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Old 06-11-2006, 10:11 AM   #42
David Yap
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 561
Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello David,

I have read through this thread and would like to establish one point. Was there any aikido in Malaysia before Mr Jun Yamada came and established the Aikikai Malaysia in Kuching, Sarawak? At the present time I believe that there are four groups in Malaysia recognized by the Aikikai. It is perhaps indelicate to ask this, but am I right in thinking that the four Aikikai groups, and any other groups that practise aikido that is recognisably Aikikai, are offshoots of Mr Yamada's original organization?
Hi Prof. Goldsbury,

I thought that this thread (started in Oct'03) has been closed. The independent dojo in question has since been "re-affiliated" with Aikikai Hombu via Etsuji Horii shihan of Senda dojo in Kobe. For strange reason(s) IMO the aikikai community here is amongst the unharmonious lot. The number of aikikai practitioners in the whole country average about 500~600 at any time.

Malaysia is geographically divided by the South China Sea - West (or Peninsula) Malaysia and East Malaysia (comprising the states of Sarawak and Sabah on the Borneo island). Here is a brief history of aikido in West Malaysia:

Aikido was first introduced in Seremban, West Malaysia by Thamby Rajah sensei after obtaining his black belt from Gozo Shioda in Tokyo, Japan in 1959. Thamby sensei is also the first Malaysian to receive a black belt from Kodokan Judo, Japan. While in Japan, he had also trained at the Japan Karate Association.

In the 1969, Michael Tham, his student, started Aikikai NS in Seremban after training at the Aikikai Hombu dojo in Tokyo. In 1975, Michael Tham started the KL YMCA Aikido Club. In 1982, Michael Tham retired from Aikido and the stewardship of the KL YMCA Aikido Club was passed to his senior student, George Lo. George Lo had initially trained aikido under Seiichi Sugano during his student days in Australia. This would be in the late 1970's as Sugano shihan had already left Australia for Belgium by early 1979. In 1988, George Lo migrated to Australia and Tee Cheng Sum was appointed the chief instructor at the KL YMCA Aikido Club. Tee Cheng Sum was also primarily responsible for the propagation of aikido in the Klang Valley starting in 1993 with opening of new dojo and the establishment of the Malaysia Aikido Association in 1994. It is interesting to note that most of the instructors in West Malaysia have had their roots in KL YMCA Aikido Club.

Credit must be given to the late Foo Chee Juan sensei. A student of Michael Tham, he had also trained and obtained his 2nd Dan at Aikikai Hombu, Tokyo. Following the departure of George Lo to Australia, almost all the senior students from KL YMCA Aikido Club (including C S Tee and Marcus Chan) also seek his instructions at his Aikido Academy dojo in Seremban.

Jun Yamada shihan was dispatched by Aikikai Foundation to propagate aikido to the East Malaysian state of Sarawak in 1970. Hence, majority of his students are based in East Malaysia. In 2002, he moved from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur when he was appointed the chief instructor for aikido at the Royal Malaysian Police Training Center (PULAPOL).

Currently there are 3 organizations recognized by Aikikai Hombu, namely:

Aikikai Malaysia Sdn Bhd under Jun Yamada, the resident shihan in Malaysia.
Aikikai Malaysia Association, AMA, whose president is Haji Haneef. Jun Yamada shihan resigned as the Technical Director of this association in 2005. (The reason for his resignation is clearly spelled out on his website)
Malaysia Aikido Association, MAA, which is presently led by Low Thian Seng. This association is run by instructors who were originally from the KL YMCA Aikido dojo - a dojo under the AMA umbrella. MAA's Technical Director is Seiichi Sugano shihan of NY Aikikai.

There is also a dojo located in the state of Johore which is under the supervision of T Sugawara shihan. However, I have no information on its status of Aikikai Hombu recognition. The only independent is the Seishinkai group under Tee Cheng Sum sensei. Tee sensei was a founder and the immediate past president of MAA.

AMA is the sole organization recognised by the IAF (at this time). I have been told that MAA would also be getting a recognition from IAF. Hence, I have posted a question on IAF forum as to whether IAF has amended its "one country-one representation" rule. A question that has been left unanswered.

I am not aware of the history of aikido in East Malaysia. I was told that a few Sarawakians did train in Japan in the 1960s. The question is whether they did establish aikido in Sawarak upon their returns.


David Y
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