Instructors at our dojo hold ranks certified through Aikido World Headquarters in Japan.
Smith Sensei is the dojo-cho (chief instructor) at Aikido of Monterey, where she is dedicated to continuing to build a dojo community that is committed to and inspired by studying the "Art of Peace." She began her training in 1973, when the Aikido of Monterey dojo was first established, and has trained in the United States and Japan. She holds the rank of Rokudan (6th degree black belt) in Aikido. Her teacher is Frank Doran Shihan. Since 1983 she has been a full-time Aikido instructor and Chief Instructor of the adult and youth programs at Aikido of Monterey. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and brings the "power of alignment" to her teaching of Aikido. Smith Sensei has also studied Tai Chi Chuan, is a Sandan (3rd dan) in Hakko Ryu Jujutsu, a Yondan (4th dan) in Seibukan Jujutsu and a Shodan (1st dan) in Iaido. She is one of five martial artists who developed the widely acclaimed and internationally taught women's self-defense system known as "Model Mugging." She has taught Aikido and self-defense nationally and internationally. Danielle Smith Sensei served as president of the California Aikido Association from 2002 to 2010. She continues as a member of the Examination Committee of the CAA.
Dennis Evans has trained continuously in Aikido since Aikido of
Monterey was established in 1973. He attained the rank of Rokudan (6th
dan) in January 2013. He is a direct student of Frank Doran Shihan.
Evans Sensei has also studied Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung, and is a
Shodan in Iaido. He has taught regularly at Aikido of Monterey since
1977, teaching vigorous general and advanced classes. Sensei Evans
conducts the "spiritual forging" for the dan preparation at Aikido of
Monterey. He has been a local physician since 1973.
Michael began his training at Aikido of Monterey in 1986 and received
the rank of Rokudan (6th degree blackbelt) in 2016. He teaches one of the noon general classes
and a ki-flow jo class. He is active in the Aikido community at large. Smith
Sensei also holds a 2nd degree blackbelt in Kyudo (Japanese archery). He has studied Aikibojutsu with Tom Read Sensei since 1999 and is a licensed teacher with the rank of 5th degree blackbelt.
Cathy began training in an Aikido of Monterey sponsored program in Big Sur in 1989. She has trained continuously since that time. She attained the rank of Yondan in 2006. She teaches a general class on Sunday evenings.
Mitch began his training at Aikido of Monterey in 1989 and attained the
rank of Godan in 2013. In addition to basic and advanced jo classes,
he teaches a one-hour general and weapons class. Teaching in the youth
program, he is responsible for the 10 to 12 year old students and is
known as "Daisempai Mitch" to the children in those classes. Mitch also
holds the rank of Shodan in Iaido.
Erik Haag began his Aikido training in 1979 in France. He trained in Europe and across the United States before coming to Aikido of Monterey in 2003. He attained the rank of Yondan (4th dan) in March 2011. Erik Sensei is also an instructor in Krav Maga and a Shodan in Iaido. He has been a local chiropractor since 1995. Erik Sensei teaches a general Aikido class on Friday evenings.
Yudansha (black belts) of various levels may teach some classes on a rotating basis to provide seven-days-a-week learning opportunities for students and to enhance their own teaching abilities. Dedicated Aikidoka of all levels, many of them parents, assist in the youth program. They provide essential support to the more than 50 youth enrolled in AOM programs.
A dojo is more than a physical location. It is a family of people. Students at AOM are members of this family, and the larger Aikido community throughout the world. There are over 2,500 aikidoka in Northern California alone.
From time to time we will host other teachers at our dojo, and will advise you of seminars and work shops conducted by other teachers at other locations (see Events Calendar). Each teacher has a unique approach, and can offer valuable insights into their understanding of the art of Aikido.
Fellow students of all ranks are often found to be a marvelous source of information. The central theme of harmony that permeates Aikido nurtures a strong sense of community and family. We are all here to help one another.