In Memoriam – Donald Levine (1931 – 2015)


Last weekend, Professor Donald Levine of the University of Chicago, a good friend of the Chicago Aikido Club, passed away on April 5 after a long period of illness. A professor of sociology, Professor Levine began studying aikido in his 40s, eventually receiving the rank of yondan (4th degree black belt) under the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba (ASU).

As head instructor of the University of Chicago Aikido Club from the late 1980s onward and through his undergraduate course Conflict Theory and Aikido, Professor Levine served as the conduit by which many young people first discovered and nurtured their interest in the martial art. He was also the founding president of Aiki Extensions, Inc., an organization that networks and supports individuals involved with “off-the-mat” aikido applications.

A service in memory of Professor Levine will be held at 1:00 pm on April 9 at KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation, 1100 E Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60615.

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Happy 84th Takehara Sensei

The Man

Dr. Joe Takehara (竹原譲), senior instructor of Chicago Aikido Club (CAC) and a founding member of the original Illinois Aikido Club celebrated his 84th birthday on Saturday, April 4 at a party organized by his daughter Susanne. The lively gathering was attended by members from the CAC, as well as members of the Milwaukee Aikido Club, Chicago Aikikai and Ravenswood Shorin-ryu Karate Dojo.  Happy Birthday Takehara Sensei!!


Ellen Fitzmorris and Trevor Clarke              Andrew Vitale, Sol Mayorga and Leo Hinami

Helen and JoeThe Tran Family

Helen Nagata and Joe Takehara              Ai Tran, Hai Tran and Mika Hinami

YukiAndy and Stephanie

The ageless Yuki Hara                              Andrew Vitale and Stephanie Folk


Cyrill Oseledets                                 The Organizer! (Susanne Takehara)

Eric and DanielJim and Mika

Eric Castillo and Daniel Braithwaite                      Jim Carr and Mika Hinami


           Ewa Mierzejewska

The Buffet

The spread! (Daniel Braithwaite, Susanne Takehara and Erik Matsunaga)

Enjoying the spread

Ewa Mierzejewska, Ai Tran and Joanne Doi


The lighting of the cake                              The presentation of the cake


“Let me show you how it’s done, kid”                            “Breath . . . . ”


Mika Hinami assisting

Good Times

Good times (Yuki Hara, Elizabeth Margetich, Ellen Fitzmorris, Helen Nagata)


Dwight Sora and Joe Takehara

Debbi and YukiYuki and Bob

Debra Mamura-Beltier and Yuki Hara                    Yuki Hara and Bob Mita

Keiki, Ivayvo and Peter

Keiki Hinami, Ivaylo Evtimov and Peter Georgiev


 Leo Hinami

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Photos from the Illinois Japan Bowl (March 7, 2015)

The Japan America Society of Chicago (JASC)  very kindly shared some photos from Chicago Aikido Club‘s demonstration at the Illinois Japan Bowl held on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at North Central College in Naperville.


DSCN2155 DSCN2156                 DSCN2177

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Featured in photos: Patrick Miller, Dwight Sora, Andrew Vitale and Illinois Japan Bowl high school participants

Thanks again to everyone at JASC for the opportunity. Special thanks to Erik Matsunaga at Ravenswood Shorin-Ryu Karate Dojo for referring us, our contacts Patrick Noonan, one of the judges of the Illinois Japan Bowl, and Erika Kono, Director of Administration & Logistics at JASC. Also thanks to Mitsukuni Baba, Executive Director, for his welcoming and complimentary remarks. And a big shout out to all the Illinois high school students who competed that day.

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Chicago Aikido Club at Illinois Japan Bowl

Japan Bowl

Chicago Aikido Club (CAC) members Patrick Miller, Dwight Sora and Andrew Vitale will be performing an aikido demonstration as part of the cultural program for the first-ever Illinois Japan Bowl on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

The Japan Bowl is a competition for high school students, in which three-person teams are tested on their knowledge of Japanese language and both traditional and modern Japanese culture. The winning team will go on to participate in the National Bowl in Washington, D.C., as part of 200 students from over 30 high schools across the U.S.

The event is sponsored by the Japan America Society of Chicago  and will be held at North Central College in Naperville. Admission is free and open to the public.

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A Touch of Zen

CAC members Dwight Sora and Patrick Miller explaining aikido at the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago (photo by June Tanoue)

On Sunday the 22nd, members of the Chicago Aikido Club were guests of the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago located in the western suburb of Oak Park. At the invitation of June Tanoue, who runs the center together with her husband Robert Althouse,  club members Dwight Sora and Patrick Miller were guest speakers for that week’s “Sunday Morning Zen” session, which normally includes meditation, a talk and discussion.

After an hour of sitting and walking meditation starting at 8:00 am, Dwight spent the next hour explaining the history and principles of aikido, emphasizing the art’s focus on breathing, relaxing and non-aggression. At times, the explanation was supplemented with live demonstrations of basic technique together with Patrick. Much to the surprise of the gathered audience, the hour also included getting up on their feet and pairing up to try some simple exercises so attendees could experience some of the “feel” of aikido.  These included attempting the “unbendable arm” exercise, and a simple response to a katadori shoulder grab.

All in all, the morning proved to be very productive and informative according to the people attending. During a round of vegan and gluten-free “zen eats” after the session, Dwight and Patrick had an opportunity to socialize casually with the attendees and further speak about their own observations and experiences studying aikido.

In terms of the pleasant atmosphere and conversation juxtaposed with the flowing movements of the aikido techniques presented, the morning truly lived up to its advertised title of ““Stillness in Action – Action in Stillness.”

Attendees watching the presentation.

Dwight demonstrating what a peaceful mind and body does not look like

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Kicking Off 2015 with Food and Friendship

2015 CAC KB Group photo

Chicago Aikido Club kicked off the New Year in earnest with its annual Kagami Biraki class and party on Sunday, February 8 at Tohkon Judo Academy. Regular club members were joined on the mat by visitors from Aikido of West Bend (including chief instructor Eric Novak), Chicago Aikikai, Milwaukee Aikido Club, Ravenswood Shorin-ryu Karate Dojo and Tenshinkan Dojo (including chief instructor Stephen Toyoda).

As announced, class was taught by Joe Takehara and Yuki Hara, followed by a potluck luncheon held next door on the premises of the Japanese American Service Commitee (JASC). The spread included some great vegetarian stew, meatballs, Spam musubi, lumpia (Filipino eggrolls), and as has become a tradition, kringles courtesy of our friends from Wisconsin.

All-in-all, a terrific start to 2015.

2015 CAC KB Bob Mita and Hai  2015 CAC KB Jamey and Eric   2015 CAC KB Yuki and Toyoda2015 CAC KB Takehara Sensei and Luis 2015 CAC KB Toyoda throwing Keiki
2015 CAC KB Yuki teaching (1)   
2015 CAC KB Yuki teaching (5)

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Chicago Aikido Club Kagami Biraki 2015

2010 Yuki in action

Chicago Aikido Club (CAC) will be hosting its own Kagami Biraki celebration this coming Sunday, February 8. Class begins at 11:30 am and will be taught by both Joe Takehara and Yuki Hara taking turns on the mat. Afterward, a potluck luncheon will be held.

Dwight and Joe high fall (2)

Chicago Aikido Club Kagami Biraki 2015

Sunday, February 8

11:30 am – 1:30 pm        Class with Joe Takehara and Yuki Hara

1:30 pm – 4:30 pm         Potluck luncheon

At Tohkon Judo Academy

Japanese American Service Committee Building

4427 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640

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Food, Festivities and (High) Falls – Kicking off the New Year at Tohkon Judo Academy’s Kagami Biraki

Doug Tono, Andrew Vitale, JASC CEO Michael Takada and Dwight Sora mochitsuki

Douglas Tono (Head Instructor of Tohkon Judo Academy), Andrew Vitale (CAC),      Michael Takada (CEO of Japanese American Service Committee) and Dwight Sora (CAC)

 There was a great gathering last weekend at Tohkon Judo Academy’s annual kagami biraki event on Saturday, January 10. Things kicked off in the early morning with mochitsuki: the traditional pounding of rice to make rice cakes (mochi) for the New Year. Several club members jumped into the fray, including Joe Takehara, impressing everyone with his perfect and powerful form.


Joe Takehara showing the rice who’s the boss (courtesy of Andrew Vitale)

 This was followed by an oharai purification rite of the building performed by Rev. Goro Oki, a Rokudan in judo and Tenrikyo Shinto priest. Now in his 90s, intermingled his blessings with anecdotes of his colorful life history, which included time as a POW during World War II.

After a Japanese drumming performance by the Kokyo Taiko group, CAC took the stage for its annual demo appearance. This year’s participants included Trevor Clarke, Patrick Miller, Cyrill Oseledets, Dwight Sora, Nguyen Tran, Andrew Vitale and Kathryn Worthington. Also, for the first time ever, senior instructor Joe Takehara took the stage. His unscripted and unrehearsed portion surprised everyone, including his own students, with his speed and variety.

Demo video (courtesy of Erik Matsunaga)

 The afternoon concluded with a demo by the children and instructors of Tohkon Judo Academy and a community potluck. All in all, a wonderful way to start off the new year.

Dwight and Joe high fall (2)

Joe Takehara throwing Dwight Sora

Patrick Miller and Cyrill Oseledets

Patrick Miller and Cyrill Oseledets

Kathryn Worthington and Nguyen Tran

Nguyen Tran and Kathryn Worthington

Photos courtesy of Joan Anbo, Erik Matsunaga and Kathryn Worthington

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Tohkon Judo Academy Kagami Biraki 2015

2014 Tohkon KB demo Andy-Ryan pinChicago Aikido Club will again be participating in Tohkon Judo Academy’s annual kagami biraki celebration to kick off the New Year. Doors open at 8:30 am with traditional mochi-tsuki (rice cake-making), followed by a purification ceremony by Rev. Goro Oki around noon, a Japanese drumming performance by Kokyo Taiko at 12:30 pm, Chicago Aikido Club demo at 1:10 pm, and Tohkon Judo Academy demo at 1:30 pm.  Afterward, everyone is invited to stay for a potluck luncheon. The event is free and open to the public.

2014 Tohkon KB demo Dwight-Andy pin

Tohkon Judo Academy Kagami Biraki
at the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC)
4427 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640

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JASC Holiday Delight

Holiday Delight

10:00 am to 4:00 pm
4427 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640

Japanese Food & Refreshments
(available starting at 10:30 am)
Treasures from the JASC Legacy Center
Unique Holiday Shopping
Kraft Korner for all ages
Silent Auction

JASC Tsukasa Taiko Drumming
Santa Claus!
Fujima Ryu of Chicago
and more!

The mats will be moved to make way for the Holiday Delight on Thursday the 6th at 9:30. The more hands we get the quicker it will be done. Then Saturday at 3:30 we are cleaning up after the festival and re-setting the mats. Again the more people the quicker it will get done.

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