Aikido Journal Home » Encyclopedia » AUSTRALIA, HISTORY OF AIKIDO IN Aiki News Japan


Arthur Moorshead is credited with being the first to introduce aikido to Australia. Moorshead had earlier studied aikido under Tadashi ABE in France and Kenshiro ABBE in England. He then migrated to Australia in 1963 where he settled in Melbourne and began conducting aikido classes.

In 1965, Seiichi SUGANO arrived in Sydney as the official representative of the AIKIKAI HOMBU DOJO. He then assumed responsibility for the instruction and organization of Moorshead's classes. With the passage of time, a network of Aikikai-affiliated branch dojos was built up with dojos in each of Australia's states. Sugano left the country c. 1979 and relocated to Belgium.

TOMIKI AIKIDO was introduced to Australia by Leoni Heap (now GAY) in 1969 who had earlier trained for two years in the U. K. Her coming was due to a letter sent to Jim ELKIN, then President of the BRITISH AIKIDO ASSOCIATION by Frank Dando, a Melbourne judo instructor. She was followed in 1971 by John GAY, a senior aikido teacher who took over instruction of her classes. By 1971, there was sufficient interest in Tomiki Aikido to establish the AUSTRALIAN AIKIDO ASSOCIATION, which gave its first dan rank in 1973. Tomiki Aikido has since spread to many other states. YOSHINKAN AIKIDO was introduced in the early 1980s by Joe Thambu, originally from Malaysia. The KI SOCIETY of Koichi TOHEI also has established a presence in Australia.

Another younger generation of aikidoka have returned to Australia after having undergone specialized training in Japan to start aikido dojos. A number of Australians have practiced at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and in IWAMA under Morihiro SAITO. Three of Saito's Australian students, Barry KNIGHT, Michael FIELD and Derek Minus set up private dojos, the first two in Melbourne, and the latter in Sydney, in the early 1980s.

Over the years, DOSHU Kisshomaru UESHIBA, and Morihiro Saito have demonstrated and taught in Australia. Also, Kenji TOMIKI visited in March 1977, and was later followed by Hideo OHBA in 1981. More recently, Tetsuro NARIYAMA has visited Australia on four occasions between 1983 and 1987. At present there are several thousand practitioners in this country and a trend toward a degree of regulation of the martial arts by the Australian government has recently become evident.