LONNY RIDDLE SHIHAN
—Honoring the Life of a True Samurai
Submitted by Cindy Paul
Most Lakesiders are unaware that for more than a generation, in the Sierra Madre mountains surrounding Lake Chapala, there lived a true, modern-day Samurai. His name was Lonny Riddle, but most of the time, others called him by his title, Shihan, which means “past master.” In 1979, he founded Do No Kai Martial Arts Temple in the hills just outside of Chapala Haciendas. On August 18, 2015, he passed away of COPD complications in his home next to the dojo where he taught five complete systems of martial arts for some 36 years.
Before coming to this area, Lonny was also a teacher. He coached two underdog football teams to state championships, and taught high school classes in physical education, industrial arts and mathematics. His students invariably talk about how he changed their lives and guided them to become stronger, happier human beings.
Along with the never-ending duties required to create a martial arts temple, Lonny found time to entertain Lakesiders with several stage performances at the Lakeside Little Theatre, the Ajijic Auditorio, and other venues. Among the most memorable was his last show, “Greater Tuna,” but he also portrayed Geoffrey in an early LLT version of “Lion in Winter” and co-star Danny in “Janus,” and co-produced “My Fair Lady,” “Sound of Music” and “Musical Monuments.”
For decades, Lakesiders only knew him as the Tai Chi teacher in Ajijic. There, he shared his wealth of information about martial arts, taught Tai Chi and Chi Gung, and helped students find their balance on many levels, bringing the healing art of Tai Chi to those who could not come to the Temple to train.
Many others only knew Lonny as the Gringo who could fix back pain. He became well-known for his uncanny ability to correct spinal problems through quick manipulations and spot exercises. He was invariably available and affable, and never charged a cent or a peso for healing.
He leaves behind thousands of grateful students who loved and respected him, two daughters and a first wife, and his life partner of 37 years, Cindy Paul. He also leaves a stunning legacy: one of the few authentic martial arts temples in the world. If you would like to see more about the extraordinary legacy he leaves behind, go to http://www.donokaimartialarts.com/ See a tour of the temple.