British Aikido Board – Respect & Disrespect
By Henry Ellis
15th/May2007: Today I received a large package from Mrs Pat Woods, the daughter of my old friend William `Bill` Woods who sadly passed away last year. I opened the package to a gold mine of material from as far back as 1952. Old newspaper cuttings / old and rare magazines. Photos of Abbe Sensie and Otani Sensie and many others. I thought of the last time I saw Woods Sensie at the great Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 50th Celebrations at Crystal Palace on May the 14th 2005. Woods Sensie was, I truly believe, the greatest influence on British Martial Arts. He was the LJS Judo Champion in 1952. In 1956 he left the LJS and joined with Kenshiro Abbe Sensie and Matsutaro Otani Sensie. Later to become the secretary of the British Judo Council BJC. The BKC and the BAC with a combined membership of some 35,000 members worldwide.
William `Bill` Woods despite his serious illness insisted to his family that he wanted to attend the “ Kenshiro Abbe Celebrations “ to pay his own tribute to his teacher. Woods Sensei was invited as a VIP guest. I am sure that a man with such an illustrious past would not wish to be seen there in a wheelchair, his determination was such, that is how he finally made this event. He received a fantastic applause from the students and spectators. For me personally, this made the day complete. A man could not have shown more respect.
Mr Vincent Sumpter the chairman of the British Aikido Board acted in total contrast to William `Bill` Woods Sensei. As the chairman of the British Aikido Board Mr Sumpter was invited as a VIP guest to represent not himself but the membership of the British Aikido Board. Mr Sumpter did at first accept the invitation, he later addressed a BAB executive meeting and declared “ I refuse to attend this event, If you apply pressure for me to attend, I will resign !!! “ Of course this disrespect is totally in accord with the previous BAB chairman one Toni Davies who infamously stated “ We the British Aikido Board are not the custodians of British Aikido History, and therefore have no interest in the same “. No one would expect them to be the custodians of UK Aikido history, they would however expect them to show an interest in the history of their own creation.