Teacher Bios

Teacher Bios

Dojo Cho: Pól Stafford

I was introduced to the study of Aikido in Ireland
(where I was studying Philosophy), and after a few years,
continued that study in Sacramento, CA, under Matt Fluty in the lineage from Michio Hikitsuchi sensei, one of the Founder of Aikido’s original students.

During my third year of training in Sacramento, my
heart awoke to a great desire to teach Aikido and open an Aikido school
of my own, and from that point, I dedicated myself to the study of Aikido
in order to follow that calling.

In further pursuit of broadening my understanding
of the Art of Peace, I trained as a teacher for two years, and continued study
with Wendy Palmer, a 30-year Aikido teacher in Mill Valley,

The practice of Aikido is the greatest gift I’ve received
in my life. It is an endless invitation to come back to myself, to find
compassion and love in each moment of my present life.

After years of practice, I find I want nothing more
than to share this path, this joy, with others.

Sensei’s extra-Aikido experience:

  • Pathwork of Self-Transformation
  • Leadership Embodiment Coaching Program Certification
  • Reiki Master Certification
  • Master of Arts degree from University College Cork in Philosophy

Adult Program Director: Brock Bernstein

I was first introduced to martial arts when I studied judo for several years in my early teens and then returned to martial arts when my son started classes at Living Aikido when it opened in Ojai. While I loved the grappling and physicality of judo as a teenager, as an adult I am profoundly captivated and intrigued by Aikido’s fluidity, creativity, and power. Its ability to defuse and transform conflict is a constant source of puzzlement, curiosity, challenge, and excitement. Even as a teacher, I am a perpetual student.

In addition to Aikido and judo, I studied modern dance and contact improvisation for many years, and was a member of a men’s dance company in Nova Scotia in the early 1980s. In my professional life, I am an independent environmental consultant specializing in program design and evaluation with a particular focus on complex problems that involve multiple, competing perspectives. I have lived in Ojai since 1983 and am married with a grown daughter, a teenage son, and two grandchildren.

Youth Head Instructor: Chris Lyon