Aikido of Santa Cruz

True Victory is Victory Over Oneself

Aikido of Santa Cruz
306 Mission Street,
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 423-8326
fax: (831) 423-6156
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Instructors

Linda Holiday Sensei

Linda Holiday Sensei
Rokudan (6th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikido in 1970

Linda Holiday, 6th dan, is the chief instructor of Aikido of Santa Cruz. For over 40 years, she has devoted herself to teaching and developing Aikido in Santa Cruz. She is a senior teacher of Aikido in the West, and the author of the book Journey to the Heart of Aikido: The Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei.

In 1970, in the early years of Aikido in America, Linda began her study of Aikido as a first-year student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1973, she moved to Japan to receive instruction from the generation of Japanese Aikido teachers who had studied directly with the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei. She was one of the first Westerners to live in the remote Kumano area of Japan, the birthplace of O-Sensei, and undertake rigorous physical and spiritual practice there. She trained in Japan for several years, studying Aikido and Japanese language, culture, and traditional practices. Those early years of shugyo (intensive training) in Japan inspired Linda Sensei to dedicate her life to the martial art, spiritual discipline, and profound path of peace that is Aikido.

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Glen Kimoto Sensei

Glen Kimoto Sensei
Rokudan (6th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikido in 1969

“I started Aikido in 1969 with Robert Frager Sensei and Frank Doran Sensei in Santa Cruz. Delightfully, they have continued to be my teachers and my source of inspiration. Along the way I have been very fortunate to receive instruction from Stan Pranin Sensei, Jack Wada Sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei and Motomichi Anno Sensei. Anno Sensei has made many visits to the Santa Cruz Summer Retreat and has been a major influence on my aikido and my personal growth.

At the beginning of my Aikido journey, I was motivated solely by a desire to become proficient in the physical art. That attitude was an outgrowth of previous training as well as my personal mindset. Fortunately, after a few years of Aikido, it became very clear that ‘true victory’ was not physical. My journey along the Path continues.”

Alan Holiday Sensei

Alan Holiday, MA, MFT, PPS
Godan (5th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikido in 1977

Alan Holiday began his Aikido practice during his first quarter of college at UCSC in 1977. He has trained with Linda Holiday Sensei and Glen Kimoto Sensei since that time. Alan has also studied with Anno Sensei, Hikitsuchi Sensei, Tojima Sensei, Yanase Sensei, Terry Dobson Sensei, Saotome Sensei, and Kato Sensei, all direct students of the founder of Aikido. Alan is a member of the original small group that founded Aikido of Santa Cruz (then called North Bay Aikido) in 1982. For sixteen years he ran the dojo youth classes, during which time he expanded the program to include a younger kids’ class and a teen class – programs which continue to the present. Professionally, Alan is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a credentialed school counselor. Alan has twenty years’ experience as a middle school counselor where the practice of Aikido was essential for helping to foster growth and harmony among adolescents and their parents, teachers and administrators.

 

 

David Sofen Sensei

David Sofen
Godan (5th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikido in 1984

David began his Aikido training with Steve Davalos Sensei in Carmel Valley in 1984. He moved to Santa Cruz in 1986 and has trained ever since, inspired by his teachers Anno Sensei, Linda Holiday Sensei, Glen Kimoto Sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei, and others. A practicing physician, David uses Aikido daily in his practice, attempting to touch the center and blend with each patient. He also uses his training to teach physicians communication skills, empathy, and compassion. He met his wife Jeanne (Yondan) on the mat 30 years ago, and "She keeps me in line."

Dennis Wheeler Sensei

Dennis Wheeler
Godan (5th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikido in 1989

Dennis began training at Aikido of Santa Cruz in 1989. He also has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Dennis’ teaching focuses on connection, presence, and continuous energetic lines. His training is deeply influenced by Anno Sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei, and Linda Holiday Sensei. Dennis has been a firefighter, lumberjack, vintner, and worked high steel. His Aikido practice is rooted in a deep appreciation of the present moment, and draws inspiration from nature and human interactions.

 

Aimen Al-Refai Sensei

Aimen Al-Refai
Godan (5th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikdio in 1988

Aimen Al-Refai was introduced to Aikido in 1988, in Missouri. He then spent five years at Musubi Dojo in southern California, studying intensively under Susan Perry and Ron Rubin Senseis. Since 1994, Aimen has trained at Aikido of Santa Cruz, under Linda Holiday and Glen Kimoto Senseis, and has been inspired as well by the instruction of others, including Motomichi Anno Sensei (8th dan) and Mary Heiny Sensei (7th dan). Aimen serves as the Assistant Chief Instructor of ASC, coordinating many programs and supporting chief instructor Linda Holiday. Since 1995, Aimen has been the chief instructor of our Aikido for Teens program, inspiring many young people to dedicate themselves to the practice of Aikido.

 

Neil Mick Sensei

Neil Mick
Yondan (4th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikido in 1984

Neil began training in 1984 as an independent study for college, separate from a dojo. When he graduated, he resumed his training in Aikido of Baltimore, receiving his Shodan in 1990. Shortly after, he moved to the Bay Area and was introduced to the Bay Area Aikido community, training under several notable Senseis throughout the '90s. He cross-trained in capoeira during the mid-'90s. In 2002 Aikido in Santa Cruz became Neil's "home" dojo. Between 2005-2009 he was active as a board member of Aiki-Extensions, helping organize the first international Training Across Borders seminar, in Cyprus. Today he continues his study of Aikido, receiving his Yondan certificate in 2016.

 

Jeanne Sofen Sensei

Jeanne Sofen
Yondan (4th degree black belt)

Began training in Aikido in 1988

Jeanne Sofen began her study of Aikido in 1988 at Aikido of Santa Cruz. She enjoys teaching weekly and was on the Board of Directors for more than ten years. Her practice focuses on exploring techniques, cultivating awareness of her body, mind, spirit, and that of her partner, and training with gratitude. She is inspired by her teachers Linda Holiday Sensei and Glen Kimoto Sensei, as well as Motomichi Anno Sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei, Richard Strozzi Heckler Sensei, and others. Jeanne has been fortunate to practice with Anno Sensei in Shingu Japan, and has participated in many workshops including Training Across Borders in Loutraki, Greece in 2015. She is a professional artist, painting imagery from nature. Jeanne is especially grateful that on her first day of Aikido, she met the man who would become her husband-David Sofen- at the time a blue belt helping in the Beginning class!

 

Instructors for Youth Classes

Aimen Al-Refai Sensei

Aikido for Teens: Aimen Al-Refai
Godan (5th degree black belt)

Aimen Al Refai has been the chief instructor of our Teen Classes since 1996. Aimen is a highly skilled Aikidoist and an experienced teacher of young people. He first taught Aikido classes for kids at Musubi Dojo in southern California. Aimen joined us here in Santa Cruz in 1993, and has become one of our senior black belt instructors. Aimen Sensei has an engaging, humorous style of teaching, complemented by his serious focus and a wonderful 'presence', which draws young people in and leads them along the path of Aikido.

 

Lousie Alaniz Sensei

Aikido for Young People (6-9 and 9-12 years): Louise Alaniz Nidan (2nd degree black belt)

Louise Alaniz is the chief instructor of the 6-9 and 9-12 year old classes. She has been teaching in the youth programs for many years. Louise brings a wonderful sense of energy, dedication, focus, and enthusiasm with her each time she steps onto the mat. And she clearly loves working with young people in Aikido! Louise says, "I am really blessed and fortunate to get to participate in the youth classes. It's like drinking from a wishing well. So many capable young hands, strong hearts, and creative minds, practicing kindness, patience, focus, and ferocious courage with each other-- they give me courage and confidence in the future of our community."

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