A Memorial Fund for Walter Van Enck, Chief Instructor of the Midwest Aikido Center

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sudden passing of our friend, colleague, mentor, and Chief Instructor, Walter Van Enck. Walter dedicated his adult life to practicing and promoting aikido, both at the Midwest Aikido Center and various locales around the United States and the world.

Many  have asked whether donations will be taken in memory of our Chief Instructor Walter Van Enck. Walter’s sudden passing has created a multitude of challenges to his family.Therefore, some of his friends and family have set up a memorial fund to help the family at this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made using the following link.

Click on this link to make a donation to Walter’s family.

Cash or check donations can also be made in person at the 2 memorial services, and will not be subject to the fundraising site’s processing fees.

Walter’s Memorial Service for friends and family will be held:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 1:00PM, Midwest Aikido Center


In order to accommodate the larger aikido community, there will also be a memorial for Walter at the dojo on Friday evening, April 24, 2015 in conjunction with the O-Sensei Memorial Seminar. More details to follow as they become available.

Please note that this will be a separate event from the memorial service on Wednesday, March 25th, 2015.

Seminar information can be found here



Midwest Aikido Center


Sioux Hall, Shihan – In memoriam

Sioux Hall, Chief Instructor of Harvard Aikikai and Muso Aikikai, passed from this world on February 6, 2015. She died in much the same way as she lived – peaceably, on her own terms, and with profound courage.

I knew Sioux for almost 35 years. I remember the first time I met her; she was ikkyu and I had just started practicing. She was practicing kokyu dosa with ferocity. Imagine that for a moment. As nage, she attacked with force (yes, I said ‘nage’), her bright red braid swinging wildly. In that moment, I thought to myself, “Now that is someone I have GOT to get to know.” Over the years, I saw her bind her shoulder with duct tape so it wouldn’t dislocate during practice, hold court with friends regaling them with Sensei stories, and practice hard …boy, did she practice hard… with fearlessness and abandon.

Over her aikido career, she was a constant, reliable and positive presence both on and off the mat. She was a consummate practitioner and teacher, yet she often operated in the background to make sure everything and everyone was taken care of. If you watched carefully after any summer camp class, Sioux was there; listening, sometimes giving suggestions on how to handle difficult situations, or showing how to properly tape an ankle. Did you ever wonder who arranged the flowers on the kamiza at summer camp? That’s right. She was the ikebana master at so many seminars, including summer camp.

In aikido and in life, so many of us have benefited from Sioux’s honesty, wisdom, kindness and generosity. People of all kinds were drawn to her, feeling her acceptance and warmth. She respected people of all abilities and was committed to creating a space for everyone to be able to fully participate in aikido regardless of age, gender or ability. A generous teacher, she could convey the essentials of aikido without being condescending. In particular, she was an advocate for women and children.

It’s the children I want to tell you about. Kids LOVED Sioux. She understood them completely and intuitively. The more they felt disconnected from the world, the more she was a bridge for them. In addition to teaching aikido to children and youth, she was also a counselor to troubled and disconnected kids. She was a trained professional with impressive university credentials. She was an expert in conventional terms. The credentials gave her access, but life gave her the real healing knowledge. She trusted that children knew deep down what they needed and wanted. Sioux believed from the bottom of her heart that children needed to have a voice, and she always conveyed to them how smart and clever, lovable and capable they are. She has had a profound impact on children beyond number. The legacy that Sioux leaves behind resides in those kids as they now mature (or have matured) into adulthood. They will be better aikidoists and better people for having been known and loved by her – as are we all.

I will miss you, dear friend.

For those of you who are able to attend, a party to celebrate Sioux’s life will be held on April 25 from 2 PM to 6 PM at the Hyatt Regency, 575 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA. There will be music, desserts, a cash bar and lots of memories of Sioux. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to http://bit.ly/1wTVDdF or ychinlee@gmail.com. As we gather to celebrate her extraordinary life, please consider contributing a photo or a written personal memory of Sioux. These may be emailed to siouxphotos@gmail.com.

By Bonnie Veysey, 6th Dan


Open Sky Aikikai Women Instructors Friendship Seminar

Open Sky Aikikai hosted its first Women Instructors Friendship Seminar on January 17 and 18, with Katie Haywood, Fukushidoin of Open Sky, serving as an instructor, photographer, and the main organizer of the event. The weekend was a joyful and fun-filled success, with lots of laughter and the opportunity for varied lineages to come together in a spirit of camaraderie. Close to 60 participants represented a diverse cross-section of aikidoka from North Carolina and beyond, and proceeds from the seminar went to benefit the Open Sky Children’s Scholarship Fund, developed in partnership with the N.C. Psychoanalytic Foundation.

Guest instructors included Leslie Kausch, 4th dan, Greensboro Kodokan Aikido; Takiko Noehl, 4th dan, Seibukan Aikido Dojo; Charlene Reiss, 4th dan, Triangle Aikido; Connie Truemper, 4th dan, Aikido Schools of New Jersey; and Cyd Curtis Bates, 3rd dan, Aikido of Northern Virginia. The generous spirit that each of these talented women brought to the mat showed that no matter how much the wider Aikido community may vary in style, we certainly share what is essential in the art we all love.

Instructors (left to right): Connie Truemper, Takiko Noehl, Cyd Curtis Bates, Katie Haywood, Leslie Kausch, and Charlene Reiss

Thanks to all of the guest instructors, and to the support of Open Sky Dojo-Cho Steve Kaufmann. For more photos and details about the event, check out the events page at https://www.facebook.com/events/758722367539864/?source=1&sid_create=2166910631.


Aikido Center of Atlanta’s Kagami Biraki

On January 10, the Aikido Center of Atlanta hosted its annual Kagami Biraki New Year’s practice.

This year was a huge success with over seventy five people attending from as far away as New Mexico. Longtime ACA Instructor Jeremy Wojcik received his fourth Dan promotion and Robert Allen was given his Nidan certificate. Each dojo-cho took turns teaching half hour segments for a total of five hours.

The Instructors were:

Jeremy Wojcik – Aikido Center of Atlanta

Darrell Tangman –  Augusta Aikido Club

Michael Goodman -  Roswell Budokan/kyushinkan dojo

Blue Spruell -  Peachtree Aikikai

Don Slater –   Georgia Southern Univ. Aikido Club

Garn Sherman –   West Georgia Aikikai

John Porter -   Vicksburg Aikikai

Alicia and Patrick Hardesty -  Kentuckiana Aikikai

George Kennedy -  Aikido Center of Atlanta

The Seminar was free and a pizza party was enjoyed by all after practice. Thanks to everyone who made it such a success and we look forward to doing it again next year!

“Aiki is Musubi” – Tamura Nobuyoshi Shihan. 2014: A Celebration of Connection and Family

Little did Yamada-Sensei know in 1964 that 50 years later, his life’s dedication in the “Big Apple” would inspire two aikido students, Dan and Nina Hayes, to connect in the “Little Apple” (Manhattan, KS) in an aikido wedding.





April 5, 2014 Aikido Wedding of Dan and Nina Hayes in Manhattan, KS, officiated by Dan’s “Ma,” Pastor Jayne Sensei of Thiel College Aikikai, and assisted by Reverend Tom Boomershine, fellow aikido student from Iowa. Photography by Brandon Chan

This aikido family actually started in 1972, when Peter Bernath started his aikido career under Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei at New York Aikikai.  Eventually in 1979, Peter met Penny at the Florida Winter Seminar.  There, Yamada Sensei asked them to open Florida Aikikai, with Peter to be the chief instructor and Penny to be the dojo manager.  So, in 1980, Florida Aikikai was officially opened, and 2 years later, Peter and Penny Bernath Sensei married.

1982 wedding of Peter and Penny Bernath Sensei

Then in 1987, two people named Jack Hayes and Jayne Thompson joined Peter and Penny Bernath Sensei in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to allow their child, Dan, to participate in children’s classes.

1985 wedding of Jack Hayes and Jayne Thompson Sensei

Dan Hayes (circled) with Peter Bernath Sensei leaning on his shoulder. Dan’s younger brother, Matt was also in Aikido at the time. He is second from the right, second row from the back wall.

Jack Hayes and Jayne Thompson Sensei moved to Manhattan, KS, in 1994 with their family.  They formed KSU Aikido, and Dan continued aikido under his parents.

Dan Hayes, his stepmother Jayne Thompson Sensei, Penny Bernath Sensei (guest seminar instructor), and Dan’s father Jack Hayes Sensei.

 By 2002, Dan had been practicing for 15 years.  Then, a freshman veterinary student, Nina, came along, looking for an activity outside the classroom and hospital walls.  She ended up on an aikido mat on the Kansas State University campus with Jack and Jayne Sensei (Dan’s parents) as her instructors.  Nina didn’t have any martial arts experience at all and wasn’t sure if this “aikido thing” was the right choice, but was told, “just keep coming to practice.”  And she did.

Nina’s first seminar, 5 months after starting aikido, was instructed by Yamada Sensei and Peter Bernath Sensei at Kansas State University.

By the time Nina graduated, Jack Hayes and Jayne Thompson Sensei had moved to Minnesota, and she was studying with their son, Dan, the new head instructor of KSU Aikido and the newly formed Tatsumaki Aikikai community group.

Testing under Dan Sensei.

In 2007, however, Nina moved to Omaha, NE, for work.  Dan followed her there, where he formed a new dojo, Chushin Aikikai.  He also continued on as the technical director for KSU Aikido and Tatsumaki Aikikai.  And Nina and Dan “kept going to practice” – regularly in Omaha, and making a 3 hour drive about once a month to Manhattan, KS… until 2013, when Dan and Nina became engaged.

Engagement photo taken by LQ Photography.

With much support from their dojos in Omaha and Kansas, Dan and Nina Hayes were married during the lunch break of the Musubi Aikido Seminar this past April.


Dan and Nina were honored to have their teachers, Peter and Penny Bernath Sensei, and Jack Hayes and Jayne Thompson Sensei instruct at the seminar.

There’s nothing like being uke for your new mother-in-law as she demonstrates a technique for the seminar!  Photography by Stacy Smith.

Thank you, Yamada-Sensei, Peter and Penny Bernath Sensei, Jack Hayes and Jayne Thompson Sensei, and all our aikido friends and family for helping a new “aikido family” start in 2014!!  We look forward to many more aikido memories together in 2015 and beyond!!

Aikido of Charlotte’s Annual Friendship Seminar

Aikido of Charlotte’s Annual Friendship seminar was held on January 3, 2015.  Classes were taught by Sensei Dennis Main, 6th Dan, Shidoin and Sensei Jonathan Weiner, 4th Dan, Fukushidoin of Aikido of Charlotte and were joined by Sensei Charlie Huff, 4th Dan and Sensei Phi Truong, 2nd Dan of Charlotte Aikikai (an ASU Affiliate). This was a special occasion as well, because Main Sensei was just promoted to 6th Dan with the New Year and the opportunity to train with our fellow aikidoka from the area was an excellent way to celebrate.

We were joined by practitioners from as far away as Columbia, SC and Greenville, NC, from a variety of affiliations: ASU, Nihon Goshin Aikido, even Karate.  It was a great time to learn, make friends, and have a fantastic workout.


Bermuda Aikikai Celebrates 31 Years

 Over the weekend of October 25 2014 something pretty amazing happened in the middle of the Atlantic.

Bermuda Aikikai, headed by Sensei Collins Smith, 6th dan, has been around now for 31 years. Last year for the 30th anniversary we had a suitably celebratory seminar lead by Shihan Richard Stickles. This year was different, this year was “in-house” with almost all of the instructors being direct students of Sensei Smith. We are talking about upwards of 10 instructors all coming from this tiny little island dojo so you know something great has been happening there.

A little history: Sensei Collins Smith started his martial arts career in his teens. He was a world-class karate fighter and even went twice to the Karate world championships in Japan. Somewhere along the line he discovered Aikido and soon became a student of now Shihan Stickles. For years Sensei Smith studied in New Jersey with Sensei Stickles, in New York with Yamada Sensei, and out west with Chiba Sensei. He returned to Bermuda in 1983 to open his dojo where with unwavering loyalty to his lineage and dedication to his students he has quietly been teaching Aikido ever since.


Bermuda is a dot in the middle of the ocean and Bermuda Aikikai was never going to be a big commercial success, and yet Sensei Smith juggled work and family and the dojo and never gave up, for him Aikido was, and still is, a gift to be received and passed on. He brought the biggest names in Aikido to his students and always supported his students when they wanted to go out and see the larger world. His philosophy was to teach the foundations and let people’s personalities take it from there, something I think he learned from Yamada Sensei and something that, 31 years later, was wonderfully evident in the diversity of aikido we saw when 10 of his students, all now instructor level, brought their styles and in some cases their own students to the mat.

The Aikido that started on that little island has spread. I now have a dojo in Nova Scotia, Canada (Lunenburg Aikikai), Anthea Pascaras has a dojo in London England (Notting Hill Aikikai), and there are two other dojos headed by Graham Fraser and Evie Pond in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick respectively (Mount Saint Vincent Aikikai and Aikido of Central New Brunswick) both under Sensei Smith’s umbrella. The little ripples that started in Bermuda 31 years ago have now crossed the ocean and spread to other lands.

Back to the seminar: 10 instructors all affiliated with Bermuda Aikikai, something like 300 years of collective experience, 10 different styles all unique and yet somehow still linked together, 5 affiliated dojos, a whole lot of fantastic aikido AND a trip on Sensei’s boat. I would say that makes for a pretty fantastic 31st anniversary party and a tremendous measure of one man’s work.

On a serious note I have called Sensei Smith my friend and teacher for nearly 25 years and  my debt to him can only be repaid by following his example. I now have my own dojo in the equally (compared to Bermuda) isolated eastern edge of Canada. Like Bermuda Aikikai we will never be a big dojo, but we are close knit and we are growing and if there is one thing that the seminar in Bermuda last month taught me it is that great aikido can come out of the tiniest places when your heart is in the right place and you have loyalty and dedication.

James Constable

Chief Instructor, Lunenburg Aikikai

Photos by John Manderson | Luminous Imaging

Florida Winter Seminar celebrates Yamada Sensei’s 50th Anniversary

This year the Florida Winter Seminar celebrated Yamada Sensei’s 50th Anniversary by holding a special Red Carpet event. During the event the audience had the opportunity to see a movie clip that Yamada Sensei starred in called Master Blaster. We presented him with an Oscar for his performance and to show appreciation for his 50 years of dedication teaching Aikido in the US. At the end of the show people close to Sensei talked about how he changed their lives.  Jonathan Weiner of Aikido of Charlotte directed this film and captured it with his crew.  We are all very thankful. Please enjoy this special tribute film to Yamada Sensei.




Penny Bernath

Florida Aikikai

Success in the Heartland with Children’s Aikido

First Annual Mid-West Children’s Aikido Seminar – June 2014

On June 7, more than 60 children and young adults from across the Mid-West gathered at the tastefully renovated dojo in Urbana Illinois for a full day of Aikido instruction and “games” to sharpen their skills, deepen their understanding of “the Way of harmonious spirit,” and to forge new friendships with their peers.

Two dojos with robust children’s programs, Fairfield (Iowa) Aikikai and Central Illinois Aikikai (CIA), the hosting organization, worked together to offer four Aikido sessions on Saturday.  Lessons were offered by Julio Soares, Bogdan Heretoiu, CIA’s chief instructor Knut Bauer, 5h Dan, Shidoin, and Fairfield Iowa Aikikai’s chief instructor, Sensei Motier Haskins, 5th Don, Shidoin.  The seminars consecutively increased in skill level concluding with break fall practice and group photos.

“I was feeling a bit shy going to a different town to practice, but everyone in the Central Illinois Aikido dojo made us feel very welcome and after a few minutes I felt right at home.  I am looking forward to next year seeing my new friends again!”  LR

A few older “children at heart” adults joined in as well and were reportedly very busy just keeping up with the younger crowd!  Everyone also enjoyed a pizza lunch break hosted by the Central Illinois Aikikai.

“This was a great experience.  I was impressed by the maturity and dedication of our young adults, some of whom are now transitioning from junior black belt to the adult Aikido world – fifth and fourth Kyu level.”  Sensei Motier

Senseis Bauer and Haskins are thinking ahead to next year and the possibility of expanding to a two-day weekend seminar or perhaps even a full week “Summer Camp” and inviting children and young adults from all over the US to enjoy Aikido in the heartland.

written by David Todt (Fairfield Aikikai)

Aikido of Suffolk Aikikai’s New Location

After spending 14 years in the same location in the Village of Patchogue,
NY, Aikido at Suffolk Aikikai has moved to a new comfortable location in
Medford, New York. The space is air conditioned and provides plenty of
parking.  The move coincides with the celebration of Suffolk Aikikai’s 20th
anniversary on August 6, 2014.