Our Instructors

At Northcoast Aikido we strive to offer a broad spectrum of pathways through which an individual can explore Aikido. To that end we have a large teaching staff who rotate through the schedule.


Tom Read, Chief Instructor/Dojo Cho

After a period of study of traditional karate, J. Thomas Read Sensei began formal Aikido study in 1969 as a way to broaden and deepen his study of Zen meditation. In 1974, Read Sensei moved to Shingu, Japan where he studied under Masters Michio Hikitsuchi (Aikido 10th dan), Yasushi Tojima Sensei, and other senior teachers of the Aiki Kumano Juku Dojo. After returning from Japan, Read Sensei opened Northcoast Aikido in 1977 with formal written sanction from Master Michio Hikitsuchi. Since then he has become known for his ability to teach the full variety of Aikido technique in a concise, clear, and powerful way. Both at Northcoast Aikido and in seminars throughout the country Read Sensei has spent the last 40 years teaching both practical technique, and a complete philosophical basis for power through non-resistance.

Read Sensei is the founder of the unique staff art of Aikibojitsu. More on that subject can be found at aikibojitsu.com.


Peggy Ilene

Peggy started training at Northcoast Aikido in 1982.  In 2008, Read Sensei awarded her the rank of mudan.  The great honor of “emptiness” rank indicates that Peggy has advanced in her training to a place beyond rank, as demonstrated by her powerful yet gentle technique, selfless dedication to helping others, and deep commitment to her spiritual practices.

Peggy teaches Wednesday evening adult class as well as the Wednesday afternoon 9 -12 year old class.  In addition, Peggy Sensei teaches Aikido to college students at Humboldt State University.


Robert Ekholdt

Robert started his training at Northcoast Aikido in 1987.  He has been training with Tom Read Sensei ever since in both Aikido and Aikibojitsu, and is a senior instructor in both arts.  Robert enjoys the continued exploration of these arts and the lifelong study they present.


Hal Genger

Hal has been training at Northcoast Aikido since 1978.   His classes are often humorous, and he brings to the dojo a 30+ year teaching background in the sciences at Humboldt State University.

Methodical, his beginning students appreciate his step-by-step approach. Kind, he has influenced students to look for a more gentle powerful approach to life.  Available, helping others to learn and grow is primary for Hal.  


Carl Tissol

Carl has over 40 years of martial arts experience and brings a unique and heartfelt perspective to  his classes and training.


Jeremy Wheeler

A lifelong student of movement and stillness, Jeremy began training in Aikido in 1998 under Jiro Oshi and Kyoko Naguchi (then students of Takanari Higuchi Sensei of Kyoto, Japan). He began studying Aikido and Aikibojitsu under Tom Read Sensei in 1999, who appointed him to Northcoast Aikido’s teaching staff in 2005. Jeremy has also served as the Board President of the nonprofit Northcoast Aikido Foundation since February 2011.

Over the years, Jeremy has augmented his studies with a number of other teachers, not least of which are the wild landscapes he has been lucky enough to live in and travel through.


Allegra Stroup

Allegra started training at Northcoast Aikido in 1981. Though she spent several years living and training in Seattle, she has always considered Read Sensei her teacher, and Northcoast Aikido her home. She finds great joy in her practice, strongly believing that honest connection during training leads to a better understanding of the many facets of the human condition in general.

Her classes explore different ways of looking at the foundation of Aikido.


Kray Van Kirk

Kray began his study of Aikido at Northcoast Aikido in 1978 at age 12. Being primarily interested in Aikido as a lens through which to view existence, he found the teaching of Read Sensei to be uniquely relevant, and while he has trained in other dojos, he considers Read Sensei to be his only teacher. He spent 20 years in Alaska, teaching Aikido for several of them, but mostly training on his own with the stick and sword. He returned to Northcoast Aikido in 2017 to continue his training under Read Sensei.


Tom Jacobson

Tom began training at Northcoast Aikido in the spring of 1996. He learned about teaching young people from Peggy Ilene and Teresa Kung, assisting in their classes. Tom has now been teaching at our dojo for over a decade. His love for wild nature keeps him rooted in this special place on the coast.

Tom says: “The lessons I have learned, along with the relationships I’ve developed at our beautiful dojo have influenced me deeply and have improved the quality of my life beyond measure.  I hope for all people to one day experience peace together”


Beau Saunders

After studying Taekwondo for several years Beau started training in Aikido in 2009 at Aikido of Santa Cruz with Linda Holiday Sensei. After 7 years of practice in Santa Cruz (including 30 months as uchideshi) he moved to Humboldt County in the fall of 2016 and started training at Northcoast Aikido. He has enjoyed becoming a part of the Northcoast Aikido community. In his practice he studies to cultivate efficiency of movement, natural posture and a heart of gratitude. Beau enjoys traveling and meeting new people (on and off the mat), and hopes to deepen his study in the coming years. 

Doug Knox, 1949-2009 in memoriam

Doug Knox Sensei started training at Northcoast Aikido in 1977, after receiving his shodan at a different school. He was a rare human being who embodied his Aikido training, especially his ukemi, with relentless honesty and an enduring courage in his effort to understand the universe and his place in it. The dojo is a little less bright because of his passing, and he is badly missed to this day.