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Former Maui police major was renowned aikido instructor


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POSTED: Thursday, June 04, 2009

Shinichi Suzuki, a former major for the Maui Police Department, became known worldwide for his teachings in the Japanese martial art of aikido, conducting seminars on the discipline in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Brazil and New Zealand.

“;He was literally the most popular teacher ever,”; said Tracy Reasoner, a fellow instructor. “;When he walked in a room, everyone just stopped and knew Suzuki sensei was there. He was just a wonderful man.”;

Suzuki, founder of Maui Ki-Aikido, died May 22 at Maui Memorial Medical Center. He was 92.

Services are scheduled for today at Ballard Family Mortuary, with private visitation starting at 4 p.m. and a service at 5 p.m.

The family requests that any donations be made to the Shinichi Suzuki Sensei Youth Award. The award provides scholarships to young students of Maui Ki-Aikido to train at Ki no Sato, the Ki Society headquarters in Tochigi, Japan.

Donations can be sent to Maui Ki-Aikido, P.O. Box 724, Wailuku, HI 96708.

Born in the small Maui town of Waikapu in 1917, Suzuki spent the first part of his working career as a laborer in the sugar cane fields.

He was hired by the Maui Police Department in 1940 because of his “;obligation and natural leadership,”; Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii said in a prepared statement.

In 1953, Suzuki was introduced to the martial art of aikido by Koichi Tohei, who had brought the art to Hawaii.

After training with Tohei for one month, Suzuki began teaching aikido to police officers, and was appointed the chief instructor of the Maui Aikido Club, now known as Maui Ki-Aikido, where he taught until 2007.

“;This is the first place in the world, outside of Japan, that aikido was first introduced,”; said Christopher Curtis, head instructor of the Hawaii Ki Federation. “;Sensei Suzuki was the teacher of aikido outside of Japan, so Hawaii, over the years, became the mecca of aikido outside of Japan. Everyone came here and trained with us.”;

Even after Suzuki retired from the Maui Police Department in 1972, he remained active with the police force and diligently dedicated his time to train police officers in aikido.

“;He had a great passion for the police, and took his job very seriously,”; said Lt. Wallace Tom, who trained with Suzuki when he began his career as a police officer. “;He was very dedicated to the Maui Police Department in training officers in aikido. Second to his family, after he retired, he would make the police department his No. 1 priority. He would drop everything else whenever it was time to come and train police officers.”;

As a testament to his many years of service, the Maui Police Department dedicated and named its training dojo at the Wailuku Police Station for Suzuki, in 2007.

In 1993, Suzuki obtained his ninth-degree black belt at the age of 76, becoming one of four people in the world, and the only person outside of Japan, to hold that rank.

He is survived by a son, Mike Suzuki; brothers Frank, Robert, Donald, Arthur and Ralph; sisters Gene Hee and Alice Agena; two grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.