Roo (Katherine) Heins Sensei began practicing Aikido in 1994 in New Mexico. In 1999, after achieving shodan (first-degree black belt) rank, she moved to California to study directly under T. K. Chiba Shihan, founder of Birankai North America. In 2004, having attained yondan (fourth-degree black belt) rank and shidoin (full instructor) certification, she moved to Japan. She lived in Tokyo and practiced at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo under Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba and other Hombu instructors for seven years, returning to the U.S. in 2011. She currently holds the rank of rokudan (sixth-degree black belt) and maintains her shidoin certification with Birankai North America, returning regularly to Japan to train.
Heins Sensei began Iaido (Japanese swordsmanship) training under T. K. Chiba Shihan and continued in Japan, eventually receiving yondan (fourth-degree black belt) rank in Iaido from the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (All-Japan Kendo Federation). After returning to the US, she affiliated with the Greater Northeast United States Kendo Federation (GNEUSKF) and trains actively under the guidance of senior teachers in that organization. She also holds shodan rank in Shotokan Karate from the Shotokan Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, and studied Western boxing for a number of years after returning to the US. In addition, she has continued her practice of Zen meditation and the Japanese tea ceremony over many years.