Aikido: Rokudan - 6th Dan / ASU Shihan
Toyama Ryu Battodo: Godan - 5th Dan
Jim Alvarez has been training in the martial arts for over 48 years. Born into a military family Jim’s first exposure to martial arts was in Okinawa, where he witnessed Judo at the Air Base gymnasium and Sumo on TV. In 1973 his family settled in California and Jim began his martial arts studies in Hung Gar-Tiger/Crane Kung-Fu under the late Sifu Bill Steele. Sifu Steele was a direct student of Sifu Y.C. Wong, the famous Hung Gar kung fu master in San Francisco. After about 5 years of study, Jim relocated to the California Central Valley which led to finding the art of Aikido and Sensei Dang Thong Tri. He began his study under Tri Sensei in 1978, traveling one hour to Sacramento to pursue his new found passion for Aikido.
In 1989 Alvarez Sensei opened his own school in an effort to deepen his understanding of Aikido. With the passing of Tri Sensei in 1995 he trained under various teachers until he met Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan. Ikeda Shihan opened the door to an even deeper exploration of Aikido’s core principles and allowed Jim access to someone who would become his biggest influence in Aikido, Mitsugi Saotome Shihan. Mitsugi Saotome Shihan is the founder of Aikido Schools of Ueshiba, a group of over 100 dojos across the USA as well as Internationally.
Alvarez Sensei holds the Aikido rank of Rokudan (6th degree black belt), personally awarded by Saotome Shihan and certified by the Aikikai World Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. Jim is also a member of Saotome Shihan’s “Ueshiba Juku.” This designation is awarded by Saotome Shihan to selected senior students and instructors in recognition of their loyalty and dedication to building ASU and promoting O’Sensei’s vision. It is a testament of both ability and character, and declares that they are not only a true deshi (direct disciple) of Saotome Shihan and inheritors of his teachings, but are also part of Ueshiba O’Sensei’s own school (juku) and his pure lineage as only a true Uchi Deshi of O’Sensei can recognize. It signifies the direct line of transmission from O’Sensei through Saotome Shihan to his own direct students. The status is indicated by special kanji worn on the formal keikogi of the individuals, and is independent of specific rank or Shihan status.
In addition to the study of Aikido, Alvarez Sensei spent 30 years training under Toshishiro Obata Sensei, Kaiso (Founder) of the art of Shinkendo. Intrigued by the Japanese sword training that was done in Aikido, he found that there were elements of traditional Japanese sword training that he longed to study at a deeper level. His search for a formal sword practice that offered what he was looking for lead him to Obata Sensei. In 1992 he began his training under Obata Sensei and continued training in Shinkendo until 2022. He formally resigned from the Shinkendo organization to further explore the connections between Aikido and Japanese swordsmanship. While a member of the International Shinkendo Federation, Alvarez Sensei attained the rank of Toku-i and was awarded the instructor title of Kyoshi. He was also awarded the rank of Godan (5th degree black belt) in Toyama Ryu Battodo, all awarded by Toshishiro Obata Sensei.
Alvarez Sensei conducts seminars around the country, as well as internationally. He has taught seminars in England, Ireland, Tahiti, Canada, Turkey, Japan, and Australia.