Richard M. Stickles Shihan, Aikido Schools of New Jersey

The USAF has sadly learned that Rick Stickles Sensei, founder and chief instructor of Aikido Schools of New Jersey (ASNJ), passed away on Sunday, June 21st.   ASNJ members will be holding a memorial service at their dojo on Wednesday, June 24th at 7pm.

Stickles Sensei began his training in New York Aikikai and was soto deshi to Yamada Sensei.  He founded ASNJ in 1977 and dedicated his life to teaching and promoting Aikido at his dojo and around the world.  He was also an instructor at New York Aikikai.

Yamada Sensei and the USAF extend their deepest condolences to Stickles Sensei’s family and students for this sudden and unexpected loss.


In Memory of Dick Stroud Shihan

Dick Stroud Shihan passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 82 on May 30 while on a two-week trip to Japan with his wife and friends.

Stroud Sensei was a dedicated lifelong student of M. Kanai Shihan after starting aikido in Boston during the 1960s. He founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Aikido Club in the mid-70s and trained and mentored thousands of aikidoka, many of whom have gone on to become outstanding yudansha.

He was also widely known and admired in the art world. A prodigious artist, his works can be found in museums and private collections around the world. Stroud Sensei was a distinguished educator of fine arts at many museums and universities, as well as at special institutions such as the Charles River Creative Arts Camp in Dover, MA where a scholarship fund for children will be created in his memory.

A memorial training is tentatively scheduled for Saturday September 12 at the New England Aikikai.

Q&A Blog Series With Some Top Instructors

This is a summary of the Q&A Blog Series with some high ranking Aikido friends in the USAF & in Europe.  My guests include: Andy Demko, 7th Dan, Shihan, USAF Technical Committee; Steve Pimsler, 7th Dan, Shihan, USAF Technical Committee; George Kennedy, 6th Dan, Shihan, Joe Nemeth, 6th Dan, Shihan, Dennis Main, 6th Dan, Shidoin and Michelle Feilen, 6th Dan.

Dojo Cho: “Why did you start training in Aikido?”
Demko Sensei: “I was always interested in martial arts from my early youth and have practiced and self-taught many methods. When I first saw an Aikido demonstration on television, I was enamored with the techniques and philosophy and I knew that was the art for me.”
Pimsler Sensei: “I thought it might help me be less of a klutz. Then I watched a class at the New York Aikikai; the energy was electric and everyone looked they were having a blast. I wanted to have fun, too.”
Kennedy Sensei: “I was committed to non-violence but did not want to be a victim. I needed a path that required self-discipline and engaged my mind and body as well as my spirit. I knew I would be practicing Aikido for the rest of my life the first time I saw it!”
Nemeth Sensei: “When I first saw Aikido, I was impressed with the fluidity and grace of the practitioners. The concept of soft power was appealing to me. I had practiced Judo for many years, and I felt that a change to Aikido could take me down a path that I could pursue for life.”
Main Sensei: “I was a jeweler in Grove City, PA, a small college town. The chief of police informed my partner and me of some known dangerous burglars in the area. We were encouraged to carry a concealed weapon. I decided that I should study self-defense. I found Aikido to be a perfect fit for me from the philosophical to the physical point of view.”
Feilen Sensei: “I started practicing Judo when I was 10 and stopped at the age of 18. At that time my mother was practicing bokken and her teacher was also an Aikido teacher. On Saturday afternoons she used to practice Aikido with a group of friends and she asked me for months to come and join the class. Finally, just to make her happy, I joined them…. and thought “well this is fun!”

Read more of the interview here…




Click Here to Watch Video of Aikido of Charlotte’s 2 Senior Instructors discussing Aikido, the dojo, etc.


by Jonathan Weiner

Aikido of Charlotte

Ukemi as a Guiding Sense of Flow

Ukemi can be many things.  It is a way to train and fall safely.  It is a sincere and committed attack.  And for some people it is even a sub-art within Aikido.  Some people like to take high-flying and super soft falls, while others stick to the basics.  Ukemi is adaptable and changes with each individual.  Proper ukemi ensures that you and your partner have a continuous and flowing practice.  There are people that may offer resistance at times as a so called test to see if the technique “works,” but techniques can often be easily blocked even with proper technique due to fact that during training the uke knows what the nage is going to do.  Even someone with lazy ukemi, who won’t really move with the technique, can stop a technique (although that would most likely leave the uke open to all sorts of atemi from the nage).  While resistance can have its merits it can also break the flow of practice, and for newer students creating a sense of flow is a great help in internalizing techniques.

The uke can play three different roles: the guide, the partner, and the challenger.  The role of the guide can be played by senior students adept enough in their ukemi to guide newer students through techniques by placing themselves in the positions that uke should be in when the technique is done properly.  This gives the nage a sense of how the technique should feel and encourages a cooperating sense of flow.  Constant movement and adaptability are essential in good ukemi.  The continuous give and take between uke and nage through the repetition of techniques create a steady rhythm where the mind and its nagging thoughts fade away, leaving only you and partner in the present moment.  It is a moment of stillness within the consecutive beats of movement.  Students who are just starting to learn the techniques are often stuck in their minds, thinking about the techniques before performing them, and this is natural.  But as they continue to practice, especially with the help of uke who guide them through it with their cooperative movements, the sense of flow they feel along with persistent repetition builds their muscle memory, and eventually the movement will supersede the thinking.

The role of uke as a partner builds off the role of uke as a guide.  The sense of flow continues, but uke follows nage’s lead this time.  This role is for partners who both have a sufficient understanding of basic ukemi and basic techniques.  The pace of the training can be slow and smooth, or quick and aerobic.  The worries and stresses of everyday life disappear for that moment as the partners are enthralled by the motions.  The focus for uke is still cooperative to maintain the pulse of the training.  Corrections may be made to one another, but they are short and brief, leaving the more detailed corrections to the instructor.  The partners revolve as equals in the round and circular movements of Aikido.  They are relaxed, but not limp, constantly feeding their energy to be circulated through the rotating system of throws and falls.  Their centers are coordinated, similar to how the gravitational centers of planets move and align with a sense of stability.  Uke becomes like the Earth revolving around the Sun.  Flow is kept like the consistency of the four seasons year after year just as uke’s role switches after every four techniques.

The role of uke as a challenger involves some resistance, but that doesn’t mean the sense of flow has to be tossed aside.  Some ukes like to “test” nage’s technique to see how effective it is.  If an uke stops a technique, he or she may follow with corrections, but sometimes even relatively new students stop techniques just for the sake of presenting a challenge.  Of course they can stop it; it’s not like an experienced nage would risk injuring the uke by adding some power to the throw if the uke stops the technique by placing him/herself in an unsafe position.  Some inexperienced nage try to muscle through a technique when they feel resistance, which takes away from their technique.  Resistance should not be used indiscriminately.  Students at higher levels can use subtle resistance to add to the nuances of their technique, but a guiding principle is needed for beginners.  Uke as a challenger does not just stop a technique to see how good the nage is.  The challenger adds some resistance at various points of the technique to allow nage to learn and practice how to add power from the center and through extension, or how to stayed relaxed.  The movement continues through the resistance.

People practice Aikido for many different reasons and each person has his or her own individual style of practice.  And while flow may not be everyone’s focus in training, it adds a significant dimension to Aikido as an art.  As uke, students need to adapt to the plethora of different nage they will come across.  Some nage move slow and soft, while others go fast and hard.  Ukemi can be used as a tool to teach, a catalyst for continuous flow, or as a challenge used for the sake of growth and improvement.  This multivalent approach to ukemi shows that it is much more than just attacking and falling.  It can whisk the practitioner off from daily life into an almost meditative state of mind where only uke, nage, and the training at hand exist.


by Andrew Lee

New York Aikikai

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 or 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

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


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.