The teaching of the martial art of Ki Aikido began in Boulder, Colorado in 1977, when Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei founded our parent martial arts organization, Rocky Mountain Ki Society (RMKS). Twenty years later, the Boulder and Denver dojos were combined and moved to form a new home in Westminster, Colorado, which now serves as the official Headquarters of RMKS.
In 1999, primarily to relieve the long, slow, rush-hour commute to the Westminster dojo, Abel Villacorta Sensei formed Boulder Ki Aikido. Thus, the tradition of disseminating the principles and graceful martial art of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido continues to thrive in Boulder.
Boulder Ki Aikido Instructors
Abel Villacorta Sensei | 4th Degree Black Belt (Dan) | Executive Director & Lead Instructor
Husband, father of three, business consultant in the fields of branding, marketing, design, and a serial entrepreneur, Peruvian-born Villacorta Sensei, has been teaching and sharing the application of mind-body coordination principles, on and off the mat, since 1995.
He began his practice of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido in the spring of 1993, under the tutelage of Russell Smith Sensei (5th dan), while attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
“I first became interested in martial arts because I wanted a solid discipline to develop my character and a way to feel confident in defending myself. Due to its circular, fluid and effective techniques that harnessed the energy of my opponent, Ki Aikido quickly became a perfect fit.”
Villacorta Sensei received the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) in Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (“Aikido with Mind & Body Unified”/Ki Aikido) in January 2016. He holds the rank of Chuden in Shin Shin Toitsu Do (“Way of Unifying Mind & Body”/Ki development rank), is certified as Assistant Lecturer and as Assistant Examiner for the Japanese international organization, Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai.
Villacorta Sensei has a genuine dedication for inspiring students of all ages to discover their true inner power and to live life positively. “Over time, this art has become a spiritual path for me. I remain a lifelong student of this profound art by training under the guidance of Kashiwaya Sensei.”
Jennifer Trotter Sensei | 3rd Dan | Senior Instructor | Office Manager
“I found the emphasis on relaxation and connection very compelling and have practiced ever since. I have found the Ki practice very useful in my daily life, both as a mom and as a volunteer at a therapeutic riding center.”
Trotter Sensei tested for the rank of Sandan (3rd degree black belt) in 2013. She has been teaching aikido for more than ten years.
William Stanley Sensei | 3rd Dan | Senior Instructor
Bill Stanley began the study of Ki-Aikido 1995, as a result of hearing a description of its core principle of mind-body unification in an introductory class at the University of Colorado Recreation Center. He is still indebted to his early sensei in that course – Russell Jones, Marcus Peterson, Lance McClure, Derek Nabel and Abel Villacorta.
“It never ceases to amaze me how the practice of this art continually informs everyday life, including my vocation as a professor in the University of Colorado College of Music, as well as in many professional level musical performances throughout the Denver/Boulder metro region.”
He received the Ki Development rank of Shoden, and the Ki Aikido rank of Sandan in 2013. He has been sharing his love of teaching at BKA since 2001.
Vladimir Pereskokov Sensei | 2nd Dan | Instructor
Born in the Urals region of Russia in 1970, Pereskokov Sensei went on to receive a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Urals State University in 1994. After serving as a software engineer for a police department in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Pereskokov Sensei moved to Colorado with his wife, Maria, and with their only daughter then, Liza, in 2000 to pursue professional careers and explore the world. Their second daughter, Sasha, was born in Boulder in 2003.
In 2005, Pereskokov Sensei started practicing Ki Aikido regularly at the Boulder dojo. He also practices at our sister dojo, RMKS-Westminster from time to time.
“I started my Ki Aikido practice with the simple idea of learning how to be able to protect myself and the people I love. I have stayed with the art for all these years because for me the experience turned out to be more than learning a set of self-defense skills. The ability to understand the nature of conflict and be able to deal with it is another important skill that Ki Aikido teaches.”
He received his Ki Aikido Nidan rank in the spring of 2016.
Nathan Prucha Sensei | 1st Dan | Instructor
Nathan was born in Colorado in 1984 and, after many years of searching through other forms of martial arts, began studying the art of Ki Aikido in 2009. Already having an idea that mind moves body Ki Aikido was a perfect fit.
“Ki Aikido has helped me in every facet of my life from relationships to snowboarding to drifting. It’s amazing how much the principles apply to everyday life.”
He has a degree in Network Engineering and is currently a Network Administrator for a software company in Boulder. Nathan is dedicated to nurturing the lives of children and their parents at Boulder Ki Aikido through his assistance in our Child-Parent classes. He received his Ki Aikido Shodan rank in December, 2015.
Merlyn Holmes | 2nd Kyu | Assistant Instructor | Director of Community Outreach
“The words ‘Aikido’ and ‘child-parent class’ caught my ear while I was passively watching a gymnastics class that my son was in. Now that was something I could do with my son.”
Merlyn has long been involved in conflict resolution and peacemaking. Thus, she knew that Aikido was something she wanted to try. But it took being a mom, trying to find the right activities and the right teachers for her son, to get her in the dojo.
“Little did I know that, soon after doing my first roll, I would be falling head over heels in love with the art. Finding an embodied practice for engaging in conflict in healthy ways has been inspirational. The principles of it, practiced and honed with body and mind in the dojo, are just preparation for its many applications outside the dojo.”
As the volunteer Community Outreach Director for BKA, Merlyn’s inspiration has spread throughout the Boulder community. Last year, she initiated and organized events for the U.N.’s International Day of Peace, One Billion Rising, CU-Boulder’s Diversity & Inclusion Summit, the International Festival, as well as somatic-based trainings to Crest View Elementary’s Peer Mediation Training program.
Most recently,with her son Landryk, 8, she has developed Peacemaking with Mind & Body, a workshop that uses play to guide people of all ages right through the territory of conflict resolution. In it, they explore how to turn conflict into a friend and engage with it in healthy, productive ways.
She received her Ki Aikido 2nd kyu, brown belt rank, in December, 2015.
Our Inspiration, Leadership and Affiliation
Russell Smith Sensei | 5th Dan | Head Instructor Rocky Mountain Ki Society | Dojo Director Ft. Collins Ki Aikido
Ki Aikido began in Fort Collins in 1979, when a small group of individuals asked Kashiwaya Sensei for permission to begin practice and open an official school there. From that humble beginning, the school established a foothold in the community and, after some location moves, found a home on campus as a CSU Club Sport in late 1980.
CSU students ran the organization on campus. Instructors would come from our headquarters dojo in Boulder to teach one night a week, while Russell Smith Sensei provided instruction the other night. The group practiced at CSU continually until December 2012. In January 2013, Fort Collins Ki-Aikido moved into their new location, the Shugyo Training Center.
Russell Smith Sensei, who now holds a 5th degree black belt (Godan) in Ki Aikido with the Ki rank of Joden, is still teaching most of the classes, after more than 30 years.
Over the years, Smith Sensei has touched the lives of many people on and off-campus and has nurtured the continued flow of energy brought to the Ft. Collins Ki Aikido organization by new and sustaining students. He has inspired many who have gone on to fill key roles in RMKS, among them Derek Nabel Sensei, 4th dan, Dojo Director at Westminster-RMKS HQ, and our own head instructor, Villacorta Sensei. Smith Sensei continues to share the way of budo with those who enroll in martial arts classes at his dojo.
Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei | 8th Dan | Chief Instructor Midland Ki Federation
Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei is one of the very few full-time Aikido professionals in the United States and travels extensively and frequently, teaching on behalf of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai HQ (aka Ki Society), for dozens of dojos in Midland Ki Federation (MKF), and occasional seminars for other groups throughout the world.
Students from all over the world relish the opportunity to train with this spirited, dynamic teacher who continually inspires his students to polish, refine and explore their arts. His compassion and care for his students have inspired many to take these arts into their daily lives. Literally thousands of people, through his efforts, have experienced the teachings of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai International and Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei. A major emphasis in his teaching is the development of the next generation of instructors and leaders for MKF and Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai International.
Kashiwaya Sensei’s official positions include: Advisor for Shin shin Toitsu Aikido Kai International for North America; official Shin shin Toitsu Aikido Kai Headquarters Instructor (Sohombu Shihan) teaching internationally on behalf of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai; and Chief Instructor and Founder of Midland Ki Federation, a group of 27 dojo’s across the USA, Canada and Brazil. He also works to support Shin shin Toitsu Aikido Kai International’s efforts in Australia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Currently, Kashiwaya Sensei holds the following ranks and certifications from Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai International:
- Okuden in Ki Development (1977)
- Hachidan in Shinshin Toitsu Aikido (1998)
- Koshi (Ki Lecturer – full professor) (ca. 1983)
- International Taigi Competition Judge (1996)
- Special Examiner (2007)
- Sohombu Shihan (Headquarters Instructor) (2011)
Shinichi Tohei Sensei | President of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai
Shinichi Tohei Sensei was born in Tokyo on 18th August, 1973. At the age of 2, he started learning Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, based on the Ki Principles, from his father, Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei, the 10th dan Aikido Master. Shinshin Toitsu Aikido was founded as Ki no Kenkyukai (Ki Society International) in 1974 by his father. In 1997, Shinichi Tohei Sensei became Uchideshi and started learning and training directly under his father. He also started teaching Shinshin Toitsu Aikido at the Keio University official Aikido Club.
In 2002, he completed his Uchideshi training and began teaching overseas. Since then, Shinichi Tohei Sensei has been conducting National Seminars in the United States, in places such as Hawaii, Seattle, Las Vegas, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington D.C., where instructors from all over the world come together to practice and learn.
In September of 2007, Shinichi Tohei Sensei succeeded and took over the teachings of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido from Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei. That same year, Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai was launched as an official organization, replacing Ki no Kenkyukai, and Shinichi Tohei Sensei became the president.
Currently, as successor, he is engaged in an effort to spread the ideas and principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido in Japan and throughout the world. He also serves as a part-time liberal arts teacher at Keio University and teaches Shinshin Toitsu Aikido classes at the official Keio University Aikido Club. Furthermore, he applies the teachings in communication seminars, guiding the development of human resources for business leaders, professional athletes and artists.
Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei
When he was young, he suffered from pleurisy and he was very weak. Determined to strengthen both mind and body, he undertook intensive training in Zen meditation and Misogi breathing methods.
At the age of 19 he began the study of Aikido under the founder Morihei Ueshiba Sensei and ultimately achieved the highest level of 10th Dan. After the war, he studied mind and body unification from Tempu Nakamura Sensei.
From 1953, he traveled alone all around the world and spread Aikido, starting with the United States of America. He was also the author of a number of best-selling books such as “Ki in Daily Life,” “Kiatsu,” and several other books.
In 1971, he established the Ki society which focused on spreading of the Ki Principles and Shinshin Toitsu Aikido (Aikido with Mind and Body Coordinated) and started growing many instructors throughout the world.
On 19th May 2011, he passed away at the age of 91.