Aikido of Eugene is a member of the California Aikido Association and all aikido instructors at BMAI are certified black belts with the Aikikai Foundation, the Aikido world headquarters in Japan.
Chuck Hauk is the dojo-cho (chief instructor) of Aikido of Eugene, which is the aikido program at Best Martial Arts Institute.
Hauk Sensei began his martial arts training in 1970, studying Shotokan Karate under Blake Okimoto Sensei in Claremont, California. He began his Aikido training in 1977 at Pasadena Aikikai under the instruction of Gene Anderson Sensei, while regularly training also with Francis Takahashi Sensei at Alhambra Aikikai.
In 1979, he was a student of Frank McGouirk Sensei during the founding of Aikido Ai of Southern California. In 1980, he moved to Eugene and soon thereafter assisted Glenn Bluestone Sensei (former uchideshi to Mitsugi Saotome Shihan) in opening and operating a new school in Eugene called “Aikido Northwest.”
In 1987, Hauk Sensei began a long association with Tom Read Sensei, Chief Instructor of Northcoast Aikido in Arcata, California, and former student of the late Michio Hikitsuchi Shihan (Judan, 10th degree black belt) in Japan. During this period, Hauk Sensei assisted his long-time training partner, Daryl Berlie Sensei, in teaching Aikido classes at the University of Oregon Aikido Club.
Having known Frank Doran Shihan since 1978, Hauk Sensei formally became his student in 2002, coinciding with becoming Chief Instructor for Aikido of Eugene. Hauk Sensei currently holds the rank of Rokudan (6th degree black belt) from the Aikikai Foundation, Aikido World Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan. This rank was awarded to him by Frank Doran Shihan, hachidan (8th degree black belt), California Aikido Association Division II head and Chief Instructor of Aikido West in Redwood City, California.
In 1996, I entered the Shuwakan Yoshinkan Aikido dojo in Indianapolis, Indiana simply – if somewhat begrudgingly – to satisfy the persistent invitations of an enthusiastic friend who was a member.
I had trained in Karate and Tae Kwon Do in my early twenties but had never developed a true passion or commitment to either art. Aikido, I felt, would surely be just as much of a passing interest. I would watch the demonstration, give a polite “thanks, but no thanks” to my friend, and head home.
Then I saw the tiny, unassuming class instructor launch her attacker, a heavy-set man more than twice her size, into a throw that sent him flying to the opposite side of the dojo. He rolled to his feet, turned and ran at her, swinging a vicious front strike at her head. She narrowly dodged the blow, caught his arm while spinning around, and somehow magically turned the man’s wrist into his own shoulder. She drove him into the floor with a thunderous slam.
I couldn’t sign up fast enough. My friend remained smug for years afterwards.
I received my Shodan, first-degree black belt, in 2003. In those seven years, aikido had transformed from a mysterious art into a science of body mechanics, timing, and precision. I had become passionate and committed to refining my understanding of it.
My family and I moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2008. As a displaced Midwesterner, I felt somewhat out of touch with the West Coast culture, however, I found an immediate sense of community and friendship with the people at Aikido of Eugene within BMAI. The style of aikido, Aikikai, was somewhat different than the Yoshinkan style that I had originally learned, but the instructors accepted my differences and encouraged me to explore the similarities. In 2013, they awarded me Nidan, my second-degree black belt.
Aikido, I have found, is a never-ending pursuit that only becomes more intriguing as time moves forward. It is a way of self-defense, a way of maintaining physical fitness and flexibility, an activity that promotes friendship, a spiritual path, and most of all, simply a lot of fun. I would encourage anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, to give it a try. It may connect for you in just the same instantaneous and unexpected way it did for me.
I was first introduced to martial arts by watching my sons train in the Children’s Karate Program at BMAI. Watching Sensei Best and his senior instructors, I realized that martial arts was far more than fighting technique and self-defense. The attention to self-awareness, self-discipline, focus, precision, and improvement rather than perfection, opened the my eyes to a path I had not been aware of previously.
I began training in aikido in 2001, with Senseis Berlie and Hauk, shortly after BMAI added the art to the school’s curriculum. The practice of aikido at the physical, internal, interpersonal, personal, psychological, and spiritual levels captured my full attention immediately. Studying the physical and internal aspects of aikido on the mat while learning to keep aikido present in all aspects of my life off the mat is the focus of my practice.
I enthusiastically attend seminars and camps anytime I have the opportunity. I have attended over 50 seminars and camps with world-renowned aikido masters from many different traditions, including Mitsugi Saotome Shihan, T.K. Chiba Shihan, Motomichi Anno Shihan, Hiroshi Kato Shihan, and Seishiro Endo Shihan, as well as many American aikido masters, such as Frank Doran Shihan, Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, Robert Nadeau Shihan, Donald Moriyama Shihan, Clyde Takaguchi Sensei, Randy Scoville Sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei and Linda Holiday Sensei.
My entire practice has been with Aikido of Eugene at Best Martial Arts Institute. I was awarded the rank of Nidan (2nd degree black belt) in 2014.
Sasha Kruger began her study of aikido in 1995 with Koichi Barrish, Sensei at the Kannagara dojo in Granite Falls, Washington. She continued her training at the UW Aikido Club under Gary Barnett, Sensei while she attended the University of Washington from 1995 -1998. She moved to Eugene in 1998 and joined the University of Oregon Aikido under the tutelage of Janet Rumsey, a direct student of Daryl Berlie, Sensei. In 2001 she began training with Aikido of Eugene directly under Daryl Berlie and Chuck Hauk at Best Martial Arts Institute. She received the rank of Shodan (1st degree black belt) in aikido in 2010.
Sasha trained in the Japanese sword art of Shinto Ryu Iai-Battojutsu from 2002 – 2009 and was awarded the rank of sankyu.
She has also trained in the stick, knife, and empty-hand systems of the Filipino Martial arts of kali, escrima, and siniwali for the past ten years under Eric Filippenko, Sensei.