Chief Instructor

timthumbSteve Kaufmann, Shihan, a 6th degree black belt, is the chief instructor at Open Sky School of Martial Arts in Hillsborough. He also instructs at Duke University in the Physical Education Department where he teaches Aikido and Chen Style Tai Chi.

Steve is a certified public school teacher. He taught grades K–8 in Oakland, CA, and in Chatham and Orange Counties, NC, for many years. His certification in learning disability instruction is from UNC–Chapel Hill. Steve’s years of public school teaching and a lifetime of intensive martial arts training combine to give him insight into how to effectively create a positive learning environment so students can grasp how to peacefully handle aggression.

Steve began the innovative violence prevention program at the Central Park School for Children that integrates Aikido into the curriculum and focuses on violence prevention. This program was funded by a grant from the N.C. Psychoanalytic Foundation’s Peaceful Schools Project. Steve presented many workshops in violence prevention for 6th grade teachers and their students in Durham Public Schools through a research program co-sponsored by the Center for Disease Control and Duke University.

Aikido Credentials: Steve is a Shihan (master teacher). His certification, through the United States Aikido Federation, allows him to award rank in Aikido. He studied extensively with three of Aikido’s great teachers: Y. Yamada, Shihan, chief instructor of New York Aikikai; M. Kanai; and T. K. Chiba. These three Aikido masters were uchideshi, students who lived in the dojo, training with and assisting O’Sensei, the Founder of Aikido.

aut_0237Tai Chi Credentials: Steve has trained Tai Chi in multiple styles including Sun, Yang, and Chen for over 30 years. He is  a dedicated student of Grand Master Wang Hai Jun. Chen Tai Chi  provides the internal counterpart to Aikido for Steve. Master Wang Hai Jun is  based in Manchester, England and visits the  U.S.A three times a year. Open Sky is fortunate to host Master Wang  because he’s gained increasing renown throughout Europe and China.

Steve’s daily practice includes Aikido, Zen meditation, and Tai Chi. His model of excellence is Morihei Ueshiba, O’Sensei. Steve’s interest is in developing great internal awareness and relaxed power, sensitivity and health in himself and his students. Steve’s teaching methods clearly communicate to students how to refine themselves through integration of body, mind, and spirit.