Patricia Hendricks Sensei 9/25/1955 – Present, 7th Dan Aikikai Shihan
Patricia Hendricks Sensei was born on September 25th 1955. She grew up in Atlantic City, NJ and from a young age was very active. She would play football and baseball with the boys in her neighborhood and would on occasion sneak out of the house at night with her sister, jumping off roof tops.
Graduating from high school in 1973 she was inspired to move to California in hopes of attending UC Berkeley for college. She spent several months driving across the country with her cat, stopping when she needed money and would work as a waitress where she ended up. One place that stuck out for her was New Orleans.
She finally made it to California and was trying to figure out a place to live. She drove up the coast until she saw Monterey. Sensei knew she wanted to live there for a while. She attended Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California where she noticed a martial arts class being taught by Mary Heiny Sensei. Heiny Sensei was a Sandan at that time and had recently returned from studying in Japan. Hendricks Sensei began aikido at this time. She says she remembers Heiny Sensei instructing her on how to do rolls.
Very soon after she heard about a guy teaching aikido out of his garage and decided to go check it out. Stan Pranin became her teacher in 1974. Right from the beginning she noticed he was eccentric. Her first impression of Stan Pranin Sensei was that a student would attack him and like a whirling dervish they would be spin back out. She was hooked. At this time Stan Pranin started working on a small project where he was making a small news booklet called Aiki News. Hendricks Sensei was there stapling pieces of paper together.
In 1976, she moved up to Oakland to be closer to UC Berkeley and started training at the Aikido Institute of Oakland. Better known as the Oakland Dojo. Bill Witt Shihan was one of the teachers she was training with at this time.
She made friends quickly with some of the students who left soon after to go to train in Japan. She decided to go with them. So in 1976/77 she jumped on a plane and by herself went to Iwama, Japan to train with a master teacher, Morihiro Saito Sensei.
Originally she was only going to stay a few months, but she quickly started to really enjoy being there and training. Two weeks after she arrived Saito Sensei tested her for Shodan. She ended up staying a year and half. Training with some of the early uchideshi of Saito Sensei.
After she returned to Oakland she continued to train at the Oakland dojo. At this time she started studying at UC Berkeley earning her degree in Oriental Languages (with emphasis in Japanese). Even while attending school she never stopped training.
By 1983 Sensei started teaching aikido at a Kaijukempo dojo in San Leandro. In 1984 the teacher there left and gave the dojo over to Hendricks Sensei. Hendricks Sensei was a Sandan at this time.
Hendricks Sensei after graduating from UC Berkeley started working for the Japanese Consulate. She spent 3 years working for them until she realized she wanted to teach aikido full time.
In 1987, as a Yondan, Sensei embarked on a 6 month teaching tour throughout Europe. Saving up money to go to Japan to train again as a long term uchideshi.
Hendricks Sensei was uchideshi long term from 1987 to 1989. During her stay she was awarded Godan from Saito Sensei and he presented her with all 5 weapons scrolls along the Menkyo Kaiden (total transmission) certificate for weapons.
After this she returned back to California and to her dojo teaching full time. She would host Saito Sensei in California numerous times over the next decade in her dojo and take him to other dojo’s in California to teach. She was his main translator during these seminars.
Every year she continued to go back to Japan to train with Saito Sensei bringing groups of students with her.
In the early 90’s Saito Sensei collaborated with Stan Pranin to make the Takemusu Aiki book series. Hendricks Sensei was one the main uke’s in the book and was even given the opportunity to demonstrate some the techniques in these books.
At the 1994 All Japan Saito Sensei was asked to show his newly developed Ken tai Jo. Hendricks Sensei was his only uke. Taking beautiful ukemi as can be seen in the video below.
Hendricks Sensei was awarded Rokudan by Saito Sensei in 1998.
Unfortunately Saito Sensei past away in 2002. Sensei was at the funeral and was given the opportunity to talk about her beloved teacher.
Since Saito Sensei’s passing she has continued to support the Saito family as well as the Ueshiba family.
During the 80’s and 90’s Sensei would also train occasionally at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo. Now, she continues to train there every other year.. If you happen to be there during one of her stays you may get a chance to train with her.
In the early 00’s Hendricks Sensei became the Head of Division 1 for the California Aikido Association (CAA). She has over 40 dojos around the world that are under her leadership.
In 2012 Hendricks Sensei was awarded 7th Dan by Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba and in 2014 he awarded her the title of Shihan (Master Teacher).
Hendricks Shihan continues to teach in her dojo and around the world. She has taught in places like USA, Argentina, Chile, Germany, England, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Turkey, Italy, and Canada. She continues to pass on the knowledge and tradition that she learned in Japan from her teacher Morihiro Saito Sensei. Helping to keep his legacy alive.