Birankai North America
For Fiscal year: Jan-Dec 2022
Together We Revive
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
44 affiliated schools in the U.S
2 affiliated schools in Canada
99 Certified Instructors
275 Dan Ranked Members
239 Kyu Ranked Members
Letter from our President
Dear Fellow Birankai Members,
2022 was not just a light at the end of the tunnel; it was a revival.
The Board of Directors continued to increase funding to seminars and regional events, in the absence of a Summer Camp. At the same time, we continued to keep expenses down by doing the work ourselves. This has been a strategic approach throughout the pandemic that has kept our organization afloat financially. We also funded seminars at Desert Aikikai and Multnomah Aikikai, and intensives at Eugene Aikikai and New Tampa Aikido.
We were able to cash out a significant donation of shares in a burgeoning Alzheimer’s treatment fund due to a generous benefactor, and double the T.K. and Mitsuko Endowment Fund for seminars. We also established an investment fund at Pasadena Community Foundation (https://pasadenacf.org) to ensure that our funds would grow over time, with low risk. I have to acknowledge Aikido Daiwa member, and Birankai North America Treasurer, Joshua Karlin for his steadfast and determined efforts to see this through. I can tell you first-hand it was a monumental lift, and would not have been possible without his specific non-profit financial expertise.
We welcomed several new dojos as well!
We also welcomed Nathalie Daux to the Board. She represents a younger generation with new thoughts and ideas, and is already making a positive impact on our work. We have an open seat on the Board and Mark Sharp is working hard, as part of the Leadership Committee, to strategize on how best to fill that seat. As I am sure you are all well aware, Suzane Van Amburgh is leading our communications team, and doing a fantastic job. The amount of work Suzane and her team (Carrie Parkinson and Thea Oatman) puts in is truly phenomenal. David Stier Shihan replaced Dennis Belt Shihan this year as the Senior Council appointee to the Board. While we all miss Belt Shihan’s sage advice and even-keel leadership, we have also seen great leadership and dedication from Stier Sensei. RC Miles splits his time between serving as a Board member and traveling the world in his work to eradicate AIDS. It is an amazing team, to say the least.
We have incredible support from Gerard Enriquez as Board Secretary, Suzanne Gonzales-Webb as Accounts Coordinator and of course, Joshua Karlin as Treasurer. And of course, there are the many, many other members who volunteer in various capacities to keep us on track, thank you to each of you for all you do.
It is never lost on us on the Board that the individual dojos and teachers are what makes us an organization. Thank you to all of you who have kept the fire burning; please know that we all volunteered our time to support you and to further Sensei’s vision.
Also, please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly with any input, ideas and suggestions on how we may better serve you.
Lastly, as Chiba Sensei would say…“Are you ready? Let’s go!”
Todd Fessenden, President
Birankai North America
Thank You To Our Volunteers
We are a community driven by volunteerism, and we are enriched through the volunteer efforts of our members.
BNA members of all ranks and all ages have generously given of their time, energy and talents in 2022. 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 2022:
• Chair: Robert Savoca
• Deputy Chair: David Stier
• Senior Advisor: Darrell Bluhm
• Liaison to Hombu Dojo: John Brinsley
The Teachers Council (TC)
Made up of all active BNA Shidoin, plus Fukushidoin, who are Chief Instructors of a dojo.
Officers of the Teachers Council in 2022:
• TC Chair: John Brinsley
• TC Secretary: Eric Doss, transitioned to Terri Park
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, Transitioned to Todd Fessenden
• Dennis Belt (Senior Council Appointee) – Partial year
• Suzane Van Amburgh (Teachers’ Council Appointee)
• Todd Fessenden
• RC Miles
• Mark Sharp
• David Stier (Senior Council Appointee) – partial year
• Nathalie Daux
• Corporate Secretary: Gerard Enriquez
• Treasurer: Joshua Karlin
• Accounts Coordinator: Suzanne Gonzalez-Webb
Frank Apodaca – Deep River Aikido
Dennis Belt – Ventura Aikikai
Darrell Bluhm – Siskiyou Aikikai
Jim Borders – Huron Valley Aikikai
John Brinsley – Aikido Daiwa
Nathalie Daux – Fox Valley Aikikai
Dave Dewberry – Multmomah Aikikai
Eric Doss – Lansing Area Aikikai
Gerard Enriquez – Aikido Institure of San Francisco
Todd Fessenden – Summit Aikikai
Suzanne Gonzales-Webb – Desert Aikikai
Tom Grimaldi – Copper Mountain Aiki Budo
Jobe Groot – At large
Mike Head – Aikido Daiwa
Ed Hernandez – New Tampa Aikido
Joshua Karlin – Aikido Daiwa
Norine Longmire – Aikido Takayama
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
Neilufar Naini – Clallam Aikikai
Thea Oatman – Lansing Area Aikikai
Read Omohundro – Living Well Aikido
Terri Park – Huron Valley Aikikai
Carrie Parkinson – Lansing Area Aikikai
Deb Pastors – Oak Park Aikikai
Cecilia Ramos – Grass Valley Aikikai
Mark Reid – New Tampa Aikikai
Tim Reynolds – North County Aikikai
Kate Savoca – Brooklyn Aikikai
Robert Savoca – Brooklyn Aikikai
Mark Sharp – Oak Park Aikikai
David Stier – Green River Aikido
Kathy Stier – Green River Aikido
Suzane Van Amburgh – Multnomah Aikikai
Michael Werth – Rhode Island Aikikai
Thank you to all our Volunteers!
The Board has been keeping expenses as low as possible as we begin recovery from the pandemic and focus on expanding support for seminars and events. By focusing on our fundamental purpose of supporting training and limiting expenses, we are poised to rebound as an organization in 2023, with Summer Camp, support for seminars, and help from our Shihan in sharing their expertise
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, 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.