Olive Silva to be recognized as part of 60th anniversary of aikido in Hawaii

Maui Ki-Aikido is celebrating the 60th anniversary of aikido in Hawaii by naming its longest-training sensei, Olive Silva, as the grand marshal of Maui’s celebrations.

The honor will be celebrated at the group’s Shinen Enkai annual meeting and dinner Saturday.

Silva, 90, started training 59 years ago and still actively participates in the local aikido group’s classes, board meetings and events.

Koichi Tohei arrived from Japan in 1953 and traveled through Hawaii to teach and establish dojos. Silva was working as a recreation director in Haliimaile in 1954 and saw a flier for a self-defense class.

As a tough, self-described “tomboy lady,” she signed up and went to Wailuku to meet the new Maui aikido teacher, Shinichi Suzuki, and join the newly formed aikido group training at the Wailuku Gymnasium.

Over the years, as she and husband Paul raised six children, Olive used her aikido training in many ways, including saving a life and defending herself in various jobs she held, according to a news release.

Her main teachers were Tohei and Suzuki. Along with other early Maui aikido students, she practiced in branch dojos that were established in communities all over Maui as well as in Kaimuki on Oahu.

Silva taught aikido to many Maui children for years at the Haliimaile, Paia and Haiku gyms.

Silva says that Tohei was a model and an inspiration for her. She attributes her long life and the energy and motivation to keep practicing aikido to his teachings.

In her 80s, Silva was still regularly assisting the teachers of the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday youth classes. Now she attends ki and meditation class and sometimes stays for aikido, giving tips to fellow students.

Silva is also a lei maker and she was feted by Mayor Alan Arakawa and the Maui County Council in 2005 with a proclamation declaring Sept. 16 of that year Aunty Olive Silva Day.

In addition to the Maui celebrations, there will be larger and more elaborate commemoration during the Hawaii Ki Federation’s celebratory 60th-year anniversary seminar on Oahu in November.