Roaring Fork Aikikai (RFA) is an aikido dojo founded in 2017 in Carbondale, CO, serving the Roaring Fork Valley including Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs.
A non-profit 501 (c) (3) charity, RFA’s mission is to teach martial arts and meditation to community members of all ages. The principal focus of teaching is Aikido, a peaceful martial art known as the way of harmony. Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba, a renowned Japanese martial artist known as “O Sensei” or “Great Teacher”. Traditional martial arts in their highest form were a Budo, a way of life dedicated to perfection in action and mastery of the self. O Sensei saw cooperation and harmony as the highest Budo, and he refined Aikido into a means of blending with the opponent’s attack, controlling and diffusing the assault without the need to hurt or kill the opponent.
At RFA, we offer this traditional Budo in a modern context. The non-competitive practice of Aikido provides a new perspective and confidence to practitioners, influencing all of their daily interactions. They learn practical self-defense techniques but also develop an awareness and a demeanor that preempts conflict. Physically, aikido practitioners develop strength, flexibility and a cat-like sense of movement and balance. Once the forms of practice are mastered, Aikido becomes a beautiful martial dance, improvisational and free. Students begin to embody this sense of grace and freedom in everyday life.
Aikido is like a moving meditation, where students learn to stop the mind and be fully present in the moment. RFA supplements this active practice of mindfulness with regular formal meditation instruction. Meditation courses provide students with a dedicated time and place to learn to be more aware and present in each moment. Through consistent meditation practice, students begin to experience a stillness and quiet joy permeating their daily lives.
The RFA community supports people of every age, sex, race, and lifestyle. Anyone who treats other members of the community with respect and follows the simple etiquette of the dojo is welcome. Paying members and donors help support members of the community who cannot afford tuition.
Roaring Fork Aikikai (RFA) is a member dojo of the United States Aikido Federation (USAF). Inspired by the early leadership of Shihans Yoshimitsu Yamada, Akira Tohei, Mitsunari Kanai and Seiichi Sugano, USAF now boasts a remarkable 49 Shihan who are actively teaching. USAF is recognized by Hombu Dojo, the international aikido headquarters in Japan. As a USAF member dojo, RFA can test its kyu-rank students according to the USAF test curriculum, and these belt ranks will be recognized throughout the USAF aikido community. RFA black belt candidates will be invited to test for dan ranks at annual USAF events in the US in front of the USAF Technical Committee.
RFA's senior instructors Mike Jones Sensei and Chris Bergerud Sensei have studied within the USAF family throughout the US, and aspire to bring USAF's integrity and quality of teaching to the Roaring Fork Valley.