Yoko Okamoto holds a rank of a 6th Dan in Aikido Aikikai, a status of Shihan. She is the most respected female-sensei in Aikido and a is important in Japan.
She was born in Japan in 1956 and started Aikido when she was 22 years old. Her first aikido steps were made in the world headquarters of Aikido, the Hombu Dojo. She joined when Kisshomaru Ueshiba was active.
Yoko relocated to France after, where Christian Tissier Shihan became her teacher for the period of 3 years starting from 1979 and then she came back home to Japan and joined Hombu Dojo once more. Seigo Yamaguchi, Ichiro Shibata are the ones she was influenced by mostly.
In 1989 Yoko moved to Portland, Oregon where in 1991 she managed to establish Portland Aikikai under the direction of Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan. She has been a dojo-cho (chief instructor) while she was at the place.
In 2003 she came back home to Japan again to establish Aikido Kyoto. Dojo was made where old tapestry factory had place before and now is a great spot for aikido. Japanese and even foreign students can be found there every day.
By the way, her house is 10 minutes walk from the dojo and she lives with her husband. He’s also an aikidoka, they met in a dojo at Tokyo and they have two grown up sons.
Okamoto Shihan wakes up early at 5 A.M. and likes to meditate before leading several classes a day. To keep up a daily routine she has to be serious about her health, eat good food, avoid wasting energy. This also helps her well during the unlimited count of the seminars and aikido-events all over the world.
Besides USA, Yoko Okamoto Shihan gives seminars in Germany, Norway, Canada, Australia… She still has much to show and we’ll see more of her aikido around the scene. To stay in touch with her use AikidoKyoto facebook page.