A Dojo Timeline


  • School founded. Sand Drift Aikikai, United States Aikido Federation.
  • Curtis Rosiek, first chief instructor. Student of Tom “Doc” Walker Sensei.
  • Training at Mark Spivak’s Institute and Dance Extension.


  • Curtis Rosiek relocates, after completing work on the Acosta Bridge.
  • Chris Rozett, second chief instructor. Student at Aikido Center of Atlanta.
  • Seminar, October 1994, Peter Bernath Shihan.
  • Chris Rozett awarded shodan.


  • Buck Pittman joins school.
  • School renamed, Aikido Center of Jacksonville.


  • Dee Seabolt joins school.
  • Seminar, March 1996, Peter Bernath Shihan.
  • Seminar, July 1996, Peter Bernath Shihan.


  • Seminar, September 1997, Peter Bernath Shihan.
  • Chris Rozett awarded nidan.


  • Mike Sands and Jennifer Sands join school.
  • Chris Rozett relocates to Singapore.
  • Mike Sands, third chief instructor.
  • Dee Seabolt, dojo-cho.
  • Seminar, May 1998, Jason Wilhide Sensei.
  • Brett Jackson joins school. Student of George Chang Sensei.
  • School relocated, Jewish Community Alliance.


  • Brett Jackson relocates to California. Joins Aikido of San Leandro.


  • New Year’s cleansing classes begin.


  • School relocated, University of North Florida.
  • Dee Seabolt, fourth chief instructor.
  • Seminar, July 2001, Grady Lane Shidoin.
  • Jerry Akel joins school.


  • Seminar, April 2002, Nobu Arakawa Shidoin.
  • Seminar, November 2002, Penny Bernath Shidoin.
  • Dee Seabolt awarded shodan.


  • Seminar, April 2003, Nobu Arakawa Shidoin.
  • John Miller joins school.


  • Seminar, January 2004, Richard Wagener Shidoin.
  • Seminar, December 2004, Grady Lane Shidoin.


  • Seminar, February 2005, Donovan Waite Shihan.
  • Seminar, October 2005, Peter Bernath Shihan.


  • Joel Miller joins school.
  • Seminar, April 2006, Grady Lane Shidoin.
  • Seminar, October 2006, Peter Bernath Shihan.
  • Dee Seabolt awarded nidan.
  • Dee Seabolt awarded fukushidoin license.


  • Seminar, April 2007, Grady Lane Shidoin.
  • Seminar, April 2007, Ed Di Marco Shidoin.
  • Tonya’s Training Diary publishes.
  • Seminar, October 2007, Luis Sabater Sensei.
  • Joel Miller awarded shodan. Returns to Austin Aikikai.


  • Dojo Newsletter publishes.
  • Camping Trip, March 2008, Huguenot Memorial Park.
  • School relocated, Dupont Dojo.
  • John Miller awarded nidan.
  • Buck Pittman awarded shodan.
  • Jerry Akel awarded shodan.


  • Children’s classes begin.
  • Seminar, January 2009, Peter Bernath Shihan.
  • Camping Trip, March 2009, Gold Head Branch State Park.
  • Seminar, July 2009, Grady Lane Shidoin.
  • Learning To Be Silent publishes.
  • Seminar, September 2009, Friendship Seminar.


  • Dee Seabolt awarded sandan.
  • Camping Trip, April 2010, Gold Head Branch State Park.
  • Nafudakake installed.
  • Seminar, June 2010, Richard Wagener Shidoin.
  • Tonya Machado awarded shodan.


  • John Miller relocates to New Mexico.
  • Camping Trip, March 2011, Fort Clinch State Park.
  • Seminar, May 2011, Summer Seminar.
  • Seminar, September 2011, Peter Bernath Shihan.


  • Camping Trip, March 2012, Anastasia State Park.
  • Seminar, May 2012, Friendship Seminar.
  • Twentieth Anniversary Seminar, October 2012, Peter Bernath Shihan.
  • Jennifer Henis awarded shodan.


  • Dee Seabolt awarded yondan.
  • Jerry Akel awarded nidan.
  • Tonya Machado awarded nidan.


  • Seminar, May 2014, Grady Lane Shidoin and Luis Cataldi Fukushidoin.
  • Seminar, October 2014, Peter Bernath Shihan.
  • Buck Pittman awarded nidan.
  • Jennifer Henis awarded nidan.


  • Dee Seabolt awarded shidoin license.
  • Jerry Akel awarded fukushidoin license.
  • Seminar, May 2015, Friendship Seminar.
  • Seminar, October 2015, Grady Lane Shidoin.


  • Tatami mats installed and kamiza rededicated.


  • Jerry Akel awarded sandan.
  • Kevin Johnston awarded shodan.

50 thoughts on “A Dojo Timeline

  1. When I joined in May 1995, I’m pretty sure the listing in the phone book was still Sand Drift Aikido, not Aikikai. Curtis had left and Chris had recently tested for shodan. Like Curtis, he was chief instructor as a 1st Kyu when he started.

    I guess 1998 was the year Chris left the dojo and moved to Singapore, never to return. I know Mike Sands trained with us for quite a while with Chris still in charge. It was when Chris left that Mike took over –thankfully, or the dojo would have closed.

    It looks like you have listed the seminars that we hosted. But we also travelled to other dojos during Chris’s tenure. My first seminar was at Grady Lane sensei’s dojo, when he was at the civic center in Melbourne. We had to put mats up and down there too! My fourth kyu test was also at Grady’s dojo in December of 1997, also at the civic center.

    Incicentally, Chris spelled his last name Rozett–no e on the end.

  2. Thanks, Buck.

    The certificate I examined from 1993 identifies the school as Sand Drift Aikikai. Presumably that’s the record with the Federation.

    Since this is a history of the dojo, I’m only including seminars hosted at the school. Maybe in a future post we can talk about these experiences.

    I’ll update Chris’ information later today.

    Thanks again. I think this is a worthwhile project.

  3. It’s funny how these things turn out.

    Brett Jackson was before my time, so I never knew him. As it happens, though, he is still very much active in Aikido, and in fact is a senior instructor in the California Aikido Association, Division 1, under Pat Hendricks Sensei.

    And I never would have known this had I not started this little project.

    What was it that I said about connections

  4. I read Brett Jackson’s bio via your link and it was good to reconnect. I had forgotten about his Singapore time. Strange that he basically traded places with Chris. I was disappointed he didn’t mention his time with our dojo. Maybe it wasn’t one of his fonder memories!

    I would love to see Sterling added to our timeline. He tested 1st kyu with us and I think it was at the same seminar I tested 2nd kyu. His time with us was short, but he had a significant influence on me, and I think Dee as well. Certainly some of his techniques survive through us. I know he changed our sankyo forever!

    Since he taught gymnastics for a living, he could rarely train with us at night, so Dee and I, and sometimes one or two others like Mike Forster, would meet at the gymnastics studio at 6 am to train for an hour. I think Dee was 1st kyu then and I 3rd kyu when we started training with Sterling, who was 2nd kyu. Then we tested and he was 1st kyu with Dee, and I was 2nd kyu.

    Sterling usually taught class and his style having trained under Paul Chang sensei (a former student of Kanai sensei) was different but powerful. He also had a great sense of humor. He struggled with work and family here and finally resolved to move back to Missouri and resumed training with Chang Sensei.

  5. Buck, did you test for 2nd kyu in Jacksonville? Was that at the July 2001 seminar with Lane Sensei? If so, do you recall whether that was at UNF or at the JCA?

    Regarding Sterling Belknap, and other former students, these comments are also part of the permanent record of this post. If anyone has any recollections about the school, (including past students), I invite you to share them.

    My only request: that they be about the dojo in Jacksonville. (We all have stories about seminars and influences elsewhere, but I’d like this to be a record of Aikido here locally).

    On a related matter, I’m pleased as punch at how this post is turning out. As far as I’m concerned, this is becoming the definitive history of Aikikai Aikido here in Jacksonville.

    Thanks for helping me make this happen.

  6. I’m using the 2002 date from the biography you gave me for the instructor’s page.

    If you’re certain that 2003 is the correct date, let me know and I’ll change it on both pages.

    I can’t say this enough – thank you everyone for all your help. And a special thanks to Herve, our earliest student, who got the ball rolling for me.

  7. John, check your yudansha book for your first seminar with us. Did you attend Penny Bernath’s seminar in November 2002? Or April 2003 with Arakawa Sensei?

    Hopefully that should answer the question.


  8. Neither, but I’ll check my records. In any event, my time at the Aikido Center of Jacksonville is my longest tenure at any dojo!

  9. Pingback: Learning To Be Silent » Blog Archive » Yamada Sensei in Jacksonville

  10. Pingback: Learning To Be Silent » Blog Archive » A Timeline Addendum

  11. The July 2001 seminar with Lane Sensei was at UNF.

    This timeline project has prompted me to dig into my video archives in search of my kyu tests. I tested 2nd kyu at that seminar, as mentioned previously. What I had forgotten was that Sterling was my uke, along with Dee. I had to take ukemi for the test also and Sterling was nage.

    I have successfully located 1st, 2nd, and 3rd kyu so far. My 4th kyu was at Lane sensei’s dojo in Melbourne on December 13, 1997. I’m not sure if I taped that one. My 5th kyu, at the July 1996 Bernath seminar, I shared with Dee, so if I can’t find that one, I know I can get a copy from her. Right, Mary?

  12. Oh, and I found one jewel from the vault: a short taping of Wintercamp 1998, showing footage of Shibata sensei, Yamada Sensei, and perhaps most nostalgic, the late Kanai sensei. In his memory, this morning’s class featured a couple of his techniques from the tape, and only Herve was the beneficiary.

  13. Added cleansing class information.

    Credit goes to Dee, Jose, Autrelle, and Brett Jackson, who provided information, and to Oscar, who confirmed the date. Also thanks to Chris Pasley for his assistance.

    Some background: Dee first introduced the idea of a cleansing class after speaking with Bob Zimmerman Sensei. She then approached Mike Sands, who had in the past participated in this type of training.

    The first cleansing class was organized by Dee and taught by Mike, then chief instructor of the school.

  14. Briefly, regarding Buck’s comment.

    I just connected with Mr. Jackson and he wrote fondly about his experiences in Jacksonville. He asked that I pass along his best wishes to Dee and Buck.

    I hope to meet him in person someday, so I can learn more about his time with us.

  15. Added John Miller information.

    Added 2011 camping trip information.

    Added nafudakake information.

    Added weblog information.

    Added dojo newsletter information.

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