Meet Our Instructors

Instructors at Kobukan are certified to teach by AYANA and the Head Instructor, Akira Kushida-sensei, on an annual basis, and most have graduated from a 20-month instructor training course. The Kobukan is fortunate to have several instructors who each bring their own individual styles to their Aikido instruction, while maintaining the integrity of Yoshokai Aikido techniques.

Kristin Maier, Kobukan Head Instructor

3rd degree black belt (sandan)

Began training in 1988, including graduating from two instructor training courses under the direction of Kushida-sensei. Certified since 1995 as an instructor in Yoshokai Aikido.

“Studying aikido under Kushida-sensei has been a source of great joy, peace, and ever deepening challenge. The teaching methodology of Yoshokai Aikido is solid; an emphasis on safety, mutual respect, and technical precision allows students to enjoy authentic and compelling techniques with a spirit of harmony and good feeling.”

Eric Schlichting, Head Youth Instructor

Junior-2nd degree black belt (jun-nidan)

Started training in Aikido in 2002 at the University of Michigan Aikido Club in Ann Arbor. Attended both University of Michigan and Genyokan (AYANA headquarters) Aikido classes. Awarded Outstanding Class Attendance in Ann Arbor from 2005 to 2008 from AYANA. Became a certificated instructor in 2008. Began training at Kobukan in 2009.

“Aikido became one of my main foundations for learning and personal growth when I was in college. Through the many relationships made and the lessons taught to me by my seniors and the head instructors of AYANA, I feel privileged to have found Kushida-sensei’s Aikido at the time I did in my life. I hope as I move forward in life I can return the favor to my instructors by giving the knowledge and the relationships I have come to know over the years to others.”

Skip Dykoski

1st degree black belt (shodan)

Training in Yoshokai Aikido since 1996, certified instructor since 2002. Participated in and graduated from more than three instructor training courses. Ph.D. in physics helps me understand the mechanics, dynamics, forces and energy of aikido. 35 years of yoga meditation practice helps me meld Aikido into meditation in action.

“We stumble through life, fearful of this and attracted to that, never quite sure which way to turn. What I have found helpful in bringing this aimlessness into more order is a practice that day by day, year by year, stabilizes the mind by stabilizing the body. In that calm we can make more sense out of life. Then we can become truly compassionate and sensitive and loving to those around us, and life becomes joyous. Aikido stabilizes the body and thus the mind and allows our hearts to open up.”

Jennifer Koper

1st degree black belt (shodan)

Training in Yoshokai Aikido since 1994, certified instructor since 2002. Participated in and graduated from two instructor training courses.

“This particular style of Aikido starts with a very step-by-step learning process, which emphasizes precise, dynamic movement as well as safety. There are also lectures about Japanese Samurai history and the philosophy of Aikido, “The Way of Harmony.”  I really like that we focus on creating harmony in our relationships and in society, and not on neutralizing an attack, even though we train hard and can have very aerobic classes. This is not about self-defense, but about self-improvement. And we have fun throwing each other around!”