WYATT SMITH SENSEI
Wyatt began his Aikido training in 1989 under the direction of Akira Tohei, 8th Dan, Shihan. He currently holds the rank of Nidan.
He considers the practice of Aikido along with other traditional martial arts as a way of personal development through working on the body, mind, and conduct
WENDY WHITED SENSEI
Wendy Whited Shihan was one of a small group of instructors at the highest level of the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. Awarded a seventh Dan in 2015 by Hombu Dojo at Saotome Shihan’s recommendation, she was one of the senior-most woman instructors in the world.
Whited Sensei was founding Chief Instructor at Inaka Dojo in Beecher IL for 25 years. She began her study of Aikido at Northern Illinois University in January, 1973, having already studied Judo for a year. Whited Sensei first trained with Saotome Shihan at the Winter Seminar in January of 1976, continuing her training with Shigeru Suzuki Sensei, Saotome Shihan’s representative at Chicago Budokan.
In July 1978 she visited Japan for the first time, training with Hikitsuchi Sensei in Shingu for three weeks. From 1987-89 she lived in Funabashi (Chiba Prefecture), training at Hombu Dojo as well as a more local dojo. On her return from Japan, she continued her Aikido practice as a direct student of Saotome Shihan and also, at his suggestion, took up Karate with the Shorei Ryu (an offshoot of Goju Ryu). She held a shodan in Iaido with the Muso Chokuden Eishin Ryu. In 1990 she began teaching at the University of Chicago Aikido Club and in 1992 she founded Inaka Dojo.
After retiring as an eighth-grade teacher and school principal, Whited Sensei was able to return to Japan for several weeks almost every year. She taught at the Kumamoto Bridge Seminar and visited Hombu Dojo, as a practitioner and later also as Saotome Shihan’s representative, as well as a member of the Board of Aikido Schools of Ueshiba.
Whited Sensei was one of Saotome Shihan’s earliest students in the United States. Her sincere devotion to him and to his late wife Patty Saotome Sensei, to the transmission of O Sensei’s teaching and to Saotome Sensei’s school were all exemplary. In 2015 she was asked by Saotome Shihan to be founding secretary of the Board of the new Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. Whited Sensei was instrumental, both in the formation of the organization and, for nearly six years, in serving on that Board - most recently as its president.
Her great achievements as an Aikidoka, and as a pioneering woman in Aikido, serves as a beacon of hope for all practitioners of the Art she loved. Her cheerful delight in practicing and teaching Aikido was infectious and the depth of her caring for students and the Dojos she visited was legendary. Without needing to be asked, she was always ready with a helping hand: there are many people all over the world who will never forget the unconditional generosity and kindness of Wendy Whited.
Thanks to Chetan Prakash for this tribute.