Denis Burke Sensei
The Aikido Centre (Isshinkan) is the Dojo of Isshinkai Founder, Teacher and Author Denis Burke Sensei.
Having committed to a path of life-long study and development in 1976, Burke Sensei explored several forms of practice and began Karate training in 1977. Though this training wa tough he very quickly came to love it and threw himself into it with enthusiasm. By the time he discovered Aikido two years later, he'd acquired a habit of rigorous daily training but was also increasingly concerned about the amount of damage he was becoming capable of doing instinctively. In 1979 he attended a Seminar taught by Koichi Tohei Sensei (one of Aikido's two 10th Dans) and was so deeply impressed by what he'd experienced that he decided to switch to Aikido. He saw that it's harmonious movement and non-destructive values would mean he could commit unreservedly to training, without any need to hold the instincts it nurtures in check.
His committed approach didn't go unnoticed. In 1985 he was appointed full-time Assistant (apprentice) to Sensei K.Williams, the UK's most senior Professional Teachers and one of Britain's greatest ever pioneers, exponents, teachers and servants of Aikido.
This was a rare honour and the extraordinary training he received had a radical effect on his development. Following this period he was sent out to teach and between 1986 and 1992 founded Clubs in a number of different areas of the south, including Salisbury, Ringwood, Amesbury, Newbury, Winchester and eventually Andover. For several of these years, he also ran a full-time Dojo in London and travelled each month to teach in Paris. In 2000, after 21 years, he left the Ki Federation of Great Britain and founded Isshinkai.
The years that followed were ones of experimentation, exploration of different approaches and reconnection with the origins of Aikido. He made research trips to the US, and Japan and met, among others, John Smartt Sensei, Founder of New School Aikido, Hikitsuchi Sensei, ( the other of Aikido's 10th Dans) and renewed a connection with Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei, Founder of Aikido' Yuishinkai, which grew into friendship. Maruyama Sensei was among the last Group of Uchi-Deshi (apprentices) under O'Sensei and he served in that capacity for the last 14 years of O'Sensei's life. In 2004 he awarded Denis Burke Sensei the rank of 7th Dan.
Since the beginning of his journey Denis Burke Sensei has continued to study a diverse range of related subjects. Sometimes this had been formally, such a gaining Teach qualifications in Adult and Further Education and Sports Coaching, but for the most part informally and by following his own avenues of research and experimentation. As he puts it, "My quest has been to continually improve the quality, effectiveness and applicability of my Aikido and teaching, and to understand more deeply how both individuals and organisations can be helped to co-create a brighter future."
This has led him to work with thousands of people in several areas outside the context of Aikido such as with the leadership of large corporations and with sports people, including International Athletes in Rugby, Athletics, Biathlon and Modern Pentathlon. His first book, The Isshinkai Aikido Practice Manual, which outlines many of the principles of this work as applied to Aikido practice, will be available from June 2012. His second, on organisational applications and implications in future organisations, is scheduled for publication late in 2012. A third on his work in sports performance, is in the early planning stage.