Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Day 2015 Special

Ever wanted to try a martial art?  Do you need to find a way to reduce stress, feel more connected with your body, have greater confidence?  Come try Aikido and start the new year off right.  Come join us for our annual New Year's Day class.  New students who come to this class can practice all of January for just $5!

Class starts at 10AM and goes through 11:30AM with light refreshments (read that as sugar based goodness) and open mat until noon.

Happy New Year from Aikido Kokikai of Rochester!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Close of 2014 Holiday Schedule

As we enjoy ourselves with food, beverage, and family, the dojo will take a back seat while we rest, recuperate, and relax.  For the winter holidays, there will be no (regular) classes on 12/24, 12/25, 12/31, 1/1.

We will be having our annual New Year's Day class at 10am to welcome the next chapter in our training with a renewed dedication and energy.

You can see our updated calendar here:
If there are any last minute closings due to weather, they will get posted on our here to the blog site.

Be Safe and Enjoy the Holidays!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Another Great Regional Practice!

Another very successful regional practice is under our collective obi.  We had students from Rochester, Eastern Sky, Webster, and RIT dojos sharing ideas while having a lot of fun.  There were 17 students in the kids class followed by 29 students in the adult class, 16 of which ranked shodan or higher!  In addition to that we had 3 more students who came out to support the event despite feeling a bit under the weather and a former student who stopped in to visit. (good to see you Michael)  There were no lions or tigers but we did have two small bears!

We were also treated to three great tests, so please join me in congratualting:

5th Kyu
Michael Donatelli (Webster)

2nd Kyu
Ayano Ninomiya (Rochester)

1st Kyu
Samantha Newmark (Rochester)

The class went for 2 and half hours, more than 1/2 survived:

See more pics via our Google+ Page:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Reminder: Saturday Dec 6th is Regional Practice

Practice is open to all Kokikai students.  There is no mat fee.  The regional practices are great opportunities to share experiences between dojos in an informal setting.  We will also have some testing so please come and support your fellow students.  We will start at 10AM and go until at least 12:30 but come for what you can.  Tests will be mixed in throughout the class.

See you there!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Week Dojo Update

Happy Halloween!

We had a really great class with some remarkable tests last Thursday night.  We had 21 people on the mat to aide and enjoy the testing process.  Thanks to all who perseverance make this dojo what it is, a haven for personal growth and development.

Congratulations to:

Talip Eroglu, 6th Kyu

Aidan McNulty, 5th Kyu

William (Bill) Bechdel, 4th Kyu
Matt McNulty, 4th Kyu

Looking forward...

Thursday night we will be watching more of the Seven Samurai after class.  Relax, bring a beverage and a snack.

This Saturday, November 1st, we will have testing in our kids class.  Please come and show your support for the next generation of Aikidoka!

Keep your schedule clear for Saturday, December 6th, for a regional practice.

Sensei is coming back to the states.  He will be in Boston, Rhode Island, and San Francisco to name a few.  Check the dojo or the Kokikai Facebook page for details.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dojo News

Dojo Testing:

We will be having testing in the 7pm class on Thursday, October 23rd.  Please come and participate in your dojos progress!  Following testing, we will have a social event.  We will watch the movie classic, Seven Samurai.  To make it more interesting, we found a crossword puzzle based on the movie to work on while we watch so we can be uber geeky.  It's a long movie and peope have to work Fridays, so we might do the second half the next week.  The mat will be open, but no formal class at 8pm.

Regional Practice:

Preliminary date is Saturday, December 6th, from 10:15-1:00pm.  There will be some upper kyu rank testing!!! We will be inviting Ithaca, Eastern Sky, and Albany dojos (and anyone else in Kokikai is welcome, too!)

Traffic Alert:

There will be new traffic patterns near the dojo.  St. Paul and Clinton will be converted to 2-way traffic.  Read more about the changes here.

  • Saint Paul Street — between Cumberland Street and Main Street — will be converted from one-way to two-way throughout the day on Thursday, October 16.
  • North Clinton Avenue — between Cumberland Street and Main Street — will be converted from one-way to two-way throughout the day on Friday, October 17

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A throw by an other name...

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

Don Diego de la Vega [indicating sword]: Do you know how to use that thing?

Alejandro Murrieta: Yes! The pointy end goes into the other man.

So simple.  So wrong. But Funny.

In recent classes we have touched on what it means to "throw" an attacker.  So what is the big question. Well, words mean things and they precondition the mind.  What does "to throw" mean to most people?  Well, let's start with the dictionary. (I think I just got points from Sam).

  1. propel (something) with force through the air by a movement of the arm and hand.
  2. push or force (someone or something) violently and suddenly into a particular physical position or state.

I'd venture to bet that the image that most people conjure when they picture "throwing" is a ball. That's definition 1.  But that's not at all what we do.  In our context, one might fall to definition 2.  But anyone who has been in the dojo for any amount of time has heard us talk in terms completely opposite to pushing and forcing violently.  Thinking in these terms, force, violence, movement of the arm, is contrary in every way to what we aspire to in Aikido.  However, the dictionary leaves us one more meaning of "throw" that brings hope to our discussion

 3. cause to enter suddenly a particular state or condition.

Here lies some level of redemption for this word.  A meaning devoid of conflict but still of intent and action.  We can work with this "throw".

Now that we have dispensed with our boring romp through some until now suppressed memory of a grade school English class, on to the show. 

I have always likened throwing in Aikido to the art of persuasion made physical.  We don't make (force) our attackers into falling down, we somehow convince them to through physical trickery.  Herein lies a trap for us as practitioners.  We, when playing the role of an attacker (uke), can't do so thinking or knowing that we are about to get thrown.  If we do, then we have resigned ourselves to the outcome and have robbed the nage (good guy) of the opportunity to make his case (throw).  As uke, it is not our job to fall.  Neither is it our job to go all Watergate and cheat the nage of his argument.  As uke, it is our job to attack, genuinely, even with some degree of ferocity (as appropriate for the level of nage).  Then and only then, can nage (the good guy) apply their tricks (read techniques) to cause uke to suddenly enter a state of falling on our heads.

What was the point of all this... just like sticking the pointy end in the other man is hardly a complete treatise on swordsmanship, we must be aware of how we describe what we do so that we don't unwittingly bring baggage from colloquial or cultural expectations into our learning process.  They can lead us to ideas that lead us astray from the principles of Aikido and significantly delay our journey up the mountain.

Spend a few moments and rethink how you describe what you do in Aikido.  It might just help your practice.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Some fun you have been missing...

Here's a synopsis of just some of the things we have been working on the last few weeks...

  • We got to explore the latest nuances from our seminars with Sensei.
  • We spent an entire class following the evolution of kokyu nage (at least the 18 years of it that I've seen) and how each stage relates to our current technique.
  • We looked at the timing of attacks and how it relates to practicing our ukemi.
  • We focused on what it really means to "throw" and the differences between actively throwing (incorrect nage), taking our own ukemi (incorrect uke), and convincing ukes to fall down (correct nage and uke).
  • We examined techniques and how they relate to our ki exercises.
  • We practice misogi breathing.
  • We had a ball! :)

What's in store next?  Come find out!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Labor Day - Classes Cancelled

The dojo will be closed on Mon. 9/1 for the Labor Day holiday.
Classes will resume as usual on Tues. 9/2.

Marcella & Harold

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thank you Sensei!!!

From all of the Rochester Dojo, THANK YOU SENSEI!

We had another great weekend long seminar from our Sensei.  We had a full mat both Saturday and Sunday including visitors from our Webster program, Eastern Sky Aikido in Fairport, as well as from Kokikai Ithaca, MIT, Boston, and Garden State, NJ dojos.  Thank you to everyone who chipped in and made his visit a great success.

Sensei Maruyama visits the United States from his home dojo in Nagoya three times every year.  The Rochester dojo is extremely fortunate to be on the short list of stops during his summer trip.  It is exciting to see the subtle power demonstrated by Sensei and how his techniques becomes more and more efficient and powerful every year.  Sensei's awareness of his body and state of mind allow him to effortlessly cause people more than twice his size to crumble.  He is constant proof that brawn is not the answer and validates the entire construct of self defense.  He shows how smaller, weaker people can easily defeat an attack from larger and stronger assailants.

To learn more about Kokikai Aikido and the Rochester Dojo, see our full website.  Check out the Kokikai organizations website to find a Kokikai dojo near you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Camp Testing

Please join me in congratulating Len Butler and Mark Panek on their promotion tests this past weekend.  Len and Mark represented the dojo well and we received several positive comments on their performance. 

Len Butler, Shodan
Mark Panek, Nidan

Also of note, several of our friends at Eastern Sky dojo tested and performed quite well.  Please congratulate Tara, Natan, Ryan, and Rich next time you see them.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Heard on the mat Thursday night...

"'s like they fall before they fall!"

Well said Binh!

We've all heard the saying, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  Or as I like to put it, you can lead a horse to water, but drowning him is an entirely different matter.  Our brains are funny in that there seem to be little doors that briefly open and allow in wisdom and understanding.  Knowledge flows in pretty well, though it also appears to leak out nearly as easily.  But real understanding, once it worms it's way in, is more permanent.  The teacher/lesson/water is always there.  It doesn't magically appear when you are ready.  It's that a culmination of knowledge, events, and attitudes that allow us to finally notice what has just become obvious and unmistakeable.

So, what is the key to opening those little doors more often?  It's largely a numbers game.  The longer you put into study, the more chances you give yourself.  Each min-Epiphany you have helps turn the lock on the next door into your brain.  It becomes a seed for the next and the next.

So, the moral of the story... Persistence.  Immersion.  Practice.  Repeat the words Binh spoke. It will either sound like a statement that the office Captain Obvious would make or a profound truth that will make you smile knowingly.  If for you it's the former, then you have something to look forward to.  If the latter, then we'll be excited to hear what's behind your next door.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sensei in Rochester!

Just a reminder... 

Experience the power and grace of Kokikai Aikido with Shuji Maruyama Sensei, President and Founder of Kokikai Ryu Aikido International.

Sensei will be at the Rochester dojo on Sat. August 9 and Sun. August 10. 

The deadline for receiving a discount on the seminar is Fri. July 25. 

You can also pay by paypal by sending money to

Looking forward to having everyone get a chance to experience Sensei!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sensei is coming and the dojo needs cleaning...

It’s that time again…time to clean the dojo and get it ready for Sensei’s visit after summer camp.

Please join us on Saturday, August 2 after the adult class at 11:00 am to clean the dojo.

With a group of 4-5 people we should be able to clean the dojo in about 1-1.5 hours.

A list of cleaning tasks will be posted beforehand and can be done at any time before, during or after the scheduled clean up. 

Please pick a task, do it and check it off the list.

Questions, see Ray Easton. 

Last Test Prep before Summer Camp...

Tomorrow (Tues. 7/22 @ 6:00 pm) is the last test prep class before summer camp! Please join us as we help Mark and Len get ready for their tests.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How does practice best fit in your schedule?

We want to hear from you!  What days and times would be best for you?

Check out our poll on our new Meetup page!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Test Prep - Week 2:

Tick, tock, tick, tock...test prep starts in just about 2.25 hours! See you at 6:00 pm and don't forget your water bottle! It's gonna be a hot one!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

test prep

it's not our muscles that make us rise, it is our spirit.'s not just about technique.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Winter is offocially over...

...when after 3 hours of practice I get to have my first post class Slurpee of the season.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Camp/Test Prep

The 2014 summer session of camp/test prep kicks off next Tuesday, June 17.

All are welcome and as usual, we will kick it up a notch for camp/test prep classes. Beginners will be taken good care of so don't hesitate to come as well.

Camp/test prep will run for 6 weeks, every Tuesday night from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

As usual, week 1 and 6 we’ll have video review for baseline and progress. Please be prepared to stay a little later those nights.

Remember, if you are not testing, we will need ukes of all types, so please come and support your fellow aikidoka.

Camp/test prep has been a long standing tradition in Rochester which, with your support we’ll continue to enhance everyone's quality of practice.

Thank you,

Marcella & Brian

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Unlikely Bedfellows

As some of you who practice at our dojo know, my wife Candy and I are into blacksmithing.  Yup, blacksmithing.  Hammers, anvils, fire, the whole deal...just no horses.  I mean, what else would you expect two RIT educated engineers to do in their down time, well besides Aikido, of course.

So, besides outing ourselves as slightly into the odd spectra of society, why does it matter?  Because everything is connected if you are open to seeing it.  As we got more and more into hitting things with hammers we started to see parallels that couldn't be ignored.  When we got frustrated or were stressed, our work suffered.  Things just didn't come out right.  Sound familiar?  Relax, Progressively.

Ok, that was an easy one.  Being relaxed helps lots of stuff, so what else?  How about nikkyo and hammering.  Nikkyo is all about the pinky finger.  The grip on the hammer handle, assuming you want any accuracy, or not to throw the hammer across the room, or not get tendinitis, is all about the pinky.  Also, nikkyo is not a death grip.  It's soft yet unyielding.  Exactly what we needed and we already knew it from Aikido!

Now we get to swinging our nicely held hammers and the connections just kept flowing.  The hammer became a part of our unbendable arm.  It rose, it fell, and rose and fell over and over into the patten of shomen uchi undo.  When we aimed the hammer, we aimed it with our hips!  How else could we do it?

And all was well. But then, we got bigger hammers!  So big you needed two hands to hold them and swing them high over your head and down with all the might of gravity.  Guided by the right hand, driven by the left.  We discovered swords in the shapes of hammers.  And there was much rejoicing. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

More Kokikai Resources...

Hope that everyone is enjoying a day with family and friends on this Memorial Day.

I wanted to share the address for a blog written by a fellow Kokikai member, Judy Minot, who lives in the Princeton, NJ area. I discovered Judy's blog about two months ago and have been really enjoying her posts. She is a dedicated student/instructor who was recently promoted to 4th degree black belt. She is also an excellent writer. Her blog often talks about aikido practice and there is a thread of aikido philosophy in all her posts.

I find it a great way to appreciate our art even when I am not on the mat.

See you on the mat!

Judy Warner

Monday, May 19, 2014

Heads up...

Heads up...the dojo will be closed next Monday 5/26 in honor of Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recent Testing

I'm a little late on my posting, but please congratulate Hai Tran on his 6th kyu test.  Hai tested on Saturday 4/26.  I'd also like to extend a warm welcome to new and continuing students who tested through RIT this week and through the Webster continuing education program that Christian is heading.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

AKF Mat Fundraising Seminar in June


Cecelia Sensei is putting together a seminar the weekend of June 14th at Rowan University.  This will be taught by various high ranking instructors.  All the proceeds will go to buying new mats for camps.  People who attend this event are eligible to get a discount on this coming Summer camp.

Please see (email) Brian, Judy, or Marcella if you are interested in attending before May 8th as we need to get her a count of people that are going so they can make decisions about how many mats can be purchased.  The new mats will be at this seminar.  Be among the first to roll on them!


BTW - Cecelia Sensei rocks for doing this and a thousand other things.  Please thank her next time you see her for all that she does for our organization!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No Evil Bunny!

Open mat is cancelled for this Sun. 4/20...there will be no evil bunny in the dojo!

However it will be business as usual on Sun. 4/27.

Happy Easter/Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Introduction to Aikido

Attention white, orange, blue and brown belts we need your help...

We will be offering an Introduction to Aikido class through Rochester Brainery on Sat. 6/14 from 1:30 pm-3:30 pm. We are expecting approximately 20 students.

This will be a great opportunity to attract new students to our dojo.

If you can lend a hand please let Marcella or Brian know.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Group Photo from Saturday's Regional Practice

group photo provided by Judy Warner Sensei from Saturday's Regional Practice (April 12).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Going through my archives...

High Speed video is just cool.  Here is a fun throw we do against a downward and diagonal attack to the head.  It may not be the most practical throw, but did I say it's FUN...and it teaches a lot about timing, distance, energy...and how to fly!  :)

A student should use every tool available to them to progress their skills.  There is no more honest critic than high speed video of your technique.

Have fun,

"Progress is Happiness"

Busy Weekend...

This Saturday, we had a great line up.  Two of our students treated us to excellent examples of  kyu rank testing during our regional practice.  We had participants from the Eastern Sky dojo, Kokikai Ithaca, RIT as well as many members of our own dojo.  After 2 hours of sweat and fun, we recognized Sensei Judy Warner for her recent promotion to roku (6th) dan.  After class we got to stay and chat while enjoying some refreshments (thanks Marcella!).

Please join me in congratulating:

Aiden McNulty - 6th Kyu

Bruce Xu - 4th Kyu

Please join us on Saturday the 26th to support Hai's 6th kyu test!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

It’s back! Beginner’s Class every Wednesday at 6:00 pm.

Aikido can feel a little overwhelming when first starting out.  We want to help you get comfortable with concepts and techniques and familiarize you with the Basic Principles.

Class will focus on:

  • Ki Development Exercises - Why do we do them?
  • Ukemi (falling, rolling) - learn how to take a roll or fall
  • Terminology - learn some Japanese words
  • Preparation - for 5th and 6th kyu testing (belt promotion)
 Can’t make Wednesdays at 6:00 pm?  All other regularly scheduled classes are open to students of all ranks and when you step on the mat we will provide a level of practice that is suitable to your level of experience.
Also, take advantage of Open Mat held on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm and Sundays at 10:00 am.  Open Mat is informal instruction and provides a great opportunity to focus on questions regarding your individual training and practice. 
Beginner's Class is open to all students.
We look forward to seeing you on the mat.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Regional Practice this Saturday!

To all fellow Kokikai aikidoka, please join us this Saturday, April 12 for a class that will include members from the Eastern Sky dojo and friends from the central New York area.

Take advantage of the opportunity to practice with new uke. There is no additional charge to participate.  It's FREE!...

This class will also include testing for 4th and 6th kyu promotions so uke participation is greatly appreciated.

Don't forget to wash and press your gi and hakama.

Class will run from 10:00 am to 12 noon.  Bring water to hydrate.

We look forward to seeing you on the mat!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Congratulations are in order!

Please join me in congratulating Judy Warner Sensei on her promotion to 6th Dan!

Open Mat Cancelled (3/30/14) -

I'm sorry for the short notice but due to the foot of heavy wet snow in my driveway open mat is cancelled for today (3/30/14).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Updated Schedule for Thursdays

Starting this week, Thursday nights we are bringing back our 8-9pm class. We will be focusing on rondori. Everyone is welcome to come throw what you know.

New Thursday night class schedule is:

6-7pm General Class
7-8pm General Class
8-9pm Rondori* Class

Rondori is an exercise where we focus on building your instincts.  There is less coaching of individual points and nuances and more on the big picture.  All ranks are encouraged to attend.  Can't stay until 9pm?  That's ok, please join and step off when you need to go.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yup, it's a snow day.

The Dojo is closed tonight.  Stay warm.  Have fun shoveling.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Snow Day??

We're supposed to get wolloped Wednesday.  Please check here before venturing out for class on 3/12/14.

I will make the call Wednesday PM, because if I do it now, the storm will just pass us by and there will be a lot of angry kids who didn't get a school day off because of me.  :)


Monday, March 10, 2014


Congratulations to Samantha Newmark (2nd Kyu), Kerman Bharucha (2nd Kyu), Timur Akhunov (Shodan), Hugh Higgins (Shodan), Harold Leve (Sandan) and Rose Pleninger (Sandan) of the Eastern Sky dojo on their tests at Kokikai Aikido Winter Camp 2014. Great job guys!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Belt Presentations (after winter camp)

Please join us to congratulate and acknowledge the students who will have tested at winter camp.

Belts will be given out on Monday, 3/10 at 7:00 pm.

Questions or concerns, please contact Brian or Marcella.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Photo of the beautiful new patches

Here is a photo of our new dojo patch. Be sure to get one when you are next in the dojo!

Friday, February 28, 2014

the new dojo patches are here!

hello fellow aikidoka, the dojo patches have arrived! i will bring them to the 10 am class tomorrow. step on the mat and get a patch!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Final Week of Test Prep!

This week is the final week of test prep for Winter Camp.  Please come out if you can and support your fellow students.  Test prep is a great tradition in Rochester and it relies on the whole dojo's participation.

Week 6, Thursday 2/27, 7-8 (class with video); 8-9 video review

Friday, February 7, 2014

What better way to start a test prep class...

..than to have a surprise test.  Please join me in congratulating Ayano on her excellent 3rd Kyu test this Thursday night.  She has a very hectic travel schedule which requires a bit of flexbility and sneakiness on our part but she was well prepared.

3rd Kyu (2/6/14)
Ayano Ninomiya

Open Mat Cancelled for Sun. 2/9-

Open mat is cancelled for this Sun. 2/9.

We will be back in business the following Sun. 2/16.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CLASSES CANCELLED Wednesday 2/5/14

CLASSES CANCELLED Wednesday 2/5/14 due to inclement weather and poor driving conditions.

Stay warm.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

accepting pre-orders for "official" kokikai Rochester dojo uniform patches

Only Four days left to pre-order your dojo patch. Place your order today!

The last day to pre-order will be Saturday, February 1. 

On behalf of the dojo, I would like to announce that we are now accepting preorders for our "official" dojo uniform patch.

This is a beautiful 3.5 inch red and black patch made of high quality thread and stiff backing that is built to last and will look great on your gi (uniform). The patch will also look good on duffel bags, backpacks or totes.

In order to determine the appropriate quantity to be produced, we are asking you to make a commitment to the number of patches you would like. We don't want to over order but we also want to have enough patches for everyone that wants them.

A patch for all your gi's will allow you to proudly show off our dojo on the mat and at seminars like winter and summer camp.

Pricing for the patches are $5 each or $4 each for 2 or more patches. Proceeds from the sale of the patch go toward the support of the dojo and its activities.

A sign up sheet will be made available at the dojo where you can order your patches.

The patches will take about 4 weeks to make and should be ready the first week of March, just in time for winter camp!

Thank you for your support.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January Testing


Please join me in congratulating our fellow aikidoka on their rank promotions. 

5th kyu
Bill Bechdel
Panos Ginis
Lucian Ferruzza

4th kyu
Jim Keeler

As always, it's a pleasure to see the progress resulting from hard work and dedication of our students.

"Progress is Happiness"

Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter Camp/Test Prep 2014 -

Need a boost to get you through the next couple of winter months? How about joining us for test prep?

The winter session of camp/test prep kicks off Thursday, January 23.

All are welcome and as usual, we will kick it up a notch for camp/test prep classes. Beginners will be taken good care of so don't hesitate to come as well.

Camp/test prep will run for 6 weeks, every Thursday night from 7-8:30 pm.

As usual, the first and last nights we’ll have video review for baseline and progress. Please be prepared to stay a little later those nights.

Remember, if you are not testing, we will need ukes of all types, so please come and support your fellow aikidoka.

Camp/test prep has been a long standing tradition in Rochester which, with your support we’ll continue to enhance everyone's quality of practice.

Thank you,

Brian & Marcella

No Open Mat Sun. 1/19/14-

Heads up...There will be no open mat on Sun. 1/19/ the Sunday Morning Regulars a chance to attend the Weapons Seminar at Eastern Sky.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Tonight's (1/2/14) classes are cancelled.  Sensei Judy just went through downtown and said it's a mess and the snow is not supposed to let up until morning.  Guess this is one of those don't go down the dark alley moments.  :)

Keep warm, stay safe.