Suginami Aikikai San Francisco, California started as "Skidrow Dojo" in the back
of a photo studio on Sixth Street in San Francisco February 1986.
A group of artists asked James Friedman to teach them self-defense
shortly after the violent murder of a loved one. Classes began in the
shadow of tragedy, and Aikido in a small way helped heal the suffering
these people were going through. Beginning as a club for that
group of around ten friends, the dojo soon outgrew the Sixth Street studio
and relocated to 759 Harrison Street in San francisco, California where it remained for three years.
After the 1989, San Franicisco earthquake, James moved the dojo a few blocks away to
57 Stillman Street, and it stayed at that location for ten years.
In 1999 we moved to
our present and final location at 141 11th street,
between Mission and Howard streets, San Francisco, California.
Since 1987 the Dojo has hosted many of the world's highest ranking
Aikido instructors, including Kato Sensei, Nishio Sensei, Anno
Sensei, C. Tissier Sensei, P. Hendricks Sensei, Sugawara Sensei, Terry Dobson Sensei, K. Cottier
In 1996 Kato Hiroshi Sensei was welcomed to San Francisco, and shortly
thereafter "Skidrow Dojo" was renamed Suginami Akikai S.F. and became an
official branch dojo of Suginami Aikikai Tokyo. Kato Sensei is our
Dojo's official connection to the world headquarters - Hombu Dojo in
In 1986 we started with two classes per week and ten students. That
quickly progressed, and presently we have 24 adult
classes per week, 3
kids' classes per week, two classes per week for mentally and physically
handicapped adults, as well as Thai Kickboxing .