Eastern Sky Aikido | About Us
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About Us


Paul Gardner Sensei, 5th Dan

Paul Gardner Sensei, 5th Dan, Chief  Instructor at Eastern Sky is a student of Shuji Maruyama Sensei, Founder of Kokikai Aikido.  Paul Gardner began his marital arts training in 1980, moved to South East Asia to study martial arts full time and has been teaching aikido in the Rochester area since 1992.


Like many others, I was inspired by David Carradine in the TV show Kung Fu.  I wanted to be peaceful, wise and capable of kicking butt. I still do; however kicking butt is less important now.  I started practicing martial arts every day for 9 years until one day I was invited to an Aikido seminar and witnessed its effortless power and grace firsthand.  I was hooked!


When I teach, my goal is to ensure that each student leaves class with three things:


1) a sense of achievement, pleasure in accomplishment

2) a sense of challenge, savoring the difficult

3) a sense of awe, always striving towards a higher level


When I practice, I start with a goal or a personal mission statement and sincere intent.  Practice should be more than just physical redundancy. Anything worth doing is worth doing better. I try to be aware, to be present, and to keep improving.  For me, Aikido is a metaphor for life.



Rose Pleninger, 3rd  Dan

Rose Pleninger Sensei teaches the children’s classes with the primary focus on the use of the Four Principles in day-to-day life.  It is her goal to instill and develop confidence, discipline and compassion in her students.


I have been an Art Instructor in Rochester area public schools for over 20 years. My continued professional development and experience in Education provide me with a variety of tools and strategies to engage my students in a safe and comfortable environment.


It is so rewarding to witness the growth in individuals when comparing the first moment they step on the mat to even just a few months into their practice. The progress in coordination, posture, and a sense of calm is suddenly manifested.


Shuji Maruyama once told me that the primary focus of the children’s class is simply that. He stressed that good technique is a “by-product” of the Principles. I would say that concept applies to all Aikidoka (Aikido practicioners).






Belt Advancements

Be fluid. Treat each project differently. Be water, man. The best style is no style. Because styles can be figured out.

"In Aikido we never attack. An attack is proof that one is out of control. Never run away from any kind of challenge, but do not try to suppress or control an opponent unnaturally. Let attackers come any way they like and then blend with them. Never chase after opponents. Redirect each attack and get firmly behind it."

Morihei Ueshiba

"The techniques of Aikido change constantly; every encounter is unique, and the appropriate response should emerge naturally. Today's techniques will be different tomorrow. Do not get caught up with the form and appearance of a challenge. Aikido has no form - it is the study of the spirit."

Morihei Ueshiba

"To practice properly Aikido, you must: Calm the spirit and return to the source. Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness, and desire."

Morihei Ueshiba