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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 

Leigh Nakamoto was a successful Judoka long before he became a successful coach, administrator and advisor within the 50th State Judo Association and the United States Judo Federation. Nakamoto Sensei was one of the most successful Judoka in Hawaii as he counted  11 State Championships and  numerous National Competitions as the steps towards a lifetime of giving back to Judo.  Pearl City High School counted themselves fortunate to have Nakamoto Sensei as he gave them 6 straight years of excellence.  Kevin Asano began and ended his high school reign of 4 National High School championships  under "Coach Leigh." 

Coach Leigh could have thrown his considerable girth around as he got things done in all the facets of his Judo life.  He chose to lead by serving his students with humor, caring and a lifetime of Judo expertise.  His athletes would leave everything on the mat for him because of who he was and is to them to this day.  It speaks well of the man when grown men some close to middle age and older seek his advice and approval.

Nakamoto Sensei came to Leeward Judo Club as Fukushima Sensei began transitioning into mentor status.  Coach Leigh became Sensei Leigh to the small group remaining after club membership changed.  He was able to develop Leeward Judo into a Century Club(100+ members).  Then went off to spread Judo to the Leeward Coast and established Kapolei Judo Club.

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.

Kevin Asano

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.