Archives for 2012

USAF Interactive On-Line Database

As of last night, the interactive capabilities of the USAF website,, are available to all USAF instructors and administrators with a log-in and password, allowing for direct private access to a dojo’s database. This will allow instructors to submit annual renewals online, mark members as paid, add new members, change member ranks when promoted, renew shidoin/fukushidoin certifications, submit seminar announcements etc. Any changes made to text, such as adding a new member, changing a last name, changing dojo phone numbers, can be saved directly to the database.  Any change that is associated with a fee (rank, renewals, dues etc) will be marked as pending until main office review and approval.  An automated email confirmation will be sent with the changes and fees in each “batch”  submitted.

In order to help familiarize the dojo administrators with this new program,  over the next few weeks several conference call tutorials will be scheduled as well as on-line instructional videos posted to our website.

This is a very exciting tool for USAF instructors to help manage their dojo membership, quickly and easily submit rank promotions, and maintain an updated, accurate list of inactive and active students and ranks, with all of the information at their fingertips at all times.  With 2013 only days away, the launching of this database promises to simplify our renewal process and all future administrative tasks for our members.

Laura Jacobs Pavlick

Director of Operations


One Year Later…

I began Aikido one year ago – October 22, 2011 to be exact.  I had been thinking about visiting the local dojo, Portland Aikido in Portland Maine, for quite a while, but never seemed to be able to find the time. Life always seemed to get in the way. At first it was high school athletics; followed by college, internships, and other obligations. I have been interested in Japanese culture since elementary school and, as time has passed, that interest has only grown, along with my desire to study Aikido and the traditions of the art. After graduating from college and beginning my career as a teacher, I realized that I finally had the opportunity to begin taking Aikido classes and learning what the dojo had to offer. Little did I know then that I had taken the first step towards a hobby that would soon become a central part of my life.

What really captivates me about Aikido is the way in which the art incorporates Budo and other Japanese values into what I have found to be a very spiritual discipline. The philosophy of Budo, or “the martial way”, can be found hidden within Aikido, which is “the way of combining life forces”. The head instructor at our dojo often mentions that ever since O-Sensei first began teaching, Aikido has been very open to interpretation; the technical aspect of Aikido, at the very least. For me, part of the beauty is that although Aikido holds a different meaning for every practitioner, and while the techniques of Aikido may change over time, the main principle remains constant: to harmonize with any confrontation in life rather than meet it with force.

Aikido can be applied to our daily lives and has significantly influenced how I have conducted myself this past year. Teaching high school students can sometimes be rather overwhelming to say the least, and I am finding that I have to remind myself to “tenshin” during certain situations. Another important idea, I think, is mutual respect. Without mutual respect there is no foundation for positive energy, relationships, or a productive learning environment. It may sound cliché, but if everyone were respected the way we respect our Uke, the world would truly be a better place. Simply put: “Take care of Uke.” That overriding principle, emphasized during practice, has really influenced my life.

Time certainly does pass by very quickly, and in reflecting on one year of Aikido, I confess that USAF Summer Camp was quite a memorable highlight. Summer Camp seemed like a far reach to me as a Gokyu in the Spring of 2012, and although I had attended just a couple of other seminars, I hardly thought of myself as prepared. It was not until our head instructor mentioned the summer camp scholarship that I even entertained the notion that I might be able to attend. “Why not” I thought. “Maybe I can do this.” And then, seemingly overnight, I was packing my bags for New Jersey. As I reflect on the eight hour drive I was, admittedly, incredibly nervous. Thinking about all of the new people I would meet and all of the practitioners that might be in attendance really made my head spin. “What if I embarrass myself or our dojo? What if I get injured? Did I remember to bring Advil?” Soon, however, all of my worries were put at ease.

After checking into the room on Sunday, I could barely wait for the first class to begin. Seeing some familiar faces and meeting welcoming new ones really energized me for the week ahead. From the first class I attended Monday morning to the last class Friday afternoon, I tried to absorb as much information as I could, and enjoyed myself even more. As good as the food at the resort may have been, the practice was even better. Being able to meet Yamada Sensei, Osawa Sensei, the technical committee, and so many others was only part of what made the week so very meaningful. I hope to see everyone again next year, and meet even more new faces. I look forward to seeing you all back on the mat.

Bill Querry

Portland Aikido


Aiki Trend was launched in 2010 by Aikido lovers who admire the beauty of the art of Aikido. Aiki Trend wants to transmit this beauty in an innovative but classy way, offering our fellow Aikidoka and friends an elegant way to express their passion for this art or its significance. Aiki Trends’ objective is to transmit beauty within the refinement of its pieces. Our pieces are generally inspired by the movements of circularity which are a fundamental part of this fascinating art. Aiki Trend’s jewelry is inspired in the basic concepts of Aikido: an art that promotes peace, love and harmony. It is made with top of the quality Peruvian silver in 925/950 purity. Aiki Trend has just launched its new collection, with many new products lined up for you this coming year 2013. Please come and visit our page @ this holiday season!




Q&A Regarding Dan Applications

Each year I am presented with several recurring questions regarding the dan application process.  In order to address these questions, I thought a short Q&A in our newsletter would be helpful to our membership.  If I do not answer any of your particular questions, please email them to me and I will add them to this article for public reference as well.

1. Are there any deadlines for submitting dan applications?

There are no deadlines at all for shodan, nidan, sandan and yondan applications.  These can be submitted to the USAF and then to Aikikai any time of year. However, godan and higher ranks may only be submitted to Aikikai once a year and are considered New Years Promotions.  The deadline for these applications is November 1st – that is the date by which they must be received by the USAF office.  This allows adequate time for them to be processed, prepared, and mailed to Aikikai before their November deadline.

2. How frequently does the USAF mail Aikikai dan applications?

A package of dan applications is mailed to Aikikai approximately 4-5 times per year. There are no set dates for forwarding the applications, but rather it depends on the volume of applications I have received.  We do not mail one application at a time but wait for a substantial number of applications before sending.  The approximate dates tend to be December or January (after the NYA seminar), March or April, June or July, September and November.

3.  Are the dan certificates and books mailed to individuals?

No, all certificates and books are mailed to the member’s dojo.  It is up to the instructor to then distribute them.  Certificates are mailed in tubes, and if a yudansha book is not included in the tube than it is mailed in a separate envelope.

4.  How long does it take to receive the certificates?

This question is based on 2 factors.  First, if you submit an application to me right after I have sent a batch to Aikikai, then your application will not be mailed to Japan for another eight weeks or so.  If I receive your application right before I prepare a mailing, then the turn-around time for your application to be forwarded to Aikikai is very quick.

Once I mail the applications, there is generally an 8-10 week turn-around time until I receive the certificates from Japan.  Then, within a week or two, I will package them and mail them to the dojo.  However, the year-end and New Year’s batches generally take several weeks longer for Aikikai to return to me, as they are inundated with a large volume of applications from around the world at that time.

5. When are the fees for dan applications deposited?

In general, I make deposits (both bank and credit card) twice per month.  So, depending on when your paperwork and fees are received, your payment will either be deposited right away or there may be a couple of weeks of waiting before your payment is processed.  I do not deposit payments individually, but wait for several receipts before depositing.

6. What if you do not know your Aikikai number because you have lost your book?

In general, when the Aikikai number and registration date are left blank on the application, it does not cause a problem with the process as long as the person is properly registered with Aikikai.  If I am notified of a problem it is usually for one of two reasons.  First, the individual has not waited the proper amount of time between ranks before their new promotion, or the individual did not submit previous application(s) and therefore is either skipping rank or did not register their shodan and is therefore not registered at Aikikai.

7.  What happens if you tested a while ago but were not able to submit your paperwork for any number of reasons?

Aikikai does not backdate any applications. That means that they register the date of your promotion as the date they process your application.  Therefore, if you wait an extended period of time before mailing your application and fee, you may lose the time towards your next promotion. This is not relevant if it’s only a few weeks, but applications that are not submitted for extended periods of time do suffer consequences in the testing time-line.  Therefore, whenever possible, please submit your paperwork shortly after the date of your promotion.

8.  What happens if a student joins the USAF with a high rank from an organization that is not recognized by Aikikai and wishes to qualify for his/her next promotion?

Because Aikikai does not backdate any promotions, this member will need to register their shodan first, as of the date that the shodan paperwork is submitted.  On occasion, Aikikai will accept more than one promotion at a time, but each rank must be paid for at the time of application.  However, it can also transpire that the individual will have to wait the proper time between each rank after shodan as well as then pay each rank fee.  Depending on the circumstances, a special exception may be requested by Yamada Sensei, however the final determination is by Aikikai.  They rarely allow for multiple ranks at one time and will usually will not put through a promotion that does not have the proper time requirement since the last promotion.

9.  Is there a place where you can see the dates that your applications were either mailed to Aikikai or mailed to your dojo?

USAF Chief Instructors have a login and password for accessing USAF official documents on our website,  One of the folders is titled Dan Applications Mailed to Aikikai.  Within that folder are the dates and list of applications mailed to Aikikai.

10.  Is there a place on the website where you can access dan applications?  

The USAF does not have a public location where everyone can access dan applications.  Chief Instructors have access to the forms through their login and password, and it is their responsibility to forward the forms to their students as needed.

11.  Can dan applications be submitted if hand-written?

No. All dan applications (4 forms for shodan, 2 forms for nidan, sandan and yondan, and 2 forms for godan and above but it is a different Aikikai form than the lower ranks) must be typed.  Our forms are in fillable pdf format so it is easy to type directly in the fields and then print them out.

12.  Will an application be submitted to Aikikai if the individual is not current with their USAF dues?

In order to be promoted through the USAF, your membership fees must be current. Your instructor will be notified if this is not the case, and late fees will be applied.  If you have not paid your dues in 5 years, and you have submitted paperwork for godan, then you will owe 5 years of membership fees along with 5 years of late fees before your dan application can be processed.  Therefore it is very important to maintain your individual membership and pay your annual dues on time each year.

13. Should dan applications be mailed into the USAF office in advance of the seminar at which you are testing?

No.  If a member is testing, he/she must submit his/her paperwork at the location and time  of their test.

14.  If you are testing at a dojo that is not your home dojo, whose responsibility is it to mail in the application and fee?

If you attend one of the major seminar at which there is testing, please take your application and fee home with you after the seminar so that you or your instructor can submit the paperwork to the USAF office.  It is not the responsibility of the host dojo to mail in the test forms for all the guests attending and testing at their seminar.

Laura Jacobs Pavlick

Director of Operations


Help fo Hurricane Sandy Victims

The USAF extends its deepest sympathies to its members who have suffered hardship caused by Hurricane Sandy.  We hold you, your families, friends, and communities in our thoughts and our hearts.

To help support the recovery efforts, Yamada Sensei has made a $1,000 donation to the Red Cross.  In addition, the USAF Board members have contributed individually, and we ask that you follow this aikido spirit of generosity by making a donation as well.

In case you are not sure where to make your donation, below are various links found through reputable resources for your consideration. Thank you for your participation in helping those who now face many difficult challenges in their days ahead.

 Red Cross

Salvation Army

Save The Children

World Vision

The Humane Society of the United States


Direct Relief International

Feeding America


A Post-Hurricane Message From New York Aikikai

Dear Aikido Friends,

First of all, thanks to you all for your concern about Yamada Sensei and the New York Aikikai. The dojo has suffered from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in that we are in the area of Manhattan that lost electrical power. We are also experiencing communications complications. Phone service is poor,  cellular phone service has been erratic and undependable and internet service has been problematic. Add to that the crippled city transit system and we’ve had, as the news media is fond of saying, the perfect storm.

Yamada Sensei and his family are safe and warm in a nice hotel where they will remain until power is restored to the area of the city where they live. We’ve emailed our dojo members to let them know that the dojo is closed until power is fully restored. We are hoping that will happen over the coming weekend and that we can open on Monday. But that may be optimistic. I’ve lived in New York City all my life and I’ve never seen the city reeling from a natural disaster like Sandy.

Please don’t get frustrated or worried if you are not able to reach any of us; we will keep the USAF community informed of our progress. We greatly appreciate everyone’s kind thoughts and good wishes.

Steve Pimsler

President, NY Aikikai Board of Governors

Timelessness…and fully inhabiting our training

Tonight was one of the best aikido sessions that I have had in a long time. Afterwards, though I was quite tired, I had a feeling as if I inhabited every cell in my body. Even now many hours later I am content, and feel filled with strength from the top of my head to the ends of my fingers and toes. What is it that made me feel this way?

I am almost 60. With progressive arthritis and a serious lack of knee cartilage, training gets more difficult and challenging every day. Yet, in spite of this, there was something different about tonight.

I aspire to approach aikido (and my training partner) from the most centered and focused position and stature that I can accomplish. As I face them, I try to empty my mind of what they and I are about to do. Of course, normally we know precisely what we are doing, and our form of training remains rigorously systematized and regimented, so that we all know who is attacking, who is defending, and exactly what comes next at every point. We train with the same people year after year, and have come to know each other with a certain level of intimacy and knowledge of our strengths and various aspects of our personalities. However, often I prefer to imagine my partner as a stranger, an unknown person, and as if neither of us knows the other’s intention: who is going to attack, or how we should proceed. Even though it may be my turn to attack, sometimes while I am reaching for that centered space, my partner interprets my hesitation as a sign that it’s his turn and suddenly he initiates the attack, and I find myself responding quite naturally to a more realistic situation. I like this kind of training very much.

In developing this approach, I occasionally experience a more “Zen-like” state in my mind and body. Perhaps my training tonight allowed me to achieve this…where the world stopped and there was just me and my partner, and a true melding of attack and defense. However, tonight this seemed to express itself almost continuously, through every moment of our engagement together.

I felt like I experienced a kind of timelessness, and that I was able to fully inhabit my training, but more poignantly, that I was able to achieve an expression of my full potential and power. I felt at one moment fully centered, and the next moment explosive, and then as quickly as it came, I returned to that peaceful and comfortably centered state. Yet, throughout this, I remained soft and sensitive to my partners’ ability and to his feelings as both an uke and nage. Though I felt exhausted – at the same time I felt full and balanced with vitality. This left me with a lasting sense of both satisfaction and balance on many levels.

Thinking about it and reflecting on what made tonight’s’ training so positive and fulfilling, I conclude that it was my ability to focus, to apply myself with the full extent of my power, and loose myself in the continuous here & now…responding (without thinking) to my partners movement…feeling and taking them just off their center and following that…all the way through, wherever it went – to each ending.

I feel very grateful to my training partners and instructors – that I have the freedom to train like this, and I ask for their indulgence in allowing us to continue to develop our training with more focus, sensitivity and a fierceness of spirit.

Best regards…

Bob Toabe  October 8, 2012 ©

MIT Aikido Clube


As you can see, everyone is different.  They come in different sizes, shapes, and heights.  In America, they also come in different ethnic backgrounds.  I’ve come to believe that with these physical differences there is also a personality difference, that comes in even larger varieties.  People are raised differently.  I believe that how they are raised strongly develops their personality.  You might agree or disagree with me here and that’s ok with me.

Now, how does this relate to Aikido.  Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei) in “The Art of Peace” says:

“You cannot imitate what I do.  Each and every technique is a unique, once-and—for-all experience.  My techniques emerge freely, spewing forth like a fountain.  Rather than try to copy what I do, listen to what I say.  That is where the essence of the techniques lies.  Someday, you will understand.”

Aikido is unique in that it is different with everyone but still the same.  O Sensei tells us that we should not try to copy his movements because it is based as a part of him.  Aikido should come from within each of us.  It can be as different as we are different.  Each person was a unique person.  They may have similarities in size but they move differently or react differently.  This forces me to learn to adjust to the many body types.

This is an interesting observation that provides us a different approach to training in Aikido.  You might think, why then train in Aikido?  Well, if you look at Aikido it is a cooperative training mode.  Uke and Nage need to work together.  The movements in Aikido are paired movements, a blending of Uke and Nage that when done properly are not only beautiful to watch but are also safe and flowing.

As we train, my fellow Aikidoka, think about how different the technique will be with a different partner.

By Rey N. Robles

Southern Maryland Aikido Center

Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Holistic Approach

Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Holistic Approach is a book for:

…therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and others interested in a more effective, more holistic approach to PTSD,

…Aikido senseis, practitioners and dojos wanting to offer a valuable contribution to veterans with combat-related PTSD,

…veterans support programs open to expanding their options to include the kinesthetic therapeutic learning inherent in the practice of Aikido,

…veterans looking for a martial art that will enable them to redirect the energy of their anger and fear to constructive use.

The book presents an analysis of the disorder, an indication of what the statistics imply, a description of the power of Aikido as a kinesthetic therapy, and a one-year case history.

The book is based on forty-three years practicing and attempting to live Aikido; my personal experience, including 8 years in the Army [6 years Special Forces- 24 months Viet Nam]; my work with veterans with Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [CRPTSD] and disadvantaged inner city youth; and research done during my MEd and EdD work and in writing this book. I found myself writing in three different voices. I started with the intention of enabling those who teach Aikido to bring the art to other veterans with CRPTSD by expanding on the blog of my first year’s experience teaching Aikido in a program for vets with CRPTSD. As I wrote and researched, the book rapidly morphed into an attempt to clarify why I believe Aikido has a place in treatment programs for vets with CRPTSD. Now, it has become a proposal that the best overall modality for working with CRPTSD is a holistic approach offering a smorgasbord of treatment options, including the kinesthetic therapeutic learning inherent in the practice of Aikido.

Teaching veterans with CRPTSD presents a very unique set of issues.  These can include one or a combination of fear of being touched, deep depression, avoidance of physical closeness, great inwardly-directed anger, a constant internal state of war, fear of harming others combined with violent, combat responses to perceived threats and actual physical disabilities.  I realized very soon that I had to modify and adapt how I was teaching.  But, to give these vets what they needed on a therapeutic level, I would also have to adapt what I was teaching.  To do this, without losing or diminishing the essence of Aikido, I was forced to define exactly what that essence was, what was my Aikido.

This involved some deep introspection, and, since Aikido is so much a part of my “self” and since I’m not a very deep thinker, it was often quite painful.  I had to work at defining who I really was, and what appeared was not always the kindly, honest, humanistic, Taoist, suave and debonaire person I liked to consider my self.  If you want to learn what I came to consider the essence of my Aikido, and how I learned to bring it to vets with CRPTSD, I recommend you read the book.

I will tell you that the path I found came through considering the concepts of ki and kokyu, and the differences in nage and tori, [and whether we have to throw people away] both on the mat and in my life. And, as happens if we continue along most life paths, the route shifted and changed, new vistas opened, new challenges arose.  What I saw from the top of a mountain, was more mountains. Beautiful! Scary!


You can see more details on the book at

You can order it from the publisher at,

and from Amazon at

The book will also be on the raffle display at summer camp.

My email is


Tom Osborn

Aikido of Northampton

USAF Summer Camp 2012 DVD is now available for purchase!

The 2012 Summer Camp DVD is now available for purchase. This DVD captures the teachings of Yamada Shihan and Osawa Shihan, the Technical Committee members and the many shidoin who helped provide an action-packed schedule of daily classes. From on the mat in the dojo, to weapons classes outside under the pavilion, the extraordinary flavor of this camp is now available for all to share.

To purchase a copy of this collectible, please visit this link on Aikido de La Montagne’s website.

A special thanks to the outstanding camerman, Luc Tremblay, and his team, and to Claude Berthiaume Shihan and Aikido de la Montagne who organized, supervised, and assisted on all levels to help make this happen.

A short preview can be viewed here.

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