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“My aim is to concentrate for a while only on Aikido and find a deeper connection to it. I am sure that I will leave Suzuki Sensei’s future classes the same way I Ieft the last ones: sweating and smiling.”

  • Name: Martin Weber
  • Age: 28
  • Position: Soto Deshi
  • Country: Germany

I met Lia Sensei on her European tour in Bonn, where she stayed for three days. The first time I saw her was watching her give teens class. It was a great joy watching her. She had them running, rolling, doing techniques and laughing. I was able to feel the energy from outside and I saw the kids sweating. These two aspects proved to be very similar to the adults classes over the next three days.

Her warm up was typically traditional. During class, every time she showed a technique she did so with several ukes, so that many of the participants were able to feel her way of leading the uke through the technique and holding the contact without any physical power.

After this first lesson on Friday in Bonn I decided to follow her not only the rest of the weekend, but also to her seminar in Duesseldorf. Some evenings we got together at a restaurant with big groups and she told stories of her 10-year stay in Japan as an uchi deshi of Takeda Shihan.

All the training days, the joy during the classes and her positive nature made me decide to follow her a bit longer to her dojo in Los Angeles to learn all these interesting deeper aspects of aikido that she showed us during her stay. My aim is to concentrate for a while only on aikido and find a deeper connection to it. I am sure that I will leave her future classes the same way I Ieft the last ones: sweating and smiling.

Those who wish to train with Martin will find him attending classes at the organization’s Los Angeles dojo most days and the Santa Barbara dojo every Wednesdays during his stay.


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Deshi Programs in California

Take your training to a new level!

Instructor: Lia Suzuki, 6th dan Aikikai

Uchi-deshi (内弟子, lit. “inside student”) is a Japanese term for a live-in student/apprentice who trains under and assists a sensei on a full-time basis. The system exists in kabuki, rakugo,shogi, igo, aikido, sumo, karate and other Japanese arts.

Apply and Become a Deshi Now

Personal Development

Truly immersing one’s self in the study of Aikido can bring great change. This program is designed to bring you to self-actualization.

Embodiment of Peace

Aikido training has the power to bring the practitioner to new levels of inner peace.

Accelerated Progress

Thanks to a full training schedule, you’ll see your Aikido progress accellerated dramatically.


Daily training and involvement in all aspects of the dojo will help you embody the principles of Aikido, building your confidence.

Daily Training - Deepen Your Understanding

Daily training in the physical, mental, and spiritual applications of Aikido will deepen your understanding of the art, bringing you to new levels of being, both on and off the mat.

“Daily training in the Art of Peace allows you inner divinity to shine brighter and brighter. Do not concern yourself with the right and wrong of others. Do not be calculating or act unnaturally. Keep your mind set on the Art of Peace, and do not criticize other teachers or traditions. The Art of Peace never restrains, restricts, or shackles anything. It embraces all and purifies everything.”

~ O Sensei, Founder of Aikido

Travel - International Seminars

Accompanying Suzuki Sensei to seminars around the world will give you the opportunity to train with people of different affiliations and styles, bringing your Aikido to a new level.

Accelerate Your Progress -Reach Your Full Potential

Direct training with Suzuki Sensei and other top, international instructors will bring out your full potential.

Dojo Business & Management

Master the intricacies and demands of Dojo Business Management.

As an Uchi Deshi, you will get hands-on experience in all aspects of running a full-time, professional dojo. All Uchi Deshi will receive training in the day-to-day operations. Then, you’ll be asked to choose a “focus area”, such as Accounting & Bookkeeping, Web Design, Marketing, etc., for more in-depth training to ensure your future dojo’s success.

Become a Skilled Instructor - Teacher Training Course

As a Deshi, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the Teacher Training Program, as well. This program gives you teaching theory, as well as hands-on practical experience to prepare you for opening your own dojo.

AKI USA Certification

Attain official certification as an AKI USA Instructor.

Official AKI USA teaching certification as Assistant Instructor (Fukushidoin) and Instructor (Shidoin) is available for those who have successfully completed the Teacher Training Certification Programs and meet the qualifications.


What Others Are Saying

"Lia Sensei changed my life. Her teachings in Aikido have had a profound impact on who I am today and continue to shape me everyday into a stronger, more grounded person.

Lia Sensei is truly a one-of-a-kind teacher. She is passionate to no end about Aikido which comes through in her thoughtful though very Japanese style of teaching. Her Aikido classes always leave me drenched in sweat by the end which I have almost never experienced anywhere else (except Japan!) They are intense, dynamic, and feel the way a martial art should truly feel, like a sacred practice."

Chris Coats

Film Maker

"Once I arrived in LA I signed up for some intro classes with Aikido Kenkyukai to see if the dojo would be a good fit for me. A few classes later, I signed up for the year. Suzuki Sensei embodies many of the principals of Aikido and comes from a direct lineage of Aikidoka. What this means for the layman is she's "close" to the source. She's very skilled and deeply cares about the art.

Aikido is a great place for me to "reset" on the mat. It certainly does that for me."

Marc Falzon


"I came looking for exercise I wouldn't get bored of and self defense skills, and while I still get plenty of training in those areas, the reasons I come to Aikido have expanded.  I now find aikido training helps with emotional strength, mental clarity, spiritual growth, confidence, and even communication (or as we call it, verbal aikido)."

Ellis Bahl

Film Maker

"So much enthusiasm and dedication from Lia Sensei! Thank you for teaching our kids so superbly!"

Carlos Barrios MD

Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will be running the classes? Who will my instructor be?

This course will be taught by Lia Suzuki Sensei, 6th dan Aikikai. Check out her bio.

What's the schedule?

“Above & Beyond”

Uchi Deshi and Soto Deshi adapt their schedules to the dojo’s schedule. This means that if the dojo’s schedule changes, so does the deshi’s. And as the dojo’s needs change, the deshi’s schedule also changes to help meet those needs. The Deshi should always strive to be aware of these changes and take initiative to support them. They are expected to go above and beyond by putting the dojo as their first priority.

That being said, below is a general schedule to follow.

  • Training (Each session may also include teaching practicum, i.e. you may be asked to teach or apprentice for a Beginners’ or Youth class, as well as train in the regular Adults’ Class.)
    • Deshi are required to attend all classes on our current schedule, including youth classes. (On days when classes are held simultaneously in more than one location, ask Suzuki Sensei where your presence is most needed.)
    • In addition, they are required to arrive at least 1 hour before the scheduled bow-in time for cleaning and prep. They are also required to stay through closing time for cleaning and break down.
  • Dojo Management / Teacher Training (Expect to devote at least 20 hours/week)
    • Deshi must set aside time to learn and practice the intricacies of running a modern dojo, such as marketing, promotion, reception, and administration. (Schedule for these work sessions to be determined with Suzuki Sensei on a case by case basis for each Deshi, depending on their skills and interests.)
    • If a Teacher Training Course happens to be running during your Deshi Term, you are expected to attend all sessions. (See details on the next course here.) There is no extra fee for this. It is included free of charge for Deshi.
    • Time will also be set aside to review and advise on teaching experiences. These times can be scheduled together with Suzuki Sensei.
  • Review / Q & A / Dojo Business / Other
    • Fridays 10am Pacific: 1-hour conference call
  • Journaling: Ongoing
    • Deshi are expected to keep an ongoing journal of their experiences. This can be kept private or can take the form of posts on the dojo’s blog.
  • Holidays: The dojo is closed on US national holidays. Deshi can relax. 
How much does it cost?

Soto Deshi (Openings currently available)

Uchi Deshi (Launching soon!)

  • Rent: $450/month
  • First 90 days: $200/month (Training is included)
  • After 90 days: $50/month plus regular dojo membership (Price varies, depending on length of commitment)
  • Meals: Deshi’s responsibility
Do you offer scholarships?

Yes! AKI USA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. We offer a limited number of scholarships each year to deserving candidates. You can fill out an application here:

AKI Hollywood

3929 Middlebury St.

Los Angeles, CA 90004

AKI Los Angeles


2936 W 8th Street

Los Angeles, CA 90005

Take your training to a whole new level.