Jon Marshall Shihan
6th Dan Yoshinkan Aikido Shihan & 5th Dan Gyokushin Ryu Aikido Shihan
Jon Marshall Shihan started Aikido in 1985 under long-time teacher Joe Thambu Shihan at the renowned Aikido Shudokan in Melbourne. From the age of 10 via the children’s class, the young Jon Marshall showed an aptitude and talent in what is to be an enduring dedication to Budo. At age 15, he tested and received his Shodan (1st degree black belt) then five years later tested and received his Nidan (2nd black belt); the highlight of which was being tested by Gozo Shioda’s last uchi-deshi (live-in disciple) Mori Michiharu Shihan. In 1996, with a strong desire to further his knowledge and practice of Aikido, he decided to move to Japan and train at the Yoshinkan Aikido Honbu (HQ) in Tokyo.
From 1997-1998, he undertook the rigorous but renowned Senshusei/Instructors Course at the Honbu dojo, and upon completion was awarded the rank of 3rd Dan. His enthusiasm and talent was recognised throughout the arduous Senshusei course and as a result was appointed an Instructor at the Yoshinkan Honbu dojo, where he taught other Senshusei and the international classes. Whilst living in Japan, he accompanied senior Honbu instructors overseas to assist with frequent seminars also. Jon Marshall Sensei tested to the rank of fourth dan black belt in 2001.
In 2002, he returned after living and training for 7 years to commence his tertiary studies in Osteopathy. He was appointed the senior instructor of the Aikido Shudokan under Joe Thambu Shihan and accompanied him on numerous international tours where he has taught in a number of countries namely: Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Poland and the United States.
In 2006, he returned to Japan and was tested to the level of Godan (5th black belt) by eminent Yoshinkan instructors, Inoue Kyoichi Kancho and Chida Tsutomu Shihan making him the youngest foreigner outside Japan to attain the rank of 5th dan at 31 years of age.
In recognition of his dedication and skill he received the rank of 6th dan in 2012 from Yoshinkan pioneer and legend Kyoichi Inoue Sense. In October 2017, The Yoshinkan honbu dojo in Tokyo awarded him with the title of Shihan (Master) after 32 years of training and as recognition of his skill and effort to teach and promote Yoshinkan Aikido throughout Australia as well as internationally.
In addition to training in Yoshinkan Aikido, Jon Marshall also holds the rank of 5th dan in Gyokushin ryu Aikido and was awarded his teaching licence directly from the founder, Terumi Washizu Sensei. He was also awarded the rare distinction of being appointed the head of Gyokushin ryu in Australia with the title of Shibucho and only the second dojo outside Japan that is authorised to teach and grade students in Gyokushin ryu Aikido. In April 2017, Jon Marshall was awarded the rank of Shihan (Master) from the Gyokushin ryu honbu dojo. He makes frequent trips to Shizuoka, Japan to continue his study of this fascinating form of budo.
Initially establishing his own dojo in the iconic Rialto Towers in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, the dojo subsequently upgraded to a larger space in Brunswick St, Fitzroy and was renamed the Melbourne Budo Academy. In March 2018, the dojo relocated to the present site at Level 1, 96a Hoddle St, Abbotsford.
The dojo assembles world class instructors in various Martial Arts, and it is here that he shares the Aikido that has been passed down to him by his teachers and lessons he has learnt in Budo. He believes in the virtues that come from training budo and ultimately its role in bringing harmony to an individual’s life and the world around them.
In April, 2018, he established the Aikido Yobukai, an organisation whose aim is to promote, teach and research pre-war Aikido and to integrate Yoshinkan ,Gyokushin ryu Aikido and newza (ground techniques). The Yobukai is unique among Aikido schools in that students are taught both traditional Aikido techniques and weapons, sutemi waza (sacrifice throws) and newaza (ground fighting/submissions)
Lael McAvoy Sensei
Aikido 4th Dan
Lael Sensei began her Aikido journey at the Heathmont dojo in 1998 and was awarded the rank of Shodan in June 2001 after an intensive period of training. She was awarded the rank of 2nd dan in 2003, and 3rd dan in 2008. In April 2014, she was tested to 4th Dan by Inoue Kyoichi Kancho (10th Dan).
Lael Sensei considers it nothing less than a privilege being taught by the pioneer of Yoshinkan Aikido in Australia, Joe Thambu Shihan as well as many visiting teachers such as Inoue Kyoichi (10th dan), Chida Tsutomu (8th dan), Takeno Takafumi (9th dan) and Mustard Sensei (7th dan).
She has a wealth of teaching experience and initially began teaching at the Aikido Shudokan Oakleigh dojo in 2003, then the main dojo in Thornbury in 2004. In 2010, she joined the Aikido Shudokan City dojo as an instructor and continues to spread the art that she loves and to inspire the next generation of Aikido practitioners.
Reynaldo Van Der Straaten
Aikido 3rd Dan
Rey first started training Aikido in August 2007 as a method to get fit.
Having left formal study and finding himself in the corporate world; he sought a way where he could maintain physical exercise after work to add to his involvement with team sports. Having loved martial arts in the books and movies he indulged in since young, he sought a martial art with meaning for a lengthy period of time before discovering Aikido via an invitation from a work colleague. What started as a way to maintain fitness and learn ‘’cool’’ martial arts soon became an avenue to the joys of training and continuing journey of self-improvement.
Rey attained the rank of 1st Dan black belt at the Aikido Shudokan in December 2010. He was awarded the rank of Nidan (2nd dan black belt) in December 2012, and Sandan (3rd dan black belt) in December 2017. Rey owes the Aikido he has learnt in the past through Joe Thambu Shihan. Rey acknowledges Thambu Shihan’s excellence in teaching and continues to apply the lessons learned in his pursuit of other martial arts, as well as instructing both adults and the children’s classes at the Melbourne Budo Academy. Rey continues to be committed to learning from and assisting Jon Marshall Sensei at the Melbourne Budo Academy.
Rey believes that apart from fitness, self-defence, and confidence that training in Aikido has imparted to him – it is Awareness that is paramount. He believes that it is the awareness of one’s self and actions that will allow the fostering of harmony between himself and his environment. It is with enthusiasm and love for Aikido that he wishes to share with others that take up this martial art also.
Rey’s passion is learning other martial arts where the opportunity affords him. He continues to study Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) and has grown in understanding and respect for Aikido by learning the combative and no-nonsense approach of his native FMA. He hopes to get back into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu soon and one day hope to train in Judo.
Aikido 2nd Dan
Francois began his training in Aikido in January 2011, conveniently picking a dojo on his way back home from work to get some exercise. What he found instead was beyond his expectations. He discovered a way to release the pressure, bring spiritual balance, and most importantly, a way to improve oneself day by day. He dedicated his free time to the art, and after 2 years of rigorous training under the supervision of Sensei Jon Marshall, he received his 1st Dan black belt in march 2013.
Feeling the benefits of martial arts, Francois decided to further commit himself, and went on a break from the corporate world to pursue his passion. Guided by Sensei Jon Marshall, he left Australia for Japan in order to get a deeper understanding of Aikido. He undertook the intensive Senshusei course for a duration of one year, at the former Aikido Yoshinkan Honbu Dojo, under the teachings of Saburo Takashima Sensei, Dojo-Cho of Aikido Sengenkan. On top of being Senshusei, he was accepted as Uchi Deshi ("live in student"), which made his training year invaluable. After completing the course, he received his Nidan (2nd dan black belt) and an instructor certification in march 2014.
Francois is now back in Melbourne, teaching at the Melbourne Budo Academy, giving back and sharing the invaluable lessons he received.
Amongst the many important aspects of Budo, like focus or self-discipline for example, Francois feels that the respect taught through Budo is the essential life lesson for human beings. If one can get better at it, the world can get better.