“One often hears senior practitioners talk about "What they've done for Aikido". This is an attitude that always bemuses me. Would my life have been the same without Aiki? I don't think so” Sensei Haydn Foster
Haydn Foster sensei 7th Dan was one of the early practitioners of Aikido in England (Magnificent 8) and the founder of the Institute Of Aikido.
He was born to a Welsh family who emigrated in the early 1930's to England, and it was in Uxbridge Middlesex that he and his 3 siblings would grow up.
What occurred next would set the course of Mr. Fosters' life.
Along with his brother and two sisters, he soon found himself living in proximity to The Hut, a small pub off West Drayton Road, Hillingdon, Middlesex.
It was in 1955 in a Shack behind the 'Hut" that legendary master Kenshiro Abbe sensei, 8th Dan Judo, 6th Dan Aikido, 5th Dan Karate and 5th Dan Kendo came to the UK and shortly after introduced Aikido with the blessing of o-sensei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido. And it was from the very same place that Kenshiro Abbe sensei formed the British Judo Council, then the British Kendo Council, and The British Aikido Council, recognised by Abbe and Japan.
It was at the end of 1956 when Hayden Foster found himself in the Abbe sensei Dojo. He had gone there because his son, who was 9 years of age, had learned that a "club" had opened and had excitedly informed him of it. Hayden, being the father he was, didn't hesitate to take his son.
When they arrived at the Dojo, they were greeted to the sight of two small groups of men practicing and when he inquired about the form, he was told it was Aikido.
The first two teachers to meet with Hayden where Ken Williams Sensei and his brother David Williams sensei. After much explanation and discourse, Hayden enrolled his son for classes and soon found himself becoming a member of the Dojo and being taught Aikido. At that time, David Williams sensei had the distinction of holding a 1st kyu in Aikido and Ken Williams sensei his 1st kyu in Judo, awarded by sensei Abbe. Thus, Hayden Foster would become one of that famous first group of 8 members: K.Williams, National Coach 1958, D.Williams, H.Foster (The Godfather), Henry (Harry) Ellis, Assistant National Coach 1959, Eric Dollimore, John Caldwell, Lennie Ballard and Peter Dowden
By the 1959 Grange Farm summer school, Mr. Foster was 4th Kyu (orange belt), the following year he was graded to 1st Dan, and in 1961 was awarded 2nd Dan by Abbe sensei.By 1961 Aikido was growing quickly and Abbe sensei brought Noro and Nakazono sensei to the UK to re-grade the members of The Abbe School of Budo and had them validated in the Hombu Dojo.
In 1973, following the demise of the Renown Aikido Society (1966-1969), many students approached Foster Sensei to start a new organisation, and base it at the Hut. The Institute of Aikido was born (1973).
On the 2nd and 3rd of June 2007, sensei's and students from many different organisations gathered together for a course to honour and celebrate Mr. Foster's 50th year in Aikido and his 80th Birthday.
On 26th August 2009 at The Hut dojo, Mr. Foster was recognised for his commitment and achievements in Aikido and awarded 6th Dan by TK Chiba Shihan (International BiranKai). Henry Ellis and Derek Eastman were also honoured with the award of 6th Dan.