The traditional Aikikai style of Aikido in Victoria began in the spring of 1975 at the University of Victoria (UVic). The first instructor was Gary Mols Sensei who had just moved from Hawaii and was surprised to find that there was no club here. While attending UVic to obtain a teaching degree, he decided to start a course through the Athletics and Recreation Department.
In 1977 Gary decided to expand practice times by renting space from the Victoria Judo club which was located on Johnson Street for many years. One of the early experiences was a group road trip to Seattle to practice at Hirata Sensei’s dojo. The exposure to more senior students was an eye-opener for a new dojo just starting out.
In 1979 Gary’s family responsibilities led to the search for a new instructor. In Montreal at the time, Ishiyama Sensei was invited to move to the West Coast with numerous promises, including a teaching position at UVic. When he arrived he found that some of the promises were not quite what he thought(!) but he threw himself wholeheartedly into expanding the student body. For many years Ishiyama Sensei expended a tremendous amount of time and effort encouraging the technical and spiritual growth of his students. Besides the Victoria Aikido Centre and the club at UVic he encouraged the opening of the Camosun College dojo by Larry Dettweiler. Dettweiler Sensei later turned over the Camosun Aikido Club to George Khouri Sensei, who ran it for many years before turning it over to Martin Moreau Sensei in 2002.
In 1986 Ishiyama Sensei moved to Vancouver and passed the responsibility for the Victoria Aikikai on to Scott MacPhail Sensei. Though no longer in town, Ishiyama Sensei has maintained a close relationship to Victoria Aikikai, providing guidance and inspiration to the students and teachers.
Martin Moreau studied and taught Aikido for 26 years (since 1994) under MacPhail Sensei before opening Rock Water Aikikai on July 19, 2020. Rock Water Aikikai was established to further grow and promote Aikido in Victoria in cooperation with other dojos and practitioners, with a special emphasis on young people and fostering future generations of Aikido.