What is Suenaka Aikido?

Simply put, Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho (Suenaka style, philosophical way) Aikido is a synthesis of Founder Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei's Aikido and that of Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido founder Koichi Tohei Sensei. It is a system of self-defense designed to be street-effective, while paying equal attention to spiritual, mental and moral/ethical development.

Aikido, says Suenaka Sensei, is a subtle art. O'Sensei alone possessed the command of ki (spiritual energy) required to perform Aikido technique in the seemingly effortless and often preternatural manner which was the Founder's hallmark. His martial prowess and spiritual evolution, well-documented in numerous films, has earned him the distinction, even among practitioners of other budo, of the greatest martial artist who ever lived. Confronted by O'Sensei's daunting example, many discount or dismiss the existence of ki and its essential role in Aikido, and subsequently often regress to techniques similar to those found in Daito-ryu ju-jitsu, which relies largely on strength and mechanics alone for efficacy.

Aikido, insists Suenaka Sensei, is neither expressly physical nor spiritual – rather, it is both. Aikido should be as the Founder envisioned it: a way to effectively and decisively defend oneself from attack while preserving and respecting the attacker; a path both martial and spiritual, not one or the other.

Following his disassociation from both the International Ki Society and the Aikikai Hombu, Suenaka Sensei created Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho Aikido in order to reunite the martial and the spiritual elements of Aikido, returning it to that which he learned under Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei. Today, Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho Aikido incorporates both the martial techniques (waza) and spiritual teachings of O'Sensei and the practical ki-development exercises developed by Koichi Tohei Sensei. To this, Suenaka Sensei has added techniques drawn from his decades of experience in kendo, judo, ju-jitsu, kempo and karate-do, plus more esoteric ibuki breathing and misogi ritual purification meditative practices. The style is clean, economical and street-effective, the atmosphere joyful and respectful, the goal physical and spiritual betterment.

The true purpose of Aikido, as expressed by Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei, is "the loving protection of all things." This simple and honorable guiding philosophy resides, as it should, at the heart of the Wadokai Aikido organization, as do the final words spoken to Suenaka Sensei by the Founder, three months before his death: "Make Aikido better, but don't change the principles. Whatever you do, don't stray from the path of Aiki."