About Us


The Open Sky School of Martial Arts teaches martial arts that develop the use of ki (Chinese: chi) to promote inner awareness, sensitivity to others and self-defense ability, rather than the use of muscular strength alone. Classes in both arts are excellent physical exercise for students of all levels. Aikido is a Japanese martial art famed for its peaceful philosophy, an appropriate art for our times. Tai chi is a slower-paced, deeply internal study that reinforces students’ understanding of the foundation principles of martial arts, self-healing, and body-alignment, and is a wonderful meditative study for adults of all ages.

Our chief instructor, Steven Kaufmann, creates a relaxed but focused group setting in both adult and kids classes. He is able to break down movements through actions and words. His simplicity, clarity, and centeredness bring a sense of safety and joy to the learning process. Steven’s many years of experience as a teacher focusing on non-violent physical education. Open Sky has been teaching internal arts in the Triangle area of NC for over 20 years; Steven has been teaching and training for over 40.

Aikido Credentials: Open Sky Aikido is a fully accredited member of the United States Aikido Federation (USAF). Steve Kaufmann Sensei is a 6th degree black belt and a licensed master Aikido teacher (Shihan) in the USAF, allowing him to test and give rank in Aikido. The USAF is affiliated with Hombu Aikido Dojo, the world headquarters of Aikido in Tokyo, Japan.

Tai Chi Credentials: Steven and Jesse Kaufmann are students of Chen-lineage Grand Master Wang Hai Jun, based in Manchester, England. Our teachers have been acknowledged and approved by Wang Hai Jun to teach Chen style Tai Chi under his supervision at Open Sky. We are one of the few schools in the United States who hold seminars with Grand Master Wang Hai Jun each year.

Below is a video tour of aikido at Open Sky, complete with demonstrations and interviews about our adult and children aikido programs. Enjoy!