are to cover the running costs of the dojo, insurance and equipment.