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The Hut Appeal

The Hut Dojo, in Orchard Close, Hillingdon, the headquarters of the Institute of Aikido, was the first place in the whole of the United Kingdom in which our Martial Art was taught. The building itself is apparently a relic from the first World War, a former army hut, many of which found a new role around the country in the early 1920s. The Hut served for a time as the HQ of the First West Drayton Scout group, but by the mid 1950s it had become the dojo of the Abbe Judo School, under its President, Kenshiro Abbe, 8th Dan.  In addition to his Judo expertise, Abbe Sensei had studied for ten years as a student of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba – O Sensei himself, and he held the rank of 6th Dan. He also was a 6th Dan in Kendo. Abbe Sensei had come to the UK in 1955 and over the next few years he introduced  many Martial Arts to Europe, including Kendo, Kyudo (the art of the bow) and Iaido  (the art of drawing the sword).

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Although the main activity of Abbe Sensei’s school was originally Judo, he began to teach Aikido to his students, including Ken Williams and Haydn Foster and many of the early pioneers of UK Aikido, many of whom who went on to establish their own dojos and organisations and eventually this became his principal focus. A photo dating from 1957 shows him in the Hut with a group of some 30 or more students. Abbe Sensei returned to Japan in 1964 to see the Tokyo Olympics at which Judo became an Olympic sport for the first time after which a number of Japanese sensei, in particular Noro and Nakazono, spent some time teaching at The Hut as part of their efforts to expand their art throughout Europe.

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In 1973 Haydn Foster Sensei founded the Institute of Aikido, which he based at The Hut Dojo. Foster Sensei became Principal of the Institute, which has member clubs throughout the UK and abroad. He continued teaching the art of Aikido, running a successful club at The Hut until his death in 2011, after which the Institute of Aikido and The Hut Dojo have continued to flourish.

The Hut therefore is a building of considerable historical significance in the development of the Martial Art of Aikido in the UK and now we have been offered the chance to purchase the dojo in its entirety, including the land that it occupies. It will be necessary to carry out some alterations and modifications so that the dojo can be separated from the Hut pub and access to the dojo can be changed to the opposite side to where it is now. The windows will also be blanked off and a fence will surround that side so that the pub garden is not overlooked.  The current landlord, Gerry Collins, also runs a building company and will carry out all remedial work required to the exterior and interior. Because the dojo has been remodelled to form an annex to the pub we would need to make alterations to reverse this, permitting us to increase the floor space and thus increase the potential mat area. We instructed a surveyor to inspect the site and the building and his report is available on request. His valuation came to £350,000.00, which is the exact figure that Gerry Collins has requested for the dojo and the extra works.

This is an exciting proposition not only for those who train regularly at The Hut, but we feel also that the wider Aikido community will have an interest in helping to secure the dojo for future generations of Aikidoka. The history of this dojo is important to so many who started their journey along the path of Aikido from this very site, and it will also hold long lasting memories for those who have visited and trained here, especially for those who took their dan gradings within its walls.

We are therefore reaching out to all Aikidoka who would like to support us in securing the future of this incredible dojo by way of some kind of donation. Whilst there will be those of you who would like to donate anonymously, we have come up with a way of thanking anyone who would like to donate by offering a plaque within the dojo which would bear an individual’s name or the name of an association or club. This is along the lines of a great suggestion at the recent B.A.B. agm zoom meeting where I was asked if it would be possible for people to buy a brick. As the dojo is of all-wood construction this might prove difficult but we have plenty of wall space and so we are offering spaces on our ‘Wall of Fame’ for those who are interested.

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If you would like simply to make a donation,
no matter how small, then please send to:

The Treasurer, The Hut Dojo Ltd, c/o Janet Pain, 25 Chiltern View Road, Uxbridge UB8 2PE
email Cheques should be made out to The Institute of Aikido.

Or by bank transfer to: 

The Institute of Aikido, HSBC Uxbridge,

sort code: 40-42-08,

Account no: 21257609

Alternatively if you would like to ‘Buy’ a space on the Wall of Fame then please send your order to us on the attached form and we will raise an invoice for you by return.  The options are as follows:

£100.00 – 50mm x 25mm, up to 80 characters

£500.00 – 100mm x 50mm, up to 374 characters

£1000.00 – 200mm x 150mm, up to 2520 characters

£5,000 – 300mm x 200mm, up to 5145 characters

We are not expecting everyone to buy these plaques as individuals although that would be great. What we are hoping for is that they will represent something that groups can get involved in as a joint enterprise. You can have any inscription you like as long as it doesn’t exceed the number of characters and so it can be as simple or as busy as you want it, plus you could have multiples of plaques. Each plaque will be numbered and come with its own certificate.

It is hoped that we will end up with a venue that can be hired for courses and meetings 7 days a week, and we would love to help you host your next course with us and give you the opportunity to see your plaque on the wall of fame. Every club/organisation that supports this project will get preferential rates when booking a course.  

We hope that you will feel able to assist us in this historic project.

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William Timms 6th Dan IoA        

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Paul Foster-Dent 5th Dan IoA

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