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Birankai North America
Annual Report

Fiscal year: Jan-Dec 2020

Together We Adapt

Birankai North America

We are an association of Aikido practitioners and dojos founded by T.K. Chiba, Shihan,
forged by rigorous training, tempered by mutual respect,

and committed to the relentless pursuit of the art.

We Are A Community of Practice

Image Credit: Thea Oatman

44 Dojos

Birankai North America
has 41 affiliated schools
in the U.S., plus 3 in Canada.

Data from member dojos
as of February 2020

Image Credit: Thea Oatman

91 Certified Instructors

14 shihan
48 shidoin
29 fukushidoin

Data from member dojos
as of February 2020

Members_ third panel - HeinsSenseiprofile072020
Image Credit: Thea Oatman

496 Members

Membership consists of approximately
273 yudansha ranks and
223 kyu ranks

Data from member dojos
as of July 2020

Letter from our President


As martial artists, we train for an attack from any direction, but it’s a safe bet that most of us did not see coming the attack of a lifetime – from Covid-19. After a conventional start to 2020, we started to live a new reality of shutdowns, lockdowns, social distancing and masking. Dojos across the country closed their doors, and many teachers began experimenting with offering aikido classes on Zoom and Facebook Live. Outdoor, virtual, and weapons classes became the norm. Tenkan, and learn to adapt.

Yet even as we have gained proficiency in Zoom and the weapons curriculum, Birankai teachers and members struggled greatly during 2020. Several of our dojos have closed, some permanently. Many others faced serious financial difficulties. We have lost members. Camps and seminars were cancelled. It is not yet clear what the long-term impact will be on aikido in general.

The news is not all bad. We learned that the “glue” of a dojo is not its physical location, but the relationships of the teachers and students, and the desire to maintain those relationships and some semblance of training, even in a pandemic. “Dojo” is not just a place, but a community, a locus of stability, an oasis. BNA teachers shared best practices for teaching online. Many also shared their actual virtual classes. Aspects of Birankai 2025, our vision for the future, are already growing and getting stronger.

In 2020, Birankai partnered with Aikido Journal to produce an online training course from videos and documents of Chiba Sensei. This will be released in 2021, and provide a new way to access the teachings of Chiba Sensei. The Teachers’ Council held its first-ever election for chair via Zoom, and John Brinsley was elected. Teachers across the organization continued to converse about ways to structure Birankai for increased effectiveness, and greater opportunities for training. –  More about details in report – 

As I write this in mid-April 2021, people across the countries are receiving vaccines in record numbers. Many dojo are slowly returning to more normal practice, and it is expected that we will return to full training later in the year. Birankai governing bodies will be looking at how to best support our teachers as we transition to a new normal. 

As always, we welcome your thoughts. Feel free to contact any board member to share your thoughts about your dojo, Birankai, or aikido in general.

– Deb Pastors, President

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BNA Membership by Region 2020

BNA Dojos and Members by Geographic Region*
(*Canadian Dojos are grouped with the Pacific NW Region)  

AnnlRept-2020_Active BNA Instructors

BNA Active Instructors 2020

Teaching Rank, Age Group and Gender*
(*Gender Data collected per Aikikai Hombu Dojo Requirement)

Thank You To Our Volunteers

We are a community driven by volunteerism, and we are enriched through the volunteer efforts of our members. 
BNA maintained just one part-time administrative employee in 2020. 

BNA members of all ranks and all ages have generously given of their time, energy and talents in 2020. They are the hands and heart of the organization. Some serve as community volunteers, some lead team projects or administer programs, and others serve in governance to set direction and initiate community projects.

Volunteers in BNA Governance

Birankai North America is governed by three bodies
The Senior Council, the Teachers’ Council and the Board of Directors.

All of the roles in these governing bodies are filled by volunteers!

The Senior Council (SC)

Consists of all active BNA Shihan, plus the Chair of the Teachers’ Council.

Officers of the Senior Council in 2020 included:

• Chair of Senior Council: Frank Apodaca, transitioned to Robert Savoca
• Deputy Chair of Senior Council: David Stier
• Senior Advisor: Elizabeth Lynn,  transitioned to Darrell Bluhm 
• Liaison to Hombu Dojo: John Brinsley (Shidoin)

The Teachers Council (TC)

Made up of all active BNA Shidoin, plus Fukushidoin, who are Chief Instructors of a dojo

2020 Officers of the Teachers Council:

• TC Chair:  John Brinsley
• TC Secretary:  Eric Doss

The Board of Directors (BOD)

The BNA Board of Directors are active BNA members with significant experience within the organization and include at least one Shihan selected by the Senior Council and one Shidoin selected by the Teachers’ Council.

BNA President: Deb Pastors

2020 Directors:

Dennis Belt (Senior Council Appointee)
Deena Drake
Steve Thoms
Todd Fessenden
Suzane Van Amburgh (Teachers Council Appointee)
RC Miles
Mark Sharp

Non-voting officers:

•  Corporate Secretary: Jan Arkless-Wilson
•  Treasurer:  Joshua Karlin

Program Volunteers 

Meet the volunteers who have served leading teams or administering BNA programs.

Biran Editor: Mark Reid

Dan Registrar: Mary Malmros

Ethics Committee: Maureen Browne, Chair

Grants Committee: Ed Hernandez, Chair

Medical Director: Don McKay

Membership Coordinator: Suzanne Gonzales-Webb

Raffle Committee: Sarah Kaylor, Chair

Scholarship Committee: Terri Park, Chair

Seminar & Communications Coordinators: Mike Head and Carolyn Parkinson

Summer Camp Coordinator: Leslie Cohen

Summer Camp Registrar: Julian Frost

Youth Committee Chair: Norine Longmire

Community Volunteers

Meet the volunteers who have generously given their time, energy and talents to support our community in 2020:

Frank Apodaca – Deep River Aikido

Dennis Belt – Ventura Aikikai

Darrell Bluhm – Siskiyou Aikikai

John Brinsley – Aikido Daiwa

Maureen Browne – Fox Valley Aikikai

Joe Canon – Corvallis Aikikai

Gerry Clemons – Oak Park Aikikai

Leslie Cohen – San Diego Aikikai

Nathalie Daux – Fox Valley

Diane Deskin – Sonoran Aikikai

Dave Dewberry – Multnomah Aikikai

Joseph Dobzynski – Ventura

Eric Doss – Lansing Area Aikikai

Deena Drake – San Diego Aikikai

Gerard Enriquez – Aikido Inst of San Fran

Todd Fessenden – Summit Aikikai

Julian Frost – San Diego Aikikai

Suzanne Gonzales-Webb – Desert Aikikai

Tom Grimaldi – Copper Mountain Aiki Budo

Jobe Groot – Mountain Coast Aikikai

Mike Head – Aikido Daiwa

Roo Heins – Grand Rapids Aikikai

Ed Hernandez – New Tampa Aikido

Joshua Karlin – Aikido Daiwa

John Kent – Fox Valley

Norine Longmire – Aikido Takayama Society

Lizzy (Elizabeth) Lynn – At Large

Mary Malmros – Green River Aikido

Marci Martinez – Grass Valley Aikikai

Don McKay – Green River Aikikai

RC Miles – North County Aikikai

Cindy Moore – San Diego Aikikai

Edward (Ed) Morales – Green Bay Aikikai

Thea Oatman – Lansing Area Aikikai

Read Omohundro – Living Well Aikido

Carrie Parkinson – Lansing Area Aikikai

Deb Pastors – Oak Park Aikikai

Alex Peterson – Summit Aikikai

Cecilia Ramos – Grass Valley Aikikai

Mark Reid – New Tampa Aikikai

Tim Reynolds – North County Aikikai

Kate Savoca – Brooklyn Aikikai

Robert Savoca – Brooklyn Aikikai

Rob Schenk – Aikido Inst of San Fran

Mark Sharp – Oak Park Aikikai

David Stier – Green River Aikido

Kathy Stier – Green River Aikido

Scott Swank – Central Coast Aikikai

Theresa Thadani – Aikido Inst of San Fran

Steve Thoms – Eugene Aikikai

Phil Traunstein – Long Mountain Aikido

Suzane Van Amburgh – Multnomah Aikikai

Jan Arkless Wilson – San Diego Aikikai

Nathan Young – Multnomah Aikikai

Thank you to all our Volunteers!

Financial Report

Income BNA
Expenses BNA

As you can see from the charts, in 2020 BNA ran a surplus budget, bringing in sixteen thousand dollars more income than we spent as we adapted quickly to the changing landscape and needs of Birankai and our dojos. With the cancellation of Summer Camp, our largest revenue source as well as expense, we revised and reduced our budget by more than eighty thousand dollars, and we also identified numerous other line items to cut expenses, as we prepared for reduced income from our membership during uncertain times. Ultimately, income from dues and dan registrations were above our revised budget, and our prudent conservation of resources reduced our expenses leading to the surplus. 

– Joshua Karlin, BNA Treasurer

Support Our Community

You can support Birankai North America dojos through donating to our Seminar Endowment Fund, individual members through our Scholarship Program, and our community through a General Donation, by shopping at AmazonSmile, or by shopping at the BNA Online Store.

Information on each program and donation option can be found on the Support Us Page.

For comments or questions about the Birankai North America Annual Report, please send us a message via our Contact Page.

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