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Birankai North America
Annual Report

For Fiscal year: Jan-Dec 2023

Together We Reconnect

Stylized graphic of closeup of Irimin Nage

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

46 Dojos

45 affiliated schools in the U.S
1 affiliated school in Canada


Image Credit: Thea Oatman

99 Certified Instructors

17 Shihan
52 Shidoin
30 Fukushidoin

Image Credit: Thea Oatman

531 Members

276 Dan Ranked Members
257 Kyu Ranked Members

Letter from our President

May 1, 2024

Dear Fellow Birankai North America Members,

In 2023 we saw our organization moving boldly forward. This was a stark change from just the year before, when we were still in the waning days of the pandemic. Our ukemi training extends beyond the mat.

I can’t thank the Aikido Daiwa team enough for their commitment to bringing Summer Camp back. Camp 2023 was hugely successful; we needed 75 participants to break even and had around 145 participants. It was a strategic decision to move forward with Summer Camp that we made in late 2022, and Birankai North America (BNA) members delivered. The community came together for the first time in three years, and it was everything. Connected, Centered, Whole, Lively and Open. We expect Camp ‘24 to be all that and more, we’re on again June 19 – 23 at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo, California. Let’s go!

The Board also continued to fund seminars, intensives, and events across our organization as well as introducing a new model of a Technical Team Event. One was hosted at Tacoma Aikikai in 2023 featuring Diane Deskin Sensei and Darrell Bluhm Sensei. Another Technical Team Event is planned at Multnomah Aikikai in Portland Oregon in fall of 2024. If you would like to host a similar event, reach out to us at Also we continue to fund Summer Camp Scholarships, this is a long-standing program, so please inquire with the Scholarship Committee via the Summer Camp web page well ahead of Camp if you need help.

The Board has continued to be conservative in our financial approach, which has resulted in seeing a surplus of funds instead of a deficit or simply breaking even. This has allowed us to activate projects that were on hold as we can pay folks with specific technical skills and expertise for work that benefits the organization, and mostly by people who know or are part of the organization. We have a vast network of professionals in BNA in a variety of areas. If you have skills we need, or think we need, reach out to us! I would be remiss not to acknowledge the volunteers who give their time to keep us on track, you are the heart of the organization. I am with you. We are still in need of more volunteers to keep us moving strongly forward, if you have capacity and skills please reach out to Mark Sharp at

We are growing and continue to have new dojos. 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 Chiba Sensei’s vision. We are all “Protecting the princess” as Sensei would say. Also, please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly with any input, ideas or suggestions on how we may better serve you or the organization. My email address is

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your dedication and commitment to BNA. Connecting with each of you at seminars, events and Camp really humbles me and makes me proud.


Todd R. Fessenden

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. 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!

Officers of the Senior Council (SC)

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

Officers of the Senior Council in 2023:

• Chair: Robert Savoca
• Liaison to Hombu Dojo: John Brinsley

Officers of the Teachers Council (TC)

Teachers Council: Consists of all active BNA Shidoin plus Fukushidoin who are Chief Instructors of a dojo.

Officers of the Teachers Council in 2023:

• Chair:  John Brinsley
• Secretary:  Terri Park

The Board of Directors (BOD)

The BNA Board of Directors are active BNA members with significant experience in the organization. The board includes at least one Shihan selected by the Senior Council, and one Shidoin Selected by the Teacher’s Council.

Board President:  Todd Fessenden

2023 Directors:

David Stier (Senior Council Appointee)
Suzane Van Amburgh (Teachers Council Appointee)
Nathalie Daux
RC Miles
Mark Sharp

Non-voting officers:

•  Corporate Secretary: Gerard Enriquez
•  Treasurer:  Joshua Karlin
• Accounts Coordinator:  Suzanne Gonzales-Webb

Program Volunteers

These volunteers have served in leading teams or administering BNA programs:

• Biran Editor: Mark Reid

• Communications Outreach: Thea Oatman

• Dan Registrar: Neilufar Naini

• Diversity Committee: Amit Dave

• Ethics Committee: Tom Grimaldi

• Grants/Scholarship Committee: Ed Hernandez Chair

• Membership Coordinator: Suzanne Gonzales-Webb

• Seminar and Communications Coordinators: Carrie Parkinson

• Summer Camp Coordinator: Bianca Zeinali

• Technical Team Chair: Darrell Bluhm

• Video Curator: Rob Schenk

• Website Maintenance: Jobe Groot

Community Volunteers

Here are the volunteers who have generously give their time, energy, and talents to support the Birankai community in 2023:

Frank Apodaca – Deep River Aikido
Koto Baruch – Jersey City Aikikai (Brooklyn)
Dennis Belt – Ventura Aikikai
Darrell Bluhm – Siskiyou Aikikai
Jim Borders – Huron Valley Aikikai
John Brinsley – Aikido Daiwa
Maureen Browne – Fox Valley Aikikai
Vincent Chan – Aikido Institute of San Francisco
Leslie Cohen – San Diego Aikikai
Andres Cruciani – Brooklyn Aikikai
Amit Dave – Aikido Daiwa
Nathalie Daux – Fox Valley Aikikai
Deena Drake – San Diego Aikikai
Gerard Enriquez – Aikido Institute of San Francisco
Todd Fessenden – Ventura Aikikai
Eric Fritz – Aikido Daiwa
Benjamin Garren – Sonoran Aikikai
Suzanne Gonzales-Webb – Desert Aikikai
Tom Grimaldi – Copper Mountain Aiki Budo
Jobe Groot – At-Large Member
Mike Head – Aikido Daiwa
Ed Hernandez – New Tampa Aikikai
Joshua Karlin – Aikido Daiwa
Shauna Keeley – Tacoma Aikikai
John Kent – Fox Valley Aikikai
Norine Longmire – Aikido Takayama Society
Adrian Lunn – Aikido Daiwa
Lizzy (Elizabeth) Lynn – At Large
Mary Malmros – Green River Aikido
Marci Martinez – Grass Valley Aikikai

Don McKay – Green River Aikido
RC Miles – North County Aikikai
Richard Miller – North County Aikikai
Cindy Moore – San Diego Aikikai
Neilu Naini – Tacoma Aikikai
Thea Oatman – Lansing Area Aikikai
Hideki Okuda – Aikido Daiwa
Tomoko Okuda – Aikido Daiwa
Read Omohundro – Living Well Aikido
Terri Park – Huron Valley Aikikai
Carrie Parkinson – Huron Valley Aikikai
Deb Pastors – Oak Park Aikikai
Dave Pedowitz – Aikido Daiwa
Chris Poe – Aikido Daiwa
Cecilia Ramos – Grass Valley Aikikai
Mark Reid – New Tampa Aikikai
Benjamin Root – Siskiyou Aikikai
Ferdinand Saran – Aikido Daiwa
Rob Schenk – Aikido Institute of San Francisco
Beverly Sessegolo – Bucks County Aikido
Mark Sharp – Oak Park Aikikai
David Stier – Green River Aikido
Kathy Stier – Green River Aikido
Suzane Van Amburgh – Multnomah Aikikai
Bryce Walker – Bucks County Aikido
Michael Werth – Rhode Island Aikikai – Eastside
Jan Arkless-Wilson – San Diego Aikikai
Nathan Young – Multnomah Aikikai
Bianca Zeinali – Aikido Daiwa

Thank you to all our Volunteers!

Financial Report

The financial data presented above is a summary of incomes and expenses that the Board believes are relevant to our member dojos. During the pandemic the BNA Board greatly reduced budgeted expenses by taking on previously paid duties and services to which the Board continued this trend in 2023. By taking on these previously paid duties, the noted impact on the 2023 budget contributed to the greater income to expense ratio for the 2023 fiscal year. Last fiscal year, income and expenses reported were nearly identical. For fiscal year 2023, BNA’s income was roughly double its expenses. The noted change in income clearly shows the impact of a successful Summer Camp. BNA held its first Summer Camp since 2019, successfully surpassing its predicted income under the management of Aikido Daiwa. The intended plan for our increase in funds is to expand Technical Team and seminar support, support projects such as a T.K. Chiba Sensei archive and other BNA mission-supporting efforts. The Board is very grateful to all of our volunteers who—as a reminder, provide the majority of labor to our organization in moving forward, ensuring that BNA can deliver programs and endeavors to our membership at no additional costs.

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.

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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