Touch picture
with cursor.
         Hanshi Bill Wendell
          9th Degree Black Belt (Kyu-Dan)

Born September 15, 1947, Hanshi Wendell began training in the Martial Arts at age of 13 at Fort Campbell Kentucky,
home of the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles.  Hanshi Wendell’s training started in 1960 studying Hapkido under
Sergeant Henderson of the 101st airborne at Fort Campbell Kentucky.  Shotokan and Goju styles were also taught at
Estep gymnasium but Hapkido appeared to be most like Aikido which Hanshi Wendell had read about and was
enamored with.

Sergeant Henderson was sent to Vietnam in 1963 and Hanshi Wendell was immediately adopted by a Shotokan
instructor, Sensei Ramirez. He taught Hanshi Wendell the required Heian katas and self defense for Black Belt and
Hanshi Wendell was tested. After approximately one year he was transferred to another duty station and Hanshi
Wendell never received documentation for a Black Belt.  

In 1965, during college, Hanshi Wendell trained with a Tae-Kwon-Do stylist whose name to me was only known as
Sensei Frank.  He was in charge of riot control at Fort Campbell Kentucky 101st Airborne.  Hanshi Wendell trained for
two years while attending college with Sergeant Frank at the National Guard Armory.  

During the summer months Hanshi Wendell trained in Chicago under Sensei Algene Caraulia and Sensei Jim Consevik
in Shorinji Kempo and Judo.  Training was from 17:00-20:00 hours, five nights per week (trained in beginner,
intermediate and advanced classes). Hanshi Wendell was tested for Black Belt and passed.  While attending college
Hanshi Wendell competed in Master Cecil Patterson’s East Coast Karate Championship and won 1st place forms in his
first competition.

In 1968 Hanshi Wendell trained under Sensei Jim Alfano in Hialeah, Florida until joining the Marine Corp.  Sensei Alfano
proceeded to put Hanshi Wendell on the fast track for Black Belt in Goju.  Hanshi Wendell was to be tested under Master
Mike Foster but was about to be drafted so Hanshi Wendell quickly joined the Marine corp.

After boot camp and infantry training, Hanshi Wendell was sent to San Diego California for electronics school, in 1969.  
Hanshi Wendell discovered an Isshin Ryu instructor in the Navy band who acquired his rank in Okinawa.  Hanshi
Wendell trained with him for one year and was tested and passed for Black Belt.

In 1970, after electronics school, Hanshi Wendell was assigned to New River Air Station in North Carolina until a quota
for Vietnam troops was required of his unit. Hanshi Wendell was sent to Okinawa for processing before being sent to
Vietnam. While in Okinawa Hanshi was reassigned to a MATCU complex (Mobile Air Traffic Control Unit) which was in
need of emergency repairs in Iwakuni, Japan and Hanshi was the most qualified in the immediate West Pack area.  After
repairing the M.A.T.C.U. unit, the base commander promoted him to E-5 and gave him a work schedule of 24 on and 48
off.

This fortunate turn of events allowed Hanshi Wendell to extensively train in the Hombu Dojo of Wado-Ryu, under
Hanshi Eiichi Eriguchi. When first arriving at the Dojo, Hanshi Wendell was required to purchase a Gi, and while trying
the Gi on for size he wished to hear what it sounded like.  Hanshi Wendell threw a punch and it cracked nicely, after
which, was heard a torrent of Japanese dialogue punctuated with Shodan at the end.  They determined Hanshi Wendell
was a Black Belt and had him represent the Dojo as a Black Belt in competition, but Hanshi Wendell wore a white belt in
class.

Hanshi Wendell competed often, successfully representing the Dojo. The culmination of his competition resulted in
qualifying for the Japanese Nationals.  He was informed that he was the first Caucasian ever to qualify for the Japanese
Nationals and received an invitation littered with the Hans of well known Japanese masters.  Hanshi Wendell was tested
at the Wado-Ryu Dojo for Black Belt and passed.  Unfortunately, he was transferred back to the U.S. before the
tournament and before he received his certificate, with only three days notice before he was flown out.  The Dojo
lobbied for an extension of his tour in Iwakuni but three days was too short for them to effectively prevent his transfer.

Shortly after returning to the U.S, in 1972, his military obligation complete, he began civilian life in Florida were his father
was residing.  Hanshi Wendell discovered a Dojo within walking distance from the house owned by Sensei Steve
Beattie. At that time, the U.S.K.A. Grand Nationals was one of the largest and most competitive tournaments in the
United States.  Dr. Mel Weiss, Ken Ogawa, Ridgely Abele, Mike Foster, Herbie Thompson and John Giordano were just a
few of his competitors. Hanshi Wendell won 1st place in kata.  

During this competition he had the opportunity to observe Master Giordano’s style of kata and kumite, and recognized
similarities of technique to the masters in Japan. After which he realized that Sensei Beattie’s brute force approach to
karate technique was not the direction he wanted to pursue. It was this stark contrast in approach that led Hanshi to
accept Master John Giordano’s invitation to meet Grand Master Frank Ruiz and train in the
Nisei Goju Ryu System.

Master John Giordano’s technique focused on developing relaxed spontaneity.  When he fought, he moved like a rag
doll with seemingly random bouncing and swaying. Out of this miasma sprung forth articulated technique which
immediately returned to formless movement.  Master Giordano’s contribution to his techniques and fighting ability are
huge and he is forever grateful for his knowledge and teaching  

At this point of Hanshi Wendell’s training he began to realize that the traditional distinction between kata and kumite
was in fact an illusion. The chasm that most martial artists perceived started to disappear. Where two separate
disciplines had existed they now merged in to one cohesive philosophy. Kata and kumite were roads that led to the
same destination, and were in reality not different at all. Impressed by these revelations Grand Master Ruiz invited
Hanshi to train directly under him.

In 1980, Hanshi Wendell was directed by Grand Master Ruiz to join the F.B.B.A. (Florida Black Belt Association) and be
the flag bearer of Nisei Goju Ryu in the F.B.B.A.. Hanshi Wendell resumed competition in 1981 and within two years he
became one of the top competitors in the state of Florida.

In 1983 Hanshi Wendell was voted in as F.B.B.A. president and then again in 1984.  Grand Master Ruiz was pleased and
Nisei was at the fore. In 1983 Grand Master Frank Ruiz presented Hanshi Wendell with the “Eagle Award”.  Hanshi
treasures this award above all others.  It was Grand Master Frank Ruiz’s personal award that he created and bestowed
on only a few of his beloved.  In 1982 Master Herbie Thompson awarded Hanshi Wendell the Dr. Mel Weiss Memorial
award. Also in 1983, at the F.B.B.A. honors banquet Hanshi Wendell received the following awards: Man of the Year,
Judge of the Year, Top Competitor of the Year, Top Fighter of the Year, and Top Forms Competitor of the Year.  

From 1977 to 1988 Hanshi had been teaching at his own school at various locations in Broward County including North
Lauderdale, Davie, and Plantation.  In 1988, Grand Master Ruiz’s health began to deteriorate, due to diabetes.  It was at
this time Hanshi Wendell abstained from having his own school for several years to insure quality control and to assist
other instructors in the Nisei System as Grand Master Ruiz’s representative.  Hanshi Wendell was honored to teach for
him, and their bond grew closer at this time. It was during these years, from 1983 to 1990, that Hanshi Wendell received
his rank promotions from 5th Dan to 7th Dan.  In 1989 Grand Master Ruiz designated Hanshi Wendell as the Chief
Instructor of the Nisei Goju System.  In 1991 Hanshi started his own school once more in Dania. Along with his own
teaching he continued the duties of Chief Instructor visiting the various Nisei schools in the South Florida area.

In 1995, Hanshi Wendell received his 8th Dan. Grand Master Ruiz promoted several people at this time, including Hanshi
Roldan, Master Herbie Thompson, and Master Rex Lee. Hanshi Wendell, during a visit in early June, just days before
Grand Master Ruiz passed away, and was presented with a challenge.  Grand Master Ruiz presented him with a signed
certificate conspicuously missing the rank and declared “Let’s see what kind of balls you got!” Hanshi Wendell knew
that Grand Master Ruiz loved a good fight and perhaps he wanted Hanshi Roldan and Hanshi Wendell to fight over the
Nisei System.  Hanshi Wendell knows Grand Master Ruiz loved Hanshi Roldan and raised him as if he were his own
son. Upon reflection he decided to leave the Nisei System in the capable hands of Hanshi Roldan. In 2005, he accepted
the challenge presented to him by Grand Master Ruiz and solidified the culmination of his years of martial arts
knowledge and teaching through the creation of Mushin Goju Ryu.

Mushin Goju Ryu will serve as his homage to Grand Master Ruiz and his lasting influence. For this reason, Mushin Goju
Ryu was established in June of 2005, at “The Shihan Ruiz Memorial Dinner”. It was in this year, the tenth anniversary of
Grand Master Ruiz’s passing that he decided to accept the rank of 9th Dan and use the certificate presented to him in
1995. Present at this dinner were Soke Joe Williams, Soke Marty Ferrick, Hanshi Steve Malanoski, Hanshi Ulysses “Pop”
Winn, Frank Ruiz Jr., and Dr. Dennis Tartikow.

Hanshi Wendell has served on the Board of Directors of the I.M.A.A. and the Executive Board of the Martial Arts
Foundation. In 2002, he was inducted to the E.U.S.A.I.M.A.A. Hall of Fame. In 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 he was honored
by the Gold Coast Hall of Fame by Soke Joe Williams. In 2005, Hanshi Wendell was honored by the
World Head of
Family Sokeship Council
, and again in 2006, and 2007.
BACK