Leeward Judo Club was founded by Tsuruo Fukushima in 1981. The club has produced local, national and international champions since it's founding to the present. Many of the past champions have returned as instructors and parents. This generation of parent/instructors speaks well of the founder and of the founding principle of the club… "ongaeshi" or giving back.
We would like to pay tribute to two of our most influential Sensei to grace the mats here at Leeward Judo Club.
Tsuruo Fukushima Sensei: front and center
Tsuruo Fukushima arrived back in Hawaii in 1977 after retirement from the Civil Service in Okinawa. while in Okinawa, he developed the strongest non Japanese Judo Club at that time. Among his younger charges was a shy 7 year old that hung on his every word and applied it vigorously at every practice. The young man was Kevin Asano.
Fukushima Sensei established his own dojo, Leeward Judo Club in 1981 after several years at Pearl city Hongwanji dojo. The 5 day a week practices produced champions for local, national and international competitions. Many of those champions now bring their children to the club and help with instruction. The greatest lesson Fukushima Sensei passed on to his students was the spirit of giving back or ongaeshi. Judo is more than an Martial Art, sport or system of Physical Education. Judo is a means of developing the good citizens, leaders, teachers and mentors of the future.
Fukushima Sensei would develop 2 Olympians in his lifetime of Judo. Keith Nakasone Captained his Olympic Team and now coaches at San Jose State University. The other Olympian brought home a Silver Medal and continues the tradition of ongaeshi as the present ranking Sensei at Leeward Judo Club. Kevin Asano, the shy 7 year old all those years ago in Okinawa guides the club today with the memories of yesterday and visions for tomorrow and the enthusiasm for today. Arigato Fukushima Sensei.(1925-2006)
Also Leigh Nakamoto Sensei: Front right
A Tribute to Sensei Leigh Nakamoto
Dear Leeward Judo Club family,
It is with great sadness that I share you the news of the passing of a great sensei and judoka, Sensei Leigh Nakamoto. Sensei Leigh was instrumental in building Leeward Judo Club as the head sensei after Fukushima sensei passed the baton of leadership to Sensei Leigh. For those of you who knew him he will surely be missed. For those of you who did not know him, know that he played a significant role in the development of Leeward Judo Club and in many of the instructors lives at Leeward.
A Tribute to Sensei Leigh Nakamoto written by Sensei Russell Ogata.
Note: Sensei Leigh passed away in his sleep from a heart attack on Saturday, February 11, 2012.
Sensei Leigh lived his life on his own terms. He rode through life on an express train filled with family, friends, students, and people who were drawn to this big man with an even bigger heart. Leigh could sit and regal everyone with stories and anecdotes about life experiences and teach lessons at the same time.
Sensei Leigh's accomplishments as one of the most successful Judokas in Hawaii Judo history still doesn't measure up to his achievements and influence after his competitive time on the mat. He resurrected Leeward Judo Club into a Century Club before heading off to Kapolei to spread Judo further west. During his time as President of 50th State Judo, he and a dedicated band of Judo stalwarts gave Hawaii a High School Judo State Championship. His son Christian is one of the few High School Judokas with 4 State Championships. He headed up the corp of referees that serviced both the Association and the High School Judo competitions.
He was truly blessed to meet his wife Sharon and welcomed Darryl, Lori, Everett and Christian on board his express train through life. I'm sure we'll hear some stories and moments from others here. Leigh enjoyed his Sundays at Grandma Sugihara's as yet another wonderful moment at his banquet table of life. His hearty laugh lingered on longer than most of us because he sensed more than just the experience, he appreciated who he was experiencing it with and brought that out of those lucky enough to be around him.
When his health kept him out of the everyday operations of his beloved sport of Judo, he was still someone who Senseis and students came to for advice, leadership, and encouragement. With Sensei Leigh, no one walked away wanting and most walked away feeling relieved and blessed.
This final celebration with Sensei Leigh on his express train touches us because we will miss him. We are also reminded that he will always be in our happy moments, our thoughtful moments and our significant moments because whoever he was to you, he was and will always be the big guy with the even bigger heart.