Even standing with my back toward the opponent is enough. When he attacks, hitting, he will injure himself with his own intention to hit. I am one with the Universe and I am nothing else. When I stand, he will be drawn to me. There is no time and space before Ueshiba of Aikido -only the Universe as it is.
Morihei Ueshiba


Kenneth Cottier 7'Th Dan Shihan (1933 - 2008)

AFSA’s previous Honorary President


I have been a close student and colleague of the late Cottier Shihan since 1984 and would like to give recognition and present him to my friends and students in the following pages. I would like you to learn about his achievements, but most of all to gain insight into his personality .
-- Paul de Beer


In honnour of a great soul.


Our beloved Sensei, K.G.E. Cottier Shihan, passed away on Sunday morning, 8 June 2008 in Liverpool, England.

To many of us Sensei was not just our Aikido teacher, but a cherished friend, a trusted mentor and a man of wisdom from whom we had learned so much about life during the time we were together.

Sensei’s friendship touched the lives of so many people throughout the globe and his life continues to be a true inspiration to those who knew him.

It is with abundant joy and gratitude that we reflect on more than 20 years of friendship, the significant way we met, the wonderful times we shared together, the practice, the fun, the laughter, the pain…... Thank you for being a true friend and for defying your own comfort on so many occasions, for sharing your experience so abundantly, for your gracious example and for bringing confidence and meaning into so many young South African lives. These memories are engraved deep into our hearts and have become part of our personality. Qualities we in turn can pass on to our children and the next generation of South African aikido-ka

Please allow me to share the following Dojo Kun of the Budokan with you in his honour. To me it serves as a perfect reflection of the ideals Sensei lived by and for which he will be remembered

(Aim to) live your life with honour, laugh often and laugh much
(Aim to) gain the respect of intelligent people and the love of little children
(Endeavour to) fill your niche with humility and accomplish your task and duty willingly
Always look for the best in others and give your best in return
Never lack appreciation of earth’s beauty and fail to express it
(Attempt to) leave the world a better place than you found it, whether by an improved rose, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul.

We honour his life and friendship and give thanks for the love and wisdom that he shared so abundantly. May he continue to live in our hearts and may he rest in peace …..

Kenneth Cottier Shihan was one of the first westerners to have studied directly under Ueshiba Morihei (O'Sensei), the founder of Aikido. He first started studying Judo in 1958 under the late Kenshiro Abbe, 8th Dan Kodokan. In 1961 he was attending a 3-month Judo instructor's course in London when Abbe Sensei introduced him to Aikido.

In 1964 he traveled to Japan for an extended stay and started training at the Old Hombu dojo. He returned home after achieving his Nidan qualification in March 1967 and continued his aikido studies in England until 1969 under the legendary Chiba Sensei. He again returned to Hombu in 1969 for further full time studies.

During the 1970’s Cottier Sensei travelled extensively in the Far East to help promote aikido. In January 1971, after he was awarded Sandan, he moved to Hong Kong where he founded the Hong Kong Aikido Association. He returned to Hombu in 1972 and was awarded Yondan in January 1977. In1978 he was sent to the Philippines to evaluate Aikido on behalf of the Hombu. During 1981 Cottier Sensei returned to England and joined the British Aikido Federation under Kanetsuka Sensei.

Cottier Sensei was introduced to South African Aikido in 1984 by his close Hombu colleague, the then Chief Resident Instructor of AFSA, mr Chris Smart. He conducted his first AFSA Winter School in Pretoria in July that year and continued his month long exploration, instructing aikido and visiting dojos in all the main centra throughout the country. This began a lasting friendship with Cottier Sensei.

He visited South Africa again in 1986 for an extended stay of 7 months, with Pretoria as his base. During this time he toured the whole country and gave personal instruction at each and every AFSA dojo. Hard training in the dojo in a personal and somewhat unconventional manner was complemented with long and serious discussions after class. In this way a warm and personal bonds were established with Cottier Sensei.

Sensei became a formative influence in South African Aikido, and, in recognition of his leadership and contribution, he was named Honorary President of AFSA in 1997. Cottier Sensei kept contact on an advisory basis and visited South Africa on numerous occasions between 1984 and 2006. During this time he performed gradings, instructed, gave public demonstrations, conducted numerous national courses and also conducted interviews and TV broadcasts regarding aikido.

In summer 1988 he was appointed in the prestigious position of Superior Counsellor of the International Aikido Federation, and in January 2002 he was selected as Shihan by the Aikikai Foundation, Japan. Cottier Sensei was respected internationally and involved with aikido on the highest level for 48 years.



Sensei founded the Hong Kong Aikido Association in January 1971
Was intimately involved with the establishment, development, instruction and internationalisation of South African Aikido since 1984
Served as Superior Counsellor for the International Aikido Federation after 1988
Named Honorary President of AFSA in 1997. This is the highest honour bestowed on a person by the AFSA Council for meritorious efforts in advancing the Federation nationally and internationally.
Promoted to the Aikikai Hombu dojo’s international Shihan-kai in January 2002. This is a title of exceptional high international esteem and authority. Representatives act as Hombu’s ambassadors to give guidance on the highest level regarding technical- and philosophical aspects, as well as international affairs.
Promoted to the rank of 7th Dan in Aikido by Aikikai Hombu dojo, Tokyo, Japan


1965-12-01 Shodan by Ueshiba Kisshomaru Doshu, Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1967-03-00 Nidan by Ueshiba Kisshomaru Doshu, Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1971-05-08 Sandan by Ueshiba Kisshomaru Doshu, Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1977-01-09 Yondan by Ueshiba Kisshomaru Doshu, Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1988-01-10 Godan by Ueshiba Kisshomaru Doshu, Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1995-01-08 Rokudan by Ueshiba Kisshomaru Doshu, Aikikai Hombu, Japan
2008? Nanadan by Ueshiba Kisshomaru Doshu, Aikikai Hombu, Japan


1958 - 1964 Abe Kenshiro, 8th Dan Judo Kodokan, Japan
1964 - 1967 The founder, Ueshiba Morihei Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1967 - 1969 Chiba Kazuo 5th Dan Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1969 - 1971 Doshu, Ueshiba Kisshomaru Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1972 - 1981 Doshu, Ueshiba Kisshomaru Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1982 – 1991 Kanetsuka Minoru, 6th Dan Aikikai Hombu, Japan
1997 – 2006 Kanetsuka Minoru, 7th Dan Aikikai Hombu, Japan

PLEASE NOTE: Grades quoted for Instructors are grades held in the relevant Martial Art during the period quoted.

Cottier Sensei will always be remembered for his unselfish, kind hearted nature as well as his remarkable insight and experience. He made an invaluable contribution to spread aikido throughout South Africa and helped to institute the Aikido Federation of South Africa in such a way that it gained international recognition during the difficult years of political isolation. He was the fountainhead who inspired, consolidated, instructed and enabled the local leaders to establish themselves.


A photo page dedicated to Sensei Cottier is available here