Hagihara Sensei has dedicated almost 60 years of his life to the art of Aikido. He began his Aikido training in Manhattan New York in the 1950's under Yasuo Ohara. After playing an instrumental role in the formation of the original New York Aikikai (circa 1961) as one of the seven founding members, Hagihara Sensei returned to Japan to train with the masters at the old Hombu Dojo. Hagihara Sensei's stay at Hombu Dojo was encapsulated by the private teachings and spiritual guidance of O’Sensei, who personally commanded Hagihara Sensei to "go and teach my Aikido". In 1964, Hagihara Sensei returned to New York to open the first Aikido Dojo on Long Island.
In 1997 Hagihara Sensei was promoted to the rank of 7th Dan and in 2005 awarded the title of Shihan (Master Teacher). As the most senior member of the United States Aikido Federation and the longest running instructor in the US, Hagihara Sensei sits on the USAF Honorary Committee. Still active and teaching regularly, Hagihara Sensei stays true to O’Sensei’s message of peace and harmony; teaching Aikido that does not rely on mere physical strength. His focus on relaxation and Ki, coupled with his deep knowledge of the inner philosophies of Aikido, continues to be a source of inspiration to many.
In 1975 Saul walked into the Long Island Aikikai at Rockville Centre, immediately fell in love with the Aikido of Hagihara Sensei and began his training that very week. In 1978 he was assigned a permanent class to instruct at Rockville Centre Dojo, and his teaching duties later expanded to include various branch dojos around Long Island. Pursuing his Aikido training vigorously and intensely for more than 27 years, he has attended Hagihara Sensei's classes emphasizing large, dynamic and artistic ukeme waza. Over the years Saul has assisted Hagihara Sensei in countless seminars and demonstrations while also serving as one of Hagihara Sensei's primary Ukes.
As one of the longest running members of the Long Island Aikikai he has been instrumental in training a tremendous number of students to promotion. From 1983 to 2006 Saul was one of the primary assistants to Hagihara Sensei in running The Long Island Aikido Association. He continues to teach at the Long Island Aikikai and to use the principals of Aikido in his daily life.
John began his Aikido training in 1980 with the Long Island Aikikai at Rockville Centre, New York. Years later he followed Hagihara Sensei, helping to spread Aikido and attending classes at all of Sensei’s dojos located throughout Long Island. Through the 1990's John also assisted Hagihara Sensei with Aikido classes that were offered at C.W. Post College. He has augmented his regular training by attending seminars organized by the United States Aikido Federation (USAF) and by participating in these seminars, has had the opportunity to practice with numerous high-ranking students and under many different USAF Shihans.
After nearly 20 years of Aikido training, John joined the ranks of Hagihara Sensei’s teaching staff. He feels that the experience of working with junior students has brought him new insights into both the principles and application of technique, reinforcing the value of understanding the basics. With the reopening of the Long Island Aikikai in Bay Shore in 2006, he continues to support Hagihara Sensei and assist with teaching duties in the dojo. To this day he trains earnestly in order to further develop and refine his understanding of Aikido’s techniques, philosophy and spirit. John currently holds the rank of 4th Dan, and is also a member of the teaching staff of the United States Aikido Federation.
Although interested in martial arts as a boy, David Norton’s participation in other sports would not allow him to pursue it seriously and he began his Aikido training in 1987 at age 26. After seeing a demonstration that Hagihara Sensei gave at Grumman Aerospace (now Northrop Grumman), David was impressed with the philosophy and efficiency of Aikido, as well as Sensei's teaching approach. Shortly after he began his Aikido training, David was given the opportunity to become uchi-deshi (apprentice) for Hagihara Sensei. He received his black belt in 1992 and continued his apprenticeship with Sensei until work and financial obligations forced him to move out of state in 1995. He practiced intermittently at Dogwood Aikikai and Aikido Center of Atlanta and upon returning to New York in 1997 he resumed his practice with Hagihara Sensei, though at a reduced frequency due to his ever-growing list of age-related infirmities. David currently holds a rank of 4th dan.
David has also had a long time love/fascination with the Japanese sword and in 2008, at the suggestion of Hagihara Sensei, began training in Iaido with Kevin Loughlin at both the Long Island Aikikai and with the instructors at Ken Zen Institute. David currently holds the rank of 1st dan in Iaido.
Christopher began training in martial arts in 1980, studying karate, kung fu and boxing. In 1986 he commenced his training in jiu-jitsu under the instruction of Walsh Sensei (a black belt of Master Bob Malvagno's) and in 1993 received his black belt in this form.
Through his experience as a teacher, Christopher realized that his real training had just begun and that he had only taken his first steps in learning all that martial arts had to offer. He began looking to expand his knowledge and in 1995 discovered the art of Aikido. During his research he discovered that Hagihara Sensei was teaching on Long Island. Christopher immediately decided that, one day, he would be a student of Aikido under Hagihara Sensei, but it was not until Febuary of 1998 that this became a reality and his journey in Aikido began.
Chris currently holds the rank of 3rd dan and continues to learn and train with Hagihara Sensei, as well as other sempai of the dojo. Christopher is proud to be a part of the Long Island Aikikai.
Rich is the coordinator and teacher for our children’s Aikido program. He began his Aikido training with Hagihara Sensei and other senior instructors of the Long Island Aikikai in 2002. He is currently ranked 3rd dan.
Kevin began his martial arts training in 1976, studying Kanzen Gojuryu under Kyoshi Michael DiRaimondo. He received his 3rd dan in 1993 and has taught Kanzen Goju Karate for several years in Suffolk county.
In the summer of 1991 Kevin was working on a pediatric physical therapy specialization in Burlington Vermont, where he began studying at Vermont Aikido. Upon returning to New York he continued his practice of Aikido at the Bond Street Dojo and later at Aikido of Nassau County. In 1993 Kevin took up training in Muso Jigiden Iaido, or sword techniques, at the Ken Zen Institute. He now holds the rank of 4th dan in this art form, which was presented to him in 2006.
After a 7-year sabbatical from Aikido, Kevin recommenced training at Long Island Aikikai and received his 2nd dan in 2009. He is currently the Dojo’s Iaido instructor.
Tony has a long history of martial arts experience, with 37 years of continuous training. He originally began studying karate alongside his brother in 1972 and rose to the rank of 6th dan in this eclectic system.
He was introduced to Aikido in 1979 by Yamada Sensei but it wasn’t until 1995 that he began to actively pursue the study of this art form. Tony started with Yoshinkan Aikido and eventually gained 2nd dan rank in this style. After learning that one of Hagihara Sensei’s former students (Perry Dortch, Aikido Club of Queens) had opened a USAF affiliated dojo in his area he began training at this new center.
Tony now studies at the Long Island Aikikai, where he is able to experience the peaceful art of Aikido directly under one of its great leaders, Hagihara Sensei.
Adam developed an interest in martial arts early on in his life. He began practicing martial arts at the age of 16 and quickly developed an interest in Aikido. At the age of 19 he began training with Hagihara Shihan and shortly thereafter became one of only two uchi deshi (apprentice) ever to serve under Sensei. Training intensively and never missing a day of practice, Adam became Hagihara Sensei’s fastest promoted student. Today, Adam serves as the Dojocho of the Long Island Aikikai and oversees all aspects of the organization.
Despite his relatively young age, Adam is a 5th degree black belt as well as a recognized member of the United States Aikido Federation’s teaching staff. In addition to the teachings of Hagihara Sensei, Adam is highly influenced by Yamada Sensei (President of the US Aikido Federation) and also studies with Endo Sensei on an annual basis. Adam believes that Aikido is a way towards mental and physical improvement. To him each movement should embody the brilliance of Aikido's principles in both form and function and he continues to train everyday in pursuit of this elusive goal.