Archives for November 2019

Summary Letter from the USAF Board of Directors

November 25, 2019

Dear USAF Dojo Cho and Instructors,

The Board of Directors met in Ft. Lauderdale for its annual meeting on November 7-9. Here is a summary of the main outcomes of that meeting.

The most important task for the annual meeting is the USAF budget. The discussion focused on where we are to date and developing a balanced budget for Fiscal year 2020. We will vote and approve the 2020 budget by the end of January.

A second issue of importance for our annual meeting is the election of board members and officers. I am pleased to announce that we elected a new member to the board. Sylvie Firestone, 5th Dan and co-founder of Aikido of Westchester, will join the board in 2020. As well as being an accomplished Aikidoist, Sylvie is an excellent graphic designer with great media savvy. The Board is excited that she will bring this skill set to the USAF to help us grow and strengthen the organization going forward. Julia Freedgood was re-elected Treasurer and Peter Bernath was also re-elected as Technical Committee representative.

Since Summer Camp, we have examined several recommendations from the ad-hoc Marketing and Growth committee. It was decided that, since each dojo is a separate entity with its own organizational structure, a blanket approach to internet marketing is not feasible at this time. However, we are making the committee a formal committee of the Board and will continue to work with the ad-hoc members to strengthen the USAF’s presence and offer suggestions to member dojos on ways they can better promote themselves locally. Meanwhile, both the USAF Youtube channel and Instagram accounts are up and running, promoting our summer camp classes and other USAF events.

The Board has created a “Working Group” to explore issues of gender, diversity and inclusion in our organization. To start, the group consists of Board representatives Julia Freedgood and Sylvie Firestone along with USAF members Chris Wong and Arturo Peal. It will be chaired by Sharon Dominguez. The working Group has already met and is moving forward to determine goals, structure and composition of the group and to decide on next steps.

The Board updated the Code of Conduct, clarified the Grievance Process, and will be making the entire package more easily accessible on the USAF website. This document is linked to our DDC instructor’s page, our newsletter –, and our website’s Membership Benefit’s page at We encourage you to post the Code of Conduct in your dojo so your members are aware of and have access to the updated policy.

In addition to the Board meetings at Winter Camp, it is also the place for one of the Technical Committee’s bi-annual meetings. As TC membership is based on 4 year terms, the following members’ terms were renewed for another 4 years: Peter Bernath, Claude Berthiaume, Harvey Konigsberg, Donovan Waite.

You will be receiving information regarding 2020 renewals in the next few weeks. Please do not proceed with your renewals until then.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season,

George Kennedy
Chair, USAF Board of Directors

Dan Promotion Applications Mailed to Aikikai October 2nd, 2019

Test applications mailed to Aikikai Hombu Dojo on October 2nd, 2019 for registration of  dan rank




  • Michael Villacin – Aikido North Jersey
  • Joseph Cayea – Aikido of Central New York
  • Stuart Plymesser – Aikido of Central New York
  • Jason Neumann – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Geoffrey Yee – Aikido of Ramapo Valley
  • Susannah Wolk Rodriguez – Albany Aikido
  • Richard Chong – Albany Aikido
  • Tamera Bowcutt – Heaven and Earth Aikido
  • John Hite – Hoboken Aikikai
  • Svetlena Medvedeva – Midwest Aikido Center
  • Michael Paus – New York Eastside Aikikai
  • Rodney Landis – Old City Aikido
  • Robert Gilbride – Old City Aikido
  • John Wes Green – Old City Aikido
  • Gregory Barton – Plano Aikido Center
  • Audrey Therese Uy – Skylands Aikikai
  • David Szyszka – Woodstock Aikido
  • Adam Montan – Twin Cities Aikido Center


  • Adonis Villarosa – Aikido North Jersey
  • Michael Hanson – Aikido of Cincinnati
  • Dmitry Shimelfarb – Aikido of Ramapo Valley
  • Ken Sato – Aikido of Westchester


  • Ramin Miri – Aikido de la Montagne
  • John Graham – Aikido of Fairfield County
  • Sau Yan Yee – Aikido of Ramapo Valley
  • Yoshikazu Hirano – Aikido of Westchester
  • Mario De Marco – Lake County Aikikai
  • Herman Rodriguez – Lake County Aikikai
  • Andrew Benioff – Old City Aikido
  • Mark Ahlquist – Vineland Aikikai


  • Kim Johnston – New York Eastside Aikikai
  • Mike Cipra – Twin Cities Aikido Center

Message from the USAF Board of Directors

Dear USAF Instructors:
This past weekend the USAF Board of Directors held its annual meeting at Florida Aikikai’s winter camp. During our meeting we discussed a petition on gender equity which had been posted on Facebook and otherwise circulated by a Coalition of women in Aikido. We also discussed a related proposal from another group interested in advancing diversity and equity and ways to grow and strengthen the USAF.
The Board is fully committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the USAF. Based on our own deliberations and several constructive recommendations we have received, we will be implementing a series of changes, starting with the creation of a Working Group to explore gender and equity issues. This Working Group will include one or more Board members and one or more Technical Committee members, along with other USAF members. We will be providing greater detail in the forthcoming letter from the Board Chair sharing the outcomes of the Board meeting.
According to our Code of Conduct, “all members are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively on the USAF and Aikido.” While we are excited about the actions we will be taking to advance equity and inclusion, we are disappointed by the Coalition’s divisive behaviors, especially on social media, which have included public attacks on the USAF, its Board and Yamada Sensei. As such, we have notified the coalition that we will only work with USAF members in good standing who share our goals of promoting gender equity in an honorable, transparent and mutually respectful manner.
We want all USAF members to know we are grateful to Yamada Sensei for the organization he has created and built. Furthermore, the Board fully supports Yamada Sensei and has complete confidence in his leadership now and going forward.
The USAF Board of Directors
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