Instructors

"When you walk into a dojo you cross a threshold. You are walking into a space that is unique and special. You feel that you will find something in the dojo that was missing from your life — something that you have been looking for. Our job as instructors is to help facilitate that experience."
– Malory Graham, Seattle Aikikai Founder

Chief Instructor

Headshot of Malory Graham, a white woman in her 50s with shoulder-length brown hair, smiling and wearing a white gi jacket and a blue hakama.
Malory Graham, 6th dan

Malory Graham started training in 1988 with Paul Sylvain Shihan in Amherst, MA. She founded Seattle Aikikai in 1997 and received her 6th Dan from Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan in 2014. She continues to develop her own training with Yoko Okamoto and Chris Mulligan Senseis of Aikido Kyoto. Along with teaching Aikido, she has had tandem careers as a filmmaker and non-profit Executive Director. She is also a certified yoga instructor and has taught yoga to incarcerated youth with Yoga Behind Bars and loves bringing yoga into her Aikido warm-ups. She has made films to promote women in Aikido and has been deeply committed to the social justice and youth development fields. Her latest side project, the Aikido Idea Project, is about making Aikido more diverse and inclusive.

Dojo Cho

Headshot of Daniel Top, a white man in his 30s with curly dark hair smiling, wearing glasses and a white gi jacket.
Daniel Top, 4th dan

Daniel Top began training in 1995 with Irvin Faust at Capital District Aikikai (now Albany Aikido). He was attracted to the cooperative and non-competitive nature of the practice. He studied under various visiting teachers from around the region, getting a glimpse of the breadth of the art. He moved to Seattle in 2003 and began studying under Malory Graham at Puget Sound Aikikai (now Seattle Aikikai). Daniel loves the endless challenge and variations of Aikido. He believes every class is an opportunity to learn, and every partner can teach you something.

Instructors

Joanne Veneziano, a smiling white woman wearing glasses with curly gray hair, wearing a white gi standing in front of calligraphy.
Joanne Veneziano, 7th Dan

Joanne Veneziano began training in 1976 with Mitsunari Kanai Shihan at New England Aikikai. In 1979 she moved to Seattle to study with Mary Heiny. In 1986, she studied with Morito Suganuma in Fukuoka, Japan. In 1991, she founded Emerald City Aikido. Her teaching style combines warmth, humor, and deeply committed physical practice. She is a dedicated and passionate teacher and practitioner who has inspired many to begin their Aikido journey. From 1987 to 2018, she worked in the emergency room at Harborview. When she is not teaching or training, she enjoys birding and playing pickleball. 

Headshot of Dave Becker, a white man in his 60s with short gray hair and a white beard, smiling and wearing a white gi jacket.
Dave Becker, 4th dan

Dave Becker began training in 1981 with Robert Aoyagi Shihan at Aikido of Honolulu, (The “Waialae Dojo”). When he was in high school, he saw an Aikido demonstration by O’Sensei, so when his doctor advised him to pick up exercise, he decided to start Aikido. After leaving Hawai’i, Dave practiced with numerous dojos around Seattle and Port Angles. He trained with Kurita Sensei in Mountlake Terrace for several years. In 2002, he began training with Malory Graham and has been her student ever since.

Headshot of Faith Lumsden, a white woman in her 60s with short gray hair, smiling and wearing a white gi jacket.
Faith Lumsden, 4th dan

Faith Lumsden began training at Seattle Aikikai in 1987. She has trained with Malory Graham for nearly 30 years and taught open-hand and weapons classes for more than 20 years. When she is not on the mat, she works for the City of Seattle doing code enforcement, or as she puts it, “solving problems in your neighborhood.” She loves the clarity and precision required in Aikido weapons practice and helping students embody the essence of weapons work in their open-hand practices.

Headshot of John Peng, an Asian man in his 30s with a shaved head, smiling and wearing a white gi jacket.
John Peng, 4th dan

John Peng began training in 1995 in Albany, NY. He began training with Jan Nevelius in 2012 and received his Yondan from Nevelius Sensei in 2020. He had previously trained in a variety of martial arts but found Aikido while attending medical school, and happily gave up hitting people for what he felt was a more interesting and life-applicable art. His focus is on being soft but sharp, assertive but not antagonistic, attentive without judgment, and joyful with intention. Off the mat, he uses Aikido in daily life in his outpatient primary care internal medicine practice in Lynnwood.

John Benner, 3rd dan

John Benner’s (he/him) first experience with Aikido was as a child when he studied under Peter Ting at the Berkeley YMCA. He has trained with Bernice Tom and Kayla Feder. For the last 24 years, he has trained under Joanne Veneziano at Emerald City Aikido. John cross-trains in Kajukembo. He has been teaching children’s Aikido since 1999 and is a learning scientist finishing his Ph.D. at UW. He has a special interest in Aikido classes as learning environments and integrates his knowledge of child development and learning theories into his teaching with children and adults. John tries to incorporate O-Sensei’s saying “Always practice the Art of Peace in a vibrant and joyful manner” into every class. 

Joanne Veneziano, a white woman wearing glasses with curly gray hair, wearing a white gi standing in front of calligraphy.
Morrie Cordero, 3nd dan

Morrie Cordero began training in 1991 with Joanne Veneziano at Emerald City Aikido. She first read about Aikido in a small children’s book at the age of 10. As a geeky, shy, uncoordinated individual, she was intrigued by the idea that people of all abilities could do Aikido. She believes Aikido has helped her become not only more physically coordinated and more athletic but also more confident and flexible in dealing with life. When not throwing people on the floor she also writes science fiction novels, plays music in a punk rock band, and recently received her blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu.

Headshot of Amanda Page, a white woman in her 50s with shoulder-length dark brown hair, smiling and wearing a white gi jacket.
Amanda Page, 2nd dan

Amanda Page (she/her/hers) began training in 1992 in Newark, DE. She has studied under John Messores Shihan (The Aikido Dojo in Largo, FL), the late Kevin Choate (Chicago Aikikai), and for a short time under Shibata Shihan (Berkeley Aikikai). In 2012, she began training at Seattle Aikikai under Malory Graham. She has been teaching since 2016. She is a Product Designer at a software company specializing in accessibility. She loves to help people discover the joy of movement.

Dominic Ng, 2nd dan

Dominic Ng (he/they) began training in 2012 with Joanne Veneziano Sensei at Emerald City Aikido. While on vacation he stumbled on the book “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere.” It reminded him of an Aikido practitioner he met years earlier, and he decided to try out a class. He’s been training ever since and is fascinated by the depth of the art. Having learned from teachers like Mary Heiny and Jan Nevelius, he aspires to a smooth, fluid, and energetic style. Above all, he is grateful for every person he’s trained with – through collaboration, we polish our spirit and thus benefit the world at large. 

Isabel Anderson, 1st dan

Isabel began her training in Emerald City Aikido’s kids program in 2004, joining the adult classes in 2012. Recently, she has gone full circle and taught in the kids program herself. Off the mat, Isabel attempts to put her art degree to good use.

A smiling white woman with light brown hair standing in front of calligraphy wearing a white gi.
Erica Badgeley (she/her) 3rd Kyu

Erica began training in 2016 with Malory Graham Sensei at Seattle Aikikai. As a professional dancer and Gyrotonic® movement instructor, she was drawn to the curving pathways and surprising unbalances of Aikido while dancing in Europe. Her first six months of aikido felt truly novel in a way she had not experienced in a long time. She was in a constant state of “beginner’s mind” – it was exhilarating! Erica aims to build a youth movement program that exposes children to various movement practices (dance, martial arts, circus etc.), in which Aikido will be a cornerstone.

Emeritus

Headshot of Roy May, a white man in his 60s with short gray hair, smiling and wearing a white gi jacket.
Roy May

Roy May taught the morning classes at Seattle Aikikai with unmatched consistency and precision. His tireless practice inspired many early risers, and his influence is clearly visible in many of our senior students today.