Aikido Center founder, Rodney Grantham, began his martial arts training in Japan in 1950. He earned his first degree black belt in Judo there before returning to the U.S. where he rose the rank of 3rd Dan. He was first exposed to Aikido when he took ukemi for the legendary Koichi Tohei and began making trips to New York to study under Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan. Grantham Sensei soon began offering Aikido classes at his “Black Belt School of Judo”. These classes were the foundation of what became the Aikido Center of Atlanta. After many years of practice, he became one of the first non-Japanese to be awarded the rank of 6th Dan. Grantham Sensei was a pioneer in introducing traditional Japanese martial arts to the Southeast. In 1989, after many years of teaching and shepherding the growth of Aikido throughout the region, Grantham Sensei retired to the mountains of North Carolina with his wife Janet. Grantham Sensei passed away in 2008, but his legacy is carried into the future by the hundreds of Aikidoka he influenced throughout his life as a Martial Arts pioneer.
George Kennedy, 7th Dan, Shihan, began his training in 1972 at the Aikido Center of Atlanta and became Chief Instructor and Dojo-cho in 1989. After a successful career in commercial art, Kennedy gained valuable teaching and administrative experience as Department Chair of Visual Communications and Continuing Education at the Art Institute of Atlanta. In 1997 he earned a Masters Degree in Conflict Resolution and embarked on a second career developing and teaching Conflict Management and Violence Studies courses at Oglethorpe University. Kennedy Shihan has also developed Aikido-based defensive tactics courses for Law Enforcement and has been a contributing member of the Georgia Association of Defensive Tactics Instructors. These activities reflect his belief that Aikido is both an effective method of self defense and a path of peace and reconciliation. He has served on the Board of Directors of the USAF since it's inception in 2007. He is chair of the Dispute Resolution Committee and is the main author of the USAF Student Guide.
Kennedy Shihan teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-1pm and Saturdays at 11am.
Richard Nardi, 6th Dan, Shidoin, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Atlanta in 1974. After briefly studying a different martial art in Taiwan, he began his Aikido training at the Aikido Center of Atlanta in 1984. He is a retired physician’s assistant in anesthesia at Grady Hospital, a husband and the father of two. He is known for his powerful technique and superb ukemi skills. Richard teaches Monday & Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:00pm.
Edwin Stearns, 6th Dan, Shidoin, began his Aikido training at the Aikido Center in 1986. After achieving his first degree black belt, he was accepted by Yamada Sensei as an uchi deshi (a live-in student) at the New York Aikikai. During his two-year stay he was required to take five classes per day under Yamada Shihan and Sugano Shihan, both 8th Dan and former Uchi Deshi of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Needless to say, this rigorous period of intense training forged him into a powerful yet subtle Aikidoka. He is a software engineer with a wife and two children.
Edwin teaches morning class, Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 6:15-7:15am.
Glenn Murray, 4th Dan, Fukushidoin, was born in Columbus, Gerogia, moving to Atlanta in 1980 to get his Masters in Information and Computer Science from Georgia Tech. His prior martial arts experience includes Tae Kwon Do, Judo, and some Shotokan Karate, off and on from the age of thirteen. He started his Aikido training under George Kennedy Shihan in 1995 at the Aikido Center of Atlanta. He was a software architect, now retired from AT&T, is a husband, father of three and is currently the Lead Instructor for the Zen Center of Georgia.
Glenn teaches Saturday mornings from 10:00-11:00am.
Robert Allen, 3rd Dan, Fukushidoin, began his training in 1998 at the Georgia State University Aikido club. Upon graduating, he joined the Aikido Center of Atlanta in 2004; achieving his first degree black belt in 2010. When not training Robert enjoys working on his car, participating in driving competitions, and traveling with his girlfriend. Holding a degree in finance, he works as a Lead Salesforce Administrator and brings his leadership skills to the dojo as an instructor. Robert teaches Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:00pm.
Shella Keilholz, 3rd Dan, began her aikido career in 1999 under Clyde Takeguchi Shihan. In 2004 she relocated and continued practicing here at the Aikido Center of Atlanta, testing for her first black belt in 2012 under the instruction of George Kennedy Shihan. A PhD graduate of the University of Virginia, she works as a Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Emory Georgia Tech conducting research on the brain and MRI technology. Between traveling for work and raising her children, Shella always finds the time to practice. The mental challenge Aikido offers and the community that it brings together inspires her to continue training.
Shella is part of the Tuesday evening teaching rotation from 6:00-7:00pm.
Brian Weinberg, 3rd Dan, is an Atlanta native and began practicing at the Aikido Center of Atlanta in 2004. He learned about Aikido from his father and uncle who trained at the ACA in the late 60's and 70's with its founder, Rodney Grantham Sensei. Brian studied music at the University of Miami and continues to perform with several varied musical projects. He frequently travels for aikido seminars and has regularly attended both USAF summer and winter camps since he began practicing.
Brian is part of the Tuesday evening teaching rotation from 6:00-7:00pm.