I'm Lia Suzuki, Founder and Director of Aikido Kenkyukai International USA ("AKI USA"), a nonprofit Aikido organization. I currently hold the rank of 6th dan through the Aikikai World Headquarters (Hombu Dojo) and travel extensively as a guest instructor, conducting Aikido seminars at dojos around the world.
I'm also the author of "The Teacher: Interview with Lia Suzuki (The Aiki Dialogues)", a 100-page paperback about my years in Japan, tips for attracting young people to Aikido, parallels between Aikido and horseback riding, and more.
My mission is to foster inclusion in the Aikido world and to increase Aikido’s popularity among those in their 20s and 30s.Get notified when I launch new courses.
About This Website
2020 turned our world upside down and inside out.
Many instructors scrambled to figure out new ways of teaching. Students had to adapt to new ways of learning. And dojo owners and leaders struggled to support their dojo members. Sadly, some dojos closed permanently.
I myself, continued my training during this period. I continued teaching my students, and I was able to support my students during what was a very challenging time for them. I even gained some new students during those pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
I created my Virtual Dojo back in 2017.
Here on this site, I'll be sharing what has worked for me and what hasn't so that you don't make the same mistakes I made. You'll find content that is relevant and useful to you, whether you are an Aikido student, instructor, or dojo owner.
Feel free to reach out to me directly. Let me know your individual struggles so I can provide you with appropriate solutions.
I began my Aikido training in 1982, under William Gleason Sensei. This quickly led to me moving to Japan (ranked at 3rd kyu!) to train with Yoshinobu Takeda Shihan, one of Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei's most accomplished students.
I lived in Japan and attended Aikido classes almost daily from 1987 to 1996, studying the language and culture, as well.
At Takeda Shihan’s urging, I returned to start dojos in the USA in 1996.
Now I direct my energies between AKI USA headquarters in Los Angeles and the other dojos under my direction. And of course, I continue to travel regularly to Japan to train with Takeda Shihan and his senior students.
I believe that people respond best and make the most progress when their effort is recognized and appreciated. I strive to "meet the student where they are", celebrating their accomplishments, both big and small, and then raise the bar to encourage further progress, development, and exploration, all while maintaining a safe space for them.
I believe as much as possible in giving students guidance to find answers themselves, rather than simply giving them answers.
These things require that people feel safe, both physically and emotionally. So the development of a nurturing community is also extremely important.
As for the physical training of Aikido, I strive to do as little talking as possible and as much moving as possible. In this way, I hope to foster an active and intense, yet meditative atmosphere in the class. Our study focuses on structure within movement and the development of imperceptible, yet undeniable power in our technique.
Since founding AKI USA in 1996, I've led various philanthropic and social projects and initiatives.
Here are just a few:
- Co-Founded Aiki Conflict Transformation, employing Aikido principles in addressing substance abuse and emotional/behavioral problems.
- Aiki Conflict Transformation Workshop Series for psychologists, counselors, and educators at Penn Foundation Mental Health Facility.
- Aiki Conflict Transformation Workshop Series at La Morada Women’s Correctional Facility in Santa Barbara, California
- Aikido for Veterans: Co-Instructor for the inaugural seminar in Boulder, CO with the late Tom Osborn Sensei, Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei, and others.
- Aikido Kenkyukai International USA Youth Scholarship Program, making our programs available to low-income children.