Dojo History

Dojo History

The San Leandro Aikido dojo has a very interesting history. Since the 1950’s it’s been a Judo dojo, a Kajukempo dojo, a Tae Kwon Do dojo, and, finally, since June of 1984 it’s been our Aikido dojo.

The first sensei ever to teach martial arts in this location, a Judo sensei, was coincidentally named Saito sensei.

The night that Bruce Lee passed away, his brother came here, which was then a Kajukenbo dojo, to find solace and support. He sat right where our Shomen stands today and talked late into the night with a number of martial arts teachers.

In 1983, my teacher from the Oakland dojo recommended me to August O’Neil Sifu. August hired me to teach Aikido here. At that time, we laid the mat that we still use today. August O’Neil Sifu moved on in early 1984. I signed the lease to run the dojo in June of 1984. We went for 6 months with no water, no toilet, and no electricity. We built the dojo from scratch. 20 years later, with a newly laid mat cover, we estimate that 10,000 people have practiced here, 100 seminars have been held, 2 million tai no henko’s have been performed, and 6, 000 fire ceremonies.

In the end, a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and energy have gone into this now special place where people from all over the world come to train and experience O’Sensei’s spirit.

– Patricia Hendricks Sensei, August 2004