James Graves, 6th Dan, Shidoin
Jim started Aikido in 1981 at Mount Pleasant Aikido. During this time, he had the opportunity to travel the world and train with many of Morihei Ueshiba’s original students, including a brief stint as a live-in student with the late Morihiro Saito Shihan, 9th Dan in Iwama, Japan. Jim began teaching Aikido in 1985 and became chief instructor of Mount Pleasant Aikido shortly after. After moving to Los Angeles, he became an assistant instructor at Aikido Center of Los Angeles. In 1991, he cofounded City Aikido of Los Angeles, where he remained a senior instructor until 2014. In 2015, Jim reestablished Southland Aikido in the Los Angeles area, a dojo he originally founded in the early nineties where he taught until he matriculated for graduate school.
Aris Stamatelaky, 4th Dan
Aris began Aikido in 1963 at the Manila Aikido Club, then under the direction of the late Koichi Tohei Shihan (10th Dan Aikikai; Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Founder) who awarded him his 1 Dan in 1967. After moving to the U.S. in 1969, he trained briefly at New York Aikikai, then he moved to Los Angeles where he trained at several dojo prior to joining City Aikido of Los Angeles in 1993 with Kazuho Nishida Shihan, 6th Dan and Jim Graves Sensei. He studied Iaido with Kazuo Chiba Shihan, 8th Dan and is the dojo Iaido and lead bukiwaza instructor.
Victor Rodriguez, 4th Dan, Fukushidoin
Victor began his Aikido training in 1985 at Aikido Center of Los Angeles. He tested for his 1 Dan in 1988 and became an assistant instructor shortly thereafter. In 1993, Victor continued his study at City Aikido of Los Angeles with Kazuho Nishida Shihan, where he held the chief instructor position for several years. In 2015, he continued his practice under the guidance of Jim Graves Sensei. He considers Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan, 8th dan and the late Mitsunari Kanai Shihan, 8th dan as his primary influences.
Tom Ito, 3rd Dan, Fukushidoin
Tom began practicing Aikido at Pasadena Aikikai in 1997, then he continued his practice at City Aikido of Los Angeles with Kazuho Nishida Shihan, where he received all his dan grades to date under Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan. In 2015, he continued his practice under the guidance of Jim Graves Sensei.
Rod Yabut, 3rd Dan, Fukushidoin
Rod started his Aikido practice in 1999 under Henry Oshiro Sensei. After moving to Los Angeles, he continued his study under Kazuho Nishida Shihan, then subsequently carrying on with Jim Graves Sensei in 2015. Rod is ranked sandan, conferred directly by Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan.