About Isshinkai

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

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba, which combines physical martial practice with a philosophy based on achieving peace and harmony. We practise a non-competitive form which encourages you to explore the values of Curiosity, Respect, Honesty, Gratitude and Generosity, while retaining a disciplined approach to both physical and mental training.

In learning with Isshinkai you will test your assumptions about what you’re capable of. You’ll learn new skills and will be likely to feel physically and mentally healthier, more energised, more confident and more mindful in your daily life.


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!

Purpose and Practice by Denis Burke Sensei

Purpose & Practice lays out tools of incalculable value to anyone interested in getting really good at what they do, whatever that may be. These are tools, some little known, of mental approach from the art, science and philosophy of Aikido. This book reveals some revolutionary ideas behind the art and the links between its extraordinary physical results and practices of “Mind”, all of which adds up to a blueprint as applicable to organisations as it is for individuals.

Aikido is often justifiably seen as one of the most impenetrable martial arts, largely because people so often experience it, even for many years, without knowing some of its core elements, which have all too often been forgotten, obscured or unknown. Purpose & Practice is a challenging book that fills in some of these essential gaps while helping the reader accelerate his or her progress and development.

Buy Purpose and Practice here