Marc Kupper wrote:
From what I can see on his web site, Dan Vella is a USAF shodan than for some reason hooked up with Glenn R. Premru who "promoted" Vella to 5th dan. Vella did not try to hide any of this and now seems to be out of business.
I'm afraid you have fallen victim to the terminology on Dan Vela's website!
Dan was not only not a USAF shodan, he may never even have been a member of the USAF!
He attended a seminar with Akira Tohei but he never tested under him at all. Dan was a white belt when I joined the dojo in 1995.His teacher (there were two in our dojo) told me that Dan didn't believe in testing (By the way, his teacher who told me that has also never tested for any Aikikai rank I know of, although he was and is an excellent Aikidoist).
Then there was a split in the dojo. Half was USAF and half was studying Steven Seagal style and didn't like the USAF. Dan left the dojo with the Seagal group and reappeared at the Corpus Christi Athletic Club as the weapons teacher. That's why many of us were surprised to see that Dan was using Akira Tohei on his website years later since when we were there, some of us were under the impression that Dan didn't care for him.