our dedicated senseis
Our Senseis instruct our members with well over a hundred years of combined experience. They are dedicated to our members and to the Dojo. Most importantly, they volunteer their time and experience to the Dojo free of charge. We appreciate every one of them and thank them for the gift of Judo they give back to us!
Sensei Akio Yokoyama, (Shichi-dan), 7th Degree.
National Referee and National Coach.
NANKA Jr. Promotion Board Chair 1994-2016.
Bio: Sensei Aki Yokoyama is a Veteran of the United States Army, proudly serving from 1956 to 1958. He started his Judo career in 1958 at Pasadena Judo Dojo under the instruction of Goto Sensei. In 1981, Sensei Yokoyama came to West Covina Judo Dojo and studied under Keigi Horiuchi Sensei and Speed Harada Sensei.
From 1982 to 1987, he was an Instructor at San Gabriel Judo Dojo on Monday nights. In 1985, he started refereeing and in 1988 became a Nationals Referee, traveling all over the United States. In 1990, Sensei Yokoyama became Head Instructor of the West Covina Judo Dojo and has served the Dojo for many years in that position. From 1990-1996, he served as 1st Vice President of Nanka and oversaw six to seven tournaments per year. From 1994 to 2016, he was on the Nanka Jr. Board of Examiners. Finally, from 2007 to the present, Sensei Yokoyama has been the Chief Advisor for the West Covina Judo Dojo.
Sensei Yokoyama has over 56 years of experience in Judo. We are extremely proud of his knowledge, dedication and wisdom he brings everyday to the Dojo.
Sensei David Greer, (Rokudan), 6th Degree.
National Referee and Coach.
Bio: Sensei David Greer has been a Southern California/Nanka Judo member for more than 50 years. He has been a member of West Covina Judo Dojo for about 40 years and has trained with Nanka, United States Air Force and United States Army teams in Japan, Korea and all over Europe.
Some of Sensei Greer's training has been with top ranked World Competitors. His team competitions have included the Nanka Nationals, USA Judo, United States Air Force and United States Army Judo Teams.
We are very grateful to have Sensei Greer as one of our Advisors. His many years of Judo and professional experience make him a huge asset to the Dojo!
Sensei Steve Nakamura, (Godan), 5th Degree.
D Level National Coach.
Bio: Sensei Steve Nakamura started Judo in 1962 at Crenshaw Dojo in Los Angeles under the instruction of Sensei Miyake. He spent 2 years at Crenshaw then attended Seinan Dojo in Los Angeles in 1964 under the instruction of Sensei Kuniyuki. In the 1960's, Sensei Nakamura competed individually and in many team events between 1963-1964. Sensei Steve took a break from 1968 to 1988. After joining West Covina Judo Dojo in 1988, Sensei Nakamura earned his Shodan in 1989. In 2005, he was promoted to Godan (5th Degree). Sensei Nakamura's favorite technique is Ippon-Seionage. He dutifully serves as the Dojo treasurer and handles all financial aspects of the Dojo.
Sensei Cesar Tarafa, (Shodan), 1st Degree.
Bio: Sensei Cesar Tarafa started Judo in his home country of Cuba at the age of 12 under the instruction of Sensei Lorenzo Mesa and Sensei M. Takahama. After leaving home and moving to the United States, he continued practicing Judo and competed at the High School and Collegiate levels. Sensei Tarafa served our country in the United States Armed Forces from 1969 to 1971 and from 1972 to 1976 in the US Army Reserve. During this time, he continued practicing Judo. Sensei Tarafa took a brief 22 year hiatus from Judo and upon his return, he joined West Covina Judo Dojo. In 2011 at the young age of 59, Sensei Tarafa was promoted to Shodan.
Sensei Tarafa is a wonderful instructor. He is extremely technically sound and is a great communicator to our students. It is truly a pleasure to have him on the mat.
Sensei Marshall Kiyohiro, (Rokudan), 6th Degree. (Deceased, May 7, 2015).
Bio: Sensei Marshall Kiyohiro was one of the Senior Instructors at the Dojo, and he competed and instructed Judo for over 60 years. He began Judo at the young age of 5, under his father's instruction (Ken Kiyohiro) and in 1994, he won the Gold Medal in the 145 pound division of the United States Senior National Championship.
Sensei Marshall came from a family in which Judo is a proud tradition. His father was a 7th Degree Black Belt and Head Instructor of Venice Judo Dojo, and also held the position of President of NANKA for two terms. Besides his father, his brother Tracy Kiyohiro, is a 6th Degree Black Belt and teaches for the Venice Judo Dojo. His son, Justin, earned his Second Degree Black Belt while in High School. Justin has won several US Junior Judo and High School Championships.
Sensei Marshall has been very proud to instruct our students and is delighted that many past students have become community leaders and professionals.
We are very saddened to announce the passing of Sensei Marshall on May 7th, 2015. We miss him dearly and he will forever be in our hearts. Sensei Marshall was promoted to Rokudan (6th Degree) posthumously. We will train and compete in remembrance of his true Judo spirit!
Sensei David Lillie, (Nidan), 2nd Degree (Retired).
Bio: Sensei Lillie has over 15 years experience in Judo. Just a few weeks ago, he announced his retirement from Judo. We are sad to see you go, Sensei! We wish you the best and our doors are always open. Please visit us often!