ABOUT US - the dojo story

Founded In 1986 by Don Cardoza (1948-2012), the Wellness Resource Center offers both the benefits of massage therapy and Aikido training to educate and promote a sense of healing, a philosophy of wellness, and individual spiritual growth.  

It all began with a life changing car accident that brought Donald years of pain and therapy. During his recovery he discovered massage was extremely helpful in managing his pain and improving his movement. During this time, he was already on his way to a career in the health field and acquired his LPN from Diman Regional School of Practical Nursing in 1977.

Donald received his certification from the Protean School of Massage and Muscle Therapy under Ron Mach in 1984. He never stopped learning, however, and studied with many therapists over his career. He blended this knowledge with his nursing skills to create and introduce his own style of massage therapy into the rehabilitation programs at the facilities where he was employed. Donald saw solid results from his efforts and continued to move forward in his education and implementation of massage.

While his career in nursing and massage therapy blossomed, Donald became involved in Aikido as a means to educate his son in a Martial Art geared toward peace and conflict resolution. Donald began his Aikido training at the New Bedford Aikikai in the early 1980's and trained under Sensei Jack Leonardo. In the late 1980's Donald trained under Sensei William Gleason at the Shobu Aikido of Boston. It was through this dojo that Donald attained his rank of Nidan (second degree black belt).

In 1986 Donald combined his passion for and practice of massage and Aikido and founded the Wellness Resource Center of Dartmouth. Donald used the center as a means to bring his special style of massage therapy to populations that had seldom been afforded such therapies before: the elderly, special needs clients of all ages and physical conditions, and clients living with AIDs. Donald started an apprentice program for massage therapy the same year he opened the Wellness Resource Center. That apprentice program evolved into an accredited Massage Therapy school in 2000 and continued until 2011.

Donald's reputation as both a Massage Therapist and a Massage Educator lead to his appointment in 2007 to the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Massage Therapy. Donald served on this board through 2009 and assisted in the creation and implementation of state licensing as we know it today.

Early on in his career, Donald met David Palmer, founder and creator of the TouchPro® Institute. It was through this meeting that Donald created his connection with a few West Coast pioneers in the field of healing and touch. Students of the Wellness Resource Center's School of Massage benefitted from Donald's connections with: Irene Smith, a student of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who is a pioneer in providing touch to the seriously ill and those in hospice care; Gary Bernard, Director (retired) of the Amma Institute; and Sensei Haruyoshi F. Ito, a Shintaido and Amma practitioner. Sensei Ito not only taught Donald's Massage students but also continues to visit the WRC annually to teach the Aikido students and sit in on all the dojo's black belt testing.

When the Wellness Resource Center began, it was affiliated with the Shobu Aikido of Southeastern Massachusetts. Over the years Donald attended many seminars with a variety of high-ranking senseis and eventually made the Wellness Resource Center Aikido Dojo an independent dojo. In 2000, he joined the AIKA Federation through Almeida's International Karate do Association under Hanshi John Almeida. In 2006, under Hanshi Almeida, Donald was promoted to the rank of Godan (fifth degree black belt).

As both a martial artist and a massage therapist, Donald's goal was always to make a positive difference in the community. There have been hundreds of students that have passed through the dojo at the Wellness Resource Center. Donald and his students conducted many seminars and demonstrations to share Aikido with the community. Donald even reached out to the youth through his Kid's Aikido Programs at the dojo. He incorporated a successful anti-bullying component to the kid's classes and also held many self-defense programs and personal safety classes for women.

In addition to taking his Aikido students into the community to spread Aikido, Donald also took his massage students into the community to spread positive touch. Over the 25 years the Dartmouth Wellness Resource Center has been in existence, Donald and his staff and students donated more than 100,000 hours of service to the community at large through various fundraisers, rallies and health-fairs. They assisted in raising funds for all groups including The Special Olympics, Walk on AIDs sponsored by AIDs Inc, The Relay for Life, The Hunger Commission of Southeastern Massachusetts, The Faxon Annual Golf Tournament, and the Schwartz Center for Children with Special Needs just to name a few.

Donald's main goal in the creation of the Wellness Resource Center was to spread peace to his community through both Aikido and Massage. The staff at the Wellness Resource Center will continue Donald's legacy by enacting Donald's lessons to us as we continue to make a difference in our community.