Joe Thambu Shihan
8th Dan Aikido
In 1972, Joe Thambu Shihan began his Aikido training at the age of 11, under the tutelage of his Uncle, Thamby Rajah Sensei, the father of Aikido in Malaysia. As a teenager, Thambu Shihan studied some Kendo and Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo. In 1978, Thambu Shihan tested for his Shodan and soon after at the age of nineteen, he travelled to Australia where he began training in Aiki-Kai, whilst studying at university. After deciding he was unsuited to this, Thambu Shihan took up Ju-jitsu before beginning the first Yoshinkan Aikido dojo in Melbourne, Australia.
In 1983, Thambu Shihan travelled to Japan to further his Aikido training. Whilst in Japan, he lived and trained at the principle Yoshinkan Honbu dojo in Tokyo. On his return, Thambu Shihan established his first premises at St Georges Road in Melbourne and set in motion the first home for the ‘Aikido Shudokan.’ This was to be the first permanent Yoshinkan dojo to be started in Australia.
Since 1983, Thambu Shihan has returned to Japan many times, the most memorable being in 1993, when he tested for his fifth dan by Soke Shioda Gozo, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido. At the time, Thambu Shihan was the youngest non-Japanese student of Aikido to be graded to this rank and was also privileged in being the last student to be tested by Soke Shioda Gozo before his death in 1994.
Thambu Shihan, the Chief Instructor of Aikido Shudokan, has been a practitioner of Aikido for over 36 years. During this time, he has trained under many great Instructors, including; Soke Shioda Gozo, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido, Inoue Kyoichi Kancho, Chida Tsutomu Shihan and Takeno Takefumi Shihan, all influential Aikido teachers, Thamby Rajah Sensei, Don Draeger Sensei, Soke Obata Toshishiro, the founder of Shinkendo and Shihan Nariyama Tetsuro, the Chief Instructor of Tomiki Aikido. All of these instructors are world-renowned Martial Artists.
Thambu Shihan has continually dedicated himself to making a name for the Aikido Shudokan in the martial arts community both locally and overseas. In 1997, Thambu Shihan received the Blitz (martial arts magazine) “Hall of Fame Aikido Instructor of the Year” award, in recognition for his outstanding achievement and soon after in 2001, Thambu Shihan tested and received his sixth dan. Every year the Aikido Shudokan receives a constant stream of international visitors and Thambu Shihan continues to teach, train and demonstrate his aikido worldwide to men, women and children. During one of these memorable visits in 2005, Thambu Shihan was presented with the Tokubetsu Embu Sho (an award given for the best demonstration), at the 50th All Japan Yoshinkan Aikido Demonstration.
Through his wealth of experience, Thambu Shihan has made aikido accessible to the security industry, where he has combined his martial training with years of security and crowd control experience in a very unique manner. In addition, Thambu Shihan’s ability to apply his aikido training in a variety of ways has made him a much sought after public speaker at training seminars for corporate and local government sectors.
In acknowledgment for his dedication to Aikido, Thambu Shihan was awarded his seventh dan by Shioda Yasuhisa Kancho, the former head of Yoshinkan Aikido in December 2007 and was promoted to the rank of “Shihan” in October 2008. Joe Thambu Shihan is the first non-Japanese person ever to receive this title from the Yoshinkan Hombu dojo. It is a very apt and well-deserved title. In addition, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Asia Pacific Open University of Martial Arts on 8th July 2012 for his lifelong contribution to martial arts. In November 2015, Thambu Shihan was awarded the rank of 8th Dan by Inoue Kyoichi Kancho, 10th Dan, and the head of Aikido Shudokan.
To this present day, Thambu Shihan continues to spread the art of Aikido worldwide and has been instrumental in the development of Aikido throughout South-east Asia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Iran.