Teaching Staff

Valley Aikido’s teaching staff is certified by the United States Aikido Federation and is recognized by Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

Larry Levitt Shihan

Chief Instructor Larry Levitt holds the rank of rokudan (6th degree black belt) and the title of Shihan (Master Instructor). He was certified as shidoin in 1996.

Levitt Sensei began training in 1980 after Lorraine DiAnne, and the late Paul Sylvain Senseis, returned from Japan to found Amherst Aikikai. Levitt sensei helped Sylvain shihan found Valley Aikido in 1986 and received a teaching license under Sylvain sensei’s direction in 1993.

Julia Freedgood Sensei

Julia Freedgood is Dojo Cho (dojo head), holds the rank of rokudan (6th degree black belt) and is a certified shidoin instructor.

Freedgood sensei began Aikido in 1982 at Amherst Aikikai, also under P. Sylvain and L. Dianne, direct students of Chiba Sensei. She studied under Kanai Sensei from 1984 – 1988 and, thanks to the USAF, over the years has had the opportunity to meet and learn from many of O-sensei’s direct students. She helped Sylvain Sensei found Valley Aikido in 1985 and assumed its leadership upon his death in 1996. Now a student of Yamada Sensei, she serves as Dojo Cho of Valley Aikido in Northampton MA and on the Board of the United States Aikido Federation.


Robert LaPalme

Robert LaPalme  directs the children’s program and holds the rank of second degree black belt. He also is a direct student of Sylvain shihan.



The mind [should be] circular.
The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection,
the source of unlimited techniques.