Chief Instructor - Kayla Feder Sensei
Kayla Feder Sensei, 6th dan, is the Dojo Cho at Aikido of Berkeley. Kayla Sensei feel in love with Aikido at the age of 9 and has been dedicated to training continuously for 47 years. As a beginning student Kayla Sensei was greatly inspired by training with Morihiro Saito Shihan, an apprentice to and one of longest training students of O'Sensei. In 1980 Kayla Sensei traveled to Iwama, Japan to train with Saito Shihan as an uchi deshi. In subsequent trips to Japan Kayla Sensei trained with a number of other Shihan who trained under the founder. Kayla Sensei has also trained with and been strongly influenced by Doran Shihan, Nadeau Shihan, Saotome Shihan, and Ikeda Shihan.
Kayla Sensei has taught seminars throughout the US, Europe, and Israel. In addition to her Aikido accomplishments she received a Masters degree in Holistic Health Education from JFK University in 1998. She received the rank of 6th dan in 2004.
Kayla Sensei recognizes that we all have different bodies, historys, ages and learning styles. She is dedicated to making Aikido accessable for anyone who wants to train at Aikido of Berkeley and her teaching style supports the individual growth of each student. She has created a warm and welcoming community at Aikido of Berkeley. Kayla Sensei also includes yoga and meditation practices as part of the training at Aikido of Berkeley. She views Aikido as a holistic art and said that with Aikido, "There is no end to the growth and learning we can do on and off the mat".
Kayla Feder Sensei's press kit.
Bill Essig with Kayla Feder Sensei
Bill Essig has been training in martial pursuits for over 50 years. He began Aikido training in 1983 with Pat Hendricks Shihan 7th Dan and continued training at Aikido of San Leadro for 32 years. In 1992 as Ni-Dan he traveled to Iwama, Japan, to study with Morihiro Saito Shihan as uchi-deshi in the Founders Dojo.
After returning home, Morihiro Saito Shihan personally granted him the 3rd level Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo Transmission Scroll as well as direct promotion 3rd Dan, authorizing Essig to teach additional sections of the Aiki-Jo and Aiki-Ken. He was promoted to 5th Dan Aikikai (Kagami Baraki Jan 1, 2008). Essig has experience in teaching international seminars as well as day-to-day Keiko. He received a ”Shidoin” (Instructor) calligraphy from Hendricks Shihan in 2009.
In 2016 Essig started Aikido of Montclair Village. His experience on the mat is bolstered by his prior 19+ years of National and International competitive experience in European Fencing. He also has 3 years competitive experience cross-training in Kendo and has extensively cross-trained in other sports.
Currently Essig is the Dojo Cho at Aikido of Montclair Village and Weapons Instructor at Aikido of Berkeley (Friday evenings).
Lisi (third from left) and ukes for her Sandan exam, with Kayla Sensei
Lisi began training in 2000 with David Grudoski Sensei in El Cerrito and his sensei, Walter Muryasz Sensei, Kai Cho of Torrey Pines Aikikai in San Diego. Muryasz Sensei was a student of Koichi Tohei Sensei in the 1970’s and integrated Tohei’s ki development exercises with Taoist and Zen principles in creating his own organization, Seishin Aikido. Muryasz Sensei has been a major influence in shaping Lisi’s practice today. In 2012, Lisi began training with Kayla Feder Sensei and was awarded the rank of Sandan in 2018. From Kayla Sensei, Lisi has developed precision in Aikikai techniques, proficiency in Iwama-style weapons training, and a deep veneration for O'Sensei and his vision.
Lisi teaches on Saturday mornings. She emphasizes the important role of uke in delivering effective attacks, creative adaptability in how nage responds, and martial awareness. She leads fun, explorative, energetic classes accessible to students of all levels.
Rolando Morales with students from Berkeley High
Rolando Morales is a NuyoRican (New York Puerto Rican) who was raised in the Bronx in the 1970s. He began his interest in Aikido in 1990 after reading a little yellow book by O Sensei called "The Art of Peace". This led him on a journey to a dojo called the New York Aikikai and started to learn this wonderful art directly from Yamada Shihan and Sugano Shihan throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. He also had the privilege to learn from the inspired teachers that taught regularly; Konigsberg Shihan, Waite Shihan, Peyser Shidoin, and many others. He also had the honor to train at the Aikido of Park Slope dojo with Lehrman Shihan who generously collaborated with Feder Sensei to guide his Shodan as he made his transition to the Bay in 2009. He will always cherish Feder Sensei for her gracious generosity of spirit in welcoming him to her dojo.
He currently holds the rank of Nidan and is deeply honored to be given the opportunity to teach Sunday mornings. Rolando also teaches Aikido at Berkeley High School as a way of planting more seeds of harmony in the community. His approach to Aikido is rooted in tradition and enjoys branching out to explore the relationship of Aiki weapons and techniques, balanced with its relationship to Aiki philosophy and spirituality. He always ends his bendicions with "Paz y Amor."