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 is very important in Japan.
She was born in Japan in 1956 and started Aikido being 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 a period of 3 years starting from 1979. She came back home to Japan and joined Hombu Dojo once more then. Seigo Yamaguchi, Ichiro Shibata are the ones she was influenced by mostly.
In 1989 Yoko moved to Portland, Oregon wherein 1991 she managed to establish Portland Aikikai under the direction of Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan.
In 2003 she came back home to Japan again to establish Aikido Kyoto. A dojo was made where an old tapestry factory was placed before and now is a great spot for Aikido. Japanese and even foreign students are there every day.
By the way, her house is 10 minutes walk from the Dojo and she lives with her husband, Christopher Mulligan. He’s also an Aikidoka, they met in a Hombu Dojo in Tokyo and have two grown-up sons.
Okamoto Shihan wakes up early at 5 A.M. to meditate. She has 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 the 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 Aikido Kyoto Facebook page.