Iowa County Aikido


At Iowa County Aikido, our goal is to provide a Traditional Japanese martial arts experience for you in a welcoming, safe, setting, where you can hone your Mind Body and Spirit.

Aikido is not a sport or a game. Aikido is an effective martial art, like Karate do, Tae Kwon do, Judo, or Jujitsu. However, in Aikido there are no contests or competition. All training is cooperative. Students progress at their own rate.

Aikido training is a fun way to get regular exercise, sharpen your awareness, improve your strength, balance, and flexibility, and meet new friends who enjoy working together, to help make the world a better place.

It is easy to start. Please contact Kurt Sensei, and watch a class, to find out if Aikido is right for you.


Monday:6:00-6:45PM (Ridgeway)
 6:45-7:30PM (Ridgeway)
Wednesday:12:00-1:00PM (Blue Mounds)
 6:00-6:45PM (Ridgeway)
 6:45-7:30PM (Ridgeway)
Thursday:6:30-7:30PM (Blue Mounds)
Saturday:10:30-11:30PM (Blue Mounds)
Sunday:2:00-3:00PM (Ridgeway)

*Classes are ongoing with pre-sign up, limited class size, hygiene practices and social distancing.
*Classes are held in Blue Mounds or Ridgeway
*All students must contact Kurt Sensei before resuming or starting training. No drop-ins please!


A monthly donation is requested.

Adult: $50
Child: $30
Family: $75

Our Story

Iowa County Aikido was founded in 2002 by Kurt Lifka Sensei with permission and encouragement from John Stone Sensei, Robin Cooper Sensei, and Mitsuge Saotome Shihan. We started in the loft over Kurt’s woodworking studio, where weekend classes are still held.

During a seminar in the studio, there was a huge lightning storm followed by a typical Midwest style downpour. This impressed our teacher Sugawara Sensei so much, and he gave us the name “Ryu Jin Dojo”, which means “Dragon Spirit Dojo”.

We trained in ASU, Aikido Schools of Ueshiba for 14 years before officially joining Sugawara Sogo Budo in 2016.

In order to make Aikido study available to more people, Kurt Sensei purchased a large commercial building in Blue Mounds WI in 2017, and carved out space for a new Dojo, which is named “Sei Zan Ryu Jin Dojo”, or “Blue Mounds Dragon Spirit Dojo”.

We currently hold classes in both locations. Students can train at either or both Dojos and take as many classes as they like.

We're Open!

Iowa County Aikido is now open, and accepting new students. Please send an email or text to Kurt Sensei (608-341-8137) and schedule a class to watch.

Sugawara Shihan

Iowa County Aikido annually hosts Tetsutaka Sugawara Shihan, who is a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. We are truly honored to host Sugawara Shihan. Every year since 2002!

Iowa County Aikido is a member dojo of Sugawara Sogo Budo, Machida Tokyo, and through Sugawara Shihan to the Aikido World Headquarters


Our three regular instructors have a combined Aikido experience of 110 years! Each has been a student of many of the Founder’s direct Students, including Saotome Shihan, Sugano Shihan, Tohei Shihan, and Sugawara Shihan, and also studied with many other Japanese and American Aikido Teachers.

Dorothy Mead

"Aikido is about embodying joy."

Dorothy began practicing aikido with Akira Tohei Shihan at the Midwest Aikido Center in Chicago in 1977. While living in Sydney Australia, she trained with Seiichi Sugano Shihan at Aikikai Australia. Since moving to Mineral Point in 2014, Dorothy has trained at Iowa County Aikido. A fifth dan with more than 40 years of training, Dorothy’s serious skills don’t overshadow her generosity while she inspires students during her lively classes.

Dorothy retired from a career in psychology. She offers biodynamic craniosacral therapy at her practice in Mineral Point.

Therese Waugh

"Aikido is so much fun."

Therese started practicing aikido at University of Wisconsin - Platteville under Ed Nuhfer Sensei in 1979. After her sensei left in 1990, Therese led the University Aikido Club for many years. She built her skills with Victoria Brundage Sensei and Mike Mamura Sensei of Milwaukee Aikido Club, and Akira Tohei Shihan of the Midwest Aikido Federation. Therese joined Iowa County Aikido in 2010. She tested with Tetsutaka Sugawara Shihan and he awarded her third dan. Students appreciate the peaceful spirit Therese brings to class as well as her talent for finding methods that suit each unique body. Her favorite aikido techniques are those that have circles in varying planes (such as katatedori kaitenage uchi ura), so that both of the practice partners have lots of fun.

When she’s not practicing aikido, Therese works in a hospital lab, drawing and testing blood, runs many miles and bakes delicious desserts.

Kurt Lifka

"Aikido practice always makes me feel better."

Years before ever meeting a real aikidoist or entering a dojo, Kurt saw an aikido demonstration on television. That glimpse was enough for him to decide that he wanted to practice and become an aikido instructor himself. He started training with Robin Cooper Sensei and John Stone Sensei at Aikido of Madison in 1991. Kurt especially enjoyed weapons practice, which led him to study traditional Japanese sword arts. For many years, Kurt has studied sword and aikido with Tetsutaka Sugawara Shihan during his annual United States tours. Kurt is honored to have received 5th dan from Sugawara Shihan. Students appreciate Kurt’s gentleness, patience and deep understanding of aikido techniques.

Kurt also remodels buildings, keeps bees, makes cabinets and is an Airbnb super host.


Kurt Lifka (Head Instructor)


Wednesday noon and Thursday evening classes are held at 10967 Division St. Blue Mounds WI

Monday and Wednesday evening, and Sunday afternoon classes are located at 2241 Ryan Rd, Dodgeville WI 53533 (Town of Ridgeway)