Our instructors are highly dedicated to the study and practice of Aikido, passing on their expertise through the provision of classes that are engaging, challenging and fun.

Sensei Ed Schechtman
Sensei Ed Schechtman

Ed began the practice of Aikido in 1972 at the New York Aikikai, under the supervision of Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan. Ed is a charter member of the Suffolk Institute for Eastern Studies (SIES), having been practicing with Howard Pashenz Sensei when he founded the SIES over twenty-five years ago.

Ed was attracted to Aikido because of its philosophy. When he visited the New York Aikikai, he was impressed as he observed the movement and energy of the practice. “People were literally flying all over the room . . . they were, all of them, smiling,” he recalled.

The contract they offered was open: Come when you want to practice, stay away when you have to, if you can. After many decades of devoted training, Ed will be the first to tell you that the practice of Aikido never gets old.

Sensei Mike Livingston
Sensei Mike Livingston

Mike began the practice of Aikido in 1983 for just a short time at the NY Aikikai. In 1991 he began training in earnest at Aikido of Nassau County. He left the practice of T’ai Chi at this time looking for human contact and thought of Aikido as partner practice to T’ai Chi. Prior to this, he studied Tae Kwon Do, both in and out of the military. His formal introduction to martial arts occurred in 1971 studying GoJu Ryu. His informal introduction to martial arts was a World War II manual, Get Tough, written by Captain William E. Fairbairn, that he found in his father’s World War II memorabilia.

“After 20 years I have found Aikido to be of a physical and mental benefit. Allowing personal growth and the never ending head shaking at how long it takes us to change for the better.” – Mike

Sensei Ben Vardanyan
Sensei Ben Vardanyan

Beniamin Vardanyan has been instructing Aikido trainings since 1990 in the Moscow branch of AIKAKAI (Hombu Dojo, Tokyo) under the guidance of Kachan Sensei, in Lomonosov Moscow State University. After receiving a PhD degree in Physics and Mathematics in 1996, he returned to Armenia to devote himself to the development of Aikido. He has since conducted Aikido trainings in several regions of Armenia. He has successfully organized the first international Aikido seminars in Armenia under the guidance of Aikikai Hombo Dojo instructors: T. Kuribayashi Shihan (7 dan), Yokota Yoshiaki (7 dan), Kachan Sensei (6 dan) and other members of official delegation from Aikikai Hombu Dojo. In 1998, Benjamin became the founding member and was elected the president of the Armenian Association of Aikido in Armenia. He has trained more than 600 hundred students since 1996 and, of these, 21 have received black belts from 4th to 1st dan degrees.

Ben and his family moved to the USA in 2012, where he continued his Aikido training. He participated in several Aikido seminars headed by Yamada Shihan and Hagihara Shihan. Ben joined Central Island Aikido in 2017, where he began his T’ai Chi training under the guidance of Rich Morrison.

Beniamin Vardanyan the president of Armenian Association of Aikido starts Aikido Martial Art trainings since 1990 in Moscow branch of AIKAKAI (Hombu Dojo, Tokyo), under the guidance of Kachan Sensei, in Moscow State University.

  • In 1995 received  1 Dan degree in Moscow -examiner  S.Seki Shihan , 7 Dan-AIKIKAI, Tokyo
  • In 1997 received  2 Dan degree in Moscow-examiner T.Kuribayashi Shihan, 7 Dan-AIKIKAI, Tokyo
  • In 2000 received  3 Dan degree in Yerevan- examiner T.Kuribayashi Shihan, 7 Dan-AIKIKAI, Tokyo
  • In 2007 received 4 Dan degree in Yerevan- examiner T.Kuribayashi Shihan, 7 Dan-AIKIKAI, Tokyo
  • In 2008 founder and elected president of Armenian Association of Aikido, Armenia
  • In 2008 chief instructor and head of attestation committee of Armenian Association of Aikido
  • In 2012 received 5 Dan degree by recommendation of Kachan sensei- Aikikai Hombu Dojo
  • In 2014 on October 17-19 conducted aikido seminars in Yerevan.

In 1996 as Armenia Regional Director conducted aikido martial art trainings in several regions in Armenia. Established Armenian Regional Aikido Center, and have more trained more than 600 hundred students since 1996 and 21 received black belts from 3 rd to shodan degree.

  • Conducted special aikido trainings for kids and teenagers.
  • Conducted special aikido trainings for adult trainee
  • Conducted special aikido trainings for GOLD’S-GYM Armenia members.

In 2000, Ben organized the first International Aikido Seminar in Yerevan, Armenia under the guidance T.Kuirbayashi Sensei 7 Dan, Tokyo. In 2004 he organized International Aikido Seminars in Yerevan, Armenia under the guidance of official AIKIKAI delegation headed by Y.Yokota Shihan 7 dan, T.Kuirbayashi Sensei 7 dan, Tokyo. He has organized international seminars under the guidance of Kachan Sensei more than 10 times since 1998 in Yerevan.

“Life itself is always a trial. In training, you must test and polish yourself in order to face the great challenges of life.”- Morihei Ueshiba

Sensei Steve Ehlen
Sensei Steve Ehlen

Steve has been training since 2009 and currently holds the rank of Nidan. His teaching philosophy is to focus on the basics, while the rest takes care of itself.

“What drew me to this art was the blending aspect,” Steve says. “I have found that developing this most basic principle can benefit you both on and off the mat.”

Sensei Rich Morrison (Front, Center)

Chief Instructor and President of the Board of Directors

Rich fell head over heels with Aikido in 1994. Prior to that he trained for 20 years in Shorin Ryu Okinawan Karate (hard style). He combined his Aikido training with Rinzai Zen Meditation and has been studying under Edgar Genshin Kann, a student of Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

Rich has developed a present interest in Tai Chi and Qi Gong and has studied and trained daily in the Yang style Short Form under Joe Cavaliere and Bob Klein. Rich was certified as a Tai Chi instructor in February of 2015.

It is the beauty of Aikido and T’ai Chi; the gentleness, the kindness, the peacefulness that continues to attract Rich. “We are capable of inflicting tremendous damage to our attacker but we choose not to,” Rich says. “We join together so completely with the attacker as to eliminate any difference between ourselves. How then can we intentionally do them any harm?”

At the heart of Aikido is the Zen Practice: nothing exists separate from ourselves. Is it self defense? Well, it is and it isn’t. When Rich’s teacher Howard Pashenz was asked, “Is it self defense?” He would answer: “Show me the self that needs to be defended and I will show you self defense.”

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