Archives for 2017

Aikido Is Frustrating. It’s Supposed To Be.

You’re sitting there. Your legs hurt after a bunch of suwari-waza. The instructor demonstrates a technique, and you can tell there’s some subtlety to it. He shows it 3 times, pronounces its name, and says “Ok, partners”… and there you are, left mainly to your own devices.

You feel like you follow along well enough as uke, but then as nage, you don’t get it. You maybe don’t even GET what you don’t get. You receive some correction, but it doesn’t make the technique fully clear or resolve all of your questions… And what do we do with questions? We ASK them…

Except, not in aikido. NOT during practice.

In our culture, we are brought up to ask questions. We are encouraged to ask, and in most aspects of life, we are rewarded for them with explanations leading to a more acute understanding. “Ask and ye shall receive.” Even our government was once revolutionary in its dependence upon questioning policy and authority; dissent and discussion.

Aikido is different. It HAS to be experienced. You HAVE to fail. It will resist every attempt to convey it orally. That’s not to say you can’t talk about it or read about it – that absolutely enriches your practice. But don’t expect giving voice to your concerns to improve your technique where “the rubber meets the road” (or where “the face meets the mat”, for that matter). Ridiculous though it may sound, “he who questions training only trains himself at asking questions”.

It is particularly inappropriate to ask for specifics in the middle of class for a couple of reasons. For one, it is not in line with the traditional way in which budo is communicated – namely through demonstration and repetition. For another, an art like aikido can’t be put in a box or learned from diagrams, any more than you can learn to swim by clicking through a powerpoint slideshow – you have to get in the water! Moreover, these questions take the instructor out of the pedagogical flow he or she is seeking to establish. If you’ve got to follow up on the “what” and “how” of a technique, wait until after class. Avoid “why” altogether – unless you appreciated your mom’s response when you asked “why” you had to take out the garbage, you won’t like the answer. Maybe she said “because I said so”. I’ll say “Trust the path.”

On a certain level, this can seem a challenge at best and infuriating at worst. But when you realize that you are subscribing to a centuries-old philosophy of learning and preserving an art which has been evolving for generations, you find that it’s not a liability at all. It’s exactly what you signed up for. By feeling your way through this art with the guidance of your teacher, you will develop your own connections, conscious and otherwise. You will come to appreciate the fluidity of the movements, the symmetry of the positions, and the adaptability of the techniques. You will internalize those elusive, conceptual points which you initially took for granted. In short, you will find the way to make aikido your OWN… which dissolves a question too colossal to voice, let alone answer.

So yeah. Aikido is frustrating. It’s supposed to be.


Ed Haponik

Aikido of Charlotte



2017 Summer Camp Is Open For Registration

Once again, Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, located at 401 South New York Road, Galloway, New Jersey USA, will be the venue for the 2017 USAF Summer Camp beginning Sunday, July 30th and ending Saturday, August 5th. To accommodate Aikido camp participants and their family and friends, the hotel has blocked off a number of rooms at a discounted rate, including a very limited number of rooms for arrival prior to camp on Saturday, July 29th.

You are encouraged to register for a Camp Package and book your hotel room as soon as possible. Although you will have to pay in full for your Camp Package at the time of registration, you will not incur charges for your hotel reservation until your actual stay. The DEADLINE for registration is Friday, June 23rd but the blocked off USAF discounted hotel rooms may be fully occupied prior to the DEADLINE.

For more information and to proceed with your registration, click here

In addition, updates and further information will be available in this newsletter on the USAF Summer Camp Page

We look forward to seeing you at camp!

Laura Pavlick and Karen De Paola

From our Birankai Friends to Students and Friends of Chiba Sensei

Dear Students and Friends of Chiba Sensei,

Mrs. Chiba has agreed to sell the last of Sensei’s life long collection of weapons and accessories. Below is a link to a website containing the collection.

The site itself is broken into three areas:


  • Tsuba
  • Kozuka, Kōgai, Menuki and Fuchi/Kashira
  • Swords

In each area there is a list of items. Clicking on a single item will show you details about that item as well as a Certificate of Authenticity, if one is available.

You can click on images in the detail pages to see larger versions.

The purchase process will take several steps:

  1. Click the “Buy Now” button you see on the listing page next to the item you wish to purchase.
  2. You will be directed to a page for you to fill in your shipping and personal information.
  3. Click the Purchase button.
  4. You will receive an email with further instructions, and the item will be placed on hold.
  5. Payments are being processed through Paypal. We will not be accepting checks. Items will be held for 4 days pending receipt of payment from Paypal. After 4 days, we will release the item to be sold to someone else. Once payment has been received your item will be processed and shipped to you, and the item marked as sold.

Thank you to Derek Shaw for building this website, Didier Boyet for cataloguing, researching, and appraising all of the items, Gary Payne for photographing them and Dick Miller for storing and shipping the items.

Web Site

Warm Regards,

Lynne Ballew

Trustee, TK Chiba Trust

Congratulations to new Shihan

The title of Shihan is appointed by Aikikai Hombu Dojo, which states that “no additional power or authority accompanies the title of Shihan, but it shows qualifications as Aikido instructors of the highest rank.”

The USAF is pleased to announce two members who received Shihan title, effective January 1, 2017. They are:

Collins Smith, Bermuda Aikikai

Kazuho Nishida, City Aikido of Los Angeles




Eddie Hagihara : Congratulations And An Introduction

The year of 2017 started with good news for the aikido community in the USA. This good news was announced in January during Aikikai’s annual kagami biraki celebration. Four Americans were promoted to 8th dan for the first time in aikido history. Needless to say I know all of them very well so it makes me very happy.

One particular person among the four is Mr. Eddie Hagihara from the USAF. I’m especially happy for him for many reasons. The recommendation for his promotion was made by me and the USAF for his exemplary aikido life for many years and his long-time support of the aikido community. That is the congratulations part of this story. Now for the introduction.

 It is unfortunate that Mr. Hagihara is not well-known to the new generation of aikidoists in the USA. The main reason for this is due to the wonderful qualities of his personality. Hagihara Shihan is a very quiet, shy and humble person. (Except when he has a few glasses of beer!) I know these qualities very well because we’ve known each other for 55 years. He was born in 1935 and promoted to shodan in 1962 by the late Koichi Tohei Sensei. Right after he received his shodan he went to study at Aikikai in Japan. I was already an uchi deshi there and that was the first time we met. And we became friends. At that time there were very few foreigners training at Aikikai, not like the present.

By the way, Mr. Bob Nadeau, who has also been promoted to 8th dan, was also in Japan for the same reason as Hagihara Shihan. The three of us hung out together on and off the mat because I spoke English. Both Eddie and Bob traveled with me when I went to teach regularly at a US military camp. They were especially helpful when I taught Americans. However, I still wonder whether they were really accompanying me in order to drink the good scotch and beer available in the military camp.

 Now I must tell you a serious story that shows Eddie’s true nature. By 1962 I had already decided to accept the invitation to be the main teacher at the newly formed New York Aikikai. In contrast to the present, the dojo was very small in membership and most of the students came from judo. Eddie was an original member of the dojo and was the main teacher even thought he had limited knowledge at the time. That’s why he was sent to Japan; to improve his skills and become the main teacher in New York. At that time communications were not as easy and sophisticated as they are today and there was plenty of confusion. Eddie found out about my assignment in New York while he was in Japan and I’m sure he was very surprised and confused about it. The reason I respect Eddie and owe him so much is that his attitude toward me after this confusion was great – he was gracious and humble to me as if nothing bothered him. He gave full support to my goals and efforts at the New York Aikikai. I came to New York in 1964 to be chief instructor and Eddie came back at the same time. I felt bad about the situation but there was nothing I could do but apologize to him.

After his return to New York, Eddie got married and opened a dojo on Long Island. He still displays the qualities of quiet strength and humility that are the foundation of his nature and that have made my aikido mission here even easier. I have great respect for him because of that and that’s why I feel so happy about his promotion. He’s still very attached to the New York Aikikai and I think he loves it more than anybody else.

My congratulations to Eddie Hagihara and my best wishes for even a longer life in aikido.

Aikido Portraits

It’s been said that, if you want to find a place where people of all ethnicities, religions, social classes, and political beliefs come together for a common goal, look on the mat.  I am deeply grateful to be a part of this diverse community, which comes together with the common goal of refining and nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Click here to view Aikido Portraits – Part 1


Jaime Kahn

New York Aikikai

Yamada Sensei in Russia – And Around the World

We all are keenly aware of the heated political climate – nationally and globally – in the news these days.  There might be less conflict in the world if everyone aspired to remove cultural barriers instead of building them.

I count myself fortunate to have joined Yamada Sensei on his trip to St. Petersburg, Russia last year.  It was the highlight of my travels in 2016.  As I reflect on the trip I am reminded most of the last day of the seminar.  Our host Valery Skryliov had arranged for Sensei to fire one of the cannons mounted on the walls of the Peter and Paul Fortress.  This has been an honor generally reserved for Russian dignitaries so I can only imagine that its approval was not easily obtained.

As a student of history, too, I could not help but note how much has changed since the Russo-Japanese war when Sensei fired that cannon.  Born in Japan, immigrated to the U.S., and traveled all over the world as the preeminent emissary of his generation dedicated to the Art of Peace, Sensei has truly crossed countless cultural barriers with his unfailing devotion to Aikido and his students far and wide.  

The nation and the world could learn a lot from Sensei’s example.
Blue Spruell

Peachtree Aikikai Atlanta

2017 New USAF Dojo

The USAF would like to welcome the following new member dojo:






Aikido of Pahala

Chief Instructor: Alan Moores

96-1164 Holei St

Pahala, Hawaii

aikido of pahala/facebook



Knoxville Aikikai

Chief Instructor: Rob Crowell

522 Maryville Pike

Knoxville, Tennessee



Aikido of Hernando County

Chief Instructor: Dale Roznowski

18612 Cortez Blvd

Brooksville, Florida 34601



Aikido of Greater Philadelphia

Chief Instructor: Donovan Waite Shihan

740 S 17th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19146



Ametsuchi School of Aikido

Chief Instructor: Hirohisa Hayakawa

1994 Springfield Avenue

Maplewood, NJ 07040



Aikido of Charleston

Chief Instructor: C. Barry Benjamin

1638 Ashley Hall Rd

Charleston, SC 29407



Bushwick Dojo

Chief Instructor: Claire Keller

Green Fitness Studio/Bushwick Dojo

232 Varet Street

Brooklyn, NY 11206


Roaring Fork Aikikai

Chief Instructors: Mike Jones and Chris Bergerud

Roaring Fork Aikikai

2553 Dolores Way

Carbondale, CO 81623



Creswell Aikido Dojo

Chief Instructors: R. Vincente Rubio

33883 Market Rd

Creswell, OR 97426



Dan Promotions July 1, 2016 – January 1, 2017

Test applications received and dated between July 1st 2016 and January 1st, 2017 (some listings represent applications prior to Hombu approval, applications not received by posting date will not be listed in the post). 



  • Nikolas Asikis – Valley Aikido
  • Cary Bakker – Florida Aikikai
  • Mahmoud Belkacemi – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Luis Caceres – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Leela Christian-Tabak – Boston Aikikai
  • Cindy Chu – New York Aikikai
  • William Davis – Sadkane School for Aikido
  • Anna Gallagher – Aikido Center of Atlanta
  • Mikal Giancola – Aikido of New Orleans
  • Kiley Haftorson – Alamo Area Aikikai
  • Brian Hagan – Valley Aikido
  • Sara Hubbard – Old City Aikido
  • Peter Keller – Dairyukai Aikikai
  • Pawel Kijowski – Plano Aikido Center
  • Sotaro Kurashige – North Chatham Aiki Club
  • Joel Lemieux – Framingham Aikikai
  • Adam Lewis – New York Aikikai
  • Lianni Lin – Portland Aikikai
  • Edward Lin – New York Aikikai
  • Jeff Lorenz – Aikido of Raritan Valley/Ren Sei Kan
  • Michael Lynch – Kenosha Aikikai
  • David Manigbas – Hoboken Aikikai
  • Chuck Martin – Ottawa Aikido Centre
  • Elise McGrath – Aikido of Scottsdale
  • Patricia Mizzi – Suffolk Aikikai
  • Michael Moses – Aikido of Westchester
  • Lawrence Ng – Aikido of Westchester
  • Augustus Norton – Framingham Aikikai
  • Kayleigh O’Connor – Boston Aikikai
  • Alex Odell – Aikido of Westchester
  • Michael Pajor – Aikido of the Canyon Lands
  • Suzanne Parmly – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Jason Read – Portland Aikido
  • Owen Richfield – Aikido of New Orleans
  • Rafael Rodriguez – Miami Aikikai
  • Rodolfo Rojas – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Omar Ruego – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Cynthia Salit – Aikido of Dallas
  • Ken Sato – Aikido of Westchester
  • Brian Shirai – Portland Aikikai
  • Yan Silboni – Montreal Aikikai
  • Elizabeth Stevens – NY Eastside Aikikai
  • Ryoya Terao – Aikido of Westchester
  • Thomas Vangi – Long Beach Island Aikikai
  • Adonis Villarosa – Aikido North Jersey
  • George Walden – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Jonathan Walker – Aikido of Austin
  • Scott Weber – Aikido of Austin
  • Sean Wheeler – Aikido of Austin
  • Jonathan Wilde – New York Aikikai
  • Darius Wilkerson – Florida Aikikai
  • Rebeca Willis-Longer – Portland Aikikai


  • Mark Alhquist – Vineland Aikikai
  • Florencio Benitez – Florida Aikikai
  • Zachary Biesanz – New York Aikikai
  • Willian Bresnihan – Florida Aikikai
  • Michael Coiro – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Signe Constable – Lunenburg Aikikai
  • Gallen David – Twin Cities Aikido Center
  • Francisco Del Valle – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Ray Drapela – Aikido of Austin
  • Guillaume Febrer – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Jason Ferrell – Aikido of Ausin
  • Carlos Frick – Kenosha Aikikai
  • Anne-Marie Giri – Brevard Aikikai
  • Peter Greig – Souther Maryland Aikido Center
  • Jean Guarin – Dairyukai Aikikai
  • Chris Ho – Framingham Aikikai
  • James Kanze – Hoboken Aikikai
  • Petri Koskinen – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Constance Lim – Ottawa Aikikai
  • Richard Lookshin – Florida Aikikai
  • Robert Madison III – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Dare Matheson – Providence Aikikai
  • Danilo Mezzardi – Aikido of Hattiesburg
  • Aleksandra Michalska – New York Aikikai
  • Robert Micieli – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Ramin Miri – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Shayan Munshi – New York Aikikai
  • John Murdoch II – Aikido of Red Bank
  • Edward Musikantow – New York Aikikai
  • David Plock – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Yuriy Pustovoyt – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Michael Rolbin – Ottawa Aikikai
  • Natalia Safronenkova – New York Aikikai
  • Kirill Samoroukov – New York Aikikai
  • Pastor Santos – Aikido North Jersey
  • Chris Scales – Long Beach Island Aikikai
  • Christopher Sinclair – Aikido North Jersey
  • Phi Tong – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Brian Weinberg – Aikido Center of Atlanta
  • Tal Yardeni – Aikido of Scottsdale


  • Mohamed Abdel Mottaleb – Florida Aikikai
  • Cody Cowan – Aikido of Austin
  • Eric de Valpine – Aikido of Austin
  • Stephan Fay – Kingston Aikido
  • Marcel Gonzalez – Miami Aikikai
  • Tim Gosl – Old City Aikido
  • Nikolay Grozdanov – Florida Aikikai
  • Darcy Hamilton – Ottawa Aikikai
  • Kevin Hopkins – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Sheng-Cheng Huang – Aikido of Austin
  • Dale Mankin – El Paso Aikikai
  • Matthew McCann Jr – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Paul Miroff – Kingston Aikido
  • Michael Nedostupenko – Florida Aikikai
  • Alex Nelson – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • Amir Andrew Obeidy – Florida Aikikai
  • Victor Ortiz – Florida Aikikai
  • Frank Pakulski – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Michael Parrella – New York Aikikai
  • Ovidiu Ratiu -Napoca Budokai
  • Helen Reynolds – Florida Aikikai
  • John Robinson – Aikido of Austin
  • Rain Sadkane – Sadkane School for Aikido
  • Daniel Small – Aikido Schools of New Jersey
  • Pejman Soheili – Nations Aikikai
  • Noel Tendick – Portland Aikikai
  • Daphne Vassalotti – Vineland Aikikai
  • Thomas Visentin – Kingston Aikido
  • Thomas Voetsch – Kingston Aikido
  • Christopher Whittle – KAIST Aikido Club
  • Jennifer Yabut – Old City Aikido


  • C. Barry Benjamin – Aikido of South West Florida
  • Gina Boccolucci – Florida Aikido Center
  • Jose Bonachea – Pinellas County Aikikai
  • Normand Brodeur – Aikikai de l’Universite Laval
  • Eric Capelle – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Louis Caron – Aikido of Santa Barbara
  • Juan Carlos Cruz – McGill Aikido
  • Ursula Donnelley – Suffolk Aikikai
  • Vincent Hauser – Austin Aikikai
  • Jeff Hodges – Austin Aikikai
  • Kevin Kanesaka – New York Aikikai
  • Andrew Lee – New York Aikikai
  • Edward Leung – New York Aikikai
  • Giorgio Mariani – Aikido of Scottsdale
  • Angela Murphy – Alamo Heights Aikido
  • Philippe Niemetz – New York Aikikai
  • Jason Perna – Old City Aikido
  • Abu-Bakr Prowell – Alamo Area Aikikai
  • James Shaffer – Long Beach Island Aikikai
  • Michael Silverman – Asheville Aikikai
  • Randall Smith – Florida Aikikai
  • Evan Sobel – Aikido of Park Slope


  • Heidi Albright – Cloud Mountain Aikido
  • Victor Ancer – Midwest Aikido Center
  • Susanne Beisert – Dairyukai Aikikai
  • Nancy Birdsong – Aikido of Austin
  • Brian Dupont – New York Aikikai
  • Arturo Fisher – New York Aikikai
  • Matthew Flamm – New York Aikikai
  • Roger Geertz Gonzalez – Florida Aikikai
  • Darrell Grant – Southern Maryland Aikido Center
  • robert Hyatt – Tarzana Aikikai
  • Philip Halpern – New York Aikikai
  • Cyril Landise – Midwest Aikido Center
  • Noel Murphy – Alamo Area Aikikai
  • Lawrence Ozenberger – Aikido of New Orleans
  • David Reinfeld – New York Aikikai
  • Juan Sampayo Sarraga – San Juan Aikikai
  • Carl Schmidt –  New York Aikikai


  • Debra Crampton –  New York Aikikai
  • James Kahn –  New York Aikikai
  • Charles Mensh –  New York Aikikai
  • Sharon Silberstein –  New York Aikikai
  • Knut Bauer – Central Illinois Aikikai
  • Larry Graham – Kansas City Aikido School
  • James Graves – Southland Aikido
  • Damir Jamsek – Austin Aikikai
  • Karen Meno – Suncoast Aikido
  • Masako Nakatsugawa – Syracuse University Aikido Club
  • Blue Spruell – Peachtree Aikikai Atlanta
  • Javier Vazquez-Bravo – San Juan Aikikai


  • Edward Hagihara – Long Island Aikikai

Dan Promotions January 2, 2016 – June 30, 2016

Test applications received and dated between January 2nd 2016 and June 30th, 2016 (some listings represent applications prior to Hombu approval, applications not received by posting date will not be listed in the post). 




  • Jacob Anderson – Newport Beach Aikikai
  • Gabor Balog – Ottawa Aikikai
  • Tom Bove – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Tony Breda – Heaven and Earth Aikido
  • Jared Burke – Maru Aikikai South
  • Daniel Cardona – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Christopher Charles – Barbados Aikikai
  • Ashley Coles – Georgia Southern University Aikido Club
  • Daniel Francoeur – Ottawa Aikido Centre
  • Van Gabriel – Zanshin Aikido School
  • Peter Goldman – Aikido of Westchester
  • Ralph Hagewood – Asheville Aikikai
  • Wini Hamilton – Seattle Aikikai
  • Aaron Hunter – Kentuckiana Aikikai
  • Emilie Inoue – Aikido of Champlain Valley
  • Kimberly Koenig – Woodstock Aikido
  • Amanda Laurick – Seattle Aikikai
  • Rachel Levison – Boston Aikikai
  • Yann Marcoux – Aikikai de l’University Laval
  • Nancy Mateski – Kenosha Aikikai
  • John McAvinue – Kentuckiana Aikikai
  • Thao Nguyen – Plano Aikido Center
  • James Nofil – Florida Aikikai
  • Alexandre Pain  Monteregie Aikikai
  • Wes Potts – Central Arkansas Aikikai
  • Renan Ramos – Harvard Aikikai
  • Robert Rittman – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • Sarah Safford – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Kym Salameh – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Joseph Sloat – Midwest Aikido Center
  • John Tawa – Boston Aikikai
  • Michael Vargas – Plano Aikido Center
  • John Wozniewski – Aikido of Dallas


  • Alexander Angustain – Maru Aikikai South
  • Melissa Avendano – Aikido of Dallas
  • Linda Baron – North Coast Aikikai
  • Matthew Bolton – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Charles Calcagni – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Juan Carlos Perez Casanova – Aikido Institute of Newfoundland
  • Eric Dunlap – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Tom Gorman – Aikido of Northampton
  • Ed Haponik – Aikido of Charlotte
  • Arielle Herman – Rivertide Aikikai
  • Mark Heuer – Aikido of Dallas
  • Susan Irion – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Dean Karres – Central Illinois Aikikai
  • Leonel Martinez-Perez – Kentuckiana Aikikai
  • Kevin Masters – Rivertide Aikikai
  • Mathieu Pichette – San Francisco Aikikai
  • Frank Ruzicka – Aikido of New Orleans
  • Abell Smith – Seattle Aikikai
  • Violet Snow – Woodstock Aikido
  • Scott Stein – Palm Beach Aikikai
  • Serguei Vassiliev – Shodokan
  • Oscar Vazquez – Aikido of Dallas
  • Tobias Weiss – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Ken Wilcox – Aikido of Denton


  • Denis Betournay – McGill Aikido
  • Jerome Cervantes – Midwest Aikido Center
  • Charles Cunningham – Grinnell Aikikai
  • Michael Fliss – Open Sky Aikikai
  • Patrick Gaucher – Rivertide Aikikai
  • Seth Hansen-Hall – Woodstock Aikido
  • Shanat Kolhatkar – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Laura Kopczak – Woodstock Aikido
  • Jerry Madden – Aikido of Dallas
  • Roy May – Seattle Aikikai
  • Mauricio Oyarzun
  • Jacques Pharand – McGill Aikikai
  • Benjamin Polikarpov – Toronto Aikikai
  • Danwood Rasmussen – Twin Cities Aikido Center
  • Judith Metskas Ringer – Portsmouth Aikido
  • Adam Roehrig – Kentuckiana Aikikai
  • Nicholas Ross – Woodstock Aikido
  • Tony Truong – Newport Beach Aikikai
  • Chase Valdez – Aikido of Park Slope
  • Rene Villarreal – Aikido of Dallas
  • Carla Wells – Newport Beach Aikikai


  • John Gribben – Old City Aikido
  • Takayuki Koei Kuwahara – New England Aikikai
  • John Lepore – Old City Aikido
  • Bill Witthar – Zanshin Aikido School
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