The Aikido Association of America (AAA) is a nationally-based organization, with an affiliation of over 140 facilities in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, AAA provides instruction developed under the late chief instructor, Shihan Fumio Toyoda. Shihan Toyoda founded AAA in 1984 and had brought over 40 years of Aikido training experience to AAA and its programs.

The goal of AAA is to lift American Aikido instruction to its highest level, using traditional Japanese and modern methods of teaching Aikido arts and philosophy. To ensure that Aikido instruction in this country will be of the highest quality possible, and that it will continue at this level for future generations, AAA provides a variety of services to it members. These services are described below.



National Recognition

Dojo
AAA provides national recognition and accreditation of Aikido dojo and their satellites. It provides guidance on establishing and maintaining a dojo, whether university club to professionally-run, full-time dojo. Member dojo are listed free of charge on the internationally-accessed AAA web site.

A full dojo offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has been in existence at least three years. Instruction is by shidoin and fukushidoin. An Aikido club offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has existed at least one year. Instruction again is by shidoin and fukushidoin.

Instructor
Legitimacy of instructors and quality of instruction are always emphasized in AAA. To this end, the organization has requirements for several levels of instructor certification, and provides national recognition of this certification. Instructor training seminars are also offered twice a year (annually on a national level in Chicago, Illinois, and alternately every other year on the East or West Coast).

Instructor levels include shihan (master instructor),shihandai (assistant shihan), sensei (teacher), shidoin (instructor), fukushidoin (assistant instructor), and jyoshu (assistant). Certification level depends on guidelines set forth in AAA policy.

Student
National recognition of status as an Aikido practitioner is one of the services provided to individual members by AAA. Membership entitles the student to an AAA membership card or yudansha booklet, in which records of the students test and certification dates, annual dues payments, and camp and seminar attendance is recorded. Students receive the national AAA newsletter, Aikido World, four times per year.

Dan Rank Tests and Promotions
AAA has established standardized requirements for kyu rank promotion tests for adults and children, and for black belt tests. The organization provides certification for successful kyu-rank promotions through the students' dojo-cho; dan certificates are issued by Aikido World Headquarters.

The local test committees, or Shinsa iin kai, are composed of Aikido instructors ranked sandan (third degree black belt) and above, who are elected from among the collective group of Aikido black belts present at a promotion test. The head of the Shinsa iin kai is shibucho of the area in which the test is taking place, as appointed by the AAA National Teaching Committee, and reports directly to the AAA National Teaching Committee.

Instruction

Daily Instruction
Daily, quality instruction at an introductory or ongoing level is one of the foundations of AAA. AAA instructors teach six-week introductory courses designed for those who have never done martial arts before, or who have trained in other martial arts but are looking for a change. At the ongoing level, students can participate in a variety of classes, from introductory to beginner's to mixed rank to advanced. Special classes are offered at AAA Headquarters for yudansha (black belts) and for dedicated students (uchideshi and kenshusei). Classes are designed for children, youths, or adults, and may also be run outside the dojo at, for instance, a community center, workplace, local high school or college. For more information on daily training opportunities in your area, contact the nearest AAA dojo.

Training Seminars
To further training of Aikidoka (Aikido students) through standardized instruction and intensive, focused training, AAA offers seminars at a variety of levels and on a variety of subjects including beginning and advanced techniques for both empty-hand and traditional weapons, tactical applications, and therapeutic bodywork. Seminar instructors include shihan (master instructor), shihan-dai (assistant shihan), and AAA Teaching Committee members.

National and Regional Training Camps
The AAA Training Camps are large regional gatherings of Aikido practitioners for training, black belt tests, and personal exchange. Held in different parts of the nation, the AAA Camps are major opportunities for practitioners to network and improve themselves through intensive Aikido practice and when possible, through participating in on-site lodging and meals.

Instructor Training and Certification Seminars
Consistent, quality professional instruction is necessary for the long-term growth of Aikido arts. AAA offers an organized method of instruction which is documented in an instructor's manual and promoted through instructors' seminars and the certification of instructor levels. AAA's instructional program, instituted by the late President and Chief Instructor Shihan Toyoda, is promulgated under the guidance of Aikido Doshu K. Ueshiba's teaching and the philosophy of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. AAA offers its National Instructor Seminar every year in Chicago, and alternating years on the West and East coasts.

Professional Instructor Training Program
AAA believes that professional, full-time Aikido instructors are the means by which the art will be successfully transmitted to future generations. For this reason, the Association has instituted a professional instructor training program with unique opportunities for learning teaching methodology as well as strategies for establishing and operating professional schools in today's world.

Instructors

Shihan
"Shihan" literally means "teacher of teachers." A shihan has responsibility for the overall planning and development of Aikido instruction. Designation of shihan comes only by appointment from Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Currently, only Toyoda Shihan holds this title in AAA.

Toyoda Shihan was the founder, president and Chief Instructor of AAA, and was the primary instructor of all AAA Camps and most of the seminars.

Guest Shihan
Shihan from other organizations, such as Aikido Kobayashi Dojo which is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, visit the U.S. to share in teaching at various AAA camps or seminars. Currently, guest shihan include Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan, president and chief instructor of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo, and Kengo Hatayama Shihan, of Aikido Sayamadai Dojo.

Shihan-dai
Shihan-dai, or assistant instructors, are appointed by a shihan as assistant in instruction and directorship. At this time there are three shihandai in AAI:

  • Mr. Glen Matsuda of Shishinkan Dojo in Rockland, New York
  • Mr. James Nakayama of Chushinkan Dojo in Buena Park, California


  • National Teaching Committee Members
    The AAA National Teaching Committee is composed of dedicated, high-ranked Aikido instructors around the country, from the Association, who are committed to assisting in propagating high quality Aikido through their instruction and teaching methodology. Committee members are ranked yondan (fourth-degree black belt) and above, and are chosen for both their instructional and organizational experience. Teaching Committee members also offer instructional seminars in their regional areas as representatives of AAA. They also take an active lead in the Association with promotion test procedures, acting as sources of information on AAA promotion test requirements and leading local test committees, and meet annual requirements to maintain their position on the Teaching Committee.

    Current AAA National Teaching Committee Members are:

  • Mr. James Nakayama, Chushinkan Dojo, Buena Park, California
  • Mr. Martin Katz, Ryushinkan Dojo, San Diego, California
  • Mr. John Bieszk, Itsushinkan Dojo, Lombard, Illinois
  • Ms. Leslie Parks-Casey, Tenshinkan Dojo, Chicago, Illinois
  • Mr. Bill Bunn, Joshinkan Dojo, Cary, North Carolina
  • Mr. Glen Matsuda, Shishinkan Dojo, Blauvelt, New York
  • Mr. Steve Rehrauer, Tenshinkan Dojo, Chicago, Illinois
  • Ms. Christine Dyer, Chushinkan Dojo, Buena Park, California
  • Mr. Ken MacBeth, Kenshinkan Dojo, Vista, California
  • Dr. Frank Gallo, Ludlow, Massachusetts
  • Communication/Public Awareness

    Newsletters
    AAA publishes a periodic newsletter, Aikido World, to promote communication among dojo and their members and to spread education and philosophical and academic standards in Aikido.

    AAA Camp News contains information about AAA National and Regional Camps, the philosophy behind this type of event, reports and photos from previous events, and information on upcoming events.

    Hikari is a regional newsletter distributed for the Western States. Contact the editor for more information. An online version is also available.

    Kaze is a regional newsletter distributed for the Eastern and Southern States. Contact the editor for more information. An online version is not yet available.

    Sha is the AAA Eastern Regional newsletter available online at the Eastern Region website.

    AAA Headquarters, Tenshinkan Dojo, also produces a newsletter, the Dojo Report, featuring local events and stories, as do many of AAA member dojo around the country.

    Internet
    Services offered on the internet include:

  • National affiliated dojo listing
  • Calendar, or yearly plan, of training events
  • Detailed training event information, online flyers and registration forms
  • AAA Supply Sales
  • Member dojo administrative paperwork
  • Information on Aikido, the organization, and the instructors
  • Online newsletters


  • Videos and Books
    AAA is developing a new series of educational and instructional Aikido video tapes. Several tapes from Toyoda Shihan's seminars are currently available. AAA also offers two training manuals, the AAA Student Manual, and the AAA Instructor Manual. Please see AAA Supply.

    Supply Sales
    Items for sale by AAA include T-Shirts, caps, gear bags, weapons bags, red oak and white oak training weapons (bokken, jo, tanto, suburi bokken), manuals, video tapes, and calendars. Visit the AAA Supply page for more information, photographs, or order form.

    Public Demonstrations
    AAA offers demonstrations to educate the general public about Aikido, and about the spirit of shugyo and transcendence of life and death that Aikido embodies. Demonstrations are done at local colleges and universities, Asian arts festivals, street fairs, community centers, work places, shopping malls, high schools and libraries, and where ever else is available.

    Cultural Trips and Training Tours
    Opportunities to expand one's awareness and experience, and to train in different parts of the country or with different Aikidoka, exist through AAA-sponsored cultural trips and training tours. From outdoor camping/ training retreats in Michigan parks, to visits to Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan, AAA sponsors a variety of educational and cultural visits, often in conjunction with Aikido Association International.

    The Aikido Association International (AAI) is the international arm of the Aikido Association of America and has affiliated dojo in ten nations. AAI was founded by Shihan Fumio Toyoda and offers the same types of services internationally as AAA does nationally. Services include instruction, school recognition, rank verification by standardized tests, seminar workshops and other support to Aikido instructors and practitioners worldwide.

    The goal of AAI is to lift Aikido training internationally to its highest possible level and to pass Aikido on to future generations through the development of quality, professional instruction. AAI is headquartered in Palatine, Illinois. Shihan Toyoda founded AAI in 1986 and brought over 40 years of Aikido training experience to AAI and its programs.

    AAI provides a variety of services to its members, in an ongoing effort to promote quality Aikido and Aikido instruction worldwide. These services are described below.



    International Recognition

    Dojo
    AAI provides international recognition and accreditation of Aikido dojo and their satellites. It provides guidance on establishing and maintaining a dojo, whether university club to professionally-run, full-time dojo. Member dojo are listed free of charge on the internationally-accessed AAA/AAI web site.

    A full dojo offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has been in existence at least three years. Instruction is by shidoin and fukushidoin. An Aikido club offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has existed at least one year. Instruction again is by shidoin and fukushidoin.

    Instructor
    Legitimacy of instructors and quality of instruction are always emphasized in AAI. To this end, the organization has requirements for several levels of instructor certification, and provides international recognition of this certification. Instructor training seminars are also offered yearly in Europe, as well as twice a year in the United States.

    Instructor levels include shihan (master instructor),shihandai (assistant shihan), sensei (teacher), shidoin (instructor), fukushidoin (assistant instructor), and jyoshu (assistant). Certification level depends on guidelines set forth in AAI policy.

    Student
    International recognition of status as an Aikido practitioner is one of the services provided to individual members by AAI. Membership entitles the student to an AAI membership card or yudansha booklet, in which records of the students test and certification dates, annual dues payments, and camp and seminar attendance is recorded. Students receive the international AAI newsletter, Aikido World, four times per year.

    Dan Rank Tests and Promotions
    AAI has established standardized requirements for kyu rank promotion tests for adults and children, and for black belt tests. The organization provides certification for successful kyu-rank promotions through the students' dojo-cho; dan certificates are issued by Aikido World Headquarters. The AAI and AAA Teaching Committee, administers the black belt tests at seminars overseas for aikidoka around the world, in conjunction with members of the local test committees.

    The local test committees, or Shinsa iin kai, are composed of Aikido instructors ranked sandan (third degree black belt) and above, who are elected from among the collective group of Aikido black belts present at a promotion test. The head of the Shinsa iin kai is shibucho of the area in which the test is taking place, as appointed by the AAI Teaching Committee, and reports directly to the AAI Teaching Committee.

    Instruction

    Daily Instruction
    Daily, quality instruction at an introductory or ongoing level is one of the foundations of AAI. AAI instructors teach six-week introductory courses designed for those who have never done martial arts before, or who have trained in other martial arts but are looking for a change. At the ongoing level, students can participate in a variety of classes, from introductory to beginner's to mixed rank to advanced. Special classes are offered at AAA/AAI Headquarters for yudansha (black belts) and for dedicated students (uchideshi and kenshusei). Classes are designed for children, youths, or adults, and may also be run outside the dojo at, for instance, a community center, workplace, local high school or college. For more information on daily training opportunities in your area, contact the nearest AAI dojo.

    Training Seminars
    To further training of Aikidoka (Aikido students) through standardized instruction and intensive, focused training, AAI offers seminars at a variety of levels and on a variety of subjects including beginning and advanced techniques for both empty-hand and traditional weapons, tactical applications, and therapeutic bodywork. Seminar instructors include shihan (master instructor), shihan-dai (assistant shihan), and AAI Teaching Committee members.

    National and Regional Training Camps
    The AAI Training Camps are large regional gatherings of Aikido practitioners for training, black belt tests, and personal exchange. Held in different parts of the world, the AAI Camps are major opportunities for practitioners to network and improve themselves through intensive Aikido practice and when possible, through participating in on-site lodging and meals.

    Instructor Training and Certification Seminars
    Consistent, quality professional instruction is necessary for the long-term growth of Aikido arts. AAI offers an organized method of instruction which is documented in our instructor's manual and promoted through instructors' seminars and the certification of instructor levels. AAI's instructional program, instituted by President and Chief Instructor Shihan Toyoda, is promulgated under the guidance of Aikido Doshu K. Ueshiba's teaching and the philosophy of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

    Professional Instructor Training Program
    AAI believes that professional, full-time Aikido instructors are the means by which the art will be successfully transmitted to future generations. For this reason, the Association has instituted a professional instructor training program with unique opportunities for learning teaching methodology as well as strategies for establishing and operating professional schools in today's world.

    Instructors

    Shihan
    "Shihan" literally means "teacher of teachers." A shihan has responsibility for the overall planning and development of Aikido instruction. Designation of shihan comes only by appointment from Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Currently, only Toyoda Shihan holds this title in AAA.

    Toyoda Shihan was the founder, president and Chief Instructor of AAI, and was the primary instructor of all AAI Camps and most of the seminars.

    Guest Shihan
    Shihan from other organizations, such as Aikido Kobayashi Dojo which is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, visit the U.S. to share in teaching at various AAA camps or seminars. Currently, guest shihan include Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan, president and chief instructor of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo, and Kengo Hatayama Shihan, of Aikido Sayamadai Dojo.

    Shihan-dai
    Shihan-dai, or assistant instructors, are appointed by a shihan as assistant in instruction and directorship. At this time there are three shihandai in AAI:

  • Mr. Glen Matsuda of Shishinkan Dojo in Rockland, NY
  • Mr. James Nakayama of Chushinkan Dojo in Buena Park, CA


  • National Teaching Committee Members
    The AAI International Teaching Committee is composed of dedicated, high-ranked Aikido instructors around the world, from the Association, who are committed to assisting Shihan Toyoda in propagating high quality Aikido through their instruction and teaching methodology. Committee members are ranked yondan (fourth-degree black belt) and above, and are chosen for both their instructional and organizational experience. Teaching Committee members also offer instructional seminars in their regional areas as representatives of AAI. They also take an active lead in the Association with promotion test procedures, acting as sources of information on AAI promotion test requirements and leading local test committees, and meet annual requirements to maintain their position on the Teaching Committee.

    Current AAI National Teaching Committee Members are:

  • Mr. James Nakayama, Chushinkan Dojo, Buena Park, California
  • Mr. Steve Rehrauer, Tenshinkan Dojo, Chicago, Illinois
  • Mr. Bolivar Ramirez, Shushinkan Dojo, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
  • Mr. John Ratnam, Zanshinkan Dojo, Dubai, UAE


  • Hakamakai
    The Hakamakai is an international organization of Aikido yudansha (black belts). The Hakamakai is a foundation group of committed Aikido practicitioners who work to implement Association goals and events.

    Communication/Public Awareness

    Newsletters
    AAI publishes a periodic newsletter, Aikido World, to promote communication among dojo and their members and to spread education and philosophical and academic standards in Aikido.

    Internet
    Services offered on the internet include:

  • International affiliated dojo listing
  • Calendar, or yearly plan, of training events
  • Detailed training event information
  • Information on Aikido, the organization, and the instructors
  • Online newsletters


  • Cultural Trips and Training Tours
    Each year AAI sponsors a group trip to Japan, the birthplace of Aikido. Trip participants have the opportunity to train at Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo and with members from other Aikido organizations, and to participate in tours emphasizing cultural exchange and understanding.

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