The New York Aikikai began as a small aikido club at New York City’s Columbia University in 1962. As membership grew it was able to rent practice space on West 19th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and incorporate as a not-for-profit educational institution.

The school prevailed upon Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, to send them a teacher; in 1964, he sent one of his top live-in students, Yoshimitsu Yamada, to take charge of the New York dojo. Upon his arrival Yamada Sensei put on a series of demonstrations at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, NY. Word of his skill and exciting teaching style quickly spread among the martial arts world.

Membership at the New York Aikikai outgrew the small mat area and soon Yamada Sensei would move his dojo to larger quarters on West 18th Street, where it has remained for over 55 years. The building was bought by the NYA on August 31,1994, establishing a permanent home for the dojo and aikido in New York City.