What is KyuShinDo ? And more precisely what it isn’t from an essay and idea by Henry Ellis

Kenshiro Abe (or Abbe) Sensei 1915 – 1985 created this idea from spiritual principles of his native Japan

Kyu = Desire ・Yearn ・Sphere ・Circle ・Search ・Study.
Shin = Heart ・New ・Spirit ・True ・To be true to ones self.
Do = Way or Path , a way of life or self discipline .

I honestly believe that Kyu-Shin-Do has lost its true path in Britain and has become many things to many people.
Kenshiro Abe Sensei came to Britain in 1955 at the invitation of the London Judo Society ( LJS ).
He considered the Judo that he saw to be too concerned with strength, also too physical and hard. It was his intent to introduce his theory of Kyu-Shin-Do to the British Judoka. They in turn found it hard to understand that if they followed his teaching of Kyu-Shin-Do Judo which he himself had studied from as early as 1940 their own Judo skills would become stronger by technique rather than strength.

Our own Ray Sensei was taught by Abe Sensei at the now famous ‘Hut’

Lewes martial arts

Abbe Sensei would often say when speaking of KyuShinDo that one must have the right mind.

Abe Sensei rightly believed that KyuShinDo could be applied to anything, but he himself only applied it to Judo.

On one occasion Abe Sensei lined up 31 Judoka dan grades, he walked along the line and informed each Judoka what technique he would use, and whether it would be left of right handed. Abe Sensei then proceeded to throw each and every single one of the 31 students just as he had said. It is worth being reminded that Abbe Sensei was 40 years of age at that time.

Previously in 1935  Kenshiro Abe Sensei fought the great Japanese Judo legend Masahiko Kimura in the Japanese championship. Abe Sensei beat Kimura and that was oone of on 4 defeats that
Kimura Sensei suffered, he said of Abbe Sensei after his defeat
it was as if I was fighting a shadow and trying to catch the wind.

Gerry Gyngell Sensei (part of Abe Sensei 1964 Olympics Squad) said On this subject of KyuShinDo ・I believe it is as much about mental attitude as it is technique. I also believe that one can only learn by example and this ( I think ) is why so many failed to understand his teachings as they only looked at the physical and not the mental side of what Abe Sensei was teaching.

  • Yes・.the techniques had to be performed correctly・.
  • Yes・.it is not about how strong physically you are・
  • More importantly it is not about winning and losing, but about the balance of nature and the attitude of one to another.

I know this may start to seem that I am bringing in religion to the subject, In a way Budo is a spiritual as well as a martial art but without the worship of a Greater Being etc. ・no matter what your pretence , you are what you are and nothing more ! I also believe that Abbe Sensei practiced the old philosophy of To thine ownself be true
This is in my opinion a big part of what KyuShinDo is:

  • All nature is a circle
  • All correct movement is circular and by blending ( adapting ones technique ) with an opposing movement in an honest and open way the result will be harmony of thought and action・・・・・Three times the Welsh Judo Champion. Gyngell Sensei also worked in Abbe Sensei’s London office for the British Judo Council.

I would suggest that the true intention of Abbe Sensei was to teach his students that they too could be as smooth and elusive as a shadow rather than a brick wall.

Abbe Sensei believed in a principle that energy moves in circles where the centre of that circle is a still and stable point, Like the eye of the storm.
He outlined three principles: –
a. Bambutsu Ruten – All things in the Universe turn in constant flux.
b. Ritsudo – This motion is rhythmic and smooth.
c. Chowa – All things act in perfect accord.
To obtain perfection in technique means to attain perfection as a human being, and through our studies, to become a useful positive factor in society. He always believed that Martial arts made people into better members of society, his catch phrase if we can call it that was:
“Minimum Effort, Maximum Efficiency.”

Since the passing of Kenshiro Abbe in 1985 there have been so many that now claim to have known him, and to be great personal friends Abe Sensei. Some even claimed to have been the inventors of KyuShinDo an insult the the memory of a great Budo Master.
I now see the name ` Kyu-Shin-Do ` attached to so many things in the martial arts that I now believe many consider the term to be a ` really good ` sounding Japanese name without a dollop of the concept of understanding of its true meaning.
I do believe that when people use and abuse the name of ・Kyu-Shin-Do ・there is a deliberate attempt to imply a connection or relationship to Kenshiro Abe Sensei.
It a sad fact that Abbe Sensei was unhappy that so few Judoka were able to understand the teachings and principles of KyuShinDo even though they were receiving his personal tuition.

If one places KyuShinDo in the Google browser there are thousands of sites using the name, but none focussed on the circular flow of energy, used and practised in a minimal way to obtain the maximum outcome.


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