10th Dan A.I.M.A.
10th Dan Shotokan Karate
10th Dan Kenka Aiki Jitsu109th Dan Goju Ryu

Internationally Certified - Instructor
Safety Certified Instructor
CPR Qualified
IBMA Founder, AIMA Founder, Trias International, USKA, A.I.M.A., I.F.O.J.J., F.U.M.A., and F.S.K.A. 

1969 All Okinawan Karate Champion

1970  All Japan Karate Champion



On September 6th, 2009 while attending the A.I.M.A. “Meet the Masters Seminar” in Austintown Ohio Shihan Donald Palko lost a valuable mentor and close personal and  family friend when Sensei Joseph Bonacci passed away at the Veterans Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with family and friends close-by. Sensei Palko and the entire American Institute of Martial Arts, International family share this loss and sends our deepest sympathy and warmest regards to the entire Bonacci Family in this time of grief. 

Soke Joseph Bonacci began his martial arts training in the year 1965, and as with many way of learning to defend himself better, soon became the essence of his life; a life he shared unselfishly with all his students. Shortly after starting his martial arts training, Hanshi Bonacci was drafted into the US Army were he would serve his country in Vietnam. In 1968 Hanshi Bonacci began his tour with the ninth infantry recondo unit, spending a great deal of time in the Mekong Delta. It was during this time that Soke Bonacci found himself relying on his martial arts training quite frequently to stay alive ultimately being awarded the Bronze Star and the Cross of Gallantry for bravery under fire. During his tour overseas Mr Bonacci continued his Martial Arts training with the best. Beginning in Okinawa with the founder of Isshinryu Karate Tatsuo Shimabuku, while stationed in Hawaii Mr. Bonacci continued his training with Masatoshi Nakayama- Sensei, who at the time was a chief instructor under Gichin Funakoshi- Sensei, the founder of Shotokan Karate. Eventually Mr Bonacci did receive his shodan from Sensei Nakayama in the Shotokan system and is one of only a few to receive rank directly under Nakayama Sensei. During his off time between combat tours Mr. Bonacci was not dormant, in 1969 he won the “All Okinawan Karate Championship, and the 1970 “All Japanese Karate Championship.”

On his return to the mainland Mr. Bonacci pursued a career as a Youngstown, Ohio Police officer. Throughout his twenty two years of service he became a certified tactics instructor in three states, a national and international public speaker on crime prevention, produced numerous training manuals such as the acclaimed “How to Survive During High Risk Situations;” he co-developed the “Somebody Cares” program designed to teach basic awareness principles of strange awareness to children, and was the first to teach martial arts law enforcement tactics in Astonia, Russia with long time friend Soke- Joseph Hess. With a career, a family, and a dojo, Hanshi Bonacci was still able to capture numerous Karate championships, and a total of eight “Police Olympic” gold medals in karate.

In 1977 Hanshi Bonacci opened his first official dojo in Youngstown, Ohio. With the assistance of his good friend and student Shihan Max Ciscell, Shihan Palko’s instructor. Together they formed the American Institute of Martial Arts and in October 1979 Sensei Palko began training with Sensei Bonacci and Sensei Ciscell at the F.H. Buhl Club and Youngstown State University Dojos until he enlisted in 1981. Sensei Palko’s connection did not end there he has been a vital and loyal student and friend to present day. Sensei Palko currently is the State and Regional Representitive. Shortly after, Mr. Bonacci opened the(OSTI) “Officer’s Survival Training Institute,” and eventually was appointed as director for the (PSDI) “Police Self Defense Institute” under Hanshi George Anderson. Both organizations strived to provide advanced tactics training for police officers around the globe. Through his determination Hanshi Bonacci’s reputation as a fierce competitor and outstanding instructor grew throughout the eastern United States, and his student enrollment began to grow. Hanshi Bonacci developed some of the toughest martial art athletes in the United States and their reputation at tournaments was well respected. Some of these individuals now own and operate their own dojo, and are still strong members of the A.I.M.A. family.

In 1986 Mr Bonacci was recognized by his peers and inducted into the “Karate Hall-of-Fame” In Mr. Bonacci’s own words, “I have been inducted into numerous martial arts hall of fame’s, but the Karate Hall of fame is dearest to me because it is a real facility were people can visit, and more importantly I am in there with my good friend and brother Joseph Hess.”

Since 1965 until present, Soke Joseph Bonacci accomplished what would take most a lifetime. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a grandmaster instructor. He served as contributing member to the U.S.K.A. (United States Karate Association), as well as the U.S.A.K.F. (United States of America Karate Federation), the W.U.K.O. (World Union Karate Organization), the I.F.O.J.J. (International Federation of Ju-Jitsuans), the I.M.A.A. (International Martial Arts Association), the F.U.M.A. (Federation of United Martial Artists - crusade against crime), the P.S.D.I. (Police Self Defense Institute),the F.S.K.A. (Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association), the P.K.C. (Professional Karate Commission), and the A.A.U. (Amateur Athletic Union).

Hanshi Bonacci was the regional manager for St. Moritz Securities, instructor for the Karate International Action Film Workshops, a founding member of the International Brotherhood of Martial Artists with Shihan Albenze, and active founder/advisor to the American Institute of Martial Arts International. Mr. Bonacci has also appeared as an actor and stuntman and weapons controller in 18 feature films. He has worked with John Cusack, Danny Aeillo, Patrick Swayze, and many others.

With so many outstanding accomplishments and victories his greatest battle was in 1994 when Mr. Bonacci underwent two liver transplant surgeries and literally had to fight for his very life against an enemy that went all the way back to his tour in Vietnam. While operating reconnaissance patrol Mr. Bonacci was subjected to multiple exposures in the jungles to a chemical agent used to clear the vegetation called Agent Orange, now a known carcinogen. It was this chemical that secretly attacked his liver, and almost took his life. More recently he suffered a case of encephalitis, which weakened his system and as a result of the medications administered to help him from rejecting his transplants also depressed his immune system which ultimately lead to complications that led to his passing.  


Donald R. Palko, Shihan  

American Institute of Martial Arts



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F.H. BUHL CLUB - Sharon, PA