When Elliot Freeman discovered martial arts as a teenager, his interest knew no bounds. He searched for and attempted to master as many forms as he could find, including kendo, moo duk kwon, and laido. When he heard rumors that the mysterious style known as aikido could grant practitioners the ability to throw people across the room without touching them or secretly attaching their pant legs to a trebuchet, he knew he found what would be the bedrock to his entire career. He eventually studied under acclaimed aikido masters, earned top ratings in the National Karate Assocation and American Karate Association, and formed various programs and dojos. In 1993 Freeman journeyed to St. Louis to study with action-film star Sensei Steven Seagal at his aikido summer camp. Seagal became so impressed with Freeman that he asked him to open a new school in St. Louis. Freeman readily agreed, founding Three Rivers Aikido where he still acts as chief instructor.
Freeman, along with 12 other aikido instructors, welcomes students of all ages to come and train within the 3,500-square-foot dojo. In addition to the martial-arts training offered at the dojo, Alyona Komolova, a former Russian ballerina, offers yoga classes to help students increase flexibility. Justin Meehan, a martial-arts veteran of 38 years, instructs attendees in tai chi, a relaxing flow of prescribed motions that balance body and mind.