Aikido Instructors

John PengJohn Peng began his study of martial arts in 1990 at UCLA and has trained in a variety of “striking” arts including Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do, and Wing Chun Kung Fu. In 1995, after seeing kotegaeshi in his first Aikido class, he knew intuitively that Aikido was the path that he was seeking.

John began his Aikido training in Albany, NY, in February 1995.  He moved to Seattle in June 1997, and has been training at the Seattle School of Aikido ever since.  He began teaching classes at the Seattle School of Aikido in November 2002, after having obtained his “local” Shodan (1st degree black belt) rank from the Seattle School in November 2002.

John joined the Hombu Dojo Aikikai after attaining his Aikikai Shodan (1st degree black belt) Rank from Seishiro Endo Shihan, 8th Dan Aikikai, in Seattle in April 2008.  He then passed his Nidan test (2nd degree black belt) with Endo Shihan in Seattle in April 2012, and then passed his Sandan test (3rd degree black belt) in Lillsved, Sweden with Jan Nevelius Shihan in July 2015.

John currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree black belt), and continues to study under the guidance and tutelage of Jan Nevelius Shihan, 6th Dan Aikikai, head of the Swedish Aikido Federation, and one of Endo Shihan’s senior students.  The aikido lineage originates with Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan (died 1996, 9th dan), who was Endo Shihan’s primary instructor, and with whom Nevelius Shihan also studied with directly during his time in Japan.

John was Board President of the Seattle School of Aikido from 2008 through 2014, and became the Dojo’s Chief Instructor of Adult Aikido in September 2013.  He has aligned the dojo grading process with Hombu Dojo Aikikai through Nevelius Shihan, who will perform the grading exams here in Seattle for all of the yudansha (black belt) ranks when students become eligible.

John is working on developing his Aikido in a style that is both soft, yet sharp in its contact.  One that creates techniques with the partner, instead of doing techniques to the partner.

John is also an MD in internal medicine and practices full time in Lynnwood, just north of Seattle.

I began my study of martial arts as a way to explore the mind-body connection, but I got tired of learning how to hit people.

Through Aikido practice, I experience integrated mind-body metaphors which show me opportunities for improving myself, through which I learn how to improve my relationships with others.

Mike UllmannMike Ullmann started Aikido with Bill Lee (Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, Rod Kobayashi Shihan), in Austin, Texas, in the 1970s.  After moving to Seattle, Mike studied in the mid-1980s with Andy Dale at his Phinney Ridge dojo.  He resumed Aikido practice shortly after Dale founded the Xin Qi Shen dojo in the late 1990s, and received his shodan in 2000 from Andy Dale and John Kanetomi.  Andy Dale awarded Mike his nidan in 2006, his sandan in 2008 and his yondan in 2014.

Before I started Aikido, my Karate instructor said that practicing Aikido would make me less jerky. I’m still working on that.

Christy PurdyChristy Purdy has been at Seattle School of Aikido since 1982, and considers Mary Heiny and several of Mary’s then-senior students – Pam Cooper, Joanne Veneziano, George Ledyard – as her main teachers.  Prior to joining SSA, Christy practiced Aikido casually at a small dojo in Kyoto, Japan for three years while she was teaching English.  Christy received her Nidan in 1988.

When I first joined the dojo, I trained in the early morning because of schedule conflicts with evening class. Now it’s a habit. After all these years, I still don’t like getting up for 6:30 am classes, but I love the way I feel after training at that hour – or any other.

Nat McCullyNat McCully has been training in Japanese martial arts since middle school.  In 1988 he travelled to Japan for a year of study abroad in Tokyo, and practiced in the Karate-bu of Waseda University.  Nat attended the first International Budo Seminar held by the Budokan as part of his studies.  Introduced to Aikido by a fellow Waseda student at the end of his stay in 1989, Nat met Kenji Shimizu, Founder of the Tendokan and of Tendoryu Aikido.  Nat was taken by the powerful, flowing movements and joyful practice atmosphere, and vowed one day to come back to Japan and practice at the Tendokan dojo.

After 9 years of training in Shotokan Karate, Nat made the switch to Aikido practice and trained under Frank Doran (7th dan, Aikikai) in California before moving to Seattle in late 1998.  He joined Two Cranes Aikido in 2000.

During the next few years, Nat was fortunate to meet other great Aikido masters when they visited the U.S. or when Nat regularly travelled to Japan: Motomichi Anno (8th dan, Aikikai), Yoshinobu Takeda (8th dan, Aikikai), and Seishiro Endo (8th dan, Aikikai).

In 2008, Nat relocated to Tokyo and he was fortunate while living in Japan to train with these teachers directly.  It was at this time that Nat became a regular member of the Tendokan dojo (finally fulfilling his dream of 20 years before).

In 2011, Nat moved back to Seattle having earned a 2nd dan from Kenji Shimizu.  In 2015 he received an official teaching license from the Tendo World Aikido organization, a non-profit world body dedicated to supporting students and dojos of Tendoryu Aikido.