Teacher Lineage

by Kimberly Richardson Sensei

Teachers Who Have Influenced Two Cranes Aikido 
Two Cranes Aikido follows the path of the Shingu lineage, but we are influenced by significant teachers from other Aikido traditions as well. Below is a list of the teachers who have had a primary influence on my Aikido development.   

The Beginning of Aikido in Shingu
I am often asked, "What is the Shingu lineage?" Shingu is a town near the birthplace of Morihei Ueshiba, and a gateway for pilgrims to the revered Kumano Hongu Grand Shrine. In 1928, Omotokyo followers, hearing of O'Sensei's special qualities as a spiritual and martial master, invited him to the town of Shingu to teach. Each time he came, he would visit the shrine. Several years later Hikitsuchi Sensei, as a young man, began to study with O'Sensei. After the war, O'Sensei asked  him to open a dojo. At first it was a small space on his family property, and was later expanded into the Aikido Kumano Juku dojo.

The Shingu lineage began with O'Sensei teaching Hikitsuchi, Anno, Yanase, Tojima Senseis and other instructors. These teachers taught Mary Heiny, Tom Read, Linda Holiday and Jack Wada Senseis, who brought the teachings to U.S. Kimberly Richardson Sensei has had the fortune to be mentored by all of these teachers.

Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei10th Dan
Hikitsuchi Sensei was born near Shingu, Japan, in 1923. At the age of nine, he began his martial arts training and started studying with O'Sensei when he was 14. At that time, there was an age requirement for studying budo with O'Sensei, but they made an exception for the young Hikitsuchi. After years of separation during the war, they came upon each other again near the city of Tanabe and renewed their acquaintance. Hikitsuchi Sensei directed the Kumano Juke Dojo in Shingu, Japan, and he received his 10th Dan in 1969, three months before O'Sensei passed away.

Motomichi Anno Sensei, 8th Dan
Anno Sensei has devoted himself to O'Sensei's teachings of harmony and love through budo. A direct student of O'Sensei, Motomichi Anno Sensei was born in 1931. He began Aikido training in 1954 and was promoted to 8th Dan in 1978. Anno Sensei was the Chief Instructor of the Kumano Juku in Shingu and is the Chief Instructor of Matsubara Dojo in Kumano City, Japan. In 2008, the Japan Martial Arts Association selected Anno Sensei to receive the Martial Arts Distinguished Service Award, acknowledging 55 years of dedicated training, and service to the art as an instructor and a profound communicator of O' Sensei's teachings. Anno Sensei visited Two Cranes Aikido in the spring of 2000 and again in 2002 and regularly visited Aikido of Santa Cruz.  His teachings of the heart have had a deep impact on students in the United States.

Mary Heiny Sensei 7th Dan
Heiny Sensei was my first teacher. For more than 50 years, Heiny Sensei has followed a path of physical and spiritual inspiration as a student and instructor of Aikido. After studying at Hombu Dojo from 1968 to 1973 with O'Sensei's direct students and with Hikitsuchi Sensei in Shingu, Heiny Sensei returned to the United States and taught at the University of California in Santa Cruz. In 1976, she opened The Seattle School of Aikido. After nine years, she turned the dojo over to her students and moved to Canada to teach. She relocated to the states in 2001 and presently leads workshops in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Heiny Sensei brings to her seminars not only her dynamic teaching, but also her extensive experience and study of Japanese culture, language, Shinto, and Buddhist philosophies. Her teachings communicate O'Sensei's desire that we use Aikido to become empowered as creative and compassionate beings.

Tom Read Sensei 
Read Sensei began his Aikido study in 1969 after a concentrated period of study in traditional karate. Drawn to Aikido as a way to deepen his study of Zen meditation, he eventually moved to Japan where he experienced a rigorous tutelage under Hikitsuchi,Yanase and Tojima Senseis and other instructors of the Kumano Juku Dojo.

After returning from Japan, Read Sensei opened Northcoast Aikido in Arcata, CA in October of 1977. He is also the founder of Aikibojitsu, a system of staff work that is spiritually in keeping with the misogi weapons work done by O'Sensei and Hikitsuchi Sensei.  Hikitsuchi Sensei, Read Sensei's teacher, received a separate certification in bojitsu from the founder of aikido and he in turn did the same thing for Read Sensei. Read Sensei teaches a complete philosophical system of power through nonresistance.

In 1986, I spent a year of concentrated practice with Read Sensei as uchi deshi and, at the end of that time, traveled with him to Japan for a month of intensive study and pilgrimage.


Beyond the Shingu Lineage: Other Influential Teachers of Two Cranes Aikido

Mitsugi Saotome Shihan, 8th Dan

Saotome Sensei has devoted his entire adult life to the study and teaching of Aikido. He began as an apprentice to O'Sensei in 1955 and continued for 15 years until the founder's death in April of 1969. From 1960 until 1975, Saotome Sensei taught at the World Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.  In 1975, he moved to the United States where he founded Aikido Schools of Ueshiba, an international organization associated with the World Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

In addition to regularly scheduled seminars, both national and international, Saotome Sensei has given special trainings, including a U.S. Military Special Forces seminar, special training of the U.S. Security Forces in Washington, D.C. In 1981, Mary Sensei invited Saotome Sensei to the Seattle School of Aikido for a weekend workshop. I have continued to study with Sensei ever since.

Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan 7th Dan
Ikeda Sensei is the founder and chief instructor of Boulder Aikikai in Colorado. Ikeda Sensei began his study of Aikido in 1968, as a college student at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo. In 1978, he followed Saotome Sensei to Sarasota, Florida. In 1980, he moved to Boulder to establish Boulder Aikikai.

Ikeda Sensei travels extensively around the world offering Aikido instruction. He is the Founder of the Bridge Seminars in which he unites teachers and students of diverse martial backgrounds to share exploration and study. I met Sensei in 1981 and spent five months training with him in what was then a high school gym dojo in Boulder, Colorado. He has continued to guide me in my training to the present.

Terry Dobson
Terry Dobson (1937-1992) was a true American pioneer, Aikido teacher and writer. Dobson is one of the few Western aikido practitioners who studied directly under O'Sensei. During a visit to Tokyo, Dobson witnessed a demonstration of what was then a little-known martial art on an American military base in Yokohama. He entered the World Headquarters Dojo in 1964 and trained as uchi deshi until Master Ueshiba's death in 1969. In 1970, Dobson returned to the U.S. where he gave seminars around the country and co-founded Bond Street Dojo in New York City and Vermont Aikido in Burlington, Vermont. Terry continued to teach Aikido as a visiting sensei until his death on August 2, 1992. In 1990, Dobson Sensei came to Seattle to teach a series of workshops.

I had a life-changing experience traveling down the West Coast with Dobson Sensei in 1990, participating in seminars and lecture demonstrations that he lead in Seattle, and cities along the west coast.  From the moment I met him, he advised me to open my heart and teach my students to do the same. Several months before he died, I received this card in the mail

Dear Kimberly,
Rumi says: The clear bead at the center changes everything. There are no edges to my loving now. I've heard it said- there's a window that opens from one mind to another. But if there's no wall, there's no need for fitting the window, or the latch. Here's to knowing that the wall between us is crumbling all the time. My heart is with you. My admiration, my gratitude. Love, Terry

Frank Doran Shihan 8th Dan
Frank Doran is the founder and chief instructor of Aikido West in Redwood City, CA.  A former United States Marine hand-to-hand combat instructor and police defensive tactics instructor, he has studied a variety of martial arts since 1955. Aikido, which he began studying in 1959, is his primary discipline and way of life. An internationally known and respected teacher, Doran Sensei is a frequent guest instructor at training seminars throughout the United States and abroad. He has taught at four colleges and universities including Stanford University where he taught daily for 26 years.

Doran Sensei’s Spring seminars at Two Cranes Aikido are one of the highlights of our annual schedule and have had a large influence on our practice.  He communicates his wisdom with his vivid stories and his meticulous movement, reminding us to embrace yielding, pay attention to posture, and break uke’s balance at first touch. Sensei is a generous and kind teacher.  He radiates the ki flow and the joy that he encourages us to feel in our training.  We are very grateful for his continued wise and compassionate instruction and sweet friendship.