Michael Haft Sensei, 5th Dan - dojo Instructor
Mike’s first experience with Budo began in the 1980s when his parents introduced him to karate. During his teenage years he began learning t’ai chi ch’uan as well as occasionally dabbling in other arts just to see what they were like - a habit he has continued with ever since. However, it was in 1997 at the age of eighteen that he first encountered the art that was to become his main focus: aikido. Mike was introduced to aikido when he began studying at university in Plymouth, under the tutelage of Geoff Flather Sensei. Mike became an instructor in 2002 when he founded the Imperial College Aikido Club in London. Since then he has gone on to found a number of other aikido clubs. Whilst studying for his PhD, he founded the present incarnation of the Aberdeen University Aikido Club in September 2004 and the Aberdeen City Aikido Club in April 2006, he also oversaw the creation of an aikido club at Robert Gordon’s University in 2007. Also while studying in Aberdeen Mike studied kendo with Kazuo Yamazaki Sensei for a few years and helped him set up the first ever Aberdeen University Kendo Club.
From 2004-2017, Mike's original teacher was affiliated to Aikido Yuishinkai, and it was in 2004 that Mike was first exposed to the teachings of Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei. In 2009 Mike decided to leave Flather Sensei's association and independently affiliated the Takagashira Dojo to Aikido Yuishinkai, he was greatly assisted in this process by Denis Burke Sensei who was at that time also affiliated to Aikido Yuishinkai. Since then Mike has been a direct student of Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei and works hard to teach the aikido taught to him by Maruyama Sensei, who learned it directly from the founder of aikido himself. Mike regularly attends Aikido Yuishinkai seminars in Europe and Japan and has been the host for Maruyama Sensei's European seminar several times.
In 2018 Mike relocated to London during the week for work reasons and will be opening a dojo there soon, the name of the dojo is Renshinkan and was given to him by Maruyama Sensei, Renshinkan means a place to train the spirit/heart.
Rebecca Haft Sensei, 2nd Dan
Becky began studying aikido in 2004 whilst she was a student in Aberdeen, her interest in the art stemmed from her passion for horses and natural horsemanship (horse whispering) which is all about being in harmony with the horse both on and off of the ground. The overlap with the philosophy and practise of aikido was enough to convince her that aikido was something she wanted to embrace wholeheartedly, and so she did. She became an assistant instructor after only two years of aikido training and took on the responsibility as the primary instructor of the Aberdeen University Aikido Club before graduating. Becky took a break from aikido of four years whilst having children, but she's back in the dojo now. In April 2016 whilst training in Japan, she was awarded the rank of nidan (2nd dan) by Maruyama Sensei, Becky is also a direct student of Maruyama Sensei.
Stephen Bagnall and Matthew Burland
During Mike's absence from the dojo the day to day training is being supervised by the dojo's two senior students Steve and Matt, both of them began training with Mike in 2009.