South Austin Aikido

South Austin Aikido

5.0 (9)
Best of 2020
7 employees
14 years in business

About this pro

We have 8 instructors, who have been training in Aikido an average of over 15 years, ranging from 29 to 10. Many of our instructors trained in other martial arts for decades before finding Aikido.  More info about our instructors can be found on our website (see below).

We are a non-profit organization (officially a 501(c)(3) charity) dedicated to teaching Aikido.  None of our instructors recieve any compensation.  We all do it for the love of our art.

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Austin, TX 78704
Email verified
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9 Reviews


  • Megan Murphy

    The friendly family atmosphere and focused training by accomplished and careful variety of teachers.

  • Marc Fuentes

    Our course the teaching/learning Aikido. But most importantly the friendships I developed there. I am still in contact with a few, through the electronic means. The thing I valued most, as far as lessons, and I can still hear Todd Sensei's voice. Is, don't get focused on doing a technique on an opponent. No one person is going to approach you with the same force, angle or intensions. All things we cannot predict, much like a surfer cannot control the wave to do a certain maneuver, you must learn to just ride the wave and take what is presented to you in the moment. This doesn't just apply in the dojo but in life. We are all on a different path and we are not all watching the same "movie." My life has taken me on a different course for a bit and have been running for the past few years now. But my Aikido training has helped me tremendously with my running and I have accomplished running long distances and at paces I never though possible...just by being aware of my center and moving with my center. I plan on returning to South Austin Aikido, to continue my training, but also because of the emotional attachments made there. I think about them all of the time, I hear all of the Sensei's voices in my head with met with challenges. I learned so much more that just Aikido there.

  • Tony Gaddis

    I trained at SAA for many years. They have a welcoming, fun atmosphere while, at the same time, being very focused on training. Everyone is willing to help build your spirit in a kind and loving manner that is appropriate for each individual. It is a great atmosphere to train in and I highly recommend it to anyone young or old.

  • Cesar E. Moncayo

    There are several reasons why training in South Austin Aikido (SAA) is very important to me... However, I can summarize it in the following: I have been training in South Austin Aikido (SAA) for 8 years and I have always received from all the Instructors great Teachings, based on the principles of Martial Arts: Discipline, Determination, Development, Defense, Dedication In SAA I learned that the Black Belt is not “just” a belt... It's a sign of maturity, skill and dedication. In SAA I always leave class feeling to sense of joy and accomplishment. In SAA Students do not compete with each other - they empower each other. We're not in the Dojo to prove something, but to improve something... There is a Kids classes, but it's not a kindergarten. The kids are well-disciplined and hard working in a way that's beyond their years. For many reasons I want to Thanks to all SAA’s Sensei Instructors for being such great Teachers. Thank you Jesse Sensei for your continued support and for being my Friend and my Mentor Thank you SAA for eight years of hard training, and for giving me the opportunity to learn one of the most complete Martial Art Techniques that exists. “Aikido has many physical and psychological benefits. The versatility of the art makes it ideal for students of all ages”...

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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

For all classes, we adjust the lessons to the students present.  If we have a class with all beginners, the class will be taught at a beginner level.  If we have all advanced students, it will be taught for that level.

If we have a mix (as is usually the case), the class material will be presented in such a way that it can be worked on by all students.  Typically, we'll pair up more advanced students with less advanced students, so they can adjust the lesson as needed, with guidance from Sensei.

If we have enough students present, a new student might be paired up with an advanced student for their whole first class, to work on basic lessons, off to one side.

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

Personally, I (Jesse Spears) have been training in martial arts and sports since 1984, when I started taking Tae Kwon Do as a college student.  I've been learning Aikido since 2002.

I've been teaching Aikido since 2004: first as a stand in when another instructor was late, or absent, and later progressing on to more responsibility over time.  I earned my Shodan in 2010, and started teaching a regularly scheduled class about 2 years later.

I earned my Nidan (second degree black belt) in 2014, and my Sandan (third degree black belt) in 2018.

I regularly attend seminars with very senior teachers, including:  Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei (2-3 times a year), Mary Heiny Sensei (1/year), Greg Olsen Sensei (1/year).  Recently I attended my first 2 seminars with Lisa Tomoleoni Sensei (head of our parent organization, Aikido Shimbokukai), and hope to train with her more in the future.  I've also attended seminars taught by Mitsuge Saotome Sensei, Tres Hofmeister Sensei, Raso Hultgren Sensei, and Wendy Palmer Sensei.  All of these teachers are 6th or 7th dan in Aikido.  I've trained with countless others at 5th dan or lower (if you care, ask me in person and I can list off some more ;).

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

Our standard class fees are $85/month for adults, with an initial sign up of $200 (which includes the first 3 months of training and a uniform).  This allows you to train in all scheduled classes (although we have an occasional Saturday morning class that is only open to advanced students).

We have discounted rates for a variety of things, such as students/teens, veterans, first responders, couples, families, and we also run specials from time to time for special occasions.

See our website for more details:

What types of students have you worked with?

We currently work with adults of all ages, teens (13-17), and kids (6-12).

We have worked with a number of people that have studied other arts, and are looking for something different.

We have also worked with veterans, some with PTSD. 

If you have issues we should know about, please let us know.  We'll do our best to work around any physical or emotional difficulties :)

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

A recent event at our dojo was a seminar with Lisa Tomoleoni Sensei, which also included 6 black belt tests of various levels (5 of them for our instructors).

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Observe a class (or many).

Watch how they teach, and how they treat their students (particularly the newer ones).

Look for someone that's not reliant on physical strength, or pain compliance.  Unfortunately, that's not an easy thing to determine from sight without some experience in Aikido.

Look for a dojo that has happy people in it.  If the students aren't laughing and having a good time, the energy on the mat is probably negative.  Happy students makes learning a lot more enjoyable.

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

What do you want to get from your training?

Lessons offered