Wadokai Aikido is the international organization of the students of Sensei Roy Suenaka. More a family than an organization, Wadokai Aikido was founded in part to further the growth and spread of Aikido, the way of harmony. The members of Wadokai are a close-knit group, and every Wadokai dojo teaches Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku-Ho Aikido, or “Suenaka style, philosophical way.” At the heart of this philosophical way is the unification of the martial and spiritual elements of Aikido, training that requires austere study and practice that takes decades, if not one’s entire life. In Suenaka-Ha Aikido, equal emphasis is placed on physical and personal development. Suenaka Sensei, a direct student of Aikido’s founder O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, incorporates all of O’Sensei’s teachings into his style of Aikido. Also a student of many other arts and masters, Suenaka Sensei imbues a wealth of knowledge and experience into his own teaching. The result is a martial art that is powerful and effective, yet respectful of all living things. Aikido is a rigorous and dynamic physical practice conducted in a joyful, welcoming atmosphere, without conflict or machismo. A student of Wadokai Aikido can expect to train his body, mind, and spirit in a familial (and often very humid) atmosphere. From Wadokai Main Website
Our School Motto: "Let us have a universal spirit that loves and protects all creation an helps all things grow and develop. To unify mind and body and to become one with the universe is the ultimate purpose of my study"
Aikido is essentially a modern manifestation of the Japanese martial arts (budo). It is orthodox in that it inherits the spiritual and martial tradition of ancient Japan, first recorded in the eighth-century literary and historical works, Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and Nihongi (Chronicle of Japan). This does not mean that aikido blindly carries on the tradition of the ancient martial arts, merely preserving and maintain its original form in the modern world.
The ancient fighting arts are a historical and cultural legacy, originating on the battlefield in periods of civil strife and later formalized as budo, the Way of martial arts, in the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). They need to be properly assessed and appreciated. In their original form they are unacceptable to people today and are out of place in the modern world, which in the case of Japan begins with the Meiji Restoration (1868).
The founder of Aikido, Master Uyeshiba Morihei (pictured above), was born on December 14, 1883. Living in the turbulent time of Japan's modernization, he dedicated himself to establishing a martial art that would meet the needs of contemporary people but would not be an anachronism. The following factors were at the core of Master Uyeshiba's primary concerns: an abiding love for traditional martial arts, the care that it not be misunderstood and a deep wish to revive the spiritual quality of budo. He sought to achieve his goal through a relentless quest, given substance by constant training in the martial arts, for the truth of budo throughout the vicissitudes of modern Japanese history.
Ultimately, Master Uyeshiba concluded that the true spirit of budo is not to be found in a competitive and combative atmosphere where brute strength dominates and victory at any cost is the paramount objective. He concluded that it is to be realized in the quest for perfection as a human being, both in the mind and body, through cumulative training and practice with kindred spirits in the martial arts. For him only such a true manifestation of budo can have a raison d'etre in modern world, and when that quality exists, it lies behond any particular culture or age. His goal deeply religious in nature, is summarized in a single statement: the unification of the fundamental creative principle, ki, permeating the universe, and the individual Ki, inseparable from breath power, of each person. Through constant training of mind and body, the individual ki harmonizes with universal ki, and this unity appears in the dynamic, flowing movement of ki-power which is free and fluid, indestructible and invincible. This is the essence of Japanese martial arts as embodied in Aikido.
The Spirit of Aikido, Kisshomaru Uyeshiba, pp 14-15.
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 eight 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 2003 celebrated his 50th year of aikido study.
(This biography is from Suenaka Sensei's website. For more information on Suenaka Sensei, please visit his website at www.suenaka.com)
Shihan Kelley began his Aikido career in 1991 under the instruction of Sensei Jeff Baygents in Douglasville, GA. Shortly after joining Sensei Baygents' class, the class joined the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Socitey. The head instructor in Atlanta at the time was Sensei Fen Ackerman in Lilburn. He continued to study in Douglasville under Sensei Baygents until 1993 when Sensei Baygents left AIKD&PS to pursue other ventures. At this time Douglasville was an independent Dojo until Julio Roque (Ikkyu), also a student of Sensei Suenaka and Sensei Fen Ackerman, began to lead classes. Around 1995, the Douglasville dojo dissolved and he began training directly under Sensei Fen Ackerman in Lilburn. In June of 1999, he tested for and received his Nidan. In October of 1999, he started the Marietta, GA branch of the Atlanta Wadokai dojo in the Marietta YWCA. He has taught in Marietta until 2017 when the class moved to Smyrna. In May of 2004, Sensei Fen Ackerman formally resigned from the Wadokai making the Marietta Branch the only Wadokai school for the Atlanta area. On January 1st, 2008, the class moved to Marietta Martial Arts. Shihan Kelley was promoted to Godan (5th degree) in June of 2011. In June of 2017, Shihan Kelley moved the class to Smyrna. That year he was promoted to Rokudan (6th degree) and currently holds that rank. Atlanta is currently home to two Wadokai branches, Shihan Kelley in Smyrna and Shihan Gene Cross in Villa Rica, GA. Shihan Kelley continues his affiliation with Wadokai, the AIKD&PS and Sensei Suenaka and is a certified dojo in good standing.
I am happily married to the greatest woman in the world, and have a beautiful son Joshua who was born in December 2002 and daughter Amanda who was born in June 2007. I have also studied Kung Soo Do Karate since 1984 under Sensei Stan Broome and am ranked a Rokudan in good standing with Sensei Broome's organization, the American Classical Karate Association. I was born in 1967 in Marietta, GA and have lived in the Atlanta area ever since.
Below is a list of links to dojos that teach Suenaka Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido and are affiliated with the Wadokai