Jan 2022 - Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance Newsletter

News from Shin Kaze
January 2022

Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance is an organization dedicated to the practice and development of Aikido. It aims to provide technical and administrative guidance to Aikido practitioners and to maintain standards of practice and instruction within an egalitarian and tolerant structure.

Message from Shin Kaze President

By Robert Zimmermann Shihan

Happy New Year and welcome to the first issue of the Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance newsletter for 2022.

Reflecting on the challenges of the past year and how we have responded, I can't help but feel very optimistic for the future of Aikido and Shin Kaze.

The pandemic has left its mark world-wide. Its effect on the Aikido world has been significant, as it has impacted directly on one of the core elements of practice: up close and personal human contact.

However, I find it admirable how human ingenuity, perseverance, and modern technology are being used to maintain continuity of Aikido practice to the greatest possible extent, revealing the high value ascribed to this magnificent art by practitioners in Shin Kaze and everywhere.

The results of this ingenuity and ongoing practice are manifested in the advancement and promotions of practitioners throughout the past year and more recently in the promotions announced by Hombu Dojo at the 2022 Kagami Biraki Ceremony. Heartfelt congratulations to everyone who was promoted and to all who were integral parts of their practice.

This past year the leadership teams of Shin Kaze have focused not only in helping maintain continuity of practice and ongoing communication among its members, but also developing the infrastructure required to operate the organization and fulfill its goals and values well into the future.

Much of this development focused on creating policies related to practice, communications and interaction among members. I am pleased to say that our various committees have performed outstandingly, and some of their accomplishments are described below.

Backed by our solid achievements so far and with an eye on a bright future ahead, I want to thank all who have actively participated so far for their efforts, and invite everyone else to take an active role in our organization.

Together let us continue with unwavering resolve to serve our members and the Aikido community by making Shin Kaze the best possible Aikido organization.

On behalf of the Shin Kaze Board and myself,

Robert Zimmermann Shihan
President, Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance

Kanai Sensei Memorial Seminar update

By David Halprin Shihan

Framingham Aikikai is happy to announce the return of the annual Kanai Sensei Memorial Seminar, which will be held on June 10-12, 2022. We will return to the site of the previous seminars, the Prindle Pond Conference Center in Charlton, MA. For those who have not previously attended the seminar, this is a beautiful, rustic conference center with simple accommodations and great food.

We’ll announce further details, but meanwhile, please SAVE THE DATE!

Hombu Dojo Announces 2022 Shin Kaze Kagami Biraki Promotions

(Waka Sensei demonstrates at the 2022 Kagami Biraki celebration at Hombu Dojo.)

The Aikikai Hombu Dojo 2022 Kagami Biraki Ceremony took place on Sunday January 9, 2022. A video of the ceremony can be seen here.

A total of 906 people worldwide were promoted: Click here for the complete list.

New Year promotions for the following Shin Kaze members were announced at the celebration:

Nanadan (7th dan)
Josef R. Birdsong - Aikido of Austin - USA
Barbara Britton - Framingham Aikikai - USA

Rokudan (6th dan)
Ismael Rangel - Aikido of Austin - USA

Godan (5th dan)
James Goeman - Aikido of Austin - USA

In addition to the above, promotions for the following Shin Kaze members were registered at Aikikai Hombu Dojo at end of 2021:

Sandan (3rd dan)
Francisco Matamala - Andes Dojo - Chile
Erick Tovar - Venezuela Aikido Kokyu Ho Dojo - Venezuela

Nidan (2nd dan)
Leonardo Fernandez - Samurai Dojo - Uruguay

Shodan (1st dan)
Alejandro Lena - Samurai Dojo - Uruguay
Elizabeth Green - Old City Aikido - USA
Jessie Nguenang - Old City Aikido - USA
Shingo Sakio - Old City Aikido - USA

Also, the following Shin Kaze members were promoted throughout 2021 and their ranks registered at Hombu:

Yondan (4th dan)
Mykhailo Korozey - Sei Fu Kai - Ukraine

Sandan (3rd dan)
Dare Matheson - Providence Aikikai - USA

Nidan (2nd dan)
Raymond Caldwell - Niagara Falls Aikikai - Canada
Michael Shane - Bushwick Dojo - USA

Shodan (1st dan)
Mykhailo Simonovych - Sei Fu Kai - Ukraine

Our heartfelt congratulations everyone, please keep up the good work!

Kagami Biraki Mochitsuki at North Vancouver Aikikai

By Joel Posluns Shihan

At North Vancouver Aikikai we have the tradition of making fresh mochi (pounded sweet rice) for putting on the Kamiza and eating with a traditional Japanese New Year's soup. The mochi is for the celebration of Kagami Biraki, a celebration that takes place around the middle of January. At that time, it is customary to visit one’s old dojo and pay respects to one’s teacher.

One year we had the good fortune of welcoming my friend and Aikido colleague Tony Hind Sensei, who spent 14 years at Hombu dojo and was often in charge of the Mochi-tsuki there. Together we made the sweet rice cakes in the traditional way.

Another year we used an electric mochi-maker -- check out the automatic pounding motion!

Kagami Biraki can be a great celebration for an Aikido dojo that is fun and tasty for all. Find out more about the meaning of Kagami Biraki and mochitsuki here.

Kyu Certificate design

The design of Shin Kaze Kyu certificates in English has been finalized and the first batch has been issued to students who recently passed their kyu tests. The Spanish version is in progress.

The certificate was created with the wonderful design skills of Ruth Peyser, 6th dan Shidoin, former instructor at New York Aikikai. Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance thanks Ruth for her contribution!

Janice Taitel appointed as Member Liaison

Janice Taitel of Aikido Center of Dover was appointed to the position of Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance "Member Liaison" last year.

Shin Kaze members who have any non-technical issues they wish to discuss in confidence are encouraged to contact Taitel Sensei at janice@doveraikido.com or at 973-879-5510.

Taitel Sensei speaks both English and Spanish, so contact her in either language.

Taitel Sensei will soon be moving to Joshua Tree, California, so stay tuned for news of her new Shin Kaze dojo!

(VOLUNTEER) HELP WANTED: Do you have skills in Photoshop? We are looking for someone to help with producing Kyu certificates. If you or someone in your dojo might be willing to help, please let us know.

Shin Kaze Committee Updates

Technical Committee

The Technical Committee (TC) has been meeting weekly since the summer to address, among other things, annual promotion recommendations, promotion requirements, and kyu rank certificates.

The bulk of the effort for several months has focused on promotion requirements. Very spirited discussions explored what techniques should be required at each rank level and why. At times, both bottoms-up and top-down approaches were required to analyze how the promotion requirements would apply across the various Aikido legacies that encompass Shin Kaze.

At present, the TC has distributed a baseline version of the test requirements to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for review and comment. Once comments are received and addressed, the promotion requirements will be published on the website and distributed. We fully expect to update versions of the promotion requirements as circumstances dictate, and welcome any comments from the Shin Kaze membership.

Looking forward to 2022, the TC will work to develop general guidance for members and dojo-cho as to the test attributes that delineate the various ranks. For example, there is overlap between techniques for 1st kyu, shodan, and nidan tests. What are the major attributes that are being evaluated for each rank level, and how are they different? We are finding that defining and clarifying these attributes is quite a challenging undertaking, but one well worth it.

Technical Advisory Committee

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), led by Eric Lavigne, is composed of all Shin Kaze members who are yondan and above in Aikido. Its main task is to provide feedback and make suggestions to the Technical Committee (TC). It thus allows all senior members to collaborate in defining how our Aikido is understood and evolves.

In 2021, the TAC finalized the Committee’s structures and processes, provided feedback to the TC on Test Requirements, defined priorities for the coming years, and assigned working groups to a number of projects such as defining test performance requirements, clarifying fukushidoin and shidoin requirements, and improving test and seminar online support.

Equity and Inclusion Committee

The Equity and Inclusion Committee (E&IC) is led by Yelitza Cuevas (Canada) and is composed of a formidable international team with members: Aneida González (Venezuela), Vicente Maurette (Venezuela), Baruc Hunk (Brazil), Leonel Sánchez (Cuba), Luis Sei Fong (Uruguay), Rubel Batista (Uruguay), Janice Taitel (USA) and Elisa Beebe (USA).

2021 was a busy year for the E&IC, with the following accomplishments:
  • Developed and delivered to the Board a first draft of the Shin Kaze Code of Ethics, after months of info gathering and consultation with North and South American members.
  • Promoted the creation of a position to address matters requiring reconciliation, which motivated the Board to create the role of "Member Liaison", which is currently filled by Janice Taitel.
  • Provided actionable ideas to the Board to address important equity and inclusion issues affecting our Aikido community. Areas of interest included access to Aikido seminars and women's progression in Aikido, which is also applicable for under-represented groups, and dojos' practice environment and accountability.
The following activities are planned for 2022:
  • Follow up on the implementation of the Code of Ethics and proposed actionable ideas to increase equity and inclusion in our Aikido community.
  • Work in collaboration with the Board in the review and implementation of policy within the organization.
  • Work in collaboration with the Board on Code of Ethics training in English and Spanish.

Information Management Committee

In 2021 the Information Management Committee (IMC), led by Joel Posluns and comprised of Liese Klein, Claire Calcagni, Basia Halliop, Paul Rohoman and Robert Zimmerman as advisor, completed a number of important milestones in planning and implementation of projects that are expected to have a long lasting and positive impact for Shin Kaze members.

These achievements include the development of:
  • An online membership database to keep track of rank information for Shin Kaze members. This will simplify the management of future promotions and help us better understand the demographics of our community. We are now able to send emails to specific audiences and produce high quality communications.
  • An online streaming video directory containing hundreds of video clips and material from our teachers and their direct students. We intend to make this invaluable resource available to our members to preserve our lineage and Aikido history.
  • A communications strategy on the effective use of newsletters of his type and of social media to stay in touch with the membership and also the larger Aikido community.
  • A comprehensive work planning, tracking and monitoring system to efficiently manage our many different projects and programs. This plan allows a work team to assist and contribute to Shin Kaze’s communications needs without placing a heavy burden on a few people.
In the future we want to see greater individual involvement and contributions from all levels of the Shin Kaze community so that we all benefit from our alliance.

All of our projects and programs are aimed at helping Shin Kaze members to create long-lasting, positive relationships through special communications and unique programs to help grow, develop and retain our community.

Coordination Committee for Latin America

With great enthusiasm, despite COVID restrictions and internet problems in some countries, in 2021, the Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance Coordination Committee for Latin America, led by Jesús González of Venezuela, organized a well-attended meeting via Zoom with the presence of all Latin American Shin Kaze member countries, their respective dojo-cho and students.

In it, Shihan R. Zimmermann spoke of the work carried out so far, the formation of the different Committees in charge of different technical-pedagogical and ethical areas in addition to the plans for the medium and long term for the organization and its members. He also responded to the concerns of the participants and clearly referred to the benefits and solid foundations that sustain the organization.

In this meeting, in addition to strengthening friendship ties, topics of great interest to all Latin American members were discussed, including the practice of Aikido and other disciplines in times of the Pandemic. In this sense, and in response to particular requests, a pilot program offering technical support through video-conference has recently been developed and was very well received by members.

In 2022, in addition to continuing with the remote technical support programs, we are planning on preparing a number of short 10 minute video interviews of the Shin Kaze dojo-cho in Latin America, organizing an important Latin American event (open to all organizations) and setting up a virtual library to which all Shin Kaze members will have access. We invite all members to propose their ideas and to participate actively!

From the Shin Kaze Coordination for Latin America, best wishes to the entire Aikido community and a Happy New Year 2022.

Education, Legacy and History Committee

The Education, Legacy and History Committee (ELHC) has been busy learning much about Shin Kaze's member dojos. Here are some of the things the ELHC has been working on:
  • Ricky Berger of Framingham Aikikai produced and conducted two podcasts titled "Aikido Perspectives" featuring David Halprin Shihan and Josef Birdsong Shihan. Topics range from memories of their respective teachers, Mitsunari Kanai Shihan and Akira Tohei Shihan; personal Aikido histories; and reflections on Aikido, past, present and future. The podcasts will be published soon, and more podcasts and interviews are planned for 2022.
  • Rafael Pacheco, dojo-cho of Venezuela Aikido Kokyu Ho Dojo, conducted a survey of the Shin Kaze dojo-cho in South America. Responses received provide insight into Aikido development in that part of the world, which comprises about half the dojos and practitioners in our organization. The survey will be administered soon to dojo-cho in North America and Europe and the results published.
  • We are putting together a "Legacy Family Tree" that compiles the names of the main and most influential teachers of all the dojo cho in Shin Kaze. Not surprisingly, given the variety of influences, it is a complex tree, and it will take some time to complete.
Going forward, the ELHC will continue to work on related projects within its mandate and as proposed by the Shin Kaze membership. We look forward to 2022 and sharing the wonder that is Shin Kaze. If you would like to join our committee, please contact Ricky Berger, Rafael Pacheco, Claire Keller, or Josef Birdsong.

Dear Dojo-cho and Supporters:

Please distribute this newsletter to your dojo members, friends and anyone interested in Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance.

If you would like to receive this newsletter directly, click here.


In these difficult times and as a nonprofit organization, Shin Kaze welcomes donations to support its programs and further its mission.

Please donate here: https://shinkazeaikidoalliance.com/support/

We would also like to mention that we accept gifts of stock as well as bequests to help us build our Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance endowment.

Thank you for your support!

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