Message From Saotome Sensei

I hope that all Aikidoka everywhere in the world stay safe. Aiki is the ability to recognize circumstances around you and adapt. For example, I hear you are using new technology to keep to keep connected. Very good!

I am very proud that my students have put safety first and closed their dojo. Taking care of the community was always in the heart of O-Sensei. If we help each other, we will get through this and return to our usual practice.

Please know that Patricia, my wife, and I are safe and taken care of here in Sarasota. I hope to see all of you soon.

Mitsugi Saotome, Shihan
Aikido Schools of Ueshiba

Keeping the dojo open while the building is closed

Summary of suggestions for dojo activities from the DojoCho Forum and on dojocho video calls.  Many thanks to all who shared.

Books for individual reading or dojo discussions

Suggested by various dojocho, we have no personal experience with most of these.

  • Holding the Center: Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion by Richard Strozzi Heckler
  • Enlightenment through Aikido by Kanshu Sunadomari
  • Conscious Breathing: For Health, Stress Release and Personal Mastery. Gay Hendricks. 
  • The Way of Harmony for Shirt Sensei’s breathing and sword forms author John Stevens. 
  • Healing Tao Breathing by Mantak Chia 
  • Cultivating the Ch’i by Stuart Alve Olson, Chen Kung Series Vol. 1, p. 64, Mobilizing the Chi
  • The Harmony of Nature by Mitsugi Saotome
  • Principles of Aikido by Mitsugi Saotome
  • Light of Transmission by Mitsugi Saotome
  • Spiritual Foundations of Aikido by William Gleason

Video for individual viewing or dojo discussions

  • Videos of Saotome Sensei seminars 1990-2000 are being made available on Youtube. Currently available links will be posted separately weekly.
  • Videos of senior ASU instructors are available on the ASU archive YouTube channel.  On youtube, enter “asu archive” in the search and find the ASU logo in the results.
  • Check the “Aikido Schools of Ueshiba” channel on YouTube for an eclectic collection of videos.
  • Suburi demonstrated by Jim Alvarez Sensei:
  • Email Bond Street Dojo ( to join in a rotation of class/Zoom events available to their members.

Virtual classes

  • Some dojo are holding lectures or discussions.  Outside guest instructors are invited in some instances.
  • Some dojo share video or live stream drills and exercises suitable to solo practice.
  • Some dojo practice group meditation through a videoconference.
  • Some dojo are incorporating or entirely focused on social interaction as inherent to the dojo spirit.

Communication Tools

  • Zoom
  • AnyMeeting
  • Discord
  • Messenger
  • Slack
  • Jitsi
  • YouTube private channel
  • Snapchat

Solo training encouragement

  • Checklist:  members are emailed a checklist of activities to complete each week
  • Challenge:  periodic email challenging members to complete, for example, 100 shomen cuts, or 50 tenkan, or as many punches as possible balancing on one leg
  • Scavenger hunt: find, for example, response to tsuki starting with tenkan, response to kosadori with no tenkan, response to bokken shomen cut
  • Keep all ranks challenged by increasing the number or difficulty of tasks for advanced students  For instance, (one repetition + number of promotions) so unranked student performs one, shodan performs 8, godan performs 11.  

Stay informed in swiftly changing circumstances

  • The Dojocho Forums are available to dojocho with credentials  
  1. Go to
  2. From the menu at the top of the page, click on “Dojo Directory”
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Dojo Directory page and open the “Dojo Directory Login”.
  4. From the drop down menu, select your dojo.
  5. Enter your password. if you have lost yours, click on “Lost password”.
  6. On the left side bar, click on “Dojo Cho Forums”.
  7. Click on “Visit the Dojo Cho Forums”.
  8. Click on “Private:General” and join in the discussion.
  • Dojocho videoconferences are being held more frequently.  If you are a dojocho and are not seeing emails with instructions for joining, contact Wendy Whited,
  • The ASU Newsletter is published more frequently.  If you aren’t seeing Newsletter contents through your dojo, subscribe directly here:

ASU Dojo-Cho Videoconference: Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak

ASU will be hosting a special videoconference to help member dojos respond appropriately to the current COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak.  All ASU dojo-cho are encouraged to participate.

March 17, 2020 at 8:00 pm ET
If you are a dojocho and you did not receive an invitation,
contact Tres Hofmeister at

February 2020 ASU Newsletter

The ASU Board:

  • President: Wendy Whited
  • Vice President/Secretary: Ania Small
  • Treasurer: Josh Drachman
  • Members at Large: – Lee Crawford – Chetan Prakash – John Messores – Marsha Turner

  • Legal Counsel – Richard Moore
  • Ranch Manager – Ken Osbun
  • Shrine Coordinator – Julie Tollen
  • Website / Marketing – Guy Hagen
  • ASU Office Administrator – Don Ellingsworth
  • Technical Task Force – Kay Sandacz

February 4, 2020 Board Meeting Report (Winter Camp)

President Whited called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m.

Items of business:

  1. 1The ASU Office Manager will contact any ASU dojo who has not paid dues as of December 31st of the current year. If dues are not paid or the dojo is non-responsive by March 31, the dojo will be listed as “inactive” on the ASU website and lose its ASU privileges.
  2. The lead person of the ASU Winter Intensive will be asked to attend one or more seminar(s) for the expressed purpose of observing various instructors with the intent of hiring such instructors at future Winter Intensives. The Board will cover costs for the lead person up to $3,000.
  3. The Board will sponsor two seminars a year aimed at dojo that do not have regularly planned events due to size or location. Amounts will be up to $3,000 per grant (as reimbursable expenses) and instructors will be nanadans. The Grant Committee will be charged with determining appropriate selection criteria and deciding grant participants.

The next meeting will be March 3, 2020 at 1:00 PM (EDT).

Respectfully submitted,

Ania Small
ASU Board Secretary

Promotions for the first half of 2019

I plan on posting the yudansha promotions for 2019 over the next few newsletters until I can start posting 2020. The names of some dojo have been shortened due to space constraints. Sorry about that.

  • Erwin Ricafort Yondan 2/25/19 Aikido Bushin
  • Mark Chin Shodan 7/25/19 Aikido At NWU
  • Derek Hedstrom Sandan 4/20/19 Aikido Borealis
  • Diana Hedstrom Nidan 4/20/19 Aikido Borealis
  • Ravi Kumar Shodan 4/5/19 Northshore WA
  • Sean McIlwain Shodan 2/25/19 Aikido Madison
  • Andrita Huckle Nidan 4/14/19 Central Ohio
  • Wansu Choi Nidan 5/15/19 Shobukan Dojo
  • Roy Hodges Nidan 5/15/19 Shobukan Dojo
  • Sooyong Kim Sandan 5/15/19 Shobukan Dojo
  • Arnaud Lyet Shodan 5/15/19 Shobukan Dojo
  • Noah Meltzer Shodan 5/15/19 Shobukan Dojo
  • Tom Giebink Nidan 7/25/19 Bozeman
  • Andrew Vitale Yondan 4/5/19 Chicago Aikikai
  • David Hirtle Sandan 7/25/19 Ellsworth Aiki
  • Ayberk Abayhan Nidan 7/25/19 Lake County IL
  • Matthew Burleson Nidan 7/25/19 Lake County IL
  • Jim Tews Shodan 7/25/19 Lake County IL
  • Lars Ullberg Sandan 7/25/19 Lake County IL
  • Joe Kinman Yondan 2/25/19 Louisville Aiki
  • Terry Apa Shodan 7/25/19 Mountain West
  • Angel Espinoza Sandan 5/15/19 Berkshires MA

Got an app for that?

Does your dojo use software for administrative tasks, like billing or seminar registration? We’d appreciate dojocho responding to the topic in the dojocho forum. The forum can be accessed from the dojocho portal. Click “Log in” at the bottom of and enter your credentials.

Also, if you need information on testing fees, tips on how to run a seminar, etc. check out the dojocho forum.

Saotome Sensei’s Schedule 2020

  • January 31-February 2: Midwest Shrine Session
  • February 21-23: Shrine session, Nidan/Sandan, focus on curriculum
  • May 1 – 3: Shindai Dojo, Orlando, FL
  • June 5 – 7: Bond Street Dojo, New York NY
  • July 1 – 5: Summer Camp, Washington DC
  • August 28 – 30: Aikido Eastside, Bellevue WA
  • October 16-18: Shrine session, Shodan, focus on curriculum
  • December 11-13: Shrine session, Yondan and above, focus on curriculum


As of 2021, Sensei will only be flying to attend seminars in Washington, DC.

The Shrine session started with the usual opening the Shrine and chasing out the tree frogs. This was followed by three days of training with Saotome Sensei, Mary McIntre, Kay Sandacz, and Steve Mathews, Sensei all. The general report from people attending was that is was refreshing to have the senior students on the mat moving about and training with everyone. The mudansha were a great addition to the energy level. Saotome Sensei was in a jovial mood and focused on Aiki connection. “If I can do it, you can do it” was repeated many times.

The next regional seminar will be hosted by the Pacific West Coast Feb. 5-7, 2021.

Midwest Shrine Seminar 2020
Photo by Wendy Whited

Teaching Tip of the Month

Help teach your students the best way to get the attention of an instructor when they go to a seminar or have a guest instructor visiting your dojo. Teach them to walk up to the instructor and ask for help. It is considered rude in a Japanese art to call an instructor over to you. Please remind them that a “Thank you, Sensei.” is greatly appreciated by the instructor.

Grant Application Deadlines

Please be aware that the grant window for Summer Camp is fast approaching. One of the great joys of the the ASU Board is to help send people who might not otherwise be able to go to these wonderful training experiences. If you like training with ten people, try eighty or more at a camp.

  • Summer Camp – March 1 – 31, 2020
  • West Coast Fall Camp – August 1-31, 2020
  • October Shrine -August 1 – 31, 2020
  • Winter Intensive – September – 1- 30, 2020
  • December Shrine session – October 1 – 30, 2020

Applicants will be notified if an award has been granted at the end of the application window. Applications received past the window dates will not be considered for awards.

The grant application material is available on the website:

2020 Kagami Biaraki Promotions

The following ASU instructor promotions were recognized by the Aikikai Hombu (World Aikido Headquarters) at their annual Kagami Biraki celebration:

Dwayne Bolt Philadelphia, PA
Dana Hays Missoula, MT
Daniel McConnell Columbus, OH
Richard Moore Tallahassee, FI
Betsy O’Donnell Cleveland, OH
Brad Schultz Edmonton, Canada
John Taylor Washington, D.C.
Scott Brady Billings, MT
George Carroll New Lenox, IL
Katherine Derbyshire Seattle, WA
Reginald Robinson Washington, D.C.
Michael Stabile Washington, D.C.
Tseng Wang Madison, WI

The ASU Board would also like to congratulate the successful candidates. Thank you for all of your efforts on the various committees.

The formal Aikikai announcement is linked here.