Knut Bauer began training briefly in Aikido in 1976, as a member of the Illini Aikikai under the direction of Jo Birdsong Sensei. After a two year hiatus, he began training in 1980 under Akira Tohei Sensei, with whom he trained until Tohei Sensei’s passing in 1999. Since that time, he has trained under the direction of Y. Yamada Sensei, who promoted him to 6th Dan in 2017. Bauer Sensei is also a Shidoin (certified instructor) in the United States Aikido Federation.
In addition to his training under Tohei Sensei and Yamada Sensei, Bauer Sensei has also been greatly influenced by Clyde Takeguchi Sensei, and has had the great privilege of attending numerous seminars and summer camps over the last 35 years taught by some of the greatest aikido teachers in the world, including the second and third Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Shirata Sensei, Frank Doran Sensei, Chiba Sensei, Sugano Sensei, and many others.
Bauer Sensei has been teaching 3 or 4 classes per week at Central Illinois Aikikai since 1981, and was appointed Chief Instructor in September 1994.
Dean Karres was introduced to Aikido in 1988 by Lamar Sanders Sensei in Columbia, South Carolina. Since then, he has studied in dojos affiliated with Shihans: Fumio Toyoda, Hiroshi Ikeda and Yoshimitsu Yamada. He has been a student of Bauer Sensei since 2003. He received the rank of Nidan in 2016 and the title "Fukushidoin" (Assistant Instructor) in 2018.
Julio Soares started his Aikido practice at Central Illinois Aikikai under the supervision of Knut Bauer, Sensei in October 1998. Moving to Brazil in 2002 he joined the Federação Paulista de Aikido (FEPAI) and continued to study Aikido under the guidance of Paulo Nakamura, Sensei, 7th Dan.
In 2004 he returned to Champaign-Urbana where he re-joined Central Illinois Aikikai. He obtained his Nidan in 2018 and received the title of "Fukushidoin" (Assistant Instructor) in 2022. He is currently the lead instructor of the Central Illinois Aikikai Youth Program. He works as a Research Scientist for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the Materials Research Laboratory. His hobbies, besides Aikido, include: camping, ping-pong, and the game of Go.
Dennis McMillan was introduced to martial arts in college with Tae Kwon Do. He followed the “Way of the Fist & the Foot” for many years starting out in Michigan moving to New York and finally settling in central Illinois. Along the way hearing whispers of a Japanese art called Aikido, the “Way of Harmony”. Around the turn of the century he joined Central Illinois Aikikai and has trained with Sensi Bauer since. Mr. McMillan received his Shodan in 2022.
Julia Jamieson has studied Aikido since 2016 under the instruction of Knut Bauer Sensei at Central Illinois Aikikai and received the rank of Ikkyu in 2022. Julia is inspired by how Aikido can be applied to everyday life and appreciates the welcoming and friendly community of the dojo. Outside the dojo, Julia performs, teaches, composes and gives workshops as a professional harpist.