Hana met Robert Nadeau Sensei in 1976, beginning her Aikido studies with him. Shortly after, she graduated from the California Institute of Massage and moved to Wilbur Hot Springs where she lived and did massage for the next two years. She resumed her training with Nadeau Sensei when she returned to Bay Area. She also trained with Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei during his annual visits to California and with Pietro Maida Sensei at his Dojo in Berkeley. Hana writes that much of her training during this period focused on “centering and unified body movement.”
Hana went Japan in 1997 where she participated in a Ki Society retreat. After she returned, she began training with Nadeau Sensei again. She took her Shodan test with him in 2000. He granted her the rank of Nidan in 2007.
When attending a Fire Ballet performance of “Dracula, Prince of Darkness,” in 2009 she saw some of the actors on 20-foot Chinese poles. She writes, “I was immediately and irrevocably enthralled.” Hana began studying this discipline including taking a workshop with Jenyne Butterfly. She writes, “I was completely hooked.”
After becoming certified as a Pole Dance Instructor, she opened her own studio near the UC Campus in Berkeley. She writes, “I have put all of the love and attention to detail that I could into making it [the studio] a beautiful space in which students can safely and joyfully explore pole dance and fitness.
Hana wrote this wonderful paragraph about her experience:
“The unique thing which I think my Martial Arts background has brought to my understanding of Pole is the perception of the pole as an external manifestation of center and stability. I believe that all human movement arts express an inherent desire to expand into space and traditional dancers and Martial Artists spend a lifetime learning to connect to their core or their center and develop the stability needed to achieve that expansion. In pole dancing the center is given as a gift. Stability is available to even the most challenged, and every one has a chance to feel their body move expansively in space. This is the magic that has drawn me and, I believe, so many others to pole. I have seen pole dancing bring joy in movement to students who have never been able to find joy in any other form of exercise or movement art.”
The art has brought about wonderful results for her students. She writes:
“I have a student who has been able to gain strength and self esteem because she can now pull herself up in a pole climb. I have another student who has never participated in any sort of physical activity before and becomes completely distracted during any kind of instruction but with patience and a pole to hold onto she has been able to memorize an entire performance choreography and is now proudly showing anyone who happens to be nearby her brand new bicep! Students consistently encourage, admire and support one another. This is a part of the pole community culture and is also due in part to the magical quality of being in a room full of deep rooted, strong and unwavering support physically manifested as poles.”
Hana is planning for her studio, Phoenix Aerial Art and Pole to become a center for aerial arts and as she writes, “other related arts such as stretching, contortion, hand balancing and ballet.”
For more information about this remarkable martial artist who is making a difference, you can reach Hana through her web page at Phoenix Aerial Art and Pole.