Dojo COVID-19 Update

April 15, 2020

Hello friends, family, and dojo members,


These are truly challenging times. Thank you for bearing with us during our temporary closure. To cut to the chase, I do not know when we will be able to re-open our dojo. Any date I give would be a guess (I am hoping for July 1, 2020), and only time will tell us when the State will allow us to re-open.

As you all know, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Our worldwide community has recommended severe social distancing to delay the spread of Covid-19 (a potentially fatal disease).

Some of you may also know that in my “real job”, I am a practicing MD in adult primary care internal medicine, and I continue to work “on the front lines” in my clinic daily. I have seen Covid-19 both directly and indirectly in my work, and I do not want to have it come to our dojo.

Having said that, I miss my Aikido practice with you all very much. I know our instructors for our other arts feel the same.

Even though there are solo practices and exercises, like falling, footwork, and “shadow waza” where you practice pretending you have a partner, Aikido (for me) is mostly a study of human relationships and connection.

It requires human contact to really feel it to practice it. That can’t really be seen on video, in person, or via zoom meeting. You have to feel it, practice it, and internalize that feeling over and over to gain experience. You have to develop body intelligence, cultivate empathy for your partner, and understand their perspective to study this art deeply.

It is also very fun to move around with your friends, sweat with them, and throw them around (and be thrown around) without getting hurt. It is a type of “martial yoga”, where you can be as acrobatic and physical as your body and training level allow.

But sadly, none of this can be done right now due to the responsibilities we have to the health of our community.

I realize that unemployment is high, and difficult financial decisions (food, medicine, or rent payment?) are being made as we sacrifice ourselves for our community. I’m sure that a dojo membership that you can’t even go to at this time seems like a luxury item. But if our dojo is to survive through the end of the pandemic and re-open when it is all over, we continue to need your financial support. We too have rent to pay.

We have been in our current location for over 40 years, and I am hopeful that we can weather this unprecedented pandemic as a community; and when we re-open, we can continue to study the arts that we love to train and practice.

I appreciate all of you that have continued to pay membership dues to support our dojo. If there is significant hardship, before withdrawing your membership, please email me directly at and we can see if we can figure out a way for you to stay connected with us.

Thank you for your ongoing support and love for our community.

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita.

John Peng, MD, Internal Medicine
4th Dan Aikikai, Chief Instructor of Aikido
Board President, Seattle School of Aikido

Dojo Temporary Closure for Covid19 Pandemic

In keeping with the goals of preventing and delaying the spread of the pandemic disease covid19 to the vulnerable members of our community, the Seattle School of Aikido will be closed through the end of March.

Our board and instructors will re-evaluate the situation by April 1st, and will let you know when it is safe to resume training.

I would encourage all students and members (of all ages) to practice solo exercises, bokken and jo, and ukemi while at home during this time.
For more general information about why social distancing is important to delay this pandemic to preserve our healthcare resources, i direct you to this link:…/flattening-a-pandemics-curve-why-stay…

Also recognize that social distancing does NOT mean social isolation:

Be safe out there,
– John Peng
Board President, Seattle School of Aikido

John Peng, an Aikido Journey

Well it has been almost a month since my Yondan grading exam on 1/12/2020, and I finally have the time to process my thoughts and post a pic of me and my Sensei, Jan Nevelius Shihan at my home dojo, the Seattle School of Aikido.
I started my Aikido journey in February 1995 in Albany, New York, with Rick Wolslayer of Nihon Goshin Aikido. I also had the pleasure of training with Steve Sadowski and Irv Faust during my time in Albany. There was no internet, no youtube, no facebook, and no social media. You had to just show up at a dojo and check it out for yourself
I moved to Seattle in June 1997, and began training at my current home, the Seattle School of Aikido, with a wonderful variety of Aikido teachers from various lineages. Eric Oberg,Jan Keller, Robby Pellett, Allan Kaplan, David Kaplan, Jain Rutherford, and others were my teachers and mentors for many years. I received my Shodan from them in 2002. (Over time, our dojo community has become smaller with the retirements of my teachers, and I have been Chief Instructor of Aikido at Seattle School since 2015).
With the support of Glenn A Leichman, I had the opportunity to connect my Aikido lineage with Hombu Dojo via Seishiro Endo Shihan, and received my Aikikai Shodan from him in Seattle in 2008, and my Nidan from him in 2012.
I met Jan Nevelius during his various workshops in Seattle, he was co-teaching at times with Frank Ostoff. My Seattle Aikido buddy, Rupert Berk, had been encouraging me for years to come with him to Sweden to study more intensely at the Lillsved Aikido camp outside of Stockholm.
In 2013 I finally was able to go, and it was then that my formal relationship with Nevelius Shihan began. I have been going every summer since then to visit my “extended Aikido family”, and it has changed my practice immeasurably.
In 2015, I received my Sandan from Nevelius Sensei at Vanadis Aikido in Stockholm in front of my international Aikido community. And that brings me to last month, taking my Yondan exam in front of my friends and family in Seattle. There are no more tests in our lineage, any future promotions are done based on my contributions to Aikido as determined by my teacher.
A short but long story, with really too many people to name and thank individually, but without the support of my wife of 21+years, Catherine L Peng, much of this would not be possible.
It seems like my journey has ended, and yet I feel like it has only now begun. Thanks to all of my teachers, training partners, and students. I am looking forward to another rich 25 years of Aikido training and practice.
Domo Arigato Gozaimashita.
John Peng (left) with Jan Nevelius (right)

Ryuzen Robbie Pellet

It’s with great sadness that I must announce the passing of Ryuzen Robert (Robby) Pellett. I met Robby in 1999 when I was given his name as a possible sword teacher. I spoke with him briefly on the phone and then went to observe a class the next Saturday. I joined immediately. Robby was one of the kindest people I have ever met. Immediately after describing the intimacy of combat he would pause class to help shepherd a crane fly off the mat before it was accidentally stepped on. Robby’s training history was incredible, studying aikido intensely with Hiroshi Ikeda before his move to Japan where he trained directly under Mochizuki Minoru sensei at the Yoseikan hombu dojo. Years later, in Seattle, when asked to do a demonstration of Yoseikan’s sutemi-waza (sacrifice throws) at a Japanese sword tournament on hardwood floors, he was able to adjust each throw so that he took the majority of the initial impact and was able to place me gently onto the ground next to him. “Trust me and I’ll put you down safely,” he said. While in Japan, in addition to his study of zen and aikido, he studied kyudo, atarashi naginata, chado, ikebana and Shinto Ryu Iai-Battojutsu, coming home with Yudansha (black belt) ranks in each. I was lucky enough to travel to Japan with him several times to begin a relationship with his Shinto Ryu teacher Mochizuki Takashi and saw him slide effortlessly back into the role of humble student rather than teacher.

Anyone who knew Robby knows that he struggled for many years with health issues. We all went through the pain of his kidneys slowly failing and the long wait for a donor. But watching him reawaken from that experience was seeing him at his most joyful. He was literally full of life and lust and embraced the gift of existence as only someone who nearly lost it could. I remember him coming to class one morning with his new girlfriend and quietly, blushing, asking me to throw him around the dojo. In that moment he wasn’t a sword teacher, or a mental health worker, or a zen priest, he was a boy trying to impress a girl. We put on a show and they left early with a twinkle in their eyes.

Robby was special and unique and I’m so glad to have known him.

Chris Moses

Ryuzen Robbie Pellet

No kids/teens classes Thursday March 21st

Hey everyone, I have come down with some sort of stomach bug and thus there will be no kids classes tonight. As well there will be no class Saturday the 23rd and no class on Tuesday the 26th. Regular schedule resumes next Thursday.

Sorry for any inconvenience

-Evan Bucy

Dojo closed Friday through Sunday, October 13-15

As a reminder, the dojo will be closed starting Friday 2:30pm through Sunday 2:30pm. Apologies for all that are inconvenienced, our mats are being used at the Jan Nevelius Shihan seminar at Seattle Central College Friday through Sunday. Classes will resume as usual on Monday. Thank you for your cooperation and support. – John

Website 3.0!

It took awhile, but we’re finally launching SSA 3.0.  Fortunately good things are happening in the dojo at a much faster pace than the webmaster works.

It’s been awhile since we all caught up so here’s a quick rundown of notable things that happened this past year:

Subfloor installation
Glue, screw, seal

Installed a new subfloor!  Sure the place looked pretty much like it did before we started, but there’s a big difference taking falls on the new floating floor.  Training is safer and healthier for all participants.


Geoff installing hardwood floor
Want this stuff in my place…

Shortened the mat frame and installed hardwood flooring in the front of the dojo. Looks nicer and easier to clean!


Robert breaking window
Love the sound of breaking glass!

Put in a big, noisy fan that pulls lots of air into the dojo.  Getting some fresh air into the space is always helpful and makes for much more comfortable training on the warm days.


Buried in the sand
No secrets buried here…

Kids summer camp at the ocean.  Quite an experience for kids, teachers and parents.  There are stories.  And pictures.  Remember that kids…


Kenta Shimizu seminar
Thank you Kenta Sensei!

Kenta Shimizu, Tendo Ryu dojo cho traveled from Japan to teach a seminar at SSA. It was a unique experience to train with a teacher of exceptional caliber.


Jeremy with nunchaku
Jeremy! No nunchucks!

Budo Tanren debuted.  In this class we teach how to develop a martial body that cultivates stability, power and efficient movement.  These are the basis for developing aiki skills.

And there are  more exciting things to come!

Good things happen at SSA because of the leadership of our board and the significant volunteer efforts of our teachers, students and their family members.  Every effort to help is very much appreciated.

Happy training!