Chief Instructor Jim Alvarez Sensei

Aikido 6th Dan - ASU Shihan

Shinkendo Kyoshi

Jim Alvarez has been training in the martial arts for over 48 years. Born in Los Angeles in 1953 into a military family Jim’s first exposure to martial arts was in Okinawa where he witnessed Judo at the Air Base gymnasium and Sumo on TV. In 1973 his family settled in California and Jim began his martial arts studies under the late Sifu Bill Steele, a direct student of Y.C. Wong, the famous Hung Gar kung fu master in San Francisco. After about 5 years of study Jim relocated to the California Central Valley which led to finding Sensei Dang Thong Tri and the art of Aikido. He began his study under Tri Sensei in 1978 traveling one hour to Sacramento to pursue his new found passion for this wonderful martial art.

Jim opened his own school in 1989 to further his exploration of the deeper meaning of Aikido. With the passing of Tri Sensei in 1995 he trained under various teachers until he met Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan. Ikeda Shihan opened the door to an even deeper exploration of Aikido’s core principles and allowed Jim access to who would become his biggest influence
in Aikido, Mitsugi Saotome Shihan.

Jim holds the rank of Rokudan (6th degree black belt) in Aikido from the Aikikai World Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. It was personally awarded by his teacher Mitsugi Saotome Shihan, founder of Aikido Schools of Ueshiba and an Uchi Deshi (live-in personal student) of Aikido’s founder, O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. Jim is also a member of Saotome Shihan’s “Ueshiba Juku”. The “Ueshiba Juku” designation is awarded by Saotome Shihan to selected senior students and instructors in recognition of their loyalty and dedication to building ASU and promoting O’Sensei’s vision. It is a testament of both ability and character and declares that they are not only true deshi (direct disciple) of Saotome Sensei and inheritors of his teachings, but are also part of O’Sensei’s own school and pure lineage as only a true Uchi Deshi of O’Sensei can recognize. It signifies the direct line of transmission from O’Sensei through Saotome Sensei to his own direct students. The status is indicated by special kanji worn on the formal keikogi of the individual, and is independent of specific rank or Shihan status.

Aikido contains some training in Japanese sword but Jim found that there were elements of traditional Japanese sword training that he longed to study at a deeper level. In his search for a sword practice that offered what he was looking for he discovered Toshishiro Obata Sensei, Kaiso (Founder) of the art of Shinkendo. In 1992 he began his training under Obata Sensei and has since been exploring the connections between Aikido and Japanese swordsmanship.

Jim holds the Shinkendo the rank of Toku-i and the title of Kyoshi as an instructor. In addition to the rank Godan (5th degree black belt) in Toyama Ryu Batto-do all awarded by Kaiso Toshishiro Obata.

Jim is the owner of Mugen Dachi Company wholesale supplier of tatami-omote for the practice of tameshigiri (test cutting). Mugen Dachi has vendors on the West Coast ( and East Coast (

Alvarez Sensei conducts seminars around the country as well as internationally. He has taught in England; Ireland; Tahiti; Canada; Turkey; Japan and Australia.