Edward Hagihara
Chief Instructor, 8th Dan Shihan


Hagihara Sensei (1935-2023) dedicated over 60 years of his life to the art of Aikido and was the longest running instructor in the US at the time of his passing. He began his Aikido training in Manhattan New York in the late 1950’s under Yasuo Ohara. After founding the first 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 United States to open New York's second Aikido Dojo on Long Island. Up until his passing Hagihara Sensei was teaching regularly, promoting peace and harmony through the practice of Aikido.

Saul Rosenberg
Senior Instructor, 7th Dan
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 ukemi 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.
Adam Pilipshen
Dojocho, 6th Dan

Adam developed an interest in martial arts early on in his life. He began formally practicing martial arts at the age of 16 with the study of Jiu-jitsu, which quickly changed into 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. Adam believes that Aikido is a way towards mental and physical improvement. To him each movement should embody the brilliance of Aikido and he continues to train everyday in pursuit of this elusive goal. Adam also has a Masters degree in Education from Penn State University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Education from the University at Buffalo .

David Norton
Guest Instructor, 5th Dan
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.
John O'Connor
Senior Instructor, 5th Dan
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. 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. To this day he trains earnestly in order to further develop and refine his understanding of Aikido’s techniques, philosophy and spirit.
Christopher Bradshaw
Assistant Instructor, 4th Dan
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.
Richard Sarris
Assistant Instructor, 4th Dan
Rich began his Aikido training with Hagihara Sensei and other senior instructors of the Long Island Aikikai in 2002. He is currently ranked 4th dan.
Juan Pablo Simonovis
Assistant Instructor, 3rd Dan
Juan started Aikido in 1998 in Venezuela under the instruction of Nelson Requena from the old Venezuela Aikikai. After a couple of months, he was taken under the wing of Homero Navas Sensei who later founded Dojo el Paraíso Aikikai that currently is affiliated to the Sansuikai organization. In 2011, Juan moved to Riverside CA to pursue his PhD in Chemistry at UC Riverside. Since then he has been under the instruction of Kevin Bash sensei, a certified Birankai instructor who operates Riverside Aikikai at the University. Juan currently holds the rank of San Dan. He joined the LIA teaching staff at the end of 2018 and is on rotation for Saturday classes.
Anthony C. Fitts
Assistant Instructor, 2nd Dan
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. Tony started with Yoshinkan Aikido in 1995 and eventually gained 2nd dan rank in this style. After learning that one of Hagihara Sensei’s former students had opened a 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.
Kevin Loughlin
Assistant Instructor, 2nd Dan Aikido, 4th Dan Iaido
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.
Richard Schubert
Assistant Instructor, 2nd Dan
Richard is currently an assistant instructor at the Long Island Aikikai, in rotation on Monday night classes.
Howard B. Weitzman
Assistant Instructor, 2nd Dan
Howard began his Aikido training in 2009, and has been fortunate to learn and research Aikido under the guidance of Hagihara Sensei along with all of the senior instructors and fellow students whom he has found to be of the highest moral and ethical character and whom possess a varied and deep pool of knowledge, ability and experience. Teaching has afforded him the unique opportunity to explore and study the martial art of Aikido from many different vantage points thus opening his mind to the larger picture of how mind, body and spirit function together as one. Engraved on his Bokuto are the words “Masagatsu Agatsu”, “True Victory is Self Victory”, Sensei says that fits him well. Howard is currently an assistant instructor at the Long Island Aikikai, in rotation on Tuesday and Thursday morning classes.
Patrick Sarris
Assistant Instructor, 2nd Dan
Patrick started Aikido as a teenager at the Long Island Aikikai with his father, Richard Sarris. He is in rotation on Monday night classes.