Spencer Cobrin Sensei and Andrés Cruciani Sensei began training in Aikido around the same time (2008) at their home dojo, Brooklyn Aikikai. Minus seminars and brief stints at a few dojos, all of their training was in Brooklyn, under the tutelage of Ryugan Savoca Sensei (currently 6th degree blackbelt and shihan—master teacher).
Savoca Sensei is a student of Kazuo Chiba Sensei (himself a direct disciple of the founder of Aikido), and at the time of Cobrin's and Cruciani's "coming up" in Aikido, Chiba Sensei was still alive. A warrior at heart—and tasked with helping to spread Aikido throughout the world—Chiba Sensei was well known for his seriousness regarding training, his fire, and his fierceness.
Thus, given that Savoca's warrior teacher was alive and closely following Brooklyn Aikikai's progress, the training under Savoca Sensei (particularly at the time) was austere, urgent, intense, and occasionally severe. As Cobrin and Cruciani were instructed by their teacher, though, (and as he was instructed by his) "You must take everything from your teacher. Then spit out the poison." And so, for about a decade, that was what they attempted to do: take as much as they could, to the best of their abilities. Each of them, to a greater or lesser extent, trained in all the arts Brooklyn Aikikai had to offer: aikido, weapons, iaido, zazen, and misogi. (Though Andrés Sensei will openly admit that iaido was not his favorite, and Spencer Sensei that he only dabbled in misogi before choosing zazen instead.)
About ten years of training later, Cruciani had to move to Philadelphia to help out his family. And Cobrin found himself in Europe. Cruciani had already started his own Aikido practice at a church in Kensington (St. Michael's Lutheran). And Cobrin had been tinkering with the idea of starting a dojo in Spain. One phone call later, and the two agreed to combine forces.
Thus, in 2020—and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—they started training in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park by Lemon Hill Mansion (ergo our name!). Cobrin Sensei and Cruciani Sensei began their practice and dojo together for two simple reasons: First, it was a natural next-step in their own Aikido evolution (they'd already been training for about a decade each at their home dojo). And second, they felt that the type of Aikido dojo they were envisioning did not currently exist in Philadelphia.
In late 2023, Cobrin left the left the dojo for other pursuits, and the dojo is currently being run by Cruciani Sensei.
The style of Aikido dojo and training Lemon Hill Aikido offers is rigorous and challenging—yet supportive. Ultimately, we aim at maintaining a (relatively) traditional Japanese dojo that fosters the growth of the individual—through difficult training!
WHAT IS AIKIDO?
Founded in Japan, Aikido is a noncompetitive martial art aimed at training the mind, body, and spirit.
Aikido, "the way of harmony," is an intense partner-based martial practice.
WHO IS IT FOR?
We welcome all. And we particularly aim at people who want to try something new, get in shape, or have trained before.
Lemon Hill Aikido does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, or national origin. We welcome Philadelphians of all backgrounds.
I've been training in Aikido since 2014, but unfortunately lost touch with my practice during the pandemic. Returning to my practice at this dojo has been truly invigorating to both my mental training, as well as my body health and conditioning.
Andrés & Spencer have a good sense of where each student is at, and they really push each person to their own personal limits. I can feel myself improving progressively under their guidance.
Besides all that, the people here are really nice; it's not competitive, we're all working towards the same goals.
Swing on by, say hi, and check it out! :)
(Third Degree Blackbelt)
Andrés, originally from Argentina, trained under Ryugan Savoca Shihan for almost a decade in Aikido, weapons, misogi, zazen, and iaido. A teacher, writer, and publisher, he has traveled the world as Savoca Sensei's otomo (attendant); and he has trained in the rigorous ascetic practice of misogi at Ichikukai Dojo in Japan.
Developed during a time of world wars, Aikido is a martial art focused on individual development and—through intense practice—harmony between attacker and receiver.
We train in weapons—jo (staff) and bokken (sword)—as a way of extending our Aikido outward. Weapons is a challenging but rewarding practice.
Zazen is a form of Zen meditation. We do zazen as a way of stilling our minds and coming to ultimate harmony in Aikido. It is a deceivingly simple, but arduous, practice.