Our Story

Our Story

Founded in 2002 by Haruo Matsuoka and Josh Gold, Ikazuchi Dojo is dedicated to promoting personal transformation through the art of aikido. We seek to preserve the heritage, traditions, and spirit of the art and its founder, and we use every resource available to innovate, refine, and elevate what it means to be a traditional martial arts dojo. We never stop questioning our assumptions and methods; we embrace how much we have to learn and grow. 

We are relentlessly committed to quality and innovation in our training programs, offering meaningful cultural experiences, and building a strong and supportive community. Our members range in age from 9-80, speak 20 different languages, draw from a variety of professional backgrounds, and include relative newcomers and decades-long practitioners. A truly diverse membership, we are united in our shared desire to cultivate a community that is open and welcoming to anyone who seeks a personal journey of growth and transformation through practice of the martial arts. 

In addition to our traditional aikido program, we design and operate special events and custom training programs for leading organizations like Blizzard Entertainment and The Thales Group.

We are also the new home of Aikido Journal, the world’s leading aikido media publication. Founded in 1974 by Stanley Pranin, the journal’s online community reaches enthusiasts across 40 countries, transcending differences in geography, culture, political affiliation, and technical style.

Ikazuchi Dojo is part of the Aikido Doshinokai Association, affiliated with the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

-Stanley Pranin thought Ikazuchi Dojo was a special place

-Read how we think about building our team

meet our team
Haruo Matsuoka

Haruo Matsuoka

Chief Instructor | Co-founder

Haruo Matsuoka

Haruo Matsuoka

Chief Instructor | Co-founder

Haruo Matsuoka (6th dan) is Chief Instructor and co-founder of Ikazuchi Dojo. He has 40 years of aikido training and has been a full time, professional aikido instructor since graduating from college in Japan. With a resolute focus on deepening his understanding of the art of aikido, Matsuoka Sensei focuses heavily on research and development. Having established exchange programs with some of the world’s great martial arts masters, he has ongoing dialogues and training sessions with legendary martial artists Dan Inosanto (one of Bruce Lee’s top students and best friends) and Kenji Yamaki (Kyokushin Karate World Champion). Matsuoka Sensei travels to Japan annually to strengthen our connection to the Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo and to further his own training. He continues to lead seminars in the US and internationally, but limits these events to maintain focus on his own development and that of his most senior disciples. Matsuoka Sensei was a direct student of Seiseki Abe Sensei, 10th dan (1915-2011), one of the closest and highest ranking disciples of the founder of Aikido. His aikido has appeared in numerous feature films and was an instrumental catalyst in bringing awareness of aikido to the United States after moving to America in the 1980s with Steven Seagal, his first aikido teacher.

Josh Gold

Josh Gold

Assistant Chief Instructor | Co-founder

Josh Gold

Josh Gold

Assistant Chief Instructor | Co-founder

Josh (4th dan), is Assistant Chief Instructor and co-founder of Ikazuchi Dojo. Josh began his aikido training under Matsuoka Sensei in 1991 and has been his direct disciple for over 25 years. Under the direction of Matsuoka Sensei, Josh manages dojo operations, leads the development of Ikazuchi’s programs, and supports the dojo’s team of instructors. Josh also serves as Executive Editor of Aikido Journal, the world's leading source of aikido media and research for over 40 years. Additionally, Josh has over 15 years of entrepreneurial and executive management experience. He has founded a series of start-ups and led special projects for clients such as Intel, Sony, Disney, Nissan Motors, and DreamWorks

Wes Watkins

Wes Watkins

Instructor

Wes Watkins

Wes Watkins

Instructor

Wes (3rd dan) was mesmerized by the martial arts since childhood, but it wasn’t until inspiration struck in 1996 that he decided to try Aikido. He was hooked after the first class and has been a dedicated martial artist since. Wes began training under Matsuoka Sensei in 2000 and received his sandan at Ikazuchi Dojo in 2015. Wes also still trains under David Dye Sensei, the instructor that introduced him to the art in 1996. Wes is one of the rare martial artists who can learn and excel in two styles simultaneously. After over 15 years of martial arts, Wes remains focused on polishing his technical capabilities, but also strives to apply the insight and wisdom gained from his training to his daily life.

James Young

James Young

Instructor

James Young

James Young

Instructor

James (3rd dan) developed an interest in Japanese culture and martial arts that inspired him to begin aikido in 1994 at Cal Poly Pomona. He continued his study at Waseda University in Tokyo and frequently trained at Aikido World Headquarters while living in Japan. Over the years, James has traveled extensively to attend seminars and learned from many of aikido’s highest ranking masters. James joined Ikazuchi Dojo in 2001 after moving to Orange County and received his sandan from Matsuoka Sensei in 2015. James is an operations management professional in the medical device industry. He speaks fluent Japanese.

Chris Jones

Chris Jones

Instructor

Chris Jones

Chris Jones

Instructor

Chris (sandan) began his aikido practice at the University of Kansas in 1989. His enthusiasm for the art later inspired him to grow the University of Kansas aikido club into one of the largest student-run organizations on campus. In 2000, after living in Germany for a year, Chris moved to Irvine and began studying under Matsuoka Sensei. Chris holds the rank of sandan in Ki Society aikido, and also received the rank of sandan from Matsuoka Sensei in 2017. Chris has an excellent sense of body structure and dynamics. In addition to over 20 years of martial arts training, Chris has actively practiced gymnastics for 20 years.

Sven Thilo

Sven Thilo

Instructor

Sven Thilo

Sven Thilo

Instructor

Sven Thilo (nidan), was exposed to aikido in his home country of Germany in the 1990’s. “Thilo” received his nidan (2nd degree black belt) from Matsuoka Sensei in 2014. His classes focus on refining and polishing technical details and cultivating a bushido spirit. Thilo has extensive world travel experience, having explored Europe, South America, North America, Asia, and Australia. His global perspective brings unique color and insights to the dojo community. Thilo speaks fluent German.

Todd Porter

Todd Porter

Instructor

Todd Porter

Todd Porter

Instructor

Todd (nidan) began his aikido training at Ikazuchi Dojo in 2004 and received his nidan from Matsuoka Sensei in 2016. Initially, Todd was motivated to begin his training as a way of improving physical fitness and mental discipline. However, aikido soon took on a much greater significance in Todd’s life. Todd, and his wife, Diane Cu, are published authors, run a successful food photography blog, and operate a professional photography studio, supporting clients such as Whole Foods, La Brea Bakery and Blue Bottle.

Anastasia Shuba

Anastasia Shuba

Instructor

Anastasia Shuba

Anastasia Shuba

Instructor

Anastasia “Nastia” Shuba (nidan) began her Aikido training in 2005 and received her nidan from Matsuoka Sensei in 2016. With over a decade of experience, Nastia is our youngest instructor. She enjoys researching new training methodologies and how other martial arts (namely BJJ and Kali) can be used to enhance Aikido. Nastia is a PhD candidate in Computer Engineering at the University of California, Irvine

Jason Ramsay

Jason Ramsay

Instructor

Jason Ramsay

Jason Ramsay

Instructor

Jason (nidan) started at Ikazuchi in 2007 and received his second degree black belt from Matsuoka Sensei in 2017. Since beginning aikido, he has maintained a dedicated and consistent practice, training five days a week. He is committed to his own development as a martial artist, and is equally dedicated to the development of his fellow dojo students. Jason is the founder of a successful regional flooring company. He uses aikido principles to improve his business, and structures his business to provide him with a work / life balance that allows him to pursue his path as a martial artist.

Billy Vincenty

Billy Vincenty

Instructor

Billy Vincenty

Billy Vincenty

Instructor

Billy (shodan) began his aikido training in 2010 and received his black belt from Matsuoka Sensei in 2015. Billy grew up fast on the rough streets of the South Bronx, N.Y. In 1971, his martial arts journey began with the study of Shotokan karate as a necessary self-defense and personal empowerment skill. Billy received his karate nidan in 1983 and now has over 25 years of experience in the art. While impressed by aikido at an early age, Billy didn’t begin formal training in the art until age 52. By the time he walked into Ikazuchi Dojo as a beginner, he’d already internalized some of the most important foundational concepts of the martial arts – shinken shobu (life or death attitude), maai (distance and timing), and zanshin (continuous presence and awareness). Today, his love for aikido and teaching stems from his drive to give back and help others build self-empowerment through training in the art. Billy also has an affinity for dance and along with his wife Adela, has competed in many styles of dance. Billy and his wife of 32 years hail their best accomplishment as the raising of their two accomplished, loving daughters.

Dave Lee

Dave Lee

Instructor

Dave Lee

Dave Lee

Instructor

David (shodan) started training at Ikazuchi Dojo in 2008 and received his black belt from Matsuoka Sensei in 2014. Dave started aikido primarily as a way to practice martial arts with his son, but quickly found a deep connection to the art. Over the years, as his experience and understanding has grown, he’s been able to apply many aikido principles in his business life. As an entrepreneur, he’s used his training to help him grow and improve his web development company.

Karen Kim

Karen Kim

Instructor

Karen Kim

Karen Kim

Instructor

Karen Kim (shodan) started training at Ikazuchi Dojo in 2013. She received her black belt in 2017 from Matsuoka Sensei. Karen has a PhD in the humanities and almost two decades of teaching experience at the university level. As someone with no prior martial arts experience, Karen has been especially drawn to aikido’s martial principles of peaceful resolution of conflict and the exploration of these principles in everyday life off the mat. She enjoys both the challenges and the insights about interpersonal dynamics that teaching aikido has to offer.

Setsuko Okumura

Setsuko Okumura

Program Director

Setsuko Okumura

Setsuko Okumura

Program Director

Setsuko (shodan) is Program Director at Ikazuchi Dojo. She is responsible for planning and scheduling seminars, workshops, special programs, ranking tests, and other dojo events. Setsuko was originally introduced to the art in 1999 through the practice of Ki Aikido, which emphasizes “ki – positive energy” extension. She was fascinated by the notion of applying this concept to daily life and was inspired by Koichi Tohei sensei’s philosophy. Setsuko began training under Matsuoka Sensei in 2012 and received her shodan at Ikazuchi Dojo in 2017.

Anne Lee

Anne Lee

Instructor | Director of Operations

Anne Lee

Anne Lee

Instructor | Director of Operations

Anne is Director of Operations at Ikazuchi Dojo, and also serves as the dojo’s yoga instructor. She has been a dedicated yoga practitioner since 2009 and shares her knowledge in the form of flexibility and strength building classes. Anne received her 200 hour instructor certification from Samrat Dasgupta at Pure Yoga in Hong Kong. Her classes are excellent for general health and body alignment, but emphasis is placed on providing valuable cross training benefits to martial artists and others practicing a discipline requiring mind-body coordination and core stability. Anne speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. She also serves as a photo journalist for Aikido Journal

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