Banyu Hatten Aikido was inaugurated in 1987 (its Official Birthday is 1st May) under the guidance of Geoff Flather Sensei. Geoff Flather Sensei has studied numerous martial arts for the last fifty years, he first began studying aikido in 1967 in the North East with Kazuo Chiba Sensei. In the late 1970s he became a member of the Ki Federation of Great Britain (lead by Ken Williams Sensei), practicing with Wasyl Kolesnikov. Kolesnikov Sensei left the Ki Federation in 1982 and Geoff went with him when Kolesnikov established the Kolesnikov School of Mind and Body Development and Aikido (KSMBDA).
In the mid 1980s a group of people decided to leave the KSMBDA, and in March of 1987 Geoff was asked to lead this group, the group looked at the possibility of joining other aikido associations but eventually decided to remain autonomous and took the name suggested to Geoff by the Japanese Embassy: 'Banyu Hatten Aikido' which represents the attitude of the association and in English means: 'The Universal Development of the Way of Harmony of Mind and Spirit'.
Shortly after BHA was established and had had its first summer school, Geoff was invited to study with Tomio Otani Sensei. Tomio Otani was a student of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei (who had introduced aikido to the UK in 1955) and studied aikido, kendo, iaido and other arts with him. Upon meeting Geoff, Otani Sensei asked if he could teach him. Geoff accepted, became his student and began travelling frequently to London from Devon to train with Otani Sensei, up until Otani Sensei passed away in the 1990s.
Towards the end of his life Otani Sensei retired from teaching budo, however he continued to teach Geoff and Geoff's students, travelling from London to Devon to do so. A respected master of the Japanese sword, Otani Sensei's influence on Geoff and BHA is still apparent and reflected by the large weapons curriculum taught within BHA.
Since its birth, BHA has provided its own assessment syllabus and developed its own instructors through different levels, until reaching the instructor level of 'Sensei'. Geoff Flather Sensei has been a full-time professional aikido teacher since 1987, and has been developing BHA's teaching methods and training syllabus since that time.
BHA is affiliated to Aikido Yuishinkai International headed by Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei. In 2004 Maruyama Sensei and the Chief Instructor of Aikido Yuishinkai International Michael Williams Sensei visited the UK as part of Maruyama's world tour for that year. After the visit he awarded BHA's Principal Geoff Flather Sensei the rank of 7th Dan. As a result of BHA's affiliation to Aikido Yuishinkai the association's name was changed to Banyu Hatten Aikido Yuishinkai.
Banyu Hatten Aikido Yuishinkai's stated aims are:
- To cultivate a heightened awareness of mind and body working in harmony through Banyu Hatten Aikido;
- To cultivate a greater awareness of the infinite through practice of calmness, relaxation and Ki power;
- To provide its students with a means to achieve good health through mind and body exercises;
- To provide its students with a non-aggressive, progressive grading syllabus that may be used as an effective form of defence;
- To pursue unity and develop within Aikido, without barriers of the mind.