Bill Smythe Sensei, 5th Dan
Bill Sensei is the Chief Instructor of the Aikido Arts Center and was awarded “Shidoin” (Certified Instructor) by the Takemusu Aikido Association. He began his Aikido training in 1978 with Robert Nadeau Shihan in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1985, he began studying Iwama Style Aikido with Wolfgang Baumgartner Sensei in Tahoe City, CA. “Iwama Style Aikido spoke to my need for precision and power from many years of racing and teaching alpine skiing.” Bill blends his martial arts skills with his professional skills as a Somatic Psychologist and Rolfing® practitioner since 1979. His greatest passion in teaching is to further the development of the whole person through learning to respond flexibly and gracefully with the pressures and conflicts of everyday life.
Paolo Giudici, 4th Dan
Paolo holds a fourth-degree Black belt in Takemusu Aikido, awarded by Wolfgang Baumgartner Sensei; a second-degree Black belt in Seidokan Aikido, awarded by Rod Kobayashi Shihan and is the former Chief Instructor of the Aikido Institute of New Mexico in Santa Fe and Silver City. He began his Aikido training in 1985 with Fujimoto Sensei in Milan, Italy. He is in private practice with Santa Fe Psychotherapy & Consulting. He’s been awarded “Shidoin” (Certified Assistant Instructor) by the Takemusu Aikido Association.
Frauke Rininsland, 3rd Dan
Frauke Rininsland, 3rd Dan began her Aikido training in 1995 in Cleveland, OH and received her Shodan in 2000 from Saotome Sensei, Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. Frauke joined the Aikido Arts Center in 2005 and teaches with special emphasis on weapons practice. Frauke holds a PhD in experimental biology and is a biotechnology entrepreneur who applies Aikido as a vitally important means to her integration of body and mind. She has been awarded “Fukushidoin” (Certified Assistant Instructor) by the Takemusu Aikido Association.
Steve Burrell, 3rd Dan
Steve holds a third-degree black belt in Takemusu Aikido. He began training in Aikido in 2004 at the Aikido of Santa Fe dojo and trained there for several years. He received his Shodan in 2008. Steve joined the Aikido Arts Center in 2011. He enjoys practicing “Iwama Style” Aikido because of the emphasis it places on developing strong basic movements and precision. He also practices qigong and tai chi and feels that they complement his Aikido practice. Steve is a former Naval officer, holds an MBA in Finance and is a contractor with the state of New Mexico. He has been awarded “Fukushidoin” (Certified Assistant Instructor) by the Takemusu Aikido Association.
Steve Merlan, 4th Dan
Steve, whose family settled in Taos in the 1940s, spent thirty years working in Silicon Valley. There he began training with Robert Nadeau Shihan in 1988 and after moving to Redwood City studied under Frank Doran Shihan from 1990 to 2010. He trained as well at Hombu Dojo in Tokyo on trips to Japan with groups of California aikidoka, and trained with the Doshu during his visits to California. After coming home to New Mexico at the end of 2010 Steve joined the Aikido Arts Center. He enjoys exploring and teaching the connections between the Hombu (Ueshiba family) and Iwama (Saito family) approaches to aikido and its traditions.
Galen Hutchison, 3rd Dan
Galen began his Aikido training over 16 years ago and assists Bill Sensei in teaching the kids program. He is an actor, stuntman, and screenwriter having performed in numerous plays and movies.