About Tohkon Judo Academy

Tohkon Judo Academy, a not for profit organization, was founded in 1992. Our mission is to:

Tohkon grew to more than fifty members soon after its founding and outgrew the original facility, moving to the Japanese American Service Committee in 1995 and developing a partnership that continues to this day. The JASC is a United Way agency that was at the time in the midst of a transition from a social services facility for the elderly to a community service agency serving the whole family.

This partnership enabled Tohkon to significantly expand its judo program, and in exchange Tohkon members support the JASC several times a year by assisting with community support programs and providing martial arts demonstrations. Since then, Tohkon has doubled in size and continues to draw world-class competitors in the junior, senior, and master divisions as members.

Tohkon Judo Academy is affiliated with the United States Judo Federation (USJF), USA Judo, the Chicago Judo Black Belt Association, Illinois Judo Inc., and the Kodokan International Judo Institute and World Headquarters. In addition, it has relationships with Tenri and Kokushikan Universities in Japan, as well as the French, Polish, Mongolian, Czech Republic, and Nigerian Judo Federations.

A Message from the Head Instructor

There are a lot of options in the city for training, but I hope you choose to study with Tohkon Judo Academy. The judo program that we offer covers a wide range of techniques and, most importantly, fundamental principles which will provide the foundation for a lifelong study of judo.

Whether your interest is self-defense, conditioning, competition, social interaction, or all of the above, becoming a member of Tohkon provides you with the highest level of Judo training available in the Midwestern United States. Our senior instructor staff collectively has hundreds of years of judo experience and some have represented their countries at National, Olympic, and World Championship levels.

Judo is a truly international sport (second in popularity worldwide only to soccer), and attending Tohkon is an opportunity to get to know a wide variety of people from around the world. There are also opportunities for those with the resources to travel for competition or training, learning about how judo is practiced elsewhere and forming friendships along the way.

It is worth noting, though, that judo practice is mentally and physically demanding and requires a high level of commitment and dedication.

It can be stimulating, challenging, fun, exhausting, and, to be honest, at times frustrating. Most students’ skill development is cyclical, consisting of periods of great improvement followed by plateaus. The self-discipline of consistent practice is important, regardless of where you are in the cycle, as well as the development of your “fighting spirit” (the literal meaning of ‘tohkon’)

Your long-term success will depend, more than anything else, on the ability to work through the roadblocks you will encounter, through your own effort and the assistance of your instructors.

We welcome you and look forward to seeing your progress.

Douglas Tono, 7th Dan President and Head Instructor

A Message from Senior Technical Advisor, Rev. Goro Oki

Principles of Judo

Seiryoku Zenyo

Seiryoku Zenyo

This principle really means “turning your opponent’s power to your own benefit”, as well as “using your power the right way.” Over the years, the better-known but not literal translation of “Maximum efficiency, minimum effort” has become most common.

Jita Kyoei

Jita Kyoei

This principle really means “you and I benefit together,” is commonly translated as “mutual benefit and welfare.” These words shine brightly.

Remember, we can be soft and strong. This will yield good judo.

In closing, do not forget the person who gave you his or her learning. You are always living with someone’s ‘on’, or whatever the Great Mind has defined for you in this life.

Also, forget your bad thoughts toward others.

This is what I’d like to say to all of Tohkon’s students.

Oki-Sensei was a native of Japan who learned his skills from the early Judo masters. He was a Tenrikyo minister and Tohkon’s spiritual and inspirational leader. He practiced judo for over seventy years.

For many years he was an active participant in our junior classes, in which he taught his fluid techniques and took breakfalls well into his eighties.

Oki-Sensei passed away in October 2017 at the age of 96 at the rank of shichidan. His kindness and generosity of spirit are fondly remembered by the Chicago Judo community.

A Brief History of Judo

Judo began as a martial art, a physical and mental discipline, in the year 1882. Founded by Professor Jigoro Kano, he envisioned it as a way of becoming physically and mentally fit through discipline and hard training. It consists of techniques that Dr. Kano learned in his jiu jitsu training and incorporated into his “new” martial art. The school that he founded, the Kodokan, is still in operation today in the Suidobashi neighborhood of Tokyo, Japan.

Men’s judo was first included in the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 as a demonstration sport. It became an Olympic sport in the next Summer Olympics in 1968. Women’s judo was introduced as a demonstration sport in the 1988 Games and, as before, was formally included in 1992.

Dr. Kano designed judo so that it could be practiced by people of any age. The techniques are designed to be safe for both participants and there is no kicking or striking outside of the kata, or prearranged forms.

Prior to WWII, judo was primarily practiced by first- and second-generation Japanese-Americans (Issei and Nisei) on the West Coast, and was not widely known. In the late 1940’s, however, as Japanese-Americans were released from the internment camps, they spread throughout the U.S. and brought judo with them to the new communities in which they settled.

Additionally, some U.S. military personnel who had been stationed in Japan during the post-war occupation had begun training in judo and, upon their return home, wished to continue practicing.

Chicago was the initial destination for about many Japanese-American Nisei after having been released from the internment camps, and while many returned to the West Coast after the war, many stayed, and in 1950 Chicago became one of the first United States charter members of Kodokan Judo.