About Roanoke Budo Kai

Chris Gaston, Dojo Cho
Devin Hamden, Shidoin
Eric Goodbar, Fukushidoin

Roanoke Budo Kai

Aikido isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are.
Chris Gaston Sensei has studied aikido for 23 years and currently holds the rank of sandan. He founded the Roanoke Budo Kai in 1994 as an independent dojo. The dojo’s independence allowed Gaston Sensei to broadly focus on many aspects of the art. Additionally, by offering aikido as a class through the Roanoke County Parks and Recreation Department, Gaston Sensei could also uphold O’Sensei’s belief that Aikido is for everyone. Gaston Sensei designed the patch worn by all RBK aikidoka on left shoulder of his/her gi. There is important symbolism in this patch: the landscape and star references our dojo’s home in the Roanoke Valley, the bamboo represents the flexibility and movement of aikido and the crane shares Aikido’s Japanese origins.

Devin Hamden Sensei studied shodokan karate for four years before beginning his training under Gaston Sensei in 1994. He received his shodan rank from the Roanoke Budo Kai in 1999 and was subsequently appointed Chief Instructor by Gaston Sensei. Hamden Sensei continues Gaston Sensei’s traditions while also overseeing the dojo’s continued growth and development for its future prosperity. His practical approach to self-defense and focus on perfection provides a firm foundation for all students.

Eric Goodbar Sensei began his martial arts training under Gaston Sensei in 1997 and continued under Hamden Sensei when he was appointed Chief Instructor. He was awarded the rank of shodan in 2000 and was appointed as Assistant Instructor thereafter. Goodbar Sensei’s professional training in massage therapy and Ki for Health engenders an increased appreciation of the meditative and spiritual aspects of aikido and its everyday applications.


Aikido is a Japanese martial art teaching self defense using efficient body movements, not strength, to redirect the force of an attack and diffusing it. The physical aspects of aikido replace punching and kicking an opponent with joint locks and throws. Aikido training also focuses on the flow of energy and the dynamics of movement and encourages partners to train together cooperatively. Training offers additional benefits beyond self-defense and will increase your awareness, flexibility, and balance. You will also have the opportunity to train your body and mind with breathing, and meditative exercise which help you learn principles that are practical for self defense as well as daily life.

O’Sensei (Dec 14, 1883 – April 26, 1969)

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was born in Japan in 1883. As a child, O’Sensei lacked a healthy physical constitution and spent much of his time indoors. Upon his second attempt, he was able to enlist and served in the army during the Russo-Japanese War. After the war, Ueshiba continued his physical training by studying jujutsu at the dojo his father built. In 1929, Ueshiba moved his family to the Hokkaido province and lead the wilderness village to prosperity. During this time Ueshiba broadened his training to include and focus on aiki jutsu under Takeda Sensei. Martial arts were not all that fascinated Ueshiba and he was greatly influenced by masters of the Omoto-kyo. This spirituality is often what O’Sensei credits with his own enlightenment. Ueshiba continued his training and teaching up through World War II even though he moved to Tokyo. Hombu Dojo was built during this time and the name Aikido was officially used. In 1942, Ueshiba again moved, this time to the village of Iwama. His son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, lead Hombu Dojo after his father’s departure and Aikido continued to grow. Ueshiba returned to his farming roots until his death in April 1969.

Aikido is the result of O’Sensei’s personal spiritual awakening to the knowledge that the source of Budo is God’s love, a spirit of loving protection of all things. He left behind the old view that martial arts should teach defeat and destruction. Instead, Aikido is an ethical martial art that is committed to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible and to self-improvement through training.


Who Are We?

Our instructors and students come from all walks of life and interests. Check out our page of bios.

Class Handouts

Testing Information

  • Testing requests and requirement compliance are the responsibility of each student.
  • Testing is scheduled for the third Saturday each April and October.
  • Testing decisions are at the sole discretion of Sensei.


Roanoke Budo Kai mailing list – This Group allows you access to class handouts, pictures, books/ supply lists, etc and you will also receive all class related e-mails. Simply use the web address below to create a Google account if you do have not one and request membership (you may set up one Google account to access both RBK Google Groups – the e-mail you list in your account is where you will receive any posted info). You may post class related info here.

Aikido Lounge mailing list – You need to join the Aikido Lounge Google Group to receive any member e-mails that do not pertain directly to class. Simply use the web address below to create a Google account (or use an existing one) and request membership. Once a member, you may post anything unrelated to class here.

Recommended Reading

Mikeidomo Blog by one of our yudansha Mike Franke.

Aikido Online Journal Great reading – Aikido Journal

Aikiweb Discussions and seminar/ dojo search tools. /

Aikido24 Gear/ accessories (merged with BuJin Design)

Neighboring Dojos

Kodokan Aikido in Blacksburg, VA. Friends and local training partners.

Aikido of Northern Virginia Very active dojo, Chief Instructor Jim Sorrentino Sensei, Godan.

Bryan Park Aikido Richmond, VA area. Dojo Cho Tim Sheldon Sensei, Godan.

Roanoke Budo Kai - class shot after testing on April 27, 2013.  Congrats to all that advanced!

Roanoke Budo Kai – class shot after testing on April 27, 2013. Congrats to all that advanced!