Five Rings Aikido was founded by Jim Clark Sensei in November of 2009. Our style is from our Seidokan history but we are an independent dojo. The philosophy of our dojo is to train in traditional Aikido while always having in mind real self defense. Above all, our Aikido must be effective and have martial integrity. At the same time, the goal of developing our martial skill is so that we have the ability to choose between peace and physical conflict. Without the martial skill, all one can do is hope for a peaceful outcome, or become a victim. As one builds skill in budo, one begins to see the ease with which harm can be done, and the wisdom in seeking the most peaceful outcome in all encounters.
Jim Clark had his first experience with martial arts in high school. He studied Tae Kwon Do for about a year and achieved a blue belt rank. After high school, he enrolled at the Ohio State University and studied engineering. During his undergrad years, Clark Sensei walked on to OSU’s fencing team and went on to letter in the sport for four years. His chosen weapon was saber, and he went on to place second in the Big Ten Conference and participated in the NCAA championships his senior year. This fencing experience shaped the way Clark Sensei approaches violent encounters in regards to distance, timing, strategy and tactics.
After finishing graduate school at OSU in 1992, he and his wife moved to Phoenix, Arizona. In 1996 Clark Sensei began his Aikido training with Fred Mastison Sensei at Aikido of Phoenix. Aikido of Phoenix is an independent dojo with a lineage through the Seidokan organization. In 2000, he was promoted to Shodan. Clark Sensei earned his Nidan in 2003, and Sandan in 2006. Along the way, he attended many seminars by numerous high ranking instructors, including both Aiki Expos, fall camps with Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei in Prescott, AZ, and the Bridge seminars in San Diego with Shihans Tissier, Doran, and Ikeda. He has also attended numerous one-day and weekend seminars with various other instructors including John Stevens, Mary Heiny, Mitsugi Saotome, and Pat Hendricks.
After receiving his Shodan Clark Sensei was given the opportunity to teach Kihon classes on a rotating basis with other Yudansha at the AoP dojo, and has been teaching Aikido on and off ever since. Clark Sensei also ran an Aikido Club for two years at the high school where he teaches Physics, Calculus, and Engineering. His expanded teaching duties forced him to give up the club due to time constraints in 2007. His professional teaching experience shapes the way Aikido classes are taught at Five Rings Aikido: a balance of demonstration, explanation, and lots of practice.
In 2007, Clark Sensei took a break from regular Aikido training to pursue an interest in Wing Chun Kung Fu. He has studied Wing Chun in addition to Aikido through the present and trains at Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun of Arizona. His training in Wing Chun led Clark Sensei to look very closely at his knowledge of Aikido and find ways to refine his Aikido practice to include some of the knowledge he was gaining. This renewed focus is based on the principles of always occupying space along the line of attack and maintaining safety first when engaging an opponent. By studying HFY Wing Chun, Clark Sensei found the knowledge of WHY Aikido techniques either work or fail, and it is based on simple physical principles. Students interested in enhancing their Aikido training are encouraged to also train in HFY Wing Chun. For more information on HFY Wing Chun, please click here.