Raymond Farinato
Aikido 7th Dan, Shihan, US Aikido Federation
Chief instructor at Aikido of Fairfield County

Kanai, A. Tohei, K. Chiba and Y. Yamada. A post-doctoral position took him to Berkeley, California in 1976, where he trained with sensei Steve Sasaki. Still wishing to avoid full-time employment, he spent a year in Japan studying Aikido at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo while working part-time for an engineering firm. He had the good fortune to train with many of the instructors then at Hombu, taking special training with sensei Seijuro Masuda.

Returning to the US in 1980 he eventually settled in Connecticut and founded a dojo there under the guidance of senseis Yamada and Sugano. He has been the beneficiary of training with a host of dedicated sempai and aikidoka, and continues to learn from them all. Ray is a member (since 2017) of the US Aikido Federation Board of Directors.

To support his Aikido training, Ray works as a research chemist and is an occasional Adjunct Professor at Columbia University.

Tom Milucci
Aikido 5th Dan, Shidoin, US Aikido Federation

Photo and biography pending!

GENE BATAN
Aikido 4th Dan, Fukushidoin, US Aikido Federation

Gene began Aikido practice in December 1989 under Shihan Ray Farinato. In the seventies Gene was a dedicated practitioner of Karate and Arnis. His move to New York and Connecticut led him to Aikido, which he had read much about in his college days. Without hesitation he commenced his practice at the AFC dojo and has been training there ever since. Gene is the chief Aikido instructor at University of Connecticut Stamford. He is also the UConn instructor of Southeast Asian Martial Arts, a series of defense moves with origins from Malay, Indonesian, Philippines, and Brunei.

In addition, Gene currently practices Karate (shodan) and teaches Arnis (6th level) at the Stamford Center for Martial Arts. He has also practiced Iaido (sandan) at the Genbukandojo in Rye, New York. He practices all these martial arts with Aikido as his newfound pillar for training.

When on a visit to the Philippines, where he recertified in Arnis, he found himself sharing AFC’s philosophy of Aikido practice with aikidoka of the Manila region.

An expert on bank systems security and disaster recovery, Gene is retired from a 34-year career in information technology.

KRZYSZTOF ZAWADZKI
Aikido 4th Dan, Fukushidoin, US Aikido Federation

Krzysz’s Aikido journey began in 1995 at Aikido of Fairfield County, under Ray Farinato sensei. Prior to his permanent move from Poland to the United States, he had studied Karate Kyokushinkai for 9 years. Krzysz assists in demonstrating and teaching Aikido classes at University of Connecticut Stamford and Aikido of Fairfield County.

Aikido practice gives Krzysz a whole different perspective on life. “l realize”, he says, “that any conflict can be resolved without a fight. I recommend Aikido for everyone. You must experience this yourself!”

When Krzysz is not at practice, he can be found custom-designing and building elegant homes.

CHRIS KERIN
Aikido 4th Dan, Fukushidoin, US Aikido Federation

Chris has been an Aikido instructor for the past 10 years. He began practicing Aikido in 1996 under the direction of Shihan Ray Farinato. He currently practices Aikido and teaches at Aikido of Fairfield County in Stamford, CT. Chris also assists in demonstrating and teaching Aikido class at University of Connecticut Stamford.

“Aikido is very enjoyable and mentally challenging, even after 20 years of practice.  I enjoy the exercise, while at the same time learning an effective form of self-defense with good friends.   Professionally, the skills that I’ve learned in Aikido have helped me remain calm and centered in stressful situations.  It’s a form of moving meditation, centering my mind at the end of the day.”

Professionally, Chris works as a real estate investment advisor serving private equity and institutional clients.

MATTHEW RODER
Aikido 2nd Dan, US Aikido Federation

Matthew holds the rank of sandan (3rd degree black belt) in Aikido from the US Aikido Federation (NY, 2017) and nidan (2nd degree black belt) in Aikido from the Nambu Aikido Federation (Kamakura, Japan 1995) as well as shodan (1st degree black belt) in two other arts.

Matthew began his Aikido journey in Boston in 1989; “In Aikido I discovered the answer to a question I had not yet even known how to ask.  In Aikido we find the power of our own convictions.”  

Although he continues to train and explore other arts, Aikido remains a lifelong passion. “Despite often being frustrating and perplexing, the camaraderie and esprit de corps of my fellow students keeps me humble, supported, and motivated. I am privileged and honored to be a part of such a warm and special community. I feel especially fortunate to have found Shihan Farinato, to whom I am so grateful not only for assembling this community, but for enriching and improving my Aikido and my life in ways I cannot even begin to thank him for.”

CELIA M. BATAN
Aikido 2nd Dan, US Aikido Federation

Celia’s introduction to Aikido was purely by chance, sitting in on a class that her husband Gene wanted to check out at sensei Ray Farinato’s AFC dojo. She stepped onto the mat in 1992, helping recruit and teach the children’s class in 1993 that their two children attended (they are now 1st kyu and 3rd kyu). “The magic in Aikido”, she says, “is in the way the children formulate their response to the world because of the posture that Aikido practice has towards relating to others and towards resolving differences.”

Celia practiced Judo in college and Karate with the Japan Karate Association. She finds that her current practice at Iaido (3rd Kyu, at the Genbukan dojo in Rye, New York) deepened her understanding of the tenets of Aikido.

Celia assists in teaching the Aikido and the Southeast Asian martial arts at the University of Connecticut Stamford. As an adjunct at Norwalk Community College and at Yale University English Language Institute, Celia teaches business communication, study skills, and English as a second language.

FRED SERRICCHIO
Aikido 2nd Dan, US Aikido Federation

A long-time practitioner of martial arts, Fred observed many sessions of Aikido and began to realize that the practice was more than just a physical activity. Aikido reminded Fred of his spiritual interest in the martial arts. He began Aikido practice in 2003 and has not looked back. “Through all these years I am so thankful that I have the privilege to train with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life.”

Practice of Karate in 1960 with the Japan Karate Association commenced Fred’s journey in the martial arts, which led in 2007 to promotion to 8th Dan by the international Shotokan Ryu Karate do Shihankai. He teaches Karate at the Stamford Center for Martial Arts. Fred has also practiced Iaido (3rd Dan) at the Genbukan dojo in Rye, New York.

Fred is retired from a 33-year career at Connecticut Light and Power.

HOWARD BLUM
Aikido 2nd Dan, US Aikido Federation

Howard has been practicing Aikido since 1990.  He feels that the longer he practices the more he learns about the “subtlety of the movements.”  He finds that Aikido’s philosophy of conflict resolution without violence is realistically applied to dealing with real life events.  “It [Aikido] has given me a broadened sense of awareness of my surroundings……. I always feel better mentally after class, no matter what my state of mind was entering the dojo. I also appreciate that this is an art I can still practice as I get older. ”

With his sons Justin and Hunter, he is currently practicing two Southeast Asian martial arts Arnis and Silat, taught at the Stamford Center for Martial Arts. Howard also practiced Judo for a year before joining Aikido. 

When not on the mat, Howard is occupied with restoring patient’s backs to better balance and health with chiropractic care, a practice that he has had since 1990.

JOHN GRAHAM
Aikido 2nd Dan, US Aikido Federation

John was introduced to Aikido in 2004 when he enrolled his son in AFC’s children’s class. He soon stepped onto the mat himself, and although his son (and later, his daughter) has since moved on, John has not left, drawn by the friendly atmosphere of the dojo, the graceful, powerful movements of the art, and its alluring potential for brief human flight. As an instructor in the children’s and adult classes, he enjoys the chance to extend the welcome to newcomers and share the subtly boundless gifts of what looks to be a lifetime avocation.

John spends his spare time outside the dojo working just enough to satisfy most interested parties, and with son and daughter having left the nest, he (mostly) enjoys watching them grow into their adult selves as they pursue their own arts. On the weekends he can be found running the backwoods trails in the area and reading way too much about current events, which brings him back to the dojo.