Junior Deshi Program

To recognize and reward ASNJ students, ages 10-17, who make Aikido a focus of their lives, we have created the Junior Deshi Program.  “Deshi” is Japanese for disciple. This program is open to all junior students at ASNJ. Students must be invited by the Director of the Children’s Program as well as recommended by the student’s instructors.  This program is by invitation only and students must keep up with the requirements to stay in the program.  A candidate will need to perform a 6-month trial period prior to being fully accepted into the program.



  • 10 years of age or older

  • Regular attendance with, generally, no more than one absence a month

  • Is a Role model when in and out of the dojo

  • Knowledge of Aikido attacks and techniques

  • Mastery of Aikido basics

  • Works hard in all classes and sets an example of what being an Aikido student entails

  • Keeps a minimum of a B average in school


Students that are accepted into the Junior Deshi program will get the following:

  • An induction ceremony lead by Sensei during a dojo event after the trial period

  • Junior Deshi ‘Harmony’ patch to be worn on their gi

  • A certificate to memorialize all their hard work and membership

  • Junior Deshi only Monthly classes

  • Junior Deshi only Iaido classes

  • Upon completion of the program, a college recommendation letter outlining their accomplishments


Roles and Expectations

  • Take ukemi for the instructor during Children’s classes

  • Will be asked to lead class warm-ups

  • At the discretion of the instructor, Junior Deshi will be asked to teach Children’s classes with a mentor monitoring

  • Help other students in class

  • Work as partner/uke with all new students

  • Set an example in class in both attitude and dedication


Our Junior Deshi's

Jeremy Burt

Junior Deshi

3rd Kyu

Jeremy started taking Aikido in September of 2013 at the age of 7. He initially enrolled in Aikido classes because he was being bullied at school. Since then, he has gained the confidence andvability to defend himself so those bullies don’t matter anymore. As one of the original Jr. Deshi’s he is very eager to continue his Aikido training.


Jeremy loves WWE, video games, and playing the piano. He will graduate from high school as part of the class of 2024. He is currently undecided about his career path.

Diego Nobre

Junior Deshi

5th Kyu

Diego Nobre joined ASNJ in February 2017. After over 10,000 falls and rolls and as many throws, Diego Nobre proudly achieved the rank of 5th Kyu at ASNJ. Many more throws later he was invited to a new role: Junior Deshi. He was (and still is) very excited.

Taking care of his younger peers, helping his Sensei and going along with the Sempais, he is thrilled to be an active and important part of the Dojo. Diego was born in 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal, in the borough of Benfica, home of the world’s second and third greatest soccer teams. Not the preferred sport for Diego; just a fun fact. In 2016, he moved to the United States with his parents, Duarte and Olga. Currently he is in the 7th grade and looking forward to summer.

Shanaia Puch

Junior Deshi

3rd Kyu

Shanaia started Aikido in October 2016 when her parents were looking for a martial art that might help her overcome some of her shyness. They were looking for something that wasn’t aggressive or violent. Aikido seemed perfect so they brought her to watch and try a class: Shanaia was hooked. Since that day, Aikido has become an integral part of her life and she has developed into a confident

young person.


Shanaia was in the first group of kids to become Junior Deshi and helps teach the

kid’s classes. Her hobbies are drawing, music, and she loves to dance.

Madelyn Ferrara

Junior Deshi

5th Kyu

Aikido has been a core part of Maddy’s development since the early years of elementary school. Since she was eight, she has advanced quickly through the child and youth ranks, currently 5th Kyu, and is a member of the Junior Deshi program. Throughout Maddy’s Aikido journey, she transformed in her capability across every aspect of her life. She brings her focus, discipline, and empathy to her social interactions, studies, and family.


One of the most rewarding elements of her Aikido journey is to help develop junior members along their journey. Outside of the dojo, Maddy enjoys playing the trumpet, piano, and ukulele. 

Naelys M. Lopez

Junior Deshi

3rd Kyu

Naelys became a Junior Deshi in the first group admitted into the program when she was 14.   She has been practicing Aikido since the age of 12 and is a homeschooled high school freshman. 


Her favorite techniques on the mat are Nikkyo and Rokkyo.  On weekends, she babysits, teaches Catechism to 4- to 5-year old children and helps with Children's classes at the Dojo.  When she is not at the Dojo, Naelys enjoys listening to music, singing, and cooking.  One of her proudest moments in Aikido was being called up as Yamada Sensei’s uke during his class at the NY Aikikai.

ASNJ is the oldest aikido dojo in NJ. Founded in 1977 by Rick Stickles, Shihan. 25+ classes per week. 

Now under the guidance of Sensei Hal Lehrman, 7th dan Shihan and Sensei Jay Tall is the Chief Instructor.

©2017 Aikido Schools of New Jersey.  Member of the United States Aikido Federation.

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