I’m Vance Karena, I started Aikido practice in Wellington under Sensei Henry Lynch in October 1993. I’d previously studied Tae Kwon Do in Hamilton in the late 70’s under Willie Lim and was looking for an art that was more than punching and kicking. After seeing a demonstration at Crofton Downs hall in Wellington by Riai Aikido Auckland, I knew I’d found ‘the one’ and joined immediately.
I count myself very fortunate to have met Henry Sensei, who has always provided exceptional mentoring and advice, inspirational and unorthodox but memorable teachings, and always wise leadership. I also count myself lucky to have also met other exceptional teachers over the years, notably Shihan Robert Nadeau, Shihan William Gleason and Shihan Yoshinobu Takeda.
Whist living in Australia from 2004 till 2012, I founded Riai Aikido Melbourne and Riai Aikido Nelson Bay. While in Australia I gained an appreciation of the number of styles of Aikido that abound and that in the end, we’re all just slices of the same Aikido pie that should be savored for their own unique flavour.
My learning influences my teaching and as both are constantly evolving, I find that dialogue and reflection with students helps cement a lot of the basic elements that enable progress. I think all students, of which I am one, should make it their goal to explore and undertake their own research of the art and make it their own.
I am excited for the future of the art, as I always knew it was special, and with the current Internal Power being taught, I believe the next 5-10 years will see huge growth as Aikido’s full potential is revealed and realised.
I currently hold a Sandan (3rd Degree Backbelt) rank and teach at Riai Tauranga, which I formed in 2013. I look forward to meeting new students with enquiring open minds, who want to challenge themselves mentally and physically.