Student Guide

Your Instructors

Dr. Jeffrey B. Hecht is the program Head Instructor. Dr. Leslie B. Hecht is the Assistant Instructor.


Sensei Jeffrey Hecht has studied Aikido since 1984. He spent three years teaching Aikido in the Martial Arts Program, Physical Education Department at the University of California at Riverside and another ten years teaching for the Aikido Club at Illinois State University. He has earned the rank of Yondan (fourth degree black belt).


He became interested in Aikido when he joined the Orange County (CA) Sheriff's Department as a Reserve Deputy in the Search-Rescue unit. Though his primary responsibilities included locating lost hikers and giving first aid, he was also involved in regular law enforcement activities. "Those were usually difficult situations", he recalls. "People, as a rule, are not happy to see law enforcement officers. I wanted to find a way to preserve each individual's dignity while removing myself, and others, from physical danger. Aikido training helped me learn those skills".


Assistant Instructor Leslie Hecht began studying Aikido in 1986. She has had the pleasure of studying at both the University of California at Riverside and the University of California at Irvine. Les co- taught an Aikido class at the Riverside YMCA, and assists with the teaching duties here. She has earned the rank of Yondan (fourth degree black belt).


The Hechts' first teacher was Sensei Ace Atkinson. Ace first started with Aikido while stationed on Okinawa during the mid-1960's. He learned from Toda Sensei and Iwata Sensei, both students of O'Sensei. Ace was promoted to Shodan in 1967, and was able to practice with O'Sensei before his death. Sensei Atkinson then went on to learn with Kohichi Tohei Sensei, and was later promoted to the rank of Nidan by Tohei Sensei in 1974.


Ace started the Aikido Program at the University of California at Riverside in the Spring of 1973. At the beginning classes were held twice each week, with only a small handful of students attending. Ace persevered, and the program began to grow both in size and reputation. In 1985 Shihan Ron Granville, of the Western Region Aikikai, promoted Ace to Sandan (third degree black belt). His skill and work was recognized again in 1987 when Shihan Roy Suenaka promoted Ace to Yondan (fourth degree black belt).


The Hecht's are pleased to be affiliated with Aikido Shimbokukai, Lisa Tomoleoni Sensei, Director. The Aikido Shimbokukai is an organization of instructors, dojos, and aikido practitioners whose common bond is the practice and development of Aikido. This group strives to bring people together for the exchange of experiences and ideas through Aikido training, and to provide instruction and guidance while maintaining standards of instruction and training.