Wendy Whited Sensei


Wendy Whited Shihan, was one of a small group of instructors at the highest level of theAikido Schools of Ueshiba. Awarded a seventh Dan in 2012 by Hombu Dojo at SaotomeShihan’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 many years, before turning it over to Kay Sandacz Sensei. 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) – and while intensively practicing Aikido at Hombu Dojo and elsewhere, she taught at forty-four different junior high schools and five different elementary schools! 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 Shintori Kage 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. In addition to her regular teaching in Illinois, at Inaka Dojo and Kofu Juku Dojo in New Lenox, Whited Sensei had an extensive and busy schedule teaching or attending seminars and camps all over the United States. There was little let-up in the intensity of her practice and teaching, even in these last years as she endured a very difficult time with cancer. 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 – 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.

This obituary was written by.
Chetan Prakash sensei