Aikido Instructors


All ranks are certified through Aikikai Honbu Dojo, Tokyo, Japan 合気会本部道場 東京 日本

James Friedman – Dojo Cho

六段 Roku dan (6th degree black belt)

Year Started: 1980

Other martial arts: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; Muay Thai kickboxing, Wing Chung


Friedman Sensei began Aikido training in 1980 at the age of twenty at the Oakland Aikido Institute, in Oakland, California. After receiving his black belt in the Iwama style in 1984, he moved to San Francisco and continued his training at Turk Street Dojo. In 1995 he met Kato Hiroshi Shihan at Hombu Dojo, soon inviting him to San Francisco to teach his first San Francisco seminar and becoming Kato Sensei’s first American student. Friedman Sensei’s approach to Aikido stresses hard training and conditioning with an emphasis on practical application, while retaining a very relaxed physical state. James has an extensive background in highly competitive sports; he received a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Clovis Silva. He brings that intensity and focus into his teaching style in Aikido. Friedman Sensei received the rank of roku dan from Hiroshi Kato Sensei.

James Friedman teaches:  Tuesday and Thursday, 7:00–8:00 AM, 12:00–1:00 PM & 6:00–7:30 PM 

Peter Ralls

六段 Roku dan (6th degree black belt)

Year Started: 1975

Other martial arts: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; Judo; Chen Tai Chi Chuan


Peter Ralls Sensei started training in Aikido in 1975 at the Stanford University Aikido Club under Frank Doran Sensei. After receiving his shodan in 1979, Peter moved to Tokyo, where he trained for fourteen months at Hombu Dojo and first met Kato Sensei. Peter taught Aikido from 1983 until 1994 at Aikido of San Jose under Jack Wada Sensei, and began teaching with James Friedman Sensei at the original Skid Row Dojo soon after it opened. In 1983, he began his career in law enforcement. Through his law enforcement career, Peter gained practical experience in applying martial arts techniques and methods in real situations. That level of discipline and practicality still influences his training. He received a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Clovis Silva. Ralls Sensei received the rank of roku dan from Hiroshi Kato Sensei.

Peter Ralls teaches:  Monday, 6:00-7:30 PM, 12:00–1:00 PM & Friday,  6:00–7:30 PM

Michael Johnson

五段 Go dan (5th degree black belt)

Year Started: 1987


Michael teaches basics-and-beyond classes, with a strong focus on helping students prepare for tests. He brings an extensive background in dance to his exploration of martial arts.

MIchael Johnson received the rank of Go dan from James Friedman and Peter Ralls Sensei.

Mike Johnson teaches:  Sunday,  10:30–12:00 PM 

Doug Uyeno

四段 Go dan (5th degree black belt)

Year Started: 1984


Doug finds his noon classes a perfect balance to his evening work in fine dining. He invites you to spend an hour away from your desk in the camaraderie of Aikido, breaking a sweat and harmonizing with universal ki.

Doug Uyeno received the rank of Godan from James Friedman and Peter Ralls Sensei.

Doug Uyeno teaches: Friday, 12:00–1:00 PM


Felix Gallego

四段 Yon dan (4th degree black belt)

Year Started: 1995

Other martial arts: Judo


Felix’s classes focus on athleticism, basics, and slow progression into more advanced combinations. He incorporates sports into his classes, emphasizing safe and proper form in individual practice.

Felix Gallego received the rank of Yondan from James Friedman Sensei.

Felix Gallego teaches:  Monday, Wednesday, Friday  7:00–8:00 AM

Cheryl Leonard 

三段 San dan (3rd degree black belt)

Year Started: 1986


Cheryl's classes emphasize mindfulness, physical presence, and flowing movements.

Cheryl Leonard received the rank of Sandan from James Friedman Sensei.

Cheryl Leonard teaches:  Wednesday ,  12:00–1:00 PM 

Peter Barker

三段 San dan  (3rd degree black belt)

Year Started: 1998

Other martial arts: Judo; Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu



Peter’s physically vigorous classes emphasize strong basics and the development of power using soft, relaxed movements.

Peter Barker received the rank of San Dan from James Friedman Sensei.


Peter Barker teaches:  Wednesday ,  6:00–7:30 PM

Carole Snitzer

二段 Ni dan (2nd degree black belt)

Year Started: 2006

Other martial arts: Muay Thai

Carole's classes focus on deliberate body movement, blending, and connection with your partner.

Carole Snitzer received the rank of Ni Dan from James Friedman Sensei.

Rora Ishihara

初段  Shodan  (1st degree black belt)

Year Started: 2012