Our Summer Beginner Series starts June 1

Instructors

When evaluating a dojo to determine if it is the right place for your training, you will want to know who the instructors are, and who their instructors are. Our main instructors are Seishiro Endo Shihan, 8th Dan, Aikikai from Hombu Dojo, Tokyo, Japan, and Jan Nevelius Shihan, 7th Dan, from Vanadis Aikido in Stockholm, Sweden.

The following are the current instructors at Aikido Seattle.

Photos: © Anna Yoshida

Frits Habermann

Frits Habermann

4th Dan Aikikai

Frits trained in Judo as a child, and discovered Aikido in 1987 in Zurich and Munich. Intrigued by its complexity, technicality and spirituality, he began his training in earnest with Bruce Bookman Sensei in 1989. He co-founded Puget Sound Aikikai in the mid 90’s with Malory Graham and Jonathan Lilly. Through these years, Bookman Sensei, Chiba Sensei, Yamada Sensei and Okamoto Sensei were Frits’ largest influences. After a number of seminars with Christian Tissier, Jan Nevelius and Frank Ostoff, Frits became deeply attracted to the clarity and connection of their styles and has sought out their influences ever since.

Lance Sobel

Lance Sobel

4th Dan Aikikai

Lance is one of the founders of the Aikido Seattle dojo, as well as a retired psychologist where he specialized in the treatment of adolescents and their families. Starting in 1974, he began his study of Aikido with Akira Tohei in Chicago. He also began studying Karate and Tai Chi in Chicago. Following Chicago, he moved to Seattle and began studying with Bruce Bookman. He has been most influenced by Endo Seishiro Shihan and Jan Nevelius Shihan. Lance enjoys the moving meditation aspects of Aikido and its relationship to internal martial arts.

Rupert Berk

Rupert Berk

4th Dan Aikikai

Rupert has been training since 1995, and teaching since 2002. He found his way to Aikido after studying Karate and Jujitsu. His Aikido practice has been strongly influenced by teachers such as Endo Seishiro, Jan Nevelius, Frank Ostoff, and Jorma Lily, though many others have left their mark on him. For him, Aikido is a profoundly practical art because it teaches you to pay attention to how you can create better relationships in every moment of your life by changing something in yourself. The dojo is where we examine those relationships and also where we can find joy in doing so.

Nicholas Dambrauskas

Nicholas Dambrauskas

4th Dan Aikikai

Nicholas began martial arts training at university first in Judo and then Aikido in 2003. He immediately saw the benefits of the art and along with his own continuous training. He started teaching both kids and adults in 2006. Over the years, he has had the experience to learn a variety of open hand and weapon styles of Aikido but draws most heavily from Endo Seishiro Shihan and Jan Nevelius Shihan who have had tremendous influence on his practice. His classes emphasize awareness, connection, and freedom.

David Skanderson

David Skanderson

2nd Dan Aikikai.

Dave began his aikido journey at Aikido Seattle in 2007 then spent 10 years training in the other Washington under senior students of Mitsugi Saotome sensei before returning to Seattle in 2019. Training with the jo (short staff) and bokken (wooden sword) have been a particular interest in his training, with a focus on exploring how weapons practice informs and sharpens our empty-handed training. As a long-time student of traditional Karatedo, he is intrigued by the ways in which the two arts manifest common underlying principles and how his training in each benefits the other.

Emmanuel Pinault

Emmanuel Pinault

2nd Dan Aikikai

Emmanuel started Aikido in High School with one of Andre Nocquet's students. After a long break, he started to train again at Aikido Seattle in 2013. He is inspired by Endo Seishiro's connection and soft practice emphasis as well as Jan Nevelius' studies. He is particularly interested by the physical benefits as much as the mental impact Aikido provides to people in their daily life, whether on or off the mat. He has been teaching kids classes for the last 8 years. Receiving his 2nd Dan in 2023 under Jan Nevelius, he now teaches classes for adults as well.

Anthony Lefaive

Anthony Lefaive

1st Dan Aikikai

Tony began studying Aikido in 2006 under Martha Levenson Sensei at the former One World Aikido. From Levenson Sensei, Tony learned Aikido as well as how to apply its lessons to his daily life. After a break from 2016-2022 to study music, he resumed practice and joined Aikido Seattle. His Aikido has been primarily influenced by the intentional and powerfully gentle movement of Jan Nevelius Shihan. John Stevens Sensei, especially his Jo and Bokken forms, also left a mark on Tony. Tony’s practice is motivated by peace and control over both mind and body, as well as the chance to share this mindful presence with others. He currently teaches kids' classes.

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