Our Dojo: What We Study
Aikido is known as the art of peace, and a practitioner strives to protect oneself, others, and even the opponent by controlling the three centers of the encounter. We learn the art of balance -- in life and on the mat. Aikido is a martial art and an internal art-- we study disrupting balance, which doesn't require strength but relies on awareness, flexibility, and precise movement.
Kodokan Aikido at Virginia Tech (established in 1988) is a non-profit and registered student organization. Our chief instructor, Truman Capone sensei (Yondan: black belt, fourth degree) has been a practitioner of the art for almost thirty years and came to Aikido after active study of various internal and external arts such as Tai Chi/Chi Kung, collegiate wresting, and karate for twenty years.
The Kodokan Aikido: From Okazaki to Southeast U.S.A
The founder of Aikido is Morihei Ueshiba (referred to as O'Sensei). The Kodokan Aikido Dojo was founded in 1957 by Masanosuke Tanaka, 7th Dan in Okazaki, Japan and is a member of the Aikikai Foundation; the current head of the organization is his son Tadamitsu Tanaka shihan, 7th Dan who serves as the Director and Chief Instructor. Tanaka shihan maintains the Kodokan Aikido Dojo headquartered in Okazaki City (岡崎) and several branch dojos: Toyoda (豊田), Kota (幸田), Anjo (安城), and Chiryu (知立) all in Aichi Prefecture in Japan and Greensboro Kodokan Aikido in the U.S.A. We have strong ties with Japanese culture, and all of our ranks are evaluated here and at the organization in Okazaki, Japan. Our ranks and membership card are honored at any Aikikai school in the world.
History of Aikido in Blacksburg
Aikido in Blacksburg began in the late 1980’s when C.B. Claiborne and then wife Doris trained together informally in War Memorial Hall. Truman Capone discovered the pair in 1988, and at that time C.B. Claiborne invited Truman Capone to train with them. After a few years three or four other practitioners joined to form what was referred to then as Aikido at Virginia Tech. Prior to this period C.B. Claiborne along with John Grinnell studied for several years under Dr. Jim Farr who taught what was known as Tomiki Aikido in Greensboro, N.C. The Greensboro and Blacksburg groups trained together whenever possible.
Our affiliation with Kodokan Aikido thus came through our connection with John Grinnell and Betsy Grinnell, who trained with Tanaka shihan in Okazaki from 1987 to 1988. John and Betsy Grinnell sought to and established Greensboro Kodokan Aikido on their return from Japan. The Greensboro dojo became an official branch of the Kodokan Aikido Dojo in October 1989 and Tanaka shihan assigned the role of chief instructor to John Grinnell. It was around this period that the club in Blacksburg solidified its affiliation and was renamed Kodokan Aikido at Virginia Tech.
C.B. and Doris subsequently moved to Harrisonburg, VA in 1991, and John Grinnell asked Truman Capone to oversee Kodokan Aikido at Virginia Tech. He was ranked san kyuu (brown belt) at that time. In 1993, the Aikikai Foundation awarded Truman Capone the rank of Shodan (black belt, first degree). Truman Capone sensei now holds the rank of Yondan (black belt, fourth degree) and continues as the chief instructor for our group.
Although we practice in different locations in Virginia, North Carolina, and Japan we strive to train together as though we were are a single Dojo. Advanced classes for black belted members are held monthly at the Greensboro dojo, and joint dojo practices – (gōdō keiko) where the groups from Blacksburg, Greensboro, and Harrisonburg practice together-- are held every few months in Blacksburg so that we can get to know other members of the Kodokan Aikido family.
You can learn more about our instructors here.