All faculty of the Bushwick Dojo are ranked through the Aikikai, Hombu Dojo in Japan. While ranking alone does not make a person a good teacher, Bushwick Dojo is fortunate to have a number of highly ranked, and very good teachers.
Claire Keller Sensei (Shidoin, 6th Dan)
Claire Keller began her study of aikido in 1980, while a student at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her first teachers, Lorraine DiAnne and Paul Sylvain, had just returned from several years of intensive training at Hombu Dojo, the aikido world headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, and had there attached themselves to Kazuo Chiba, one of the founder’s direct students. Claire was the senior female student at Paul and Lorraine’s dojo, Amherst Aikikai, until leaving to train at New England Aikikai, with Mitsunari Kanai, another of the founder’s special students. Following a brief period in Cambridge, Claire moved to New York City and joined the New York Aikikai under the leadership of Yoshimitsu Yamada and for a time, Seichi Sugano, both also direct students of the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.
Claire began teaching early in her aikido career, assisting her first teachers at the university level and then instructing at various dojos. She has been invited to teach seminars in the U.S., Dominican Republic, and Spain. She has taught a weekly class at the New York Aikikai for decades, and at different times regularly at Aikido Schools of New Jersey, Aikido of Red Bank, and Aikido of Park Slope.
Although teaching has been an important part of Claire’s aikido development, training remains a constant, integral and key component of her practice of aikido. It is her continued training that keeps her grounded and always challenged to find the most useful ways to transmit the beauty and mystery of aikido to each individual student.
Claire considers herself lucky to have taken up aikido at an auspicious time in the art’s development here in the United States. She has trained intensively with four of the best direct students of the founder (Chiba, Kanai, Yamada and Sugano), studied for decades with many of these teachers’ top students, and been fortunate enough to attend seminars over the past decades with some of the most eminent senseis to grace our shores (the first Doshu, Tamura, Saito, Arikawa among many others).
Claire brings her wealth of experience, her unique sensibility (that of a strong, small, fierce woman), her sense of humor, her fascination and deep concern for people, and most of all, her love for aikido, to Bushwick Dojo.
Elizabeth Albin Sensei (6th Dan)
Elizabeth has been a student of aikido since 1986 when she began practice at the New York Aikikai with Yamada Shihan and Sugano Shihan. A native New Yorker, Elizabeth has taught aikido in upstate New York, Santa Barbara, CA, El Paso, TX, and Spain, among other locations. A thirty-year member of the USAF, she holds the rank of Rokudan. In her teaching, Elizabeth focuses on unforced, precise movement.
Gilllian Macleod Sensei (3rd Dan)
Gillian has been practicing aikido since 1998. She started her training in Toronto, Canada at Aikido Tendokai, as a student of Yumi Nakamura Sensei (Rokudan, CAA). She moved to New York in 2005 and began training with Yamada Shihan and Sugano Shihan at the New York Aikikai. After the birth of her son, she began to practice consistently in Brooklyn with Lehrman Shihan and Keller Sensei at Aikido of Park Slope. Gillian is ranked Sandan, and teaches our beginner as well as adult classes.
Chase Valdez Sensei (3rd Dan)
Chase began aikido in 1989 in Oklahoma with Douglas Hanson Sensei, (Rokudan, ASU). After moving to NYC in 1997, Chase trained at the Bond Street Dojo with the late Paul Kang Sensei, (Rokudan, ASU), and others. In 2010, he began training with Andrew Sato Sensei, (Nanadan, AWA) the chief instructor for Aikido World Alliance. And in 2016, continued to study with Hal Leherman Sensei, (Nanadan, USAF) at Aikido of Park Slope. He has also received instruction from many top practitioners throughout the US and abroad, and is excited to share these experiences with the Bushwick Dojo community. Chase is ranked Sandan, and teaches our beginner as well as adult classes.
Assistant instructors at Bushwick Dojo include Chip Calcagni, (Nidan, USAF).