A Sad Loss of Albany Aikido

John Wright started his Aikido training in 1979. In addition to Faust Sensei his Aikido has been influenced by Yousef Mehter Sensei, Yamada Shihan, Kanai Shihan, Chiba Shihan and a host of other teachers to whom he is eternally grateful to for their encouraging him to try new ways of doing familiar techniques. John has also been involved in the Chinese martial arts Tai Chi, Bagua Chang and Hsing-i. His Aikido training has made him realize that conflict situations with others can generally best be handled by a non-confrontational approach – blending in Aikido parlance. Passing on this art has been a wonderful experience. John received his 4th Dan in 2006.

Special Project for NY Aikikai &Yamada Sensei’s 50th Anniversary

Dear Fellow Aikidoka

As you probably know, 2014 is a special year for the New York Aikikai and Yamada Sensei, celebrating the dojo’s 50th anniversary!

We are working on a special project for this celebration, and would like to ask for everybody’s help.

If you, or someone you know, visited the NYA dojo (or the anniversaries summer camps) along these years (1964-2014) and have interesting photos from your visit please email them to us in the highest quality you have. If you have many, you can send them in lower quality and we can ask for the ones we pick to be sent later at a higher resolution.

If you have older (none digital), printed photos and you are unable to scan them, let us know and we can help with that too.

Please send your photos to (or contact with any questions) Shai Golan -shaigolan@gmail.com

To be able to put this together in time for the summer celebrations we would appreciate it if you send us your photos ASAP or, by end of February at the latest.

Your help is greatly appreciated and we hope to see everybody at one of the many upcoming NYA 50th celebrations!


Shai Golan,

New York Aikikai


The Essence of Yamada Sensei

The Essence of Yamada Sensei is a short film of Yamada Sensei teaching at the 2013 USAF Winter Camp, November 8-9-10 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Filmed/Edited/Produced by Jonathan Weiner, 3rd Dan, Fukushidoin of Aikido of Charlotte.  To view, click here

To view similar videos produced by Jonathan Weiner,  click here

Aikido of Amarillo Conducts Its First Seminar

Aikido of Amarillo recently hosted its first seminar with T. K. Lee Sensei, 6th DAN from Aikido of Houston. The seminar allowed the students to gain instruction based on Lee Sensei’s 53 years of Aikido experience.

“We struggle with the same challenges every dojo has which operates out of a small, isolated community,” Scott Sensei explains. “Our dojo continues to build its core student base and this seminar offers the opportunity to see an instructor with over 50 years of training. For Lee Sensei to travel to Amarillo and teach us is a very special event.”

During the seminar Lee Sensei described the importance of dynamic body movement. He took the students through each movement step-by-step to emphasize a proper foundation. Points of teaching were to start a waza with strong beginning stance, execute large body movements leading to the application of the waza and then finish with solid stance. Lee Sensei’s teachings of a strong foundation relate to the Founder’s statement, ”In extreme situations, the entire universe becomes our foe; at such critical times, unity of mind and technique is essential – do not let your heart waver!”

Aikido of Amarillo has been in existence since 2005. This year’s Aikido seminar marks the initiation for future dojo events. Dojo-cho, Scott DeJesse, 3rd DAN is a direct student of Lee Sensei. Scott described the seminar as a proud moment for the dojo. The dojo was also happy to have the Midwest Aikido Federation affiliated dojo of Lubbock Aikido participate the Amarillo’s first seminar.

Scott states, “Without the support of T. K. Lee Sensei, the USAF and Amarillo College, there wouldn’t be an opportunity for the Amarillo community to train in the traditional style of Aikido. The Art is a true gift with many benefits for one’s mind, body and spirit. We look forward to the future and will continue to grow the dojo.”

Technical Committee Dan Testing Workshop at Winter Camp

During the November 2013 Florida Aikikai Winter Seminar, the USAF Technical Committee presented a workshop on dan testing. Anyone who is preparing for a dan test should find this video a valuable resource. Florida Aikikai is happy to share what we have learned. Thank you. See you next year! Penny Bernath


Heaven and Earth Dojo News

Heaven and Earth dojo supported a 5K race to assist wounded warriors on October 5th in McLean.  ”Since 2003, thousands of young men and women have been wounded in the line of duty. After discharge from inpatient treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, they continue on active duty while going through a very thorough evaluation period.  At this point in their recovery, many wounded warriors seek housing which is suited to their rehabilitation needs. All proceeds from the McLean 5K Run with the Warriors will be used for the Wounded Warrior Transitional Housing at Vinson Hall.” (http://www.mclean5k.com/)

The dojo received almost 200 dollars in donations for the Hand-to-Hand program. The dojo had been looking for a worthy charity and the Run with the Warriors was a good one.  The dojo made a 500 dollar donation toward the event.  If anyone would like to make donations toward covering the 300 dollars the dojo is giving please feel free.

In addition Heaven and Earth dojo held the stretching for the runners before the race. There were about 1500 runners and about 5-10,000 spectators and it was carried on local and national TV.

Hand-to-Hand: Heaven and Earth dojo was constructed to continue the legacy of Yamada and Sugano Sensei’s Aikido as was taught by O Sensei.  That legacy is realized by taking the philosophy of Aikido from the mat and putting it into practice in life.  Sugano Sensei taught that Aikido must be a positive force for change in the world, and to make that real he asked his students to contribute to charitable causes. The Monday night Hand-to-Hand course was set up for this purpose.  Originally it was done to assist wounded veterans but it was opened up to anyone who has a disability or is in need. Currently, the dojo is working with a Marine Corps veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan.  Anyone who might possibly have someone with a limitation who wants to try Aikido, please consider this class.

Non Profit:  Heaven and Earth is in the process of becoming a non-profit organization.  This will assist with the Hand-to-Hand class, and other charitable efforts.  The not-for-profit status will make it a community that fits with the spirit and intention of the dojo.  Thanks to Kyle Cormack for setting this up.



Albany Aikido Celebrates Irvin Faust Sensei’s Shihan Certification

Albany Aikido was pleased to have Shihan David Halprin conduct a one day seminar in celebration of Sensei Irvin Faust being promoted to Shihan. David Sensei taught wonderful and inspiring classes. A good time was had by all. Students came from  Long Island, New Jersey,  Boston, Vermont, Brasher Falls and Montreal. Thanks to all and a special thank you to the wonderful dojo members.

In addition to the seminar, R. Vincente Rubio prepared the following statement to commemorate Irv Faust’s Shihan certification:

“I started aikido in 1977 with Sensei Luqman at Long Island University. I took all my exams from 5th kyu to San-dan under Yamada Sensei. I moved to Albany in 1985 and started my own dojo.” – Humbly and simply put by Irv Faust Sensei of the Albany Aikido of Albany, NY.

Recently, with a selected group of USAF senior teachers, Sensei Faust was promoted to the teaching level of Shihan. With this promotion to Shihan, Sensei Faust became the first Afro-American aikidoka to reach this level of teaching expertise. His many years in aikido, as well as, holding rank in two other martial arts, provides a deeply rich, honest and well thought out teaching perspective in all his classes. Sensei Faust is also a US Air Force Vietnam War veteran.

For me personally, I met Sensei Faust, when we were both performing with Sensei Henry Smith of Aikido of Philadelphia, who 1984 was the director of Solaris Dance Theater of NYC, NY. While waiting off-stage to perform, I watched Sensei Faust go through his bokken suburi for his warm-up. Hooked, I started aikido soon after at the NY Aikikai.

As a ‘newbie’ aikidoka, I would watch, experience by being thrown around, and would be excitedly inspired during the 6:45am morning class at the NY Aikikai. I watched Sensei Faust’s vigorous and joyful training, and safely from the sidelines the after the class all- out free practice he engaged in with the other black belts of equal vitality and ferocity.

To say that I was awe struck by what I witnessed at these after morning class trainings would be an understatement.

Through my mere 28 years of aikido training, Sensei Faust has continued to be an inspiration to me, as well as offering his valuable mentorship whenever we are together on the mat at seminars, or on the phone exchanging our mutual birthdays greetings on March 10th. So to you Sensei Faust, my older brother and honored sempai, CONGRATULATIONS on your promotion to Shihan!

Myoho Aikido Vermont Announces New Location

Myoho Aikido Vermont thanks the unfailing efforts of its incredible students  & friends who transformed what was a complete shambles of an industrial space, one that needed to be fixed in every way, to what you see below. What everyone did in only one week, mostly at night, and often until the early morning hours, is something we will always be so grateful for.  New location: Vermont Mill Properties, 160 Bemont Ave, South Wing, 4th floor, Bennington, VT



Morihei Ueshiba, An Inspiration

Morihei Ueshiba, a name that not many outside of the Aikido community will likely know.  Most that do practice the art know him by the title O’ Sensei or “great teacher”.  I look at this individual as a hero, not for the usual reasons of the definition, but because he chose to lead a life of learning and evolve his body and mind.  He is the founder of one of the most popular modern martial arts, Aikido.

So why does this make him a hero?  We have to take a deeper look into his past and just exactly what Aikido means. Morihei Ueshiba was born on December 14th 1883 in the Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.  His younger years were spent reading and usually staying indoors which made the boy rather weak for his age.  His father encouraged young Morihei to take up swimming and sumo wrestling to increase his strength.  A couple of years later Morihei realized the importance of being strong after his father was brutally attacked by a gang of thugs.  After a brief stint in the Japanese military he returned home and moved to a small village in the wilderness.  His father built a small dojo on their farm and invited the well know Jujutsu instructor, Takak to train his son.  He took the training well and learned extremely quickly.  A blog on “Energy Arts” says, “Actually, Ueshiba was far beyond aikijitsu’s level of sophistication. His ability to enter, turn, attract and then play with and lead an opponent’s chi and mind was phenomenal.”

  Morehei, later studied under a new type of religion known as Omoto-kyu under Deguchi Onisaburo.  The leader was a pacifist and a believer in non-violent resistance.  It was though odd that Onisaburo would become so close with Morihei, an accomplished and well know martial artist.  Ueshiba later separated with Onisaburo under his request so he could begin his own “way”.  Morehei realized that true budo has two aspects, the spiritual side and the martial side.  They must connect in order to be beneficial in one’s life.  He used his background in various martial arts to create an art with a more peaceful resolution rather than focusing on destroying one’s enemy.  Aikido was the way of harmony, to blend with an attack and use their own energy against them.  The idea was to take the energy given to you, blend with it, and resolve the conflict without causing serious harm to the attacker.  This is what Morihei believed budo was.  A more peaceful way of dealing with negativity and aggression.  There has been controversy about if he ever “created” the art of Aikido.  He took a lot of the techniques from other arts and molded them to fit his idea of what Aikido is.  Peter Boylan gives his side, “What Ueshiba did, was take a very brutal art, Daito Ryu, as taught by Takeda Sokaku, and meld it with the philosophy of Omoto-kyo. This melding is what made it possible for him, and for those who have followed him, to extend their use of its principles to every corner of life.”

After 1925 he gained a large following of students and spent the next four decades teaching.  The art started out as Aiki-jutsu, to Aiki-budo, to the final name he gave the art of Aikido.  After the loss of life during World War II Morihei was evolving the art to a different level.  He wanted his students to learn the way of Aikido but also wanted them to live it.  He taught forgiveness and that it was very important to take your thinking to a higher level than that of your attacker.  The attacking person was always on a lower level of thinking and needed to be forgiven for his actions.  O’ Sensei has an important saying regarding the art:

“In my opinion, it can be said to be the true martial art. The reason for this is that it is a martial art based on universal truth. This Universe is composed of many different parts, and yet the Universe as a whole is united as a family and symbolizes the ultimate state of peace. Holding such a view of the Universe, aikido cannot be anything but a martial art of love. It cannot be a martial art of violence. For this reason, aikido can be said to be another manifestation of the Creator of the Universe.”

That is why Aikido is taught to not severely injure one’s opponent if possible.  Even though the techniques can cause serious injury.  It was during this time that Aikido and the decades that follow that allowed the art to gain a worldly following.  His goal of creating a way of life relating to harmony and still applying a way of protection was achieved.  It is this art in which I practice almost full time and I do my best in applying the practices and forgiving beliefs of Aikido.  But I am also a firm believer that the art was meant as a way of life with an emphasis on self-defense.

Works Cited

“Morihei Ueshiba-Aikido Master.” Energy Arts.  N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.

“Interview with Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru Ueshiba.” Aikido Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.

Boylan, Peter. “Did Morihei Ueshiba Invent Aikido?” AikiWeb. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.




By Chad Banister

Open Sky Aikikai










Aikido Video Montage – Jonathan Weiner

I wanted to share a short reel of some of the video projects I’ve had the opportunity to produce in the USAF. If you’re looking to add high quality video for your dojo website, feel free to reach out to me. I’m happy to offer free consultation.

Click here to view video

Jonathan Weiner, Dojo Cho, Aikido of Charlotte, 704.931.8751