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Instructors can impart only a fraction of the teaching. It is through your own devoted practice that the mysteries of the Art of Peace are brought to life.




Chief Instructor, Rokudan (7th Dan), Shihan


Laura Pavlick began practicing Aikido in 1981 at the New York Aikikai (NYA) under Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan, 8th dan. Prior to his passing in January 2023, Yamada Shihan award Laura the rank of 7th dan.


As a shodan, she was assigned to teach a regularly scheduled class at NYA while also taking several classes daily. In the early 1990s she moved to northwestern Connecticut and opened Litchfield Hills Aikikai, in Bantam, Ct where she has been Chief Instructor since its inception.


In addition to being a featured instructor at seminars, she continues to attend numerous seminar each year taught by some of the most renowned aikido Shihan from the United States, Europe and Japan.


Pavlick Sensei has held the full time position of Director of Operations for the United States Aikido Federation since 2008. In January, 2018, she was awarded the title of Shihan from Aikikai World Headquarters, Japan, and 7th degree black belt in 2023.



Godan (5th Dan), Shidoin


With no previous martial arts experience, Don Zdeb began his aikido training in 1998 at Litchfield Hills Aikikai, where has been a dedicated student ever since.  Don has taught a scheduled class for several years.


While Don’s passion for aikido keeps him practicing regularly, he manages to balance his Aikido and work life with his love of the outdoors.



Nidan (4thDan)


Chris Hawke's first exposure to Aikido was with the Ki society in the early 90s in Akashi, Japan.  After a 10 year break he started again in 2000 in Cincinnati Ohio under Charlie McGinnis, 6th Dan, where he earned his Shodan rank in 2008.  Chris has been training at Litchfield Hills since he moved to Connecticut in 2011. 


Chris is a Mechanical Engineer working for the Duracell company. He lives in Newtown, CT with his wife and 3 children


Nidan (2nd Dan)

Toby started aikido in 1996, and remains the longest standing member of Litchfied Hills Aikikai. He is the Chef and Inn Keeper at Hopkins Inn on Lake Waramug in Warren, CT. In addition to his love for Aikido, Toby is an avid sports enthusiast, from skiing (touring, ski racing) and surfing, to waterskiing and soccer. He also loves taking walks in the woods with his wife and their dog.
Toby is fascinated by the meaning of aikido and how it can be expressed in daily life. He tries to use the technical and spiritual principles to better understand himself and his encounters with others. Toby loves working with others and growing, both on and off the mat.

Shodan (2nd Dan)

John has been training under Laura Pavlick Sensei since November 2021, after a nearly 20 year hiatus due to family obligations. He earned his shodan under Gaku Homma Sensei at Aikido Nippon Kan in Denver, Co in 2021, an independent aikido dojo. Prior to this, John also studied Sip Pal Gi (Korean Kung Fu) and was awarded a black sash in 1991 under the late Sifu Bob Mountainbear in Bronx, NY.
John is a Vice President and mechanical engineer at Jacobs, a Fortune 500 company focused on environmental improvement and climate change. 

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