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Roy Y. Suenaka Sensei

Roy Y. Suenaka Sensei, founder of Wadokai Aikido, began his martial study at age four under
his father in their birthplace of Honolulu, Hawaii. This early tutelage in judo, ju-jitsu, kempo and
boxing was soon augmented by instruction in Kodenkan ju-jitsu under founder Henry Seishiro
Okazaki, kendo under Shuji Mikami, and Kosho-ryu kempo under the renowned James
Masayoshi Mitose.

Following Koichi Tohei’s inaugural visit to Hawaii in 1953, at age twelve Suenaka Sensei
commenced what was to become his lifelong study of aikido. Suenaka Sensei studied under
Yukiso Yamamoto until 1958, when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Following his initial service
in Sacramento, California, where he became one of the first instructors to teach aikido on the U.
S. mainland, in 1961 Suenaka Sensei was assigned to Tokyo, Japan, and later to Okinawa.

From 1961 until 1972 – interrupted only by a mandatory two-year assignment to Honolulu –
Suenaka Sensei studied extensively with aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei, son
Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei (then doshu), and Koichi Tohei Sensei, serving when military
duties permitted as uchi-deshi (live-in disciple) at the Aikikai Hombu (headquarters), during
which time O’Sensei presented Suenaka Sensei with a menkyo-kaiden certificate of aikido
mastery. At age 21, Suenaka Sensei became the first person to open a successful aikido
school in Okinawa, in Kadena. While there, he also commenced private study in Matsumura
Seito karate-do and kobudo under the legendary Grandmaster Hohan Soken Sensei, with
emphasis on Hakutsuru Shorin-ryu technique. He also continued his study of judo and ju-jitsu
at the Kodokan world judo headquarters, particularly under Kyuzo Mifune and Kazuo Ito, the latter
of whom sponsored Suenaka Sensei’s promotion to sandan in judo and ju-jitsu.

Following O’Sensei’s death in 1969 and Koichi Tohei Sensei’s subsequent separation from the
Aikikai, Suenaka Sensei allied himself with Tohei Sensei’s then-infant International Ki Society,
receiving from Tohei Sensei an okuden certificate of advanced Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido
proficiency and serving as an International Ki Society shihan (chief instructor).

In 1972, Suenaka Sensei was assigned to Charleston, S.C., where he opened the Southeastern U.S. Ki Society dojo. Disillusioned, however, by the
escalating factionalism within both the Ki Society and the world aikido organization, particularly the political and philosophical conflicts between Koichi
Tohei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu, in 1975 Suenaka Sensei resigned from the Ki Society and created his own organization, the American
International Ki Development and Philosophical Society, under which he taught Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho Aikido and Hakutsuru Shorin-ryu karate-do.
Suenaka Sensei devoted himself to full-time teaching upon his Air Force retirement in 1978. In 1996, he changed the name of his umbrella organization
from the AIKDPS to Wadokai (the peaceful way) Aikido.

Roy Y. Suenaka Sensei is ranked nidan (second dan) in kendo, sandan (third dan) in judo and ju-jitsu, and rokudan (sixth dan) in Matsumura Seito and
Hakutsuru Shorin-ryu karate-do and kobudo, the latter rank awarded by Grandmaster Hohan Soken himself. In addition to his aikido menkyo kaiden
presented to him by the Founder, he is recognized as hachidan (eighth dan) in aikido by the International Black Belt Federation. Suenaka Sensei also
saw active combat duty in Vietnam, where he taught unarmed combat skills to Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs and others.

Suenaka Sensei is the author of Complete Aikido: Aikido Kyohan, published by Charles E. Tuttle Company. He currently resides and teaches in
Charleston, S.C., where he is at work on his second book.

Sensei Suenaka’s Instructors

  • 1944-1958Warren Suenaka (father): judo, jiu-jutsu, kenjutsu, kempo and boxing
  • 1948-1952Henry Seishiro Okazaki, founder: Kodenkan Jiu-Jutsu and Judo
  • 1949-1953James Masayoshi Mitose, founder: Kosho Ryu Kempo
  • 1950-1953Higami, Matsumoto and Yukiso Yamamoto: Kodokan Judo
  • 1951-1952Kalama: lua
  • 1951-1951Leong: kung fu
  • 1953-1976Koichi Tohei: aikido
  • 1954-1958Amateur boxing
  • 1955-1958Shuji Mikami: kendo
  • 1957-1958Nishioka: Shotokan Karate
  • 1961-1969Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei, founder: aikido
  • 1961-1972:Hohan Soken, founder: Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin Ryu
  • Karatedo & Kobudo
    1961-1970Kazuo Ito, Kyuzo Mifune: Kodokan Judo
  • 1961-1963Masutatsu Oyama, founder: Kyokushinkai Karate
  • 1962-1962Chosin Chibana: Kobayashi Karate
  • 1963-1963Kanei Uechi, founder: Uechi Ryu Karate
  • 1964-1964Ubon-Sing Chub: kung fu
  • 1964-1965Masanobu Shinjo, Masanobu Kinjo: Goju Ryu Karate
  • 1967-1972Eiichi Miyazato: Goju Ryu Karate
  • 1972-PresentTeaches Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido (Wadokai) and
    Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin Ryu Karatedo & Kobudo in Charleston, SC

    Ranks and Awards

  • Menkyo Kaiden (teaching license, certificate of complete mastery) in aikido, awarded by aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei, in 1961
  • Rokudan (6th degree black belt) in Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin Ryu 1972
  • Sandan (3rd degree black belt) in Kodokan Judo and Jiu Jitsu (dual certificate), awarded by Kazuo Ito and Risei Kano, son of judo founder igoro
    Kano, in 1970
  • Nidan (2nd degree black belt) in Kendo, awarded by Shuji Mikami in 1958Hawaiian State Golden Gloves Boxing from 1954 to 1958
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