USAF Board of Directors (effective 1/20/2014)
President: Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan, Hachidan, 8th dan
New York Aikikai www.nyaikikai.com
In 1955, at the age of 18, Yamada Sensei was accepted in the Hombu Dojo uchi-deshi program (live-in apprentice) to study directly with O-Sensei, the founder of Aikido. In addition to O-Sensei, he also studied under such Aikido masters as Kissomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Kisaburo Osawa, Kenji Tomiki, Hiroshi Tada and Seigo Yamaguchi, among others.
An invitation to demonstrate Aikido at the 1964 World’s Fair brought Yamada Sensei to New York City. He stayed on to become Chief Instructor at the New York Aikikai. By 1972 he already assumed his role as Aikido ambassador to the world at large, introducing his vigorous, inspiring and joyful teaching style to thousands of appreciative students on practically every continent.
Vice President: Andy Demko Shihan, Nanadan, 7th dan
Aikido of New Castle www.aikidoncpa.com
Demko Sensei started Aikido in 1966 in Youngstown, Ohio with Peter Takach and Charles Cycyk. They were pioneers of the art in the 60’s and learned Aikido from a book. Demko Sensei met Yamada Sensei in 1966 and became his student. He established New Castle Aikikai in 1971. Through Yamada Sensei, Demko Sensei has met and trained with many of O-sensei’s direct students including Koichi Tohei Sensei, the second and third Doshu, Saito Sensei, Kanai Sensei, Chiba Sensei, and Sugano Sensei. Demko Sensei has been a member of the USAF since it its beginning and served as a member of the Board of Governors until he was appointed to the Technical Committee. He teaches actively throughout the East Coast and Midwest and conducts seminars within the USAF.
Chairman: Joseph Nemeth Shidoin, Rokudan, 6th dan
Aikido of Nassau County www.aikido4nassaucounty.com
Joe Nemeth Sensei began his study of Aikido and Judo in 1960. He trained in Judo at the Kodokan in Tokyo Japan and achieved the rank of 3rd dan before focusing exclusively on Aikido in 1974. Nemeth Sensei has also trained in Aikido at Hombu Dojo in Japan. With more than 40 years of martial arts experience, he continues to train actively with many of the top Aikido instructors in the United States, especially Yamada Sensei.
Treasurer : Paul Forhan Shidoin, Yondan, 4th dan
Aikido of El Paso www.aikidoofelpaso.org
Paul Forhan Sensei began studying marital arts in 1965 and training in Aikido in 1990. Paul’s close association with New York Aikikai began in 1990, where he lived at the dojo part time and regularly regularly under Yamada Sensei. Paul travels worldwide to attend numerous seminars with various Shihan. .
Secretary: Larry E. Bierri Shihan, Nanadan, 7th dan
Finger Lakes Aikido www.fingerlakesaikido.com
Larry Bieri Sensei began his study of Aikido in 1971 at the Aikido World Headquarters Dojo in Tokyo and trained there for 16 years, supporting himself and his family by teaching English and doing translation work. While in Japan Bieri Sensei also studied four different systems of koryu bujutsu covering the use of the sword, halberd, spear, staff, stick, short sword, and other auxiliary weapons and skills. He also practiced kyudo for 11 years. Returning to the U.S.A. in 1987, he joined the USAF as Chief Instructor of Finger Lakes Aikikai in Ithaca, New York. He also trains in Shindo Muso Ryu Jo and Katori Shindo Ryu. Until retirement Larry worked as a translator of technical Japanese dealing with automobile production engineering and robotics for Honda of America, Mazda, Ford, and Nissan.
Honorary Member: Michael Abrams Shihan, Nanadan, 7th dan
New York Aikikai www.nyaikikai.com
Mike Abrams Sensei played a major role in the development of the New York Aikikai. He started training in New York City in 1964 and has trained, traveled and taught seminars around the world and has been fortunate enough to have attended classes taught by O -Sensei. Abrams Sensei is Chairman Emeritus of the United States Aikido Federation and remains a trusted Advisor.
Penny Bernath Shidoin, Rokudan, 6th dan
Florida Aikikai www.floridaaikikai.com
Penny Bernath Sensei began Aikido training in 1973 in South Florida under the direction of Yamada Sensei. Bernath Sensei organized the first Florida Winter Seminar in 1979 for the United States Aikido Federation and it remains a major Florida Aikikai annual event, hosting Yamada Sensei and many Japanese Shihan, the USAF Technical Committee and the USAF Board of Directors. Bernath Sensei is a Chief Instructor at Florida Aikikai and travels worldwide training and teaching Aikido. Professionally, she is an educator. She produced two short videos explaining the educational benefits of Aikido for children for public television, and recently began posting Aikido Self-Defense for Women videos on YouTube.
Barbara Britton Shidoin, Rokudan, 6th dan
Framingham Aikikai www.aikidoframingham.com
Barbara Britton Sensei began training with Kanai Sensei in 1978 and remained his dedicated student for twenty five years, until his passing in 2004. Britton Sensei was appointed an instructor by Kanai Sensei at New England Aikikai in 1985. She is now an instructor at Framingham Aikikai.
Glenn Brooks Shidoin, Rokudan, 6th dan
Aikido of Scottsdale www.aikidoofscottsdale.org
Glenn Brooks Sensei began his Aikido training in 1980 under the direct instruction of Akira Tohei Shihan, 8th dan and among the last living generation of direct disciples of Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. In 1996, Brooks Sensei moved to Scottsdale and opened Aikido of Scottsdale. Upon the passing of Akira Tohei Shihan in 1999, Brooks Sensei was appointed to the Technical Teaching Committee of the Midwest Aikido Federation to carry on the teachings of Tohei Shihan. Brooks Sensei continues his training under the guidance of Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan. In addition to being Chief Instructor of his dojo, Brooks Sensei is a physical therapist in private practice.
George Kennedy Shihan, Rokudan, 6th dan
Aikido Center of Atlanta www.aikidoatlanta.com
George Kennedy Sensei began his aikido training in 1972 at the Aikido Center of Atlanta and became Chief Instructor and Dojo-cho in 1989. Kennedy Sensei is chair of the Dispute Resolution Committee and is the main author of the USAF Student Guide. In addition to being a professional artist, Kennedy Sensei has developed Aikido-based defensive tactics courses for Law Enforcement and continues to be a contributing member of the Georgia Association of Defensive Tactics Instructors. His background reflects his belief that Aikido is both an effective method of self-defense and a path of peace and reconciliation.
Charles McGinnis Shidoin, Rokudan, 6th dan
Aikido of Cincinnati www.aikidocincy.com
Charlie McGinnis Sensei began his training in 1976 in Yoshinkai Aikido at the University of Toledo. He trained under Masatoshi Morita (currently 8th dan, in San Francisco). After completing training in the kenshu program taught by Takashi Kushida, 8th dan, he received his assistant instructor certification. In 1984 he moved to Cincinnati and began training at Aikido of Cincinnati, then known as the Cincinnati Aikikai. In 1986 McGinnis Sensei became a student of Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei and the Chief Instructor of Aikido of Cincinnati.
Edward Peteroy Shidoin, Rokudan, 6th dan
USAF Academy Aikido Club
Ed Peteroy Sensei started his training in 1970 under Yamada Sensei in New York City. He received his shodan in 1973. Peteroy Sensei has started and been the Chief Instructor of Aikido clubs in Indiana and Missouri while attending graduate school. Since 1985, Peteroy Sensei has been the Chief Instructor at the United States Air Force Academy where he instructs cadets and policemen. He also studied Aikido in Japan at Hombu Dojo and with Kobayashi Sensei in Kodaira, Japan from 1987-1990. Presently, he continues his studies with Yamada Sensei.
Walter Van Enck Shidoin, Godan, 5th dan
Midwest Aikido Center www.aikidomac.org
Walter Van Enck Sensei started his Aikido training in 1980 with Akira Tohei Sensei, and remained in-dojo with Tohei Sensei until his passing on July 2, 1999. Sometime thereafter, Van Enck Sensei devoted himself to both Yamada Sensei’s technical direction and to Sensei’s vision of a new, unified USAF. Walter is the father of two terrific young adults, and a husband to a talented, loving and very understanding wife. He is a corporate marketing and communications designer. A design generalist in practice, his focus remains on trademark design and marketing strategies as it relates to all media and delivery methods.
Christine Wong Shidoin, Godan, 5th dan
Aikido of Santa Barbara www.aikidoofsantabarbara.org
Christine Wong Sensei is Chief Instructor of Aikido of Santa Barbara. She started Aikido in 1985 under the late Kensho Furuya in Los Angeles, California. After moving to Santa Barbara in 1998, she studied with the founders of Aikido of Santa Barbara, Geraldine Tremblay Sensei and Bill Staub Sensei until they moved to Hawaii. She has studied extensively with the late Mitsunari Kanai and continues to study with Yamada Shihan.