Claire Keller, 6th Dan, Chief Instructor
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. and abroad and has taught a weekly class at the New York Aikikai for decades. She has also taught 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, her ongoing training keeps her grounded and always challenges her 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 to attend seminars with some of the most eminent Japanese sensei.
Claire brings her wealth of experience, unique sensibility (that of a strong, small, fierce woman), sense of humor, fascination and deep concern for people, and most of all her love for Aikido to Bushwick Dojo.
Gillian Macleod, 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.