suenaka martial arts located in charleston south carolina

Biography of Roy Y. Suenaka

Roy Yukio Suenaka Sensei, founder of Wadokai Aikido™, is one of contemporary budo's most experienced practitioners and best-kept secrets. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Suenaka Sensei's martial instruction began under his father, Warren Kenji Suenaka, who taught his son budo basics and carefully selected his primary martial tutors. These included such legends as Okazaki-ryu Kodenkan Jiu-jitsu founder Henry Seishiro Okazaki, Kosho-ryu Kempo's legendary James Masayoshi Mitose, judoka (and later, aikidoka) Yukiso Yamamoto, and celebrated kendoka Shuji Mikami, from whom Suenaka Sensei received a nidan (2nd degree black belt).

Suenaka Sensei began his aikido study upon Koichi Tohei's 1953 visit to Hawaii, and continued his study directly under Founder Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei at the Aikikai Hombu for eight years, beginning in 1961. That same year, Suenaka Sensei received an aikido menkyo kaiden (master-level proficiency) teaching certificate from O'Sensei, and became the first person to open a successful aikido dojo in Okinawa. He also commenced 11 years of private study with renowned Matsumura Seito and Hakutsuru Shorin-ryu Karate-do Grandmaster Hohan Soken, receiving from him the rank of rokudan (6th degree black belt). In addition, Suenaka Sensei continued his judo and jiu-jitsu education at the Kodokan under famed Meijin Kazuo Ito, who personally sponsored Suenaka Sensei's promotion to sandan (3rd degree black belt) in judo and jiu-jitsu.

In 1972, Suenaka Sensei relocated to Charleston, S.C., where he served as Southeastern U.S. director for Koichi Tohei's International Ki Society until 1975, when Suenaka Sensei resigned to form the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society (AIKDPS)™. Suenaka Sensei currently teaches Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-hoTM Wadokai Aikido™ and Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin-ryu Karate-do. He is author of the best-selling Complete Aikido, and in 2013 Sensei Suenaka will celebrate his 60th year of aikido study.

Training and Instructors:

1944-1958 Warren Suenaka (father):  judo, jiu-jutsu, kenjutsu, kempo and boxing
1948-1952 Henry Seishiro Okazaki, founder:  Kodenkan Jiu-Jutsu and Judo
1949-1953 James Masayoshi Mitose, founder:  Kosho Ryu Kempo
1950-1953 Higami, Matsumoto and Yukiso Yamamoto:  Kodokan Judo
1951-1952 Kalama:  lua
1951-1951 Leong:  kung fu
1953-1976 Koichi Tohei:  aikido
1954-1958 Amateur boxing
1955-1958 Shuji Mikami:  kendo
1957-1958 Nishioka:  Shotokan Karate
1961-1969 Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei, founder:  aikido
1961-1972 Hohan Soken, founder:  Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin Ryu Karatedo & Kobudo
1961-1970 Kazuo Ito, Kyuzo Mifune:  Kodokan Judo
1961-1963 Masutatsu Oyama, founder:  Kyokushinkai Karate
1962-1962 Chosin Chibana:  Kobayashi Karate
1963-1963 Kanei Uechi, founder:  Uechi Ryu Karate
1964-1964 Ubon-Sing Chub:  kung fu
1964-1965 Masanobu Shinjo, Masanobu Kinjo:  Goju Ryu Karate
1967-1972 Eiichi Miyazato:  Goju Ryu Karate
1972-Present Teaches 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.
  • Hachidan (8th degree black belt) in Aikido awarded 1977
  • Hachidan (8th degree black belt) in Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin
  • Ryu Karatedo & Kobudo awarded 1977
  • Rokudan (6th degree black belt) in Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin
  • Ryu Karatedo & Kobudo, awarded by Hakutsuru Shorin Ryu founder Hokan Soken, in 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 Jigoro Kano, in 1970
  • Nidan (2nd degree black belt) in Kendo, awarded by Shuji Mikami in 1958
  • Hawaiian State Golden Gloves Boxing from 1954 to 1958

Teaching Experience:

  • Assistant aikido instructor for the Hawaii Aikikai upon receiving first aikido black belt in 1956 and until joining United States Air Force (USAF) in 1958
  • Started first recognized aikido school in the continental U.S. in Sacramento, CA in 1958 and maintained until USAF assignment in Japan in 1961
  • Instructed California Highway Patrol between 1958-1961
  • Instructed Military Police at Mather Air Force Base between 1958-1961
  • Taught judo and aikido at Encino High School, CA in 1960
  • Taught both juvenile offenders and counselors at “Boys Town” in Placerville, CA between 1958-1960
  • Taught combative measures as guest instructor in the USAF Strategic Air Command Survival Training Course at Stead Air Force Base, NV 1958-1961
  • While in Japan, Okinawa and Vietnam between 1961-1972, taught hand-to-hand combat to Military Police, Marines, Army Green Berets, Navy SEALS, the Air Commando Program and the Ryukyu Police Department (Naha City, Okinawa)
  • Started first successful aikido dojo (school) in Okinawa in 1961, which required nightly defense from physical challenges issued by local high-ranking karate practitioners. All challenges were met and won.
  • Opened aikido and karate dojo in Charleston, SC in 1973 which is still in operation
  • Taught Air Force Tactical Recovery Teams in Charleston from 1973-1974
  • Sole instructor of Air Force Security Police in a special program initiated by General Sadler to heighten Charleston Air Force Base security
  • Instructed at the Police Academy in Columbia, SC in 1988-1989 teaching State Police, FBI, city and county SWAT teams, SC State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and correction officers at Columbia Correctional Institute maximum security prison (CCI)
  • Taught Costa Rican special task forces and Presidential Secret Service in 1991. Program sponsored by the Charleston City Police Department
  • Taught special course designed for female and smaller framed officers serving in the Charleston City Police Department in 1994
  • Instructed employees of city, state and county police, jailers, bodyguards, State Department officials, Border Patrol, SWAT, bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, DEA, US Marshals and agents for the Foreign Dignitary Protection Service
  • Conducts annual seminars in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New York and special seminars in California, Washington and Colorado
  • Authored Complete Aikido: Aikido Kyohan in 1998 (Tuttle, Boston)

Articles & Reference

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Suenaka Martial Arts 1856 Belgrade Ave. Unit B2
Charleston, SC 29407
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