Instructors at our dojo hold ranks certified through Aikido World Headquarters in Japan.
Danielle Smith Sensei has trained in Aikido since 1973. She has been the chief instructor at Aikido of Monterey since 1983, with Frank Doran Shihan as her direct sensei and mentor. Her martial arts background also includes Iaido (shodan), two forms of Aikijujitsu (earning a sandan and yondan), and “Model Mugging” self-defense (of which she was an early developer). Early influences in her training were closely connected to Aikido traditions from the Kumano region of Japan, from which she continues to derive inspiration through periodic training pilgrimages to Kumano and training with Motomichi Anno Sensei, 8th Dan.
She is active in the growing Aikido community in Monterey, California and beyond. She teaches classes and seminars and camps for adults and children. She developed the "All One Family Project" which connects Aikido of Monterey with the International Peace Pole Project, and orchestrates the annual holiday gift project for 10 local foster children. She is also on the examination board of the California Aikido Association (CAA) and served as the President of the CAA for 8 years.
Smith Sensei operates from the belief that the key to teaching Aikido is to continually remain a student. She derives joy, inspiration, and hope from the teachings of O Sensei, as they have come to her through her teachers. She finds the forms of Aikido to be transformational and exquisite celebrations of truth, goodness and beauty.
Dennis Evans has trained continuously in Aikido since Aikido of
Monterey was established in 1973. He attained the rank of Rokudan (6th
dan) in January 2013. He is a direct student of Frank Doran Shihan.
Evans Sensei has also studied Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung, and is a
Shodan in Iaido. He has taught regularly at Aikido of Monterey since
1977, teaching vigorous general and advanced classes. Sensei Evans
conducts the "spiritual forging" for the dan preparation at Aikido of
Monterey. He has been a local physician since 1973.
Michael began his training at Aikido of Monterey in 1986 and received
the rank of Rokudan (6th degree blackbelt) in 2016. Smith
Sensei also holds a 2nd degree blackbelt in Kyudo (Japanese archery). He has studied Aikibojutsu with Tom Read Sensei since 1999 and is a licensed teacher with the rank of 5th degree blackbelt.
Cathy began training in an Aikido of Monterey sponsored program in Big Sur in 1989. She has trained continuously since that time. She attained the rank of Godan (5th dan) in 2017. She teaches a general class on Sunday evenings.
Mitch began his training at Aikido of Monterey in 1989 and attained the
rank of Godan in 2013. In addition to teaching in the youth program, he teaches basic and advanced weapons and teaches a one-hour general class on Friday evenings. Mitch also
holds the rank of Shodan in Iaido.
Erik Haag began his Aikido training in 1979 in France. He trained in Europe and across the United States before coming to Aikido of Monterey in 2003. He attained the rank of Godan (5th dan) in 2017. Erik Sensei is also an instructor in Krav Maga and a Shodan in Iaido. He has been a local chiropractor since 1995. Erik Sensei teaches a general Aikido class on Wednesday evenings.
Yudansha (black belts) of various levels may teach some classes on a rotating basis to provide seven-days-a-week learning opportunities for students and to enhance their own teaching abilities. Dedicated Aikidoka of all levels, many of them parents, assist in the youth program. They provide essential support to the more than 50 youth enrolled in AOM programs.
A dojo is more than a physical location. It is a family of people. Students at AOM are members of this family, and the larger Aikido community throughout the world. There are over 2,500 aikidoka in Northern California alone.
From time to time we will host other teachers at our dojo, and will advise you of seminars and work shops conducted by other teachers at other locations (see Events Calendar). Each teacher has a unique approach, and can offer valuable insights into their understanding of the art of Aikido.
Fellow students of all ranks are often found to be a marvelous source of information. The central theme of harmony that permeates Aikido nurtures a strong sense of community and family. We are all here to help one another.