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Peace Dojos in USA

Aikido of columbus

Sensei: Paul Linden

BIM® is an empirical, educational process which examines how the structure and function of the body in action shape and are shaped by self-concept and meaning. 3 BIM models and leads people toward skills of  evidential thinking. BIM examines the self in the world, looking at the interaction among musculoskeletal structure/function; intentional projection; thoughts, feelings, and beliefs; task performance; and ethical behavior. The student learns to detect imbalances in the  mindbody and remedy them. These imbalances generally are part of the distress response (fight/flight/freeze/collapse) and involve smallness of posture, breathing, and attention.  the antidote to this is an expensive balanced mind-body state, which serves as a foundation for ethical and effective functioning. This is a state of calm alertness and compassionate power. Two key areas of BIM application are  trauma recovery and peacemaking. In addition, BIM  has been effective in work with golfers and other sports people,  with children with movement disorders, and with musicians and computer users.

Still Point Aikido Center,

Sensei: Ross Robertson, Austin, TX:
Center for the dissemination of the Honmatsu system of aikido pedagogy, which emphasizes an improvisational framework based on an understanding of the “solid” and “empty” features in any dynamic structure. From within this schema, the manifold forms of aikido arise spontaneously and organically. The discipline learned on the mat can be applied to any structure, whether individual, social or environmental; physical or virtual.

Aikido In Fredericksburg,

Sensei: Aviv Goldsmith
We embody conflict resolution, self-improvement, and community service through the teachings of the nonviolent art of AIKIDO.

Two Rivers Aikido

sensei: Mark Leitzel/Leigh Schickendantz

We have recently received funding for the fiscal year 2011 through Montana Department of Corrections to implement this new program. The Department of Corrections approached us with the opportunity to design a program similar to our long standing highly successful Integrative Family Program (I.F.P.).

The F.C.R.P. Family Conflict Resolution Program is an abbreviated version of the six month program we offer except it is specifically focused on the the harmonious resolution of conflict. It is for youth who have been charged with Partner Family Member Assault (PFMA). This option for diversion is utilized as a way for first time offenders who do not meet the criteria for formal probation supervision to learn skills to harmoniously navigate conflict.

The foundation of this program is an effective model used for the harmonious resolution of conflict, which has been in development by Two Rivers for more than a decade. The roots of the model extend deeply within the ground of Somatic Psychology, Relational Psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Modalities, and the principles and practices of Aikido.

The program is a collaboration with The Center for Restorative Youth Justice who implements a Family Service Project which gives the family and opportunity to work together in providing service to the community. Essential goals of the program are to eliminate the use of physical violence and threatening behavior within the home.

Participants in the program are the youth (offender) and the parent (victim).The format of the program includes 1hour/week on the mat practicing skills, body awareness, and introduction to the elements and process of The Embodiment of Peace © model. Additionally, 1hour/week in individual / family sessions to work on the particulars of their “flavor “ of conflict. Weekly check-ins with their probation officer help maintain a sense of advocacy and accountability and the Family Service Project requires support and supervision through The Center for Restorative Youth Justice.


Our recent participation at the 2013 Aiki Extensions Conference as Sofia University was inspiring. It was wonderful to meet so many people dedicated to the “off the mat” application of Aiki Principles and Practices. To say what many do not appear to have said: This is the essence of Aikido. If it does not walk with you off the mat into your daily life application it is not Aikido. It is just very “Aiki” Jitsu. Two Rivers presented on its work with At-risk Youth Populations integrating their training with Reclaiming Youth International. The presentation was well received and it was made clear that Two Rivers is doing some very unique work with Aiki Principles.

St. Norbert Dojo, Meibukan Goju Assoc.

Sensei : Deo Namwira

Our mission is to provide participants with the opportunity to achieve their full potential in the study of the way of karate, as well as to promote healthy living and peace making.  Our mission encompasses the peace making dimension as part of our cores belief and activities. This dimension draws on our Master’s teaching that “While some teachers in some parts of the world teach “how to fight”, we teach “how not to fight” and when one is faced with an unavoidable fight others teach “how to win”, but we teach “how not to lose” (Meitestu Yagi)

Our one-hour classes are held twice a week in the Noel Ritchot School Gymnasium, once a week in the North Kildonan Mennonite Church, and once a week in the Jubilee Mennonite Church. They include warm-up and games for kids, drills of fitness activities, Karate stances, techniques, and forms. During training sessions, we emphasize on respect, courtesy, manner, discipline that we consider as ingredients of peace.   Dojo Kun or guiding principles of karate, which are 1) Seek perfection of character; 2) Be faithful, 3) Endeavor to excel, 4) Respect others, and 5) are Refrain from violent behavior; are often referred to.

Through our Karate training, we teach people the way of a balanced development of mind, body and spirit, which is the way that leads to self-discipline, endurance, perseverance, commitment, patience and hard work resulting in an equilibrium which is what helps maintain the peace, productivity and courtesy in the society.

Deo Namwira declaration (July 25, 2012):

In what follows, I am attempting to provide my peace background through my Christian and Martial arts Journey throughout my life that is reflected in my dojo. I trust they provide a solid foundation for my dojo to join PDI since they are congruent with points outlined in the Peace Dojo Definition.

I was born and raised in a Christian family that attended the Pentecostal Church in Bukavu, the capital city of the South Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 1979, I became a member of the same church when I was baptized by immersion and accepted Jesus as personal Savior and Lord in my life. From that time on, I was serving the Lord through singing, leading worship activities and giving sermons until today.

I became acquainted with the Mennonite church and its theology through my work with Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC) when it came to the South Kivu province (D.R.C.) in 1994. I appreciated particularly their focus on peace and reconciliation, non-discrimination of peoples origin, race, socio-economic classification, non-violence etc so that in 1996 I with four others help initiated the local Mennonite congregation which we called Great Lakes Mennonite Church believing that it could have a positive influence in a conflict ridden society.

My peace stance has been crucial in determining and directing my personal, volunteering, social lifestyle and career directions. With this peace perspective I could not in any way be involved in activities which would compromise my faith or promote violence.

Prior to starting my full time work, I was a Member of the Regional Emergency Committee of the Church of Christ in Congo, an ecumenical church council of the region where I was representing my Church to determine need of, and provide emergency and humanitarian assistance throughout the region as well as worked on conflict resolution and reconciliation endeavors.

As part of this, I worked alongside a Youth Program Officer to initiate and organize several peace and reconciliation activities among the youth in four refugee camps and in the town and serving as a networker and facilitator for MCC among the various groups involved. I immigrated to Canada along with my family in 1999 and pursued a Master degree in International Development at the University of Guelph, Ontario which I completed in 2002. I then was hired to work with MCC starting March 2003 to present as the International Grants Manager.

I will now share my personal peace background as far as martial art is concerned to give you an insight as to its importance in my life.

My first encounter with Karate was in D.R. Congo where I was born and raised. As a kid, I saw many street fights, and individuals and groups accosted me several times. Two of my older brothers were Karatekas, and since they usually had the upper hand whenever fights broke out, they were hardly ever targeted. In my hometown, gang robbery was a big issue and many homes were victims of assaults and thefts. However, our home, though considered affluent, was safe from the gangs probably due to the fear of my brothers. There, my admiration for Karate started.

As I was growing up, Karate and other martial arts movies were very popular. My favorite actors were Bruce Lee, Billy Chong, Black Jim, Jacky Chen, and Wang Yu. At the same time Karate clubs were increasing in number throughout our city. They organized public tournaments mainly based on sparring. I enjoyed going to watch these events and found them very entertaining. Karate seeds were being sown in me.

In 1983, I joined a Kung Fu School at an American Peace Corps Centre, but it closed two months later as the Peace Corps program was abruptly terminated and all its participants were sent back to the US. In 1984, I joined a Shotokan Karate School where I trained for 3 years up to yellow belt. The grading system was very slow. It was during this time that I started to develop my love of Karate. I trained intensively along with lifting weights. I learnt that Karate, far from being a tool of violence, is rather for defense, of self and others if possible.

It became apparent to me that Karatekas have a presence about them that made fight mongers treating them with caution. However, this was not the case with me due to my gentle demeanor, which people misinterpreted as weakness. This often made me an object of provocation and intimidation. As I continued training, I began to understand that hot temper equals neither strength nor effective fighting ability. I was inspired by the great Master Gichin Funakoshi’s idea that a great fighter is soft and gentle outside but hard and strong inside.

In 1985, I was badly provoked by a notorious and most feared guy at school and was involved in an extremely ferocious fight with him. I defeated him and he was publicly ridiculed. However, I celebrated neither my victory nor his defeat. Instead, I took the incident for the opportunity to discover the gist of Karate. It was an experimentation of the inner force and confidence that foster a peaceful character to karatekas. That was the last fight in life as the spirit of self-discipline and confidence started to emerge in me. The fight helped to give a different image of myself to others. They started to respect me and this fostered feelings of security in me.

In 1999, I re-settled in Canada and I resumed my Karate training in Goju Ryu in April 2000 while attending school in Guelph. My school was part of Budo San Kai association, headed by the late Sensei Richard Kim. I trained for three years up to the green belt level then moved to Winnipeg in March 2003. I immediately joined the Winnipeg Goju St Vital Dojo where I trained under Sensei Ryan Rolfe who promoted me to the black belt in 2007.

I felt honored by this promotion which I considered as a culmination of great effort and commitment of many years. I decided to carry on with the training under Sensei Ryan who diligently instructed until August 2011 when I decided to start my own dojo in my community.

In March 2012, I travelled to Okinawa Japan to participate in a world tournament and train for 12 days with great Senseis such as Master Meitoku Yagi (10th Dan), Sensei Akihito Yagi (7th dan) and Sensei Akihiro Yagi (6th dan) who promoted me to my 3th dan. My school is affiliated with the International Meibukan Goju-Ryu Karate Do and has approximately 35 students. As you can see on my flyer or website, the mission statement of my Karate school includes a commitment to peacemaking.

I would like to say Karate has become, for me, more of a philosophy than sport. While it has provided me with physical conditioning and combat techniques that I enjoy mastering and passing on to my students, it also has shaped my worldview. Never making any claims to invincibility, or lack of vulnerability, I can safely say that when the ultimate desperate situation arises, I am confident in my self-defense options, but hopefully those would be the last resort.

In addition to my karate training, I have done extensive reading; and consequently have developed a higher appreciation than the ordinary for Karate. Karate has led to a balanced development of my mind, body and spirit. It has taught me endurance, perseverance, commitment, patience and hard work. My most memorable and inspiring karate values are undergirded in the Dojo Kun, Sensei Funakoshi’s 20 guiding principles of Karate, Musashi’s 9 steps to life, and the “hard and soft” concepts of Sensei Chojun Mayagi.

As a Christian, it is a joy for me to have embraced Karate. I see it as way of peace making and nonviolence. Karate teaches self-discipline and physical responses that do not require a win/loose situation even in the face of extreme threat or aggression. Karate has safe and confident stances that one can take and get out of harm’s way, or diffuse violence. Karate has helped to build my self-esteem and respect for others.

I started Karate training by myself, but at present, my whole family, consisting of my wife and four children, shares and enjoys the Martial Arts experience. This special Karate bond has brought us closer together and I see it as one of the best things a family can do together. I have found it very rewarding to apply Karate principles in many areas of my current life. Lastly, Karate has been of great benefit to my health in general.

This is what we emphasize on in my dojo.



The Watershed Peace Dojo official opening at the transformative organizing” Watershed Center will finally be in July 2014 (the Center itself just opened for business). Some of the 14 graduates of the local AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) workshops began their “Facilitator Apprenticeships,” a required final step to receive their AVP Facilitator Certificates.

A first AVP Apprenticeship site is Railroad Street Youth Project, a local youth empowerment project in Great Barrington. Bill Leicht and Gregg Osofsky meet with Youth Policy group on 3/31. Our first “Tricorner Cadre” project will probably began with an AVP Introductory Workshop in April. There is clear potential for a Peace Dojo there as the relationship develops. (Aikido was introduced to AVP at its inception by Terry Dobson, Ss.; a full somatic workshop, “Aiki-AVP,” was adopted 15 years later in 1992.)

A second AVP Apprenticeship site will be in Hudson, NY, where Urban Visions, in collaboration with the Watershed Center, received a grant to begin a developing a second youth-centered AVP cadre. Three local social justice agencies appear to be ready to commit as local partners and at least one will send participants to the RSYP Basic Workshop. [It is worth repeating that consulting, Alterna- tives to Violence Project, activist support and Peace Dojo work are all part of Urban Visions’ plan to develop a large scale community peace center.]

Peace Dojos in Africa

Awassa Peace Dojo,

Sensei: Tesfaye Tekele,
Awassa Peace dojo cho, Vice Persident of south regional Martial Art Federation. Began as a kid in the circus which became one of the largest in Ethiopia. Then a volunteer came from Germany and helped them. Then a guy from Chicago who helped them with Theatrer methods. In 2004 Don Levine came toe Awassa. Tes had graduated from B-School. He had been doing Wu-shu and Taekwondo as well as circus and cultural dances. Don asked T to grap his hand and he did. Tes was surprised andasked him “teach me this (aikido).” Don said ok, help me as my tour guide and I’ll teach you while we tour. So they did.
I met Jamie. I asked Don how I can do aikido better. I wanted to bring it to the Awassa Circus. Don said AE would help. Blue Man group also.
Awassa YOuth Campus then took on the Awassa Peace Dojo among its many other projects.

Peace Dojos in Europe

Burwell Aikido Club, UK

Sensei: Quentin cooke

The Burwell club has been a member of the PDI since 16/8/2011. As the dojo cho, I believe in the power of the principles embedded within aikido to make a more peaceful world and all my teaching is based on this principal. Few of us are in a position to bring about huge change in the world, so I strive to improve the lives of my students by encouraging them to be positive and relaxed and in their own small way this rubs off on the people around them.

This year, we hosted the European Aiki Extensions seminar, on th 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1, which brought together representatives from 12 countries and teachers from 8 countries in a wonderful celebration of aikido all working under the banner of ‘Pushing for Peace’.

I also recently published a book, called ‘A Way to Reconcile the World’, which is a collection of over 80 real life stories gathered from aikidoka around the world , celebrating the positive ways in which students have used what they learnt on the mat to enhance their own lives and those around them.

Finally 2014 also saw the launch of the Aikido for Schools website, (, which promotes work being done by myself and the other teachers in the dojo taking aikido into schools and providing a platform for other aikidoka who want to work in a similar way.

Kimochi Aikido dojo Namur, Belgium

Recognised as peace dojo in: March 2014
Senseï: Christian Vanhenten
Language: french, english

Aikido dojo Kimochi Namur is operating since 1998. Since its begin, its vision was: nurturing peaceful communication in daily life through the aikido practice as an embodied approach to better communicate and hence promoting peaceful relationships around us.
We fulfill the requirements of the Peace Dojo Definition, because:

We teach Aikido to illustrate physically how to nurture more peaceful relations at home, with our family, friends and at work;

We repeat to new comers, that we have to be the change we want to see in the world. By working on our daily behaviors we can disseminate peace around us.

  1. Aikido teached as a way to feel when tension arises and welcome it rather that letting it escalate
  2. Learning to listen to our body and use the aikido practice as “anchors” to trigger peaceful reaction when tension rises;
  3. Observe, feel, listen and blend with the energy our partner is expressing to transform potential conflict into a dialogue
  4. Learn how to respect and be respected in a relation of “martial kindness”
  5. Practice aikido to learn the Aiki attitude as a way of living and not as a weekly “sport” practice
  6. Each class includes
  7. Meditation to improve participants’ self awareness and concentration,
  8. Specific aikido practice to improve participants’ awareness of relationship
  9. Work on ourselves
  10. when – during practice – we feel that we are “not attracted” by some people or some kind of practice: meta training on our acceptance of the difference
  11. when we feel challenged or discouraged by the rhythm of our progress: meta training on patience and presence to the “here and now”

2 We do community out reach in the greater community

  1. The dojo participates to International Aiki Peace week and contributes to make IAPW known in the french Aikido Community
  2. The dojo organizes activities with other martial practices or aikido dojo’s from other federations to create more felt experience of what’s gathers us rather than what differentiates us
  3. The Dojo prepares a sponsor project to support aikido initiatives in a center for youth in difficulty (8-12 years old)

3 We support AikiCom development as a way to teach aiki principles to people who cannot practice aikido

AikiCom has been created in Aikido Dojo Kimochi to teach aiki principles as a verbal and body practice and let people discover a peaceful and non violent way of living

  1. to offer people who physically cannot practice aikido
  2. to propose aiki practice in professional environments to show that dialogue and cooperation is a viable way to perform in difficult environments
  3. to offer support to actors in non merchant organizations (educators, social workers, social assistants, managers of youth protection organizations,..)    Send article as PDF   

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