Aikido Ai, 6725 Comstock Ave., Whittier, CA (562) 696-1838

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Meet Our Team

Dedicated professionals who are passionate about teaching.

Aikido Ai has an outstanding team of dedicated instructors who love to help students succeed and improve themselves. Our teachers offer guidance and support with patience and light-hearted good humor. Our dojo's culture creates an environment where everyone is respected for what they've achieved and encouraged in their practice.

 

Chief Instructors

 

Frank McGouirk, 7th Dan, Shihan

Dojo Cho

Frank McGourik Sensei, 7th Dan, Shihan, opened Aikido Ai in 1979, and he is the master instructor for the school. He is recognized by Aikido's world headquarters as Shihan, or Master Teacher. He is certified as sifu in Tai Chi Chuan and has more than 30 years experience teaching tai chi. He is a certified instructor in Limalama weapons and teaches our mixed weapons class on Sunday. He is a Senior Dharma Teacher in Zen and Abbot of the Dharma Kai Zen Center.


To round things out, he studies Argentine Tango and goes hiking.

Gil Izaguirre, 5th Dan

Assistant Chief Instructor, Aikido

Gil Izaguirre has more than 25 years of aikido experience at Aikido Ai. His easy-going personality makes him a favorite instructor. He has traveled several times to Japan to train at Hombu dojo. 

Gil teaches the aikido classes on Saturdays. As the Assistant Chief Instructor for Aikido, Gil will meet with all candidates for promotions to help them prepare for their exams.

In his free time, Gil is a canyoneer and outdoor enthusiast.  

Suzette Hodnett, 4th Dan


Assistant Chief Instructor, Tai Chi

Suzette began studying tai chi in 1998. She teaches the tai chi classes on Wednesday 6:00 PM and Saturday 9:00 AM. As the Assistant Chief Instructor for Tai Chi, she helps to shape the coursework for tai chi students. 


Suzette is a world-class multimedia artist and her tai chi journey is reflected in her artwork. Her book, “The Journey is Everything: Reflections and Inspirations Along the Healing Path,” shares how tai chi and meditative training helped her find the calm within her cancer journey. 

Aikido Instructors

 

Mike Castro, 5th Dan

Aikido Instructor, Monday 7pm

Mike Castro Sensei is one of the few people who have been full-time students and live-in uchideshis at Aikido Ai. He was recently promoted to 5th dan, so he is qualified to open his own school. His classes are exciting for beginners as well as advanced students.

Mike is a graphic artist and his paintings has been featured in several galleries.

Jason Oxman, 4th Dan

Aikido Instructor, Wednesday 7:15 PM

Jason Oxman is an enthusiastic instructor who connects equally well with advanced students and beginners. His teaching style is warm and accessible. He has decades of experience and can communicate well the fundamentals and advanced nuances of Aikido. Kids are drawn to Jason's vibrant energy.

JoAnn Garner, 3rd Dan

Aikido Instructor, Tuesday 5:30 PM

JoAnn Garner is Sensei Frank's student who has the most longevity, having begun studying with him as he began his aikido teaching career. She is an amazing instructor for the kids' and teens' aikido classes on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Chris Salomon, 2nd Dan

Aikido Instructor, Friday 5:00 PM
Basic Aikido Weapons, Friday 6:30 PM

Chris began training in 2005 with his sons, Timothy and Jonathan, in the Aikido kids' class as a way to do something fun together.  Now, as an instructor, Chris enjoys seeing children and teens develop good character through the practice of Aikido. He teaches the Kids and Teens Aikido class on Fridays at 5:00 p.m. and the Basic Aikido Weapons class on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. 

A retired engineer, Chris focuses his Aikido practice on the fundamentals, using a sense of balance and patience that shaped his career and personal life. Chris enjoys spending time with his children and friends, studying theology, taking yoga and walking. He is also a fine guitarist and vocalist.   

Tai Chi and Qigong Instructors

 

Jennifer Higa, 3rd Dan

Tai Chi Instructor, Monday 5:30 PM.

Jennifer has black belts in both Aikido and Tai Chi, which gives her amazing understanding of their techniques and energy. She teaches the advanced Tai Chi class. 

Jennifer has a lifetime career in body work and energetics, with extensive training that informs her martial arts studies and teaching. 

Linda Hill, 3nd Dan

Tai Chi Instructor, Tuesday and Friday 9:00 AM

Linda Hill began tai chi lessons at the Brea Community Center in May 2003. Her goal was to build up her leg strength to return to bicycling and skiing. Tai chi became her new love, and she earned her first black sash in 2009. 

Linda teaches the seniors classes on Tuesday and Friday at 9:00 AM. She tells new students, "Don't think you need to be perfect. Tai chi will continually develop for you, and it will continually change you. If you got off the couch today to do some tai chi, you're that much healthier."   

Jim Hill, 2nd Dan

Tai Chi Instructor, Sunday 1:00 PM

Jim Hill started his tai chi studies in 2003 and earned his first black sash in 2010. He has helped teach at Brea Community Center as well as Aikido Ai, and he currently teaches our Sunday 1PM tai chi classes. He also helps Suzette on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Jim has a strong background in Zen meditation, and he brings that calm center to his tai chi practice. In his free time, he loves golf and snow skiing.  

Cynthia Krause, 2nd Dan

 Tai Chi Instructor, Thursday 6:30 PM

With nearly 15 years of training in tai chi, Cynthia has a discerning eye and a helping hand for her students. She teaches the Intermediate Tai Chi classes on Thursdays at 6:30 PM. 

Cynthia works at an elementary school, and she is also skilled as an artist in paper folding, images and mosaic. She loves art and museums, and her extensive music collection shows up in her tai chi classes' background music. 

Meg Rottman, 3rd Dan

Qigong Instructor, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday & 8:30 a.m. Saturday

Meg Rottman studied with Qigong Master Luke Chan, who brought the health practice Chi-Lel Qigong from China to the U.S. and the world. Meg has personal experience with the healing abilities of Qigong, as have several other students as the dojo. Her many years of Tai Chi and Qigong give her a unique ability to teach this beneficial practice.