Sensei Haydn Foster was the Principal Coach of the Institute of Aikido which is in turn a founder member of the British Aikido Board (BAB).
Sensei Foster began his aikido training some time towards the end of 1956 at the Hut Dojo, near Heathrow. He was awarded 1st Dan by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei in 1960, and 2nd Dan by Mutsuharu Nakazono Sensei in 1962, one of the oldest Hombu grading certificates in the UK. He was awarded 3rd Dan by Masamichi Noro Sensei in 1969. I have had the pleasure of holding his shodan and nidan certificates, both of which are signed by O Sensei.
In 1973, following the demise of the Renown Aikido Society (1966-1969), Foster Sensei was approached by the ex- members and asked to reconstruct the society as the Institute of Aikido.
Now 7th Dan (IA) Mr. Foster continues to teach at the Hut, directs the annual institute of Aikido Summer School and has made recent teaching tours of New Zealand.
On the 2nd and 3rd of June 2007, Senseis and students from many different organisations gathered together for a course to honor and celebrate Mr. Foster’s 50th year in Aikido and his 80th Birthday.
On 26th August 2009 at The Hut dojo, our Technical Director Mr. H. Foster (7th Dan IA) was recognised for his commitment and achievements in Aikido with the award of 6th Dan in the International BiranKai by TK Chiba Shihan.
I started my Aikido career as a kid aged about 9 and a half (1973) and remember “The Boss” occasionally turning up to watch the Saturday morning kids class.
One particular memory stands out; we were doing “avoidance” movements, and he took his shoes and socks off and came on the mat in his “civvies”.
As one of the older kids he got me up and said “grab me”. To cut a long story short I spend the next minute or so chasing him around the mat, not getting anywhere near him, in fact I spent a lot of time flat on my face! His response as always was a loud cackling laugh ending in “Very good! Carry on!” and he bowed off the mat (to no doubt pop into the pub that still joins the dojo to this day).
I could write a very long book recounting stories from my days travelling around the UK (and later New Zealand) as Uke/assistant to Mr F. He was a truly astonishing man, and made a huge impression on everyone he met with his open manner, his knowledge and most probably importantly his wisdom.
Although his technical understanding of Aikido was encyclopedic, and he was constantly “searching” for new ways to improve his understanding of the art. On more than one occasion I remember him seeing something another sensei at a seminar or course was doing and then taking it back to our dojo and breaking it down into pieces and seeing what he could get from it, even if it was from another art.
To be honest I am still a bit in shock, I only spoke to him on the ‘phone a few days back and although he had a chest infection (not unusual for him over the winter months) he was in good spirits and we talked at leangth about the UK Summer Camp this year which quite a few of us are flying over to attend.
At some point I’m sure I’ll sit down and write a more fitting tribute, something more eloquent, but at the moment all I can think of is that we have lost not only an Aikido legend, but somethng rarer and more precious; a 100% genuine, authentic human being.
Rest in peace Guv’nor.