Francis Takahashi Shihan

Francis Takahashi Shihan

One of the nation’s top martial arts instructors will hold a training seminar in Santa Barbara on May 21 to help raise funds for a South Coast nonprofit organization.

Seventh-degree aikido instructor Francis Takahashi Shihan will donate his time for the seminar, with proceeds to benefit Santa Barbara Aikido Kenkyukai’s work with at-risk children and other programs.

The training will be from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. at Aikido Kenkyukai’s dojo, or training hall, at 121A E. Mason St. All affiliations are welcome.

Founder and chief instructor of the Aikido Academy in Alhambra, Takahashi Shihan is one of the pioneers of aikido in the United States, according to Aikido Kenkukai head instructor, or sensei, Lia Suzuki, who will join Takahashi Shihan in the instruction. He began training in 1953 in Hawaii and moved to Los Angeles in 1961.

In 1965, he assumed leadership of the Rafu Dojo in East Los Angeles. In the early 1970s he formed Alhambra Aikikai, and the name was eventually changed to the Aikido Academy. Many senseis around the country can call Takahashi Shihan their first teacher.

A sixth-degree aikido teacher, Suzuki is founder and national director of Aikido Kenkyukai International USA. She has been training aikido since 1982.

Suzuki said her nonprofit group is providing South Coast residents with not only a great workout, but also a path toward peace. It encourages the practice of the Japanese nonviolent martial art of aikido, promoting it as a vehicle for self-improvement and spiritual growth, physical fitness and self defense, and as a harmonious way to resolve everyday stress and conflict.

“I am truly honored and touched to join with Takahashi Shihan for this event,” Suzuki said. “Takahashi Shihan ‘walks the walk’ so to speak, joining with fellow Aikidoka, regardless of affiliation. His actions match his words and the philosophy of aikido and he is therefore an inspiration to Aikidoka everywhere.”

“In my opinion, combining with first-class instructors like Lia Suzuki simply makes sense in helping maintain traditional values and to continually promote goodwill and friendship,” Takahashi said. “As we are reminded by the fragile nature of our existence by the horrific events in Japan … we must not cease in our efforts to display commitment to helping one another and to readily take action to support worthwhile projects.”

Aikido Kenkyukai Santa Barbara recently raised $1,500 for Japan disaster relief. Click here for more information about Aikido Kenkyukai Santa Barbara.

— Lia Suzuki is the head instructor for Santa Barbara Aikido Kenkyukai.