Holiday Sensei is an extremely proficient and experienced aikido instructor and practitioner. In every sense, she is a true expert. She is Chief Instructor of Aikido of Santa Cruz.
You can read Linda Holiday Sensei's full biography on her website (link opens in new window).
Between 1973 and 1980, Holiday Sensei spent about three years living and training in Shingu, Japan, under Chief Instructor Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan (now deceased). She also trained with other high-level shihan such as Motomichi Anno, Motoichi Yanase, and the late Yasushi Tojima. Sensei also trained at other dojos, when she could.
Holiday Sensei began teaching in Santa Cruz in 1976. Holiday Sensei teaches regularly in Aikido of Santa Cruz and also leads seminars in other dojos. Following in the tradition of her teachers, she emphasizes the integration of physical and spiritual training in Aikido. She is the author of the book Journey to the Heart of Aikido, about Aikido philosophy and practice, with her teacher Motomichi Anno Shihan, 8th dan. The book has received tremendous reviews. It is, without a doubt, the best book about aikido I have ever read. It is, simply, a masterpiece. It only took Holiday Sensei 10 years to write it!
Linda Holiday Sensei received her shodan (first degree black belt) in Shingu in 1973. She was promoted to rokudan (6th degree black belt) in 2005, by Anno Sensei. Holiday Sensei speaks and writes Japanese, practices Japanese brush calligraphy, and has served as translator for a number of Japanese Aikido shihan in America. She received a Masters Degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford University in 1982.
How Linda Holiday Sensei began training in Aikido is pretty amazing. As a student, at UC Santa Cruz in 1970, her college core course had a very interesting requirement for first year students: to take a class in something they had never done before, or thought they would be "bad" at. She chose to take Aikido! After her first few Aikido classes, Linda was hooked. She was particularly drawn to the emphasis on ki and the connection between mind and body.
In 1973, after training for about two years, Holiday Sensei took a leave of absence from school and went with a friend, Richard Revoir, to Japan to train. At Aikikai Hombu Dojo, world headquarters of Aikido, in Tokyo, they became friends with Mary Heiny Sensei (now 6th dan Aikido seminar instructor). Heiny Sensei took them to Shingu and introduced her to Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei 10th dan, longtime direct student of Osensei, and chief instructor at Aikikai Kumano Juku Dojo. Hikitsuchi Sensei invited them to become the first non-Japanese Aikido students to live and train intensively in Shingu.
This training was transformative for Holiday Sensei. It inspired her to dedicate her life to the martial art and spiritual discipline of Aikido.
In 1976, Holiday Sensei moved back to Santa Cruz. She has been steadily teaching Aikido in Santa Cruz for over 30 years.