Sad News to Share

It is with deep sadness that we must announce the passing of our dear friend and teacher, Donovan Waite. We were notified of this tragic news today and at this time, we have no other information to share. Our hearts go out to his family, students, and friends throughout the world. There are no words to express the depth of this loss to the aikido community. We will always hold him in our hearts and in our practice.
Y. Yamada and the USAF

New Year’s Letter from the USAF Board 2021

Dear Instructors, Dojo-cho and Members,
On behalf of the USAF Board of Directors, we wish you a belated happy New Year, and hope that you are healthy and well. Looking to the months ahead, we must try to remain positive, and adjust to whatever future challenges we face. We are truly inspired by the many ways you are adapting to the times, such as teaching virtual and/or outdoor weapons classes. The USAF continues to be grateful for the energy and commitment displayed by USAF instructors and dojo members, and applaud you in your efforts to keep your communities connected and engaged.
The USAF Board, Committees, Technical Committee and Laura and Karen are always looking for ways to support our membership. We will continue to provide weekly virtual zoom classes, which have already featured over 35 of our instructors from around the globe. We have also met virtually during Dojo-cho Video Conversations, and enjoyed seeing many of you during these discussions. We greatly appreciate the feedback we received, and the opportunity to share information and just see each other face-to-face.  We will be organizing another DVC soon and hope you can join in.
In order to address the pandemic and its impact on the aikido community, the Board and Committees met virtually dozens of times in 2020, and already convened twice in January of 2021. With the start of a new year, budget discussions and how to adapt to this economic climate continue to be a main topic. The USAF has made several financial adjustments to meet these uncertain times, and greatly appreciates all of the dojos that paid their 2020 dues in spite of the economic hardships we are all enduring. We hope that those that are able will do so again for 2021.
The USAF would like to thank Paul Forhan, Aikido of El Paso, for the many years he volunteered his time and expertise on the Board. Prior to the expiration of his term, Paul served many roles: Board member, Treasurer, and Chair of the Financial Oversight Committee. We would also like to thank Sylvie Firestone, Aikido of Westchester, for her service on the Board. We wish Sylvie all the best on her new professional journey, and appreciate her continued role in the Working Group. At this time, Joseph Nemeth, Aikido of Nassau County, has joined the Board to fulfill Sylvie’s remaining term. Joe, being a long-time advisor to the Board, provides a seamless transition while we continue to focus on the challenges facing our aikido community.
Yamada Sensei has been maintaining a positive attitude, but he cannot wait to resume traveling and teaching again. He has received his first Covid vaccination and is looking forward to the time when we can see each other in person.
With the beginning 2021, we extend our best wishes to you and yours. We are grateful for your continued support, and hope you are healthy and safe. We look forward to remaining in touch!
In hopeful anticipation for a return to what we all love, we will end by saying: See you on the mat!
George Kennedy, Chair
USAF Board of Directors

Dan Promotion Applications Mailed to Aikikai January 21st, 2021

Test applications mailed to Aikikai Hombu Dojo on January 21st, 2021 for registration of  dan rank.




  • Matthew Addison – Pinellas County Aikikai
  • Michael Carbone – Aikido of Central New York
  • Johnny Cicirello – Myoho Aikido Vermont
  • Mary Dickens – Fairfield Iowa Aikikai
  • Salvatore Donato – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Adbellatif Fqihi – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Emiko Yoshia Frye – Pasadena Aikikai
  • Ludmilla Pavlova Gillham – Valley Aikido
  • Wesley Hartman – Maru Aikikai South
  • Max Hyatt – Maru Aikikai South
  • William Johnson – Aikido Center of Atlanta
  • Eva LaDow – Aikido of Dallas
  • Karen Lane – Brevard Aikikai
  • Daniel Lapare – Aikido de la Montagne
  • DJ Macintyre – Ottawa Aikido Center
  • Daniel Malarik – Aikido of Central New York
  • Christopher Manz – Valley Aikido
  • Yuki Nakashima – Ottawa Aikikai
  • Adam Nicholson – Sangamon Aikikai
  • Michael Reese – Aikido of Dallas
  • David Todt – Fairfield Iowa Aikikai


  • Anthony Bentley – Springfield Aikido Club
  • Peter Discenza – Twin Cities Aikido Center
  • David Goldberger – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • April Hersey – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • James Jacenich – Staunton Aikikai
  • Jennifer Key – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • Kimberly Koenig – Woodstock Aikido
  • Alon Koppel – Woodstock Aikido
  • Lance Luria – Springfield Aikido Club
  • Rachel Narowlansky – Notting Hill Aikikai


  • Javier Calduch – Florida Aikikai
  • Diana Edenburg – Florida Aikikai
  • Joseph Giardina – Aikido of Westchester
  • Anne Chu Liao – Newport Beach Aikikai
  • Teri Pierson – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • David Plock – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Dmitry Pozdnyakov – Woodstock Aikido
  • Monica Sasaki – Florida Aikikai
  • Violet Snow – Woodstock Aikido
  • Phi Tong – Palm Beach Aikikai


  • Denis Betournay – McGill Aikido
  • Nikolay Grozdanov – Florida Aikikai
  • Robert LaPalme – Valley  Aikido
  • Dale Mankin – El Paso Aikikai
  • Jerome Mercier – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Michael Nedostupenko – Florida Aikikai
  • Andrew Obeidy – Florida Aikikai
  • Victor Ortiz – Florida Aikikai
  • Charn Pennewaert – Newport Beach Aikikai
  • Jacques Pharand – McGill Aikido
  • Robert Pitts – Mt Pleasant Aikido
  • Nicholas Ross – Woodstock Aikido

2021 New Year’s Promotions By Recommendations

The following list comprises the 2021 New Year’s promotions by recommendation for 5th, 6th and 7th dan, and Shihan. Congratulations to all! 

The recently posted list by Aikikai can be found here: Click Here


  • Kenneth Cadogan – Aikido of Chester County
  • Aaron Cass – Portsmouth Aikido
  • Jorge Del Castillo – Florida Aikikai
  • Robert Lewis Clark – Kitsap Aikido
  • Larry DeCarmine – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Neal Earhart – Aikido of Westchester
  • Graham Fraser – Mount Saint Vincent Aikikai
  • Arnold Gentile – Albany Aikido
  • Michael Hannoyer – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Daniel Hayes – Chushin Aikikai
  • Victor Hung – Aikido of Colorado
  • Alan Jackson – Mt Pleasant Aikido
  • Raymond Kohl –  Midwest Aikido Center
  • Wendy Rusch Kopka – Midwest Aikido Center
  • Chris Mills – Island Aikido
  • Octavia (Tabi) Pereyra – Florida Aikikai
  • Keith Pray – Albany Aikido
  • Gustavo Rearte – South Bay Aikikai
  • Benjamin Silver – Aikido of Santa Barbara
  • James Sinnott – Aikido Institute of Newfoundland
  • Donald Slater – Georgia Southern University Aikido Club


  • Timothy Antrim – Southside Aikido
  • Ty Barker – Portland Aikikai
  • Robert Crowell – Knoxville Aikikai
  • Ray Feliciano – Pasadena Aikikai
  • Bryan Golden – Woodstock Aikido
  • Jack Hayes – Aikido Cedar Rapids
  • Sharon Henn-Kanai – New England Aikikai
  • Alesia Kunz – San Francisco Aikikai
  • Ralph Legnini – Woodstock Aikido
  • Michael Martin – Capitol Hill Aikikai
  • William McLuskie – Water Oak Aikikai
  • Lynne Morrison – Florida Aikikai
  • Charles Renner – Springfield Aikido Club
  • Jayne Thompson – Aikido Cedar Rapids
  • Joseph Verville – San Francisco Aikikai
  • Robert Ward – Aikido of Prescott
  • Kenneth Yamazaki – New York Eastside Aikikai


  • Penny Bernath – Florida Aikikai
  • David Birt – Davis Aikikai
  • Yukiko Katagiri – Cornell Aikido Club
  • Steven Kaufmann – Open Sky Aikikai
  • Grady Lane – Brevard Aikikai
  • Larry Levitt – Valley Aikido
  • Joseph Nemeth – Aikido of Nassau County
  • Collins Smith – Bermuda Aikikai
  • William Xavier Staub – Waianae Coast Aikido
  • Geraldine Louise Tremblay Waianae Coast Aikido
  • Richard Wagener – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Frank Wong Loi Sing – Aikido Curacao


  • Damon Apodaca – Santa Fe Budokan
  • Patrick Hardesty – Kentuckiana Aikikai
  • Alicia Cordero Hardesty – Kentuckiana Aikikai
  • Stephan Jesberger – Mohawk Valley Aikido
  • Brian Mizerak – Woodstock Aikido
  • Daniel Palmer  – Asheville Aikikai
  • Gail Skinner – Aikido of the Canyon Lands

Holiday Donation Appeal

Dear Aikido Community,

As 2020 comes to an end, we can’t help but reflect on what a difficult year this has been. The pandemic has adversely affected everyone around the world, as it has aikido, our friends and our dojos. We have been unable to resume our regular activities in the art we all love and cherish. As an organization, our dojos have faced many challenges to keep aikido accessible and communities intact.

Please know that as we move into 2021, the USAF will continue to try its best to serve its membership. Until we are all able to reunite on the mat, social media and zoom will allow us to stay connected, take classes with our wonderful instructors, and meet for important discussions. Under Yamada Sensei’s guidance, the USAF is dedicated to supporting the art of aikido and will do what it can to keep our community united and engaged. We remain encouraged by Sensei’s frequent video greetings, as he continues to convey positivity, perseverance and compassion to his students around the world and the aikido community at large.

As is the case with most dojos and aikido organizations, this has been a particularly difficult year financially for the USAF. Therefore, we would like to make a holiday appeal to those of you who are in a position to express your generosity and support by making a donation. No contribution is too small.

The following link will bring you directly to the USAF Paypal donations page: Donate to the USAF

Please feel free to pass this information on to fellow aikidoka. As the USAF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, all donations are 100% tax deductible.

With warm regards and much appreciation,


Board Update and Meeting Summary

The USAF Board of Directors would like to share a summary of their recent meeting. Please click below to access the document.

Click here to read the USAF Board Update and Meeting Summary

Good News from the USAF Working Group

We are pleased to share with you some news about the work the USAF Working Group has been doing behind the scenes for the last few months.  

In January 2020, the USAF Board of Directors approved a proposal from the Working Group to highlight and promote issues around equity and inclusion within its organization. Sharon Dominguez was appointed as the Working Group Chair and joined by Sylvie FirestoneHarvey KonigsbergJulia FreedgoodArturo Peal, and Christine Wong.

Mission and Goals

What is the Working Group’s mission? 

To foster and promote inclusivity and diversity within the USAF, and to provide USAF Instructors with tools and information for addressing these issues within their dojos.

What are the Working Group’s goals? 

1. Increase recognition that gender equality and unconscious bias are valid issues that need exploration in the USAF.

2. Create lasting programs that identify, acknowledge, and improve the culture of inclusion and representation of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA members within the USAF structure, as well as in USAF activities and seminars. 

3. Identify the needs of dojos, if any, to promote growth and inclusion.

4. Help address membership retention issues that may arise from conscious and unconscious bias.

5. Collaborate with the Board, Technical Committee, Administrators, key members, and specialists to fulfill the above objectives in 2020 and beyond. 

What are some concrete results the Working Group has accomplished so far?

  • Gender and equity training has been provided and completed by the entire Board, Technical Committee members, the Technical Advisor, Administration, Consultants, and the Working Group.
  • A program of training on gender equity and implicit bias (sexual harassment prevention training) is currently being organized for all dojo-cho and chief instructors to complete in 2021 as part of the membership guidelines and renewal process.
  • Gender and equity discussions open to all attendees at the USAF annual summer camp was planned but postponed due to COVID-19.
  • Plans to hold a “Meet & Greet” during summer camp to introduce the Working Group and to mingle with members of the Aikido community was curtailed due to COVID-19.
  • Collaborated with the Board and Technical Committee to produce Aikido Online classes for adults and kids, featuring instructors within the diverse USAF community, and globally transmitted live on the USAF FaceBook page.
  • A series of online conversations focusing on Gender, Equity, Race, and Implicit Bias have been initiated for USAF dojo-cho and instructors. The initial roundtable discussion on Race & Bias was well attended with over 80 participants.
  • Sharon Dominguez was appointed as a senior delegate and the USA representative of the International Aikido Federation (IAF) Gender Balance Working Group and is working with people globally on these issues.

What are the Working Group’s next steps for 2020 and beyond?

  • Partnering with the IAF to produce Zoom classes featuring women from multiple aikido organizations within the US.
  • Organizing community outreach initiatives such as The Dojo-cho Video Conversations about the effects of COVID-19 on USAF dojos, comparing strategies for member engagement, online presence, and dojo reopening procedures.
  • The next Dojo-cho Video Conversation as part of our series, Equity, Inclusion, and the Future of Aikido will address bias as it relates to gender and sexuality.
  • Planning climate surveys for USAF dojos to use internally as a tool to assess the environment within their dojo. Request that the data be shared with The Working Group, to measure the progress of these initiatives.
  • Continue to explore ways to celebrate our diverse community and to help support our instructors and membership.

We will stay in touch as we continue our work, and welcome your comments and feedback along the way!

USAF Aikido Online Class Series

The USAF Board and Working Group are excited to announce the official kickoff of the USAF Aikido Online Class Series on Saturday, July 18 at 1 pm EST (12 pm CST / 10 am PST) featuring guest instructors Harvey Konigsberg, Jim Soviero, and Sylvie Firestone. Each class will host instructors exclusively from our diverse USAF family and will be held every other Saturday.

Additionally, we are pleased to offer USAF Aikido Online Class Series for Kids! The first class will be held on Saturday, July 25 at 1 pm EST. These classes will also be conducted every two weeks, alternating with the adult series. All ages are welcome.

These weekly Zoom classes are open to everyone and will run concurrently on Facebook Live through the official USAF Facebook page.

Join the Zoom Class, July 18 at 1 pm EST

See you online! 

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


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