The Chief Instructor, or Dojo-Cho, of Traditional Aikido of Colorado Springs, is John Wiley. John is assisted both on the mat, and in day-to-day dojo operations by Elizabeth Hartman (2nd Kyu). John has been studying Aikido for over 21 years, and was fortunate to be able to train 4-5x/week for much of the time he studied Aikido in the Northern Virginia/DC area. He has spent most of his Aikido career focused on studying Iwama-Ryu Aikido, with a strong influence from his principal teacher, Yvonne Thelwell, but also from Patricia Hendricks Sensei, Mark Larson Sensei (6th Dan – Dojo-cho – Minnesota Aiki Shuren Dojo), and both Sempai and Seminar Instructors too numerous to list. John owes all of his teachers, formal and otherwise, a debt that can never be repaid. He is fortunate to have had so many opportunities to learn from and practice Aikido with some of the finest living examples of Traditional Aikido.
O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba (–)
Aikido was founded by Japan’s Morihei Ueshiba, referred to, honorifically as O Sensei. As a youth, Ueshiba studied many different martial arts and weapons styles. Although he became strong and won many matches, he was troubled by the idea that winning at someone else’s expense was not really winning. As a result, he searched for a martial art which would divert harm from one’s self without inflicting permanent injury on an aggressor. In this way, Aikido was born as the “Art of Peace”.
Morihiro Saito Shihan (–)
Morihiro Saito Shihan (9th Dan) began training under Ueshiba Sensei in 1946. He continued to train, directly under the founder, until the founder’s death in 1969. Prior to passing, O Sensei both gave Morihiro Saito the responsibility of teaching at the Iwama dojo and appointed Saito Shihan as caretaker of the Aiki Jinja, located in Iwama. Prior to his passing, Saito Shihan turned over his teaching responbilities at the Iwama dojo to his son, Hitohira Saito Sensei. Hitohira Saito Sensei has since formed an organization called “Iwama Shin Shin Aiki Shuren Kai“, with a mission to preserve the teachings of his father.
Patricia Hendricks Shihan
Patricia Hendricks Shihan began studying Aikido in 1974 under Stanley Pranin and Mary Heiny. She moved to Iwama, Japan in 1976 to study with Morihiro Saito Shihan. During her time in Iwama, she spent significant time as Uchideshi (live-in student) at the Iwama dojo.
Hendricks Sensei holds a 7th Dan (Aikikai) and has been designated a Shihan (teacher of teachers) by the Aikikai. She also holds a Menkyo Kaiden (teaching license) in Aiki-Ken/Aiki-Jo from Morihiro Saito Sensei. Hendricks Sensei served, for many years, as Morihiro Saito’s representative to the United States. She currently serves as Division Head of Division 1 (Iwama) of the California Aikido Association (CAA). Hendricks Sensei is also the Dojo-cho of Aikido of San Leandro.
Yvonne Thelwell Sensei
Yvonne Thelwell Sensei (5th Dan), Dojo-Cho of Aikido of Arlington (Virginia), began practicing Aikido on April 15th, 1989 under Donny Lyon Sensei (4th Dan). Donny Lyon Sensei passed away in 1996, leaving the dojo to Thelwell Sensei. Aikido of Arlington has been operating, under Thelwell Sensei’s leadership as Dojo-Cho, for over 20 years.
John Wiley Sensei
John Wiley (1st Dan), Chief Instructor of Traditional Aikido of Colorado Springs, began practicing Aikido in 1997. John’s initial training was in Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido under George Simcox Sensei (5th Dan – Virginia Ki Society – Merrifield, VA). He earned the rank of 3rd Kyu. In 2002, John began training in Iwama-Ryu Aikido under Yvonne Thelwell Sensei (5th Dan – Aikido of Arlington – Arlington, VA). He tested for Shodan (Aikikai) in 2008. Patricia Hendricks Shihan (7th Dan Aikikai – Aikido of San Leandro – San Leandro, CA) officiated his Shodan test. John’s continued training focus is on Iwama Ryu Aikido. John relocated to Colorado Springs about 3 years ago. John and his family are happy to call Colorado Springs home.
John works as an Electrical Engineer for a small company located in Colorado Springs, and is also an avid homebrewer and is active in the Colorado Springs homebrewing community.