Claude Berthiaume began Aikido in 1971, at the age of 17, with René Gauvin. Gauvin Sensei retired in 1972 and Claude joined the Aikikai of Montreal under the direction of Massimo Di Villadorata.
In 1975, he received his black belt and became the first aikido instructor at the University of Quebec at Montreal, where he was finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. It was at this time that, in parallel with aikido, he began to practice iaido.
In 1981, he spent time in Japan, where he practiced intensively.
In 1983, he became co-founder of the Centre métropolitain d’aikido. Beginning at that time, strong bonds were formed with Yamada Shihan and particularly with Kanai Shihan, two students of Morehei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido. He began to participate in more than 20 seminars with them each year in Canada, the United States, Japan, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. To date, he has participated in and/or led more than 750 seminars in 20 countries.
In 1985, the Centre métropolitain d’aikido and Aikido Kensankai de Montréal joined together to become Aikido de la montagne. Claude Berthiaume became Head Instructor, a position he still holds today. He teaches or practices at the dojo six days a week.
Claude Berthiaume is one of the seven Technical Directors of the United States Aikido Federation, directed by Yamada Shihan. Since 2004 he has held the rank of 7th degree black belt and the title of Shihan. He has also held a 6th degree black belt in iaido since 2004 and is the Technical Director of the Kiyoikaze Iaido Federation. This federation was was created to maintain the teachings of Kanai Shihan, with whom Claude also studied jo and bokken.
As Head Instructor at Aikido de la montagne, Claude relies on Robert Saad Shihan (7th dan) and several other instructors who teach regularly at the dojo.
In 2007, Claude received his diploma as a Circus Arts Teacher Trainer from the National Circus School in Montreal. Since 2012, he has been an instructor at the université de Montréal, where he teaches circus arts to future physical education teachers.
Sharing knowledge is also a priority for Claude Berthiaume. He is proud to welcome, every year, practitioners from Europe, Latin America, Asia and North America who come to Aikido de la montagne for periods of three to six months to benefit from his and the other instructors’ knowledge.
For Claude Berthiaume, it is important to maintain an open mind and to never be afraid to challenge and question oneself. It is for this reason that the students of Aikido de la Montagne are encouraged to participate in a variety of seminars to enrich their experience. It is for the same reason that, since 1983, the dojos that he has directed have organised seminars with many renowned instructors including the following:
Moriteru Ueshiba (Doshu), Mitsuteru Ueshiba (Waka Sensei), Yamaguchi Sensei, Tamura Sensei, Yamada Sensei, Chiba Sensei, Kanai Sensei, Kawahara Sensei, Osawa Sensei, Ichiachi Sensei, Shibata Sensei, Konigsberg Sensei, Peter Bernath Sensei, Waite Sensei, Demko Sensei, Obata Sensei, Ishiyama Sensei, Penny Bernath Sensei, LeVourch Sensei, Koyanis Sensei, Laurendeau Sensei, Dickie Sensei, Spruell Sensei, Ha Sensei, May Sensei, Dumlao Sensei, Janczuk Sensei, Lapointe Sensei, Roberts Sensei, Laplante Sensei.