Bruce Bookman, Chief Instructor,
My deep roots in traditional aikido (see my bio below) coupled with my belief that aikido is constantly evolving, allows me to offer each student the benefits of age old training methods and the spontaneity that comes with years of experimentation and reflection. While it is important to have a thorough understanding of the old techniques I feel that it is important not to let practice become stagnant. At the same time, without grounding in aikido's time honored traditions, the student can easily get lost in abstractions.
I teach from the basic premise that aikido will bring balance, health and a meditative, reflective element to ones life. Through aikido, people can get in touch with their own creativity and watch it unfold, not only on the mat but more importantly in daily life. This may be realized in ones improved ability to focus, in relating to others, in ones health and in being more effective. Moving with decisiveness and clarity are emphasized in my classes and often become a metaphor for how one moves through life.
Each class is an unplanned creation where I open to my creative Source and to the needs of the students who are present. As the class progresses, I find that I am able to tap into what is needed as I teach and practice with the students. As a result, the space that is created nourishes everyone, myself included. The founder of aikido, Morihei Uyeshiba, said that practice should always be done with a joyful spirit. By the end of an hour of practice, students usually find that they have dropped whatever burdens they may have been carrying when they walked in and that their mind, body and spirit are in a better place. Both teacher and student feel elated. This type of practice on a regular basis, over time has a profound effect on ones life.
Bruce Bookman's Bio
My aikido practice includes early influences of Yoshimitsu Yamada, and later practice under Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and other prominent teachers in Japan at the Aikikai Headquarters such as Osawa, Yamaguchi, Arikawa, and Tada Senseis. I spent 16 years practicing under T.K. Chiba Sensei, who was a very close disciple of Morihei Uyeshiba, the Founder of Aikido. For two of those years, I took private lessons with Chiba Sensei in Tokyo. During my stay in Japan I visited Iwama while Saito Sensei was still teaching and visited Nishio Sensei's community center dojo in Tokyo on several occasions. One person who I met only once but whom made an enormous impression on me was Shirata Sensei, during a weekend seminar at his dojo in Yamagata Prefecture. He was O'Sensei's oldest living student and one of the humblest and most kind-hearted teachers that I have ever met. In my opinion, his dojo was by far the friendliest place in Japan to practice as a visitor. During my childhood, I remember a week-long seminar in 1970 taught by Koichi Tohei, who was the chief instructor of Hombu dojo before he resigned to establish the Ki Society. Having Tohei, Yamada, Kanai and Maruyama (who later founded Kokikai Aikido) Senseis all sitting together to watch my 5th kyu test was the highpoint of my 12 year old life! In those days they tested one person at a time. At a young age I met Terry Dobson, O'sensei's first American live in student. I practiced with him during Terry's visits to the NY Aikikai and on trips that I made down to Terry's Bond Street Dojo. Those practice sessions and late night discussions were a real eye opener to me, as an impressionable 16 year old.
I have done extensive cross training in other martial arts including 12 years of Brazilian Jiu jitsu, 10 years of Iai-do (2 of those years studying with Takeishi Mitsuzuka Sensei in Tokyo), 2 years of Judo, 2 years of western boxing and 2 years of tea kwon do. I have practiced yoga on and off since childhood starting at Swami Satchindannada's Integral Yoga Institute in New York and later with Colette Crawford (my wife), Anna Forrest during her teacher training in Seattle and currently with Shari Friedrichsen when she teaches at the Seattle Holistic Center. Both Colette and I follow the teachings of Amritanandamayi, our beloved guru.
My aikido would be very different had I not met any of the teachers that I mentioned, regardless of how much time I actually spent with them, I feel a strong sense of gratitude towards each one!
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Chuck Montange, 4th Dan, Shidoin, began studying tae kwon do in 1984 in the Maryland
suburbs of the other Washington, and added some hap ki do in 1989. On recommendation
from his tkd instructors, upon moving to Seattle in 1992, he looked into aikido, and happily
switched to aikido under Bookman Sensei. He believes aikido by far the most interesting from
a philosophical point of view of all the martial systems. Aikido's ideas of blending and
harmonization as a means of addressing a physical confrontation are a powerful metaphor for
how to approach conflict situations of all sorts. He thinks it is simply impossible to exhaust the
opportunities aikido offers for physical and psychological challenges and development. Plus
the aikido students are an interesting and caring group of folks. He thinks it a great activity to
share with family members. Chuck has trained with all four of his children, two of whom are
now black belts.
Thomas Thompson, 3rd Dan
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Melissa Pittman-Fischer, 2nd Dan
My career was as a ballet dancer before I moved to Seattle and married my husband, Tam. I
began practicing Aikido because our two boys, Max and Casey, were in the children's
program and it looked like fun. It is! In 2004 I got my black belt from Bookman sensei here at
the Tenzan Aikido dojo.
I've been teaching either dancing or Aikido for nearly 30 years, including 10 years at the
Pacific Northwest Ballet school. At Tenzan dojo, I teach the preschoolers, the 6 and up kids,
adults and the parent/child Aikido classes which have a special place in my heart!
Tom Pantaleoni, 2nd Dan
My first dojo was in Ventura CA. under Sensei Dennis Belt. That was in 2000. Actually I had taken aikido about 16 years earlier in a college course. It had haunted me for all that time and I finally went back to it.
What is it about Aikido that keeps me coming back? There are a number of aspects that come to mind. As a practice, aikido is exhilarating – you get to be sent through the air and to send others through the air, which a lot of fun. You get sweaty and your heart beats fast and sometimes you want more air. And then you get to fly again. There is also a process of continually learning how the body moves and how it settles and how it interacts with other bodies. This exploration is done within a very friendly environment. read more...
Brigid, 2nd Dan
Brigid began training with Bookman Sensei in 2005. Brigid teaches the weapons (all levels) class on Tuesday nights (7:15 - 8:15 p.m.), and assists with the kids aikido program.
Chauncy Rothchild, 1st Dan
I joined the dojo after watching an advanced class over fifteen years ago and have been looking for the grace, fluidity and ease in themovements ever since I saw them that first night. When Bookman sensei asked me to help with the kids program I was both honored and nervous. Now nine years later I am comfortable and feel as if I am able to provide an enjoyable and safe class. They are super fun and I love working with them. I received my black belt from Bookman sensei in 2003 and also am very passionate about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu which I've studied for over fourteen years.
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Pete Wilkins, 1st Dan
I first became involved in martial arts when I was in grade school when I was about 6 years old.
Ted Kayahara, a Japanese man was a good friend of my parents. Ted used to see me rolling
around in our front yard and suggested to my parents that I get involved in Judo. He was one of
the black belt instructors at a local Dojo in Spokane. I participated in Judo for 4 years and really
enjoyed it. We did a lot of rolling and flips, similar to Aikido, and as a kid I loved this type of
activity. Although, only practicing for 4 years there continued to be this calling and interest in
martial arts and their philosophies. This started a life long journey that eventually led me to
Tenzan Aikido in 1990. I worked out at a gym near-by and would drive by the dojo on the way
home. I remember sitting at the light in front of the dojo and looking in through the window and
seeing everyone in their Gi (Uniform) doing rolls, being thrown and pinned. It reminded me so
much of when I was a kid and I had this longing to do that again. It took me a while to get the
courage to walk through the door but I finally did and feel so blessed that I have this art and
community in my life. I practiced Aikido with Sensei Bookman intensively for 2 years between
1990-92, however ended up getting away from it mostly because of non-stop business travel that lasted until 2003. Well the whole time I was traveling all over the country and world I always said to myself “One day I’m walking back through that door and doing Aikido again”. That opportunity came for me again in 2003 and it’s been non-stop ever since. I love Aikido because to me its not really about doing this move or that move but it’s a way to work with people in a way that preserves both individual’s dignities. It’s a way to view confrontation and bring resolution so we all win. It’s also to me an art that is fathomless. The deeper I go and the more I study the more I find out that I don’t know and how much I still have to learn. So that’s a little bit about me so if you find yourself reading this I hope to meet you on the mat one day. Blessings!
Jonathan Swift, 2nd Dan
Before coming to Sensei Bookman's dojo in 2005, I trained in Shito-Ryu Karate for several years with a very rigorous Japanese Instructor. His Karate was beautiful and practical and I missed the art. When I moved to Seattle, I looked at several schools. After watching one of Sensei Bookman's classes, I saw the same artistic qualities that I admired in my Karate instructor.
Teaching the children's classes makes my practice a little lighter. When the kids are having fun, I'm having fun. There are countless times when I can't help myself but to burst into laughter. It's a great feeling!
Stan Rawrysz, 2nd Dan
My first experience with aikido was while I was living in Germany in 1999. I was part of an
exchange program and was looking for something to do in my spare time. I had always been
interested in aikido, so I signed up for the once-a-week class. When I got to the first class, I
didn't understand what was being said, with a mix of Japanese and German being spoken, but
I found that I was able to fully participate because the common language was the movement.
Everyone was so friendly and patient. I was initially surprised that the senior members worked
with everyone, including the first-timers. There were no egos or anything to prove, only a love
of aikido and an eagerness to practice. When I came back to the U.S. and moved to Seattle, I
immediately joined a dojo only to injure my knee skiing a few months later. Life and work and
business took its course and it wasn't until 4 years later that I would walk onto the mat at
Tenzan in 2004. Since then, aikido has positively influenced my life, physically, emotionally,
and spiritually. I've been helping with the kids classes since 2006. Working with the kids has
been a truly rewarding experience. I learn as much from them about myself and about aikido as
they learn from me.
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Tenzan Aikido | 7700 Aurora Ave N | Seattle, WA 98103 | (206) 525-4032 | email@example.com