Soke LaMonica is the Head of Hakko Denshin Ryu Ju Jutsu Federation of North and South America, with headquarters at the Eighth Light Dojo in Akron, Ohio, USA. The highest ranking non-Oriental in Hakko Ryu, he studied extensively under Soke Ryuho Okuyama in Japan and came to be trusted as a member of the family. He holds the rank of Kaiden-Shihan, Master of the Deepest Mysteries, awarded only to a handful of Soke Okuyama’s inner circle, and was the first non-Oriental to receive the Menkyo Kaiden Shihan San Dai Kichu Makimono, which is a list of the tradtional teachings and techniques (hand scroll), hand written by ShoDai Soke Ryuho Okuyama.
As a police officer in Akron, Ohio in the 1960’s, Sensei LaMonica met James A. Benko, the man who introduced Hakko Ryu to the United States. Having trained in Chinese Kempo and Judo with the Marine Corps during the late 1950’s, he quickly saw the value of Hakko Ryu techniques to law enforcement. Together they worked to train others and guide the growth of the art. Sensei Benko effectively retired from the U.S Directorship in 1981, and was succeeded by Sensei LaMonica who was already handling most of the official responsibilities of the post.
Soke LaMonica’s law enforcement career has been a distinguished one. He served 21 years on the Akron police department starting in 1959. From a patrolman, he advanced to work in the detective Bureau and department of Community Relations, as well as rising to commander of the Intelligence Unit, S.W.A.T. Unit and assistant director of the Training Bureau.
During this time he earned a reputation as a dedicated public servant and an officer that anyone would be honoured to have as a partner. Many awards for police heroism and public service have marked Sensei LaMonica’s career, and he has taught law enforcement at police academies throughout the state. But perhaps nothing says more about his expertise than when he is called upon to protect the V.I.P’s who visit the area. This has put him in contact with Presidents Reagan, Carter and Nixon, Ohio Governors Celeste and Rhodes, plus many show business figures.
Soke LaMonica has trained in Tokyo with the Dai Yon Kidootai (#4 Riot Police) under Tsunemori Kaminoda. He also studied jo (short stick) under Takaji Shimizu and Masakiryu Manrikigusari (10 000 power chain) under Yumio Nawa. In the U.S., he is a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy, the U.S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection School and also studied Anti-Sniper and Survival Tactics. The F.B.I. also had Mr. LaMonica produce a video for them on Self Defense Tactics (as they were called at the time, prior to Defensive Tactics) outlining proper grounding techniques, vehicle extractions, searching, and handcuffing techniques.
Fatherhood and family is another treasured aspect of Soke LaMonica’s life. He has five daughters; all of whom have practiced Ju Jutsu. His wife, Christine, was the first non-Japanese woman to attain the rank of Shihan in Hakko Ryu.
Despite all this, Soke LaMonica is an unassuming man. It is telling that he was so trusted by Soke Okuyama that he was named his personal advisor. Beyond being a dedicated man and Sensei par excellence, he is a good role model for all who know him.