History InstructorsJason Yim and Rob Okun grew up in Mill Valley, California and began their Aikido journey some forty years ago at the old Mill Valley Recreation Center in 1973, at the age of fifteen. After the closure of the Rec Center Aikido Classes, they began to train under Bill Witt Shihan, 8th dan, at the Aikido of San Francisco Dojo (Turk Street Dojo). Witt Shihan trained in Honbu Dojo, Tokyo, from 1967, and studied under O-Sensei, Founder of Aikido and Saito Morihiro Shihan, 9th dan. Upon O-Sensei passing in 1969, Witt Shihan studied extensively at the Iwama Dojo, Ibaraki, Japan under Saito Shihan. Witt Shihan was the first foreigner, to be invited to train at the Iwama Dojo, location of the Aiki Shrine in Ibakaki Prefecture, Japan and paved the path for future international students to train there. As during O-Sensei times, training at his dojo was by invitation only. A letter of introduction from a known teacher was always needed. To this day this custom is still observed at the Iwama Dojo.
In 1974, Saito Shihan made his first international trip and instructed at the Aikido of San Francisco Dojo. Jason and Rob were provided introductions and subsequently made their first trip to the Iwama Dojo in September, 1976, where they received their shodan certificate (1st dan) from Saito Shinan. Jason and Rob continued to made trips to Iwama throughout the 1970's and 1980's. The duration of these trips was approximately 3 years of study where they served as uchi deshi (live-in students). During these years they were both privileged to serve as Saito Shihan's main uke (demonstration partners) and Rob was one of Saito Shihan's primary translators. Jason had the honor to serve Saito Shihan as uke during the publication of his technical manuals for the Aiki Journal. Rob had the honor of serving Saito Shihan as uke at the 1981 All Japan Aikido Embukai (Demonstration).
Today, Jason and Rob continue to study under Witt Shihan at Aikido Silicon Valley and Hans Goto Sensei, 7th dan, of Bay Marin Aikido. In 1973, Goto Sensei became the first non Japanese to serve as uchi deshi in Iwama for one year.
In October, 2014, Jason and Rob returned to their roots and established Mill Valley Aikido. They hold Advanced Weapons certification from Saito Shihan and Shidoin (Certified Instructor) from Takemusu Aikido Association.