A Brief History of the USAF

The USAF was incorporated in 1976 and was eventually divided into regional associations. All founding members of these regions were uchi-deshi of O-Sensei. Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei and Mitsunari Kanai Sensei headed the Eastern Region, Akira Tohei Sensei, founder of the Midwest Aikido Center, headed the Midwest Region, and Kazuo Chiba Sensei, founder of San Diego Aikikai, headed the Western Region. In 1982, these Shihan, along with Sadao Yoshioka Sensei of Hawaii Aikikai, formed the USAF Shihankai (teaching committee) to administer the new "regions." In 1987, Seichii Sugano Sensei, also an uchi-deshi of O-Sensei who had previously taught aikido throughout Australia and Belgium, joined Yamada Sensei at the New York Aikikai and became a member of the Shihankai.

These distinct and vital instructors promoted the teaching of aikido, and provided a rare and special opportunity to study with direct students of O-Sensei. The quality of their instruction and their unique personalities attracted a following that spanned the country and the globe, leading to the rapid growth of the number of USAF dojos and individual practitioners. Over time, many advanced students were motivated to start dojos and pass on what they had learned from the Shihankai, thereby forming the nucleus of the USAF that is directly linked to O-Sensei.

In 2005, the USAF became one centralized organization under Yamada Sensei and Kanai Sensei's guidance. Tohei Sensei's  Midwest Aikido Federation continued as its own separate organization, and Chiba Sensei created his organization, Birankai International.

A direct lineage to O-Sensei and close relations with Hombu Dojo and Doshu (world leader of aikido) continues to this day.