Greetings from Yamada Sensei

Dear USAF Members,

All of us in the aikido community have been affected by COVID-19. It seems like almost all dojos have closed either voluntarily or by government orders. It is hard for me to have the NY Aikikai closed but we must do our part to help and make sure our students stay safe. Many of you have been kind to call or write to see how I am. I want to assure you all that I am in good health – but very bored – and I am looking forward to the time we will all be able to train again. Hopefully we will be able to do so at summer camp. We are in touch with the hotel  but we must wait a little longer until our final decision.

Y. Yamada

Dan Promotion Applications Mailed to Aikikai December 19th, 2019

Test applications mailed to Aikikai Hombu Dojo on December 19th, 2019 for registration of  dan rank




  • Yukihasa Aokusa – Southland Aikido
  • Luna Beller – Tadiar – New York Aikikai
  • Paul Burt – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Ilya Chuykin – NY Eastside Aikikai
  • Elizabeth Deerkoski – NY Eastside Aikikai
  • Adam Dodway – NY Eastside Aikikai
  • Victor Eng – New York Aikikai
  • Dennis Garcia, Jr. – Miami Aikikai
  • Eric Giroux – Dairyukai Aikikai
  • Israel Gonzalez – Miami Aikikai
  • Gladys Hernandez – Gold Coast Aikikai
  • Stephen Hlawaty – Aikido of Colorado
  • Anna Ito – Southland Aikido
  • Doug Johnstone – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Laurie Lee – New York Aikikai
  • Raymond Lefebvre – Portsmouth Aikido
  • Keith McGuire – Martha’s Vineyard Aikido Club
  • Dale Miller – Aikido of Red Bank
  • David Morris – Austin Aikikai
  • Shawn Rhodes – Pinellas County Aikikai
  • Joseph Vella – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Marissa Wites – Florida Aikikai


  • Anthony Breda – Heaven and Earth Aikido
  • Jesus Camaraza – Gold Coast Aikikai
  • Frank Campione – New York Aikikai
  • Robert Conroy – New York Aikikai
  • Eric Fernandez – NY Eastside Aikikai
  • Ricardo Manzo – Florida Aikikai
  • Yaron Nahum – New York Aikikai
  • Mark Pit – Florida Aikikai
  • David Poulicakos – Portland Aikido
  • Omar Ruego – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Phillip Sellers – Aikido Center of Atlanta
  • Annie Small – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Elizabeth Stevens – NY Eastside Aikikai
  • Spencer Sweeney – New York Aikikai
  • George Walden – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Jonathan Wilde – New York Aikikai
  • Darius Wilkerson – Florida Aikikai
  • Kristina Wollschlaeger – Aikido of Park Slope


  • Paul Alexander – New York Aikikai
  • Jonathan Beller – New York Aikikai
  • Margaret Bower – Water’s Edge Aikikai
  • William Bresniham – Florida Aikikai
  • James Curcurato – New York Aikikai
  • Eric Dunlap – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Peter Greig – Southern Maryland Aikikai
  • James Kanze – Hoboken Aikikai
  • Richard Lookshin – Florida Aikikai
  • Gary McIntosh – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • John Murdoch II – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Jaeouk Ok – New York Aikikai
  • Cosjun Pabua – New York Aikikai
  • Gene Sowles – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Nerferti Tadiar – New York Aikikai
  • Marie Torrecampo – Long Beach Island Aikikai
  • Calderon Wellington – Florida Aikikai


  • E. Lee Alexander – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Andres Almosny – Florida Aikikai
  • Cristina Costanzo – Florida Aikikai
  • Lynne Crystal – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Alan Fishbone – New York Aikikai
  • Michael Fitzpatrick – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Keith Lit – Florida Aikikai
  • Edward Manalang – Aikido of Nassau County
  • John J Montes – New York Aikikai
  • Zachariah Nobel – Portsmouth Aikido
  • Pat Patton – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Andres Zoldo – Nations Aikikai

2020 New USAF Dojo

The USAF would like to welcome the following new member dojo:






Santa Fe Budokan

Chief Instructor: Damon Apodaca

190 A Nine Mile Road

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508




Chief Instructor: David O’Donnell

4450 N Tenaya Way

Las Vegas, Nevada  89129

2020 USAF Summer Camp Featured Instructors

We are thrilled to notify you that USAF 2020 Summer Camp will be in honor of the 10th memorial anniversary of Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei and Seiichi Sugano Sensei. In addition to our special guests Yamada Sensei and Osawa Sensei, we are excited to have Sugano Sensei’s son, Jikou Sugano Sensei, join us from Australia for the 2nd half of camp!

More info coming soon!




2019 at a glance

We would like to share with you our 2019 year-end report that was circulated to USAF Chief Instructors.  In an effort to reduce paper waste, we will no longer be mailing a printed copy. We hope you find it informative and wish you a wonderful 2020.

New Year’s Recommendations 2020

The following list comprises the 2020 New Year’s recommendations for 5th dan and above, and Shihan.


The recently posted list on Aikikai Foundation’s website can be found here: Kagami Biraki Grading 2020


  • Penny Armitage – Austin Aikikai
  • Gene Batan – Aikido of Fairfield County
  • Christopher Ednie – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Kevin Farrell – Woodstock Aikido
  • Maurits Filet – Florida Aikikai
  • Kali Hewitt-Blackie – Regent Park Community Aikido
  • Alan Gay – Savannah Aikikai
  • Ronald Houle – Portland Aikido
  • Jordan Jordanov – Aikido of New Orleans
  • David Kedney – Midwest Aikido Center
  • Joel Leffert – Woodstock Aikido
  • Anthea Pascaris – Notting Hill Aikikai
  • Jonathan Weiner – Aikido of Charlotte
  • Brian Weidman – Aikido of San Antonio


  • Lynn Marshall – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • Mohamed Mounji – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Richard Nardi – Aikido Center of Atlanta
  • Eugene Nelson – Florida Aikikai
  • Andrew Newton – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Marie Numata – Princeton Aikikai
  • Edward Stearns – Aikido Center of Atlanta


  • Masashi Numata – Princeton Aikikai


  • Spiros Koyanis – Two River Aikikai
  • Masashi Numata – Princeton Aikikai


Happy Holidays from Yamada Sensei

Dear USAF Members:

As I sit at my desk in my office I can’t believe it is already time for Christmas and the New Year. I don’t know where the time went, especially when I look at my 2019 calendar and see how many places I visited around the world. Again in 2020, I am traveling from as far away as Australia and Russia, to as close as Brooklyn and New Jersey. These seminars and each stop in between is a chance for me to see you all on the mat, and it is what keeps me young and eager to remain your teacher for as long as possible.

We just finished New York Aikikai’s Christmas seminar, and once again the mat was overflowing with visitors. People were even practicing on the wooden floor in our entry way because there was no room on the mat! This of course made me very happy. So many wonderful tests, so many friendly faces I have known through the years, and so many new and young faces that are the future of aikido.

I encourage you all to continue practicing in a harmonious, joyful and friendly way. I think this is what makes the difference in our lives on and off the mat.

Thank you for your support, and I wish you a happy holiday and peaceful New Year.


Y. Yamada



Summary Letter from the USAF Board of Directors

November 25, 2019

Dear USAF Dojo Cho and Instructors,

The Board of Directors met in Ft. Lauderdale for its annual meeting on November 7-9. Here is a summary of the main outcomes of that meeting.

The most important task for the annual meeting is the USAF budget. The discussion focused on where we are to date and developing a balanced budget for Fiscal year 2020. We will vote and approve the 2020 budget by the end of January.

A second issue of importance for our annual meeting is the election of board members and officers. I am pleased to announce that we elected a new member to the board. Sylvie Firestone, 5th Dan and co-founder of Aikido of Westchester, will join the board in 2020. As well as being an accomplished Aikidoist, Sylvie is an excellent graphic designer with great media savvy. The Board is excited that she will bring this skill set to the USAF to help us grow and strengthen the organization going forward. Julia Freedgood was re-elected Treasurer and Peter Bernath was also re-elected as Technical Committee representative.

Since Summer Camp, we have examined several recommendations from the ad-hoc Marketing and Growth committee. It was decided that, since each dojo is a separate entity with its own organizational structure, a blanket approach to internet marketing is not feasible at this time. However, we are making the committee a formal committee of the Board and will continue to work with the ad-hoc members to strengthen the USAF’s presence and offer suggestions to member dojos on ways they can better promote themselves locally. Meanwhile, both the USAF Youtube channel and Instagram accounts are up and running, promoting our summer camp classes and other USAF events.

The Board has created a “Working Group” to explore issues of gender, diversity and inclusion in our organization. To start, the group consists of Board representatives Julia Freedgood and Sylvie Firestone along with USAF members Chris Wong and Arturo Peal. It will be chaired by Sharon Dominguez. The working Group has already met and is moving forward to determine goals, structure and composition of the group and to decide on next steps.

The Board updated the Code of Conduct, clarified the Grievance Process, and will be making the entire package more easily accessible on the USAF website. This document is linked to our DDC instructor’s page, our newsletter –, and our website’s Membership Benefit’s page at We encourage you to post the Code of Conduct in your dojo so your members are aware of and have access to the updated policy.

In addition to the Board meetings at Winter Camp, it is also the place for one of the Technical Committee’s bi-annual meetings. As TC membership is based on 4 year terms, the following members’ terms were renewed for another 4 years: Peter Bernath, Claude Berthiaume, Harvey Konigsberg, Donovan Waite.

You will be receiving information regarding 2020 renewals in the next few weeks. Please do not proceed with your renewals until then.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season,

George Kennedy
Chair, USAF Board of Directors

Dan Promotion Applications Mailed to Aikikai October 2nd, 2019

Test applications mailed to Aikikai Hombu Dojo on October 2nd, 2019 for registration of  dan rank




  • Michael Villacin – Aikido North Jersey
  • Joseph Cayea – Aikido of Central New York
  • Stuart Plymesser – Aikido of Central New York
  • Jason Neumann – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Geoffrey Yee – Aikido of Ramapo Valley
  • Susannah Wolk Rodriguez – Albany Aikido
  • Richard Chong – Albany Aikido
  • Tamera Bowcutt – Heaven and Earth Aikido
  • John Hite – Hoboken Aikikai
  • Svetlena Medvedeva – Midwest Aikido Center
  • Michael Paus – New York Eastside Aikikai
  • Rodney Landis – Old City Aikido
  • Robert Gilbride – Old City Aikido
  • John Wes Green – Old City Aikido
  • Gregory Barton – Plano Aikido Center
  • Audrey Therese Uy – Skylands Aikikai
  • David Szyszka – Woodstock Aikido
  • Adam Montan – Twin Cities Aikido Center


  • Adonis Villarosa – Aikido North Jersey
  • Michael Hanson – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Dmitry Shimelfarb – Aikido of Ramapo Valley
  • Ken Sato – Aikido of Westchester


  • Ramin Miri – Aikido de la Montagne
  • John Graham – Aikido of Fairfield County
  • Sau Yan Yee – Aikido of Ramapo Valley
  • Yoshikazu Hirano – Aikido of Westchester
  • Mario De Marco – Lake County Aikikai
  • Herman Rodriguez – Lake County Aikikai
  • Andrew Benioff – Old City Aikido
  • Mark Ahlquist – Vineland Aikikai


  • Kim Johnston – New York Eastside Aikikai
  • Mike Cipra – Twin Cities Aikido Center

Message from the USAF Board of Directors

Dear USAF Instructors:
This past weekend the USAF Board of Directors held its annual meeting at Florida Aikikai’s winter camp. During our meeting we discussed a petition on gender equity which had been posted on Facebook and otherwise circulated by a Coalition of women in Aikido. We also discussed a related proposal from another group interested in advancing diversity and equity and ways to grow and strengthen the USAF.
The Board is fully committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the USAF. Based on our own deliberations and several constructive recommendations we have received, we will be implementing a series of changes, starting with the creation of a Working Group to explore gender and equity issues. This Working Group will include one or more Board members and one or more Technical Committee members, along with other USAF members. We will be providing greater detail in the forthcoming letter from the Board Chair sharing the outcomes of the Board meeting.
According to our Code of Conduct, “all members are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively on the USAF and Aikido.” While we are excited about the actions we will be taking to advance equity and inclusion, we are disappointed by the Coalition’s divisive behaviors, especially on social media, which have included public attacks on the USAF, its Board and Yamada Sensei. As such, we have notified the coalition that we will only work with USAF members in good standing who share our goals of promoting gender equity in an honorable, transparent and mutually respectful manner.
We want all USAF members to know we are grateful to Yamada Sensei for the organization he has created and built. Furthermore, the Board fully supports Yamada Sensei and has complete confidence in his leadership now and going forward.
The USAF Board of Directors
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