I started training at the Aikido Arts Center in Santa Fe under William Baumgartner Sensei and later Bill Smythe Sensei. I was the first student from Aikido Arts Center to receive their Shodan (1st degree black belt) after starting in the kid's program at the lowest rank (10th kyu). I helped start the Aikido Club at the Unversity of New Mexico with Paul Barrett Sensei and have gone on to teach with Duke City Dojo. Currently, I hold a Sandan (3rd degree black belt) rank. I am also an actor and writer in the Albuquerque community.
My aikido journey started in 2015, with what was then called Albuquerque Iwama Aikido at the University of New Mexico, under the leadership of Paul Barrett Sensei. I was drawn to Iwama style aikido for its emphasis on kihon technique- the philosophy that a strong foundation is necessary upon which to develop a functional understanding of aikido. When UNM closed its athletics facility for renovation, I assisted with establishing Duke City Dojo in 2018. With the guidance of Paul Barrett, Nicholas Johnson, and Charlie Stein Senseis, I achieved the rank of shodan (1st degree black belt) in April 2019. In my time training, I have had the good fortune to learn from highly accomplished aikidoka who served as uchi-deshi with Morihiro Saito Shihan, including: Shigemi Inagaki, Hans Goto, Hoa Newens, Wolfgang Baumgartner, Mark Larsen, and Dennis Watson Senseis.
Paul Barrett, Ph.D., Yondan and affiliated instructor
Barrett Sensei studied a variety of martial arts in his youth including Kenpo, Taijiquan, Shotokan, Shorin-Ryu Karate, and Tae Kwon Do. In 1991 he began his study of Iwama Aikido under the direction of Wolfgang Baumgartner Sensei in Reno, Nevada.
His career required he move throughout the west but whether in southern California, Tucson, Las Vegas, Nevada or Albuquerque he has continued to study a variety of aikido styles. His previous instructors include Aviv Goldsmith, Tom Rennie, Judith Robinson, Coryl Crane, Stan Pranin, Diane Deskin, and James Cornfield Senseis.
When he relocated to Albuquerque he crossed paths with Bill Smythe Sensei of Aikido Arts Center Santa Fe. Baumgartner Sensei had started Aikido Arts Center several years before but had since returned to his native Germany and turned the dojo over to Bill Sensei. Nevertheless Baumgartner Sensei returns to Santa Fe regularly to offer seminars at his former school.
As a result for three years he drove over an hour each way to train several days a week in Santa Fe. Several years ago he decided to teach Iwama style aikido in Albuquerque through Recreational Services at the University of New Mexico. In January of 2018 he moved the program off campus to it's fomer location at 4312 Lomas Boulevard NE in Albuquerque. He currently hold a Yondan (4th degree black belt) recognized by the Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo.
He regularly travel to seminars throughout the west and has attended ones taught by Morihiro Saito, Hans Goto, Kim Peuser, Hoa Newans, Pat Hendricks, Bill Witt, Hiroshi Ikeda, Mitsugi Saotome, and the current Doshu, Morihei Ueshiba Sensei among others.
Charlie Stein, Sandan, Former head instructor at Duke City Dojo
In 1992, in college studying Japanese ceramics, Stein Sensei had his first experience with Aikido. He practiced sporadically for the next ten years. In May 2002, he renewed his commitment to aikido and was introduced to Iwama style Aikido by both Douglas Dale Sensei and Vincent Salvatore Sensei. He spent time traveling back and forth between the two programs.
In January 2003, he moved to Reno Nevada and became uchideshi under Vince Salvatore Sensei. While uchideshi, he received his shodan in 2005. That same year, he traveled to Iwama, Japan and became uchideshi under Hitohiro Saito Sensei. While in Japan under H. Saito Sensei, he received his yudansha certificate.
Upon his return to the USA, he resumed as uchideshi in Reno until 2006. In 2008, he received his Nidan, and in 2013, he established Tucson Desert Aikido in Tucson, AZ. After moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2017, he renamed the school East Mountain Aikido and merged with Albuquerque Iwama Aikido to form Duke City Dojo. In April 2018, he received his Sandan.
Charles Neal, Shodan, Assistant Instructor
Charles Neal was born and raised in Louisiana. As a young man he studied Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do. He cross trained in kickboxing, Taiiji Quan, Kung Fu, grappling, and mixed martial arts in Louisiana and New Mexico.
In 2001 Charles began his Aikido training under James Cornfield Sensei at Sandia Budokan. He holds a Shodan rank from Hombu Dojo, Tokyo, Japan. In 2015, he began training and functioning as an assistant instructor with Albuquerque Iwama Aikido.