Aikido Lineage

Chief Instructor: Gene Cross

Title: Cross Shihan / Rank: Godan

Sensei Gene Cross

Cross Shihan is our lead instructor at Villa Rica Aikido, he has over 20 years experience in Aikido and is a 5th Dan (degree) in Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido. In addition to Aikido, Cross Shihan also holds a 5th degree in Tae Kwon Do. Cross Shihan is a member of Wadokai and the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society, founded by Roy Y. Suenaka Soke. He is certified and authorized by Roy Suenaka to teach Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido.

Assistant Instructor: Danny Underwood

Title: Underwood Sensei / Rank: Nidan

Sensei Danny

Underwood Sensei began his study of martial arts in 1986 with the art of karate. After watching an aikido demonstration, he began his study of aikido in 1990. With over 20 years experience in Aikido, Sensei Danny likes to emphasize the principles upon which Aikido was founded and developed. He is a member of Wadokai and the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society. He is certified and authorized by Roy Suenaka to teach Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido. He enjoys participating in classes and helping others progress in their study of Aikido.

Instructor: Cassie Cross

Title: Cross Sensei / Rank: Nidan

Sensei Cross, Cassie

Sensei Cross (Cassie) is our newest sensei. She is 23 years old with 11 years’ experience in Aikido. Having grown up in the martial arts, she began taking Tae Kwon Do from about the time she could walk. At the age of 11, Sensei Cassie took her first Aikido class at Gasshuku 2002 and has never looked back.

The 2012 Gasshuku (summer camp) marked the culmination of half a life's journey towards her Shodan test. Sensei Cassie is a member of Wadokai and the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society, founded by Roy Y. Suenaka Soke. She is certified and authorized to teach Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku-Ho Aikido.

Instructor: Mat Massey

Title: Massey Sensei / Rank: Shodan
- Under Military Deployment

Sensei Matt

Massey Sensei has studied and practiced Aikido for 5 years under the Wadokai organization and is now certified and authorized by Roy Suenaka to teach Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido. Much like Shihan Gene, Matt is an excellent teacher, his calm, patient and friendly disposition blends well with his professionalism both on and off the mat. His active duty in the USAF lends an upbeat, no nonsense, tongue in check, pace and humor that leads the class in a fast but fun pace. His method of teaching is equally enjoyable as he modifies his instructions based on your individual challenges and opportunities. Although the organization itself tends to be wrought with an air of humor and joy for living, the advancement to a black belt in the Wadokai is addressed with the utmost respect and seriousness. As such, eight years is considered the average expected time to reach Sensei. Matt's knowledge and ability in Aikido is evident in his achievement of earning Sensei in 5 years.

Gene, Roy Suenaka, Matt M
Pictured left to right: Gene Cross, Roy Suenaka, and Matt M.

Biography of Roy Y. Suenaka

Portrait of Roy Y. Suenaka Soke founder of Suenaka-Ha Aikido 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 Sensei Suenaka and O'Sensei 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.

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
Teaches Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido (Wadokai) and Matsumura Seito Hakutsuru Shorin Ryu Karatedo & Kobudo in Charleston, SC

Hombu Dojo Information:

Suenaka Sensei Suenaka School of Martial Arts
813-A Highway 17 South (Savannah Highway)
Charleston, South Carolina 29407
Wadokai Aikido - Hombu