Aaron Cass - Chief Instructor
Aaron first found Aikido through his interest in Zen Buddhism and Eastern philosophy. He began training at Portsmouth Aikido at the age of 17 and soon fell in love with the art, happy to have found a way to put his philosophy into practice. After receiving his white belt, he left for the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied under a variety of talented instructors including Martha Jordan, Linda Holiday and Yoshi Shibata. After six years in California, Aaron moved to Wakayama, Japan, the birthplace of O'Sensei, to pursue his interest in Aikido. While there, he was deeply influenced by his teachers Yasuo Hashimoto and Yukio Takahashi. They were powerful and effective without using force and embodied the principles O'Sensei described in a way that Aaron had not yet known possible.
Upon returning home to New Hampshire, Aaron resumed his practice at Portsmouth Aikido and took over for Judy Ringer as Chief Instructor in 2009. When not in the dojo, Aaron trains under a variety of instructors including David Halprin, Mary Heiny, David Farrell, William Gleason, Claude Berthiaume and others. His practice now is focused on developing effective technique based on natural movement that doesn't rely on force. Aaron currently holds the rank of 3rd degree black belt fukushidoin.
Judy Ringer - Senior Instructor
Judy Ringer came to Aikido through the door of conflict resolution in the workplace. Her interest in understanding and capitalizing on the opportunities inherent in conflict led her to Thomas Crum, Wendy Palmer, George Leonard and other master Aikido instructors who were using Aikido principles off the mat as a metaphor and training technology. Judy got on the mat in 1994, at Portland Aikido, to deepen her knowledge and to physically appreciate and integrate the metaphor. After a year of practice in Portland, she asked if they might help her organize a dojo in Portsmouth, NH. The rest is history. With the blessing and support of Mitsunari Kanai, Sensei to Portland and the soon-to-be new dojo, Portsmouth Aikido was underway. Her primary on-the-mat instructors have been Mitsunari Kanai, David Halprin, and David Farrell. Judy currently holds the rank of 2nd degree black belt.
After years of hinting about his interest in Aikido to his family, Dave's daughters bought him a gift certificate to Portsmouth Aikido for Christmas. Now, almost a decade later, he is thoroughly enjoying every minute of his practice. Though Dave has tried a number of other martial practices, he particularly appreciates the soft, circular movements unique to Aikido. Dave noted that, as it turns out, being soft and effective is easier said than done, and in his own words, "Aikido is a blessing!" Dave continues to train at Portsmouth Aikido as well as our sister dojos in Portland, Framingham and Cambridge. He currently holds the rank of 2nd kyu.
Daniel Fitzpatrick began Aikido training in 1991 under the direction of Yousuf Mehter Sensei at Aikido of Central New York. In 1993 he relocated to Michigan, where he began training at Great Lakes Aikikai under the direction of T. S. Okuyama Shihan. In 2002 he received the designation of Fukushidoin from Ichiro Shibata Shihan. In 2003 Fitzpatrick relocated to New York State and began training at Aikido of Westchester with Douglas Firestone Sensei. In 2008 he relocated to New Jersey where he trained with Jerry Zimmerman Sensei at Aikido of North Jersey until his relocation to New Hampshire in 2011 when he joined us at Portsmouth Aikido. Fitzpatrick currently holds the rank of 3rd degree black belt in Aikido and also has extensive background in Judo and Iaido.