Our Philosophy


Morihei Ueshiba ("O-Sensei") Founder of Aikido

Morihei Ueshiba ("O-Sensei") Founder of Aikido

At Mill Valley Aikido we practice Traditional Aikido as passed down by Morihei Ueshiba, (“O-Sensei”) Founder of Aikido (1883-1969) and Morihiro Saito, Shihan, Chief Instructor, Iwama Dojo (1928-2002). Traditional Aikido, with its historical roots going back many hundreds of years to Jujitsu, provides a broad system of highly effective self-defense techniques. These techniques enable the practitioner to blend with and neutralize punches, grabs and other attacks.  Aikido uses a range of powerful locks, throws and pins to immobilize an attacker. 

Morihiro Saito Shihan, O-Sensei's chosen successor of the Iwama dojo standing in front of the Aiki Shrine

Morihiro Saito Shihan, O-Sensei's chosen successor of the Iwama dojo standing in front of the Aiki Shrine

In addition to empty handed techniques, we teach Saito Shihan’s traditional system of Aiki-Jo (wooden staff) and Aiki-Ken (wooden sword).  These weapons are critical to the understanding of how traditional Aikido techniques are performed.  Aikido develops balance, flexibility and coordination, as well as concentration and self-confidence while being physically attacked.

We stress safety, harmony and non-violence which are central themes in Aikido. Therefore, there are no competitions, tournaments or full-contact sparring. However, the training enables the learning of pragmatic techniques which can be employed to protect oneself with the potential option of limiting damage to the attacker. Our goal is to develop powerful, effective techniques yet deliver them in a safe, graceful and peaceful manner. This results in an enjoyable environment which promotes a strong and flexible body and mind.

In recent years, there has been a tendency for martial arts to drift away from their historical path. O-Sensei  developed Aikido as “The Art of Peace” and not for the purpose of killing and destroying others. At Mill Valley Aikido, we respect the important traditional teachings of the past. We endeavor to adapt the physical techniques and wisdom in promoting overall good health as well as active participation in a more peaceful world.

Jason Yim and Rob Okun, continuing the Iwama lineage.

Jason Yim and Rob Okun, continuing the Iwama lineage.

At Mill Valley Aikido we strive to preserve and honor the ancient lineage while adjusting for the realities of modern life.  In every class we focus on safety, mindfully taking care of our training partners and ourselves. We show respect for each other throughout the class, and never force a movement. We help you understand the difference between practice in the dojo and how you might apply Aikido in a real self-defense situation. And we work to make each class engaging, enlightening, and fun!

When it all comes together, you leave your Aikido session injury-free, feeling centered and more aware of your mind and body in the present moment. This is the true joy of Aikido, and we look forward to sharing it with you.



About Our Dojo's Mark

Our logo is a Gingko leaf with seven lines running through it. Tall Gingko trees grew all around the Iwama dojo, birthplace of Aikido, where Jason and Rob trained in Japan for many years. The Gingko represents wisdom as well as the ability to grow and change.


In Aikido the number seven has deep meaning. The "hakama" lower leg cloth that an Aikido student receives when they attain their black belt has seven pleats. Each pleat reminds the practitioner of the seven virtues of the samurai. They are:

1.  "Gi"- Integrity.  To do the right thing even when it's difficult.
2.  "Yuuki"- Bravery and courage.  To show courage in every moment, whether in danger or not.
3.  "Jin"- Kindness and compassion.  To extend kindness and compassion to all living beings.
4.  "Rei"- Politeness. To show respect and courtesy to those we meet in life.
5.  "Makoto"- Honesty.  To be true to the words you speak and the actions you do.
6.  "Meiyo"- Honor. To maintain a sense of who you are and what principles you stand for.
7.  "Chuugi"- Duty and Loyalty. To follow through on your commitments and be there for your community.

The seven lines in the Gingko leaf remind us to stay true to these ideals and find the samurai spirit that lies within each of us.