The Orange Story Premiering December 2016


The Orange Story, a 13-minute short set during the early days of the World War II internment of Japanese Americans and featuring the acting debut of Joe Takehara (senior instructor of Chicago Aikido Club and founding member of the original Illinois Aikido Club) will make its Chicago premiere at 7:00 pm on Friday, December 2 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The screening is part of “Hidden Histories and the Power of Narrative Film: Telling the Story of Japanese American Incarceration and Beyond,” an event co-presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. In addition to The Orange Story, the event will include screenings of other short films and a post-screening discussion.

Tickets are free and will be available to reserve starting October 18 at 9AM on Eventbright.

The Orange Story is directed by Erika Street and produced by Chicago filmmaker Eugene Sun Park and his company Full Spectrum Features, in collaboration with fellow filmmaker Jason Matsumoto. Details on the production were previously posted here.

UPDATE – We have added a short photo tribute to Takehara Sensei through the years.





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Aikido Takes Center Stage


The club will be partnering with Green Shirt Studio, a neighborhood acting school, to offer an intro to Aikido class as part of their “Free Fridays” programming on Friday, August 19 at 8:00 pm.

As part of building a sense of community, every Friday Green Shirt Studio offers a 2:00 pm yoga class, a 7:00 pm Meisner repetition practice, and then an 8:00 pm rotating workshop.

All Free Friday events are first-come, first-served and donations are accepted.

Green Shirt Studio
4407 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 217-9565


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Andrew Vitale (3rd Dan) teaching at September Friendship Seminar

CAC member Andrew Vitale, who also trains and teaches at Chicago Aikikai, will be part of the roster of instructors at an upcoming friendship seminar on Saturday, September 17 at Abiding Spirit Center in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

Andrew will be joining James Bator (4th Dan, Abiding Spirit Center), Salvatore Forestieri (4th Dan, Tenshin Shinjitsu Dojo of Chicago), Wendy Kopka (4th Dan, Midwest Aikido Center), and Michelle Tate (4th Dan, Abiding Spirit Center).

Classes are 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm with a break for lunch. Cost for the seminar is $50.

Abiding Spirit Center is a member of the Aikido Shimboku and is located at 829 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, IL 60014.

For more details, visit their website at or call (815) 444-6019













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New Class Schedule

Chicago Aikido Club (CAC) is changing its Monday and Friday classes from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm to 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm. We apologize in advance if there is any confusion resulting from this schedule change, and please bear with us as everyone adjusts to the new times.

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The Orange Story’s Premiere is in NYC July 23 at the Asian American International Film Festival!

An American Tale

Source: The Orange Story’s Premiere is in NYC July 23 at the Asian American International Film Festival!

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Upcoming Peace-Themed Seminar


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Pictures from Aikido on Daley Plaza

Members of Chicago Aikido Club and Chicago Aikikai were given a warm reception by the Asian American Coalition of Chicago and the public crowd that had gathered to watch their lunchtime demo as part of 15th Asian American Festival at Daley Center Plaza. Despite some cloudy skies and signs of possible rain, the demo went off without a hitch. Emcees Joanie Lum (news reporter, WFLD-TV Channel 32)and Rose Tibayan (award-winning broadcast journalist and digital media entrepreneur) were especially pleased to see strong female representation from Qin Zheng and Satoko Bourdaghs from Chicago Aikikai.


Sean Bruegman watches Qin Zheng and Stephen Weinberg


Stephen Weinberg performing ikkyo (first technique) on Dwight Sora (Satoko Bourdagh in background).


Left to Right: Kendrick Suenaga, Satoko Bourdagh, Dwight Sora, Megan Nakano (Honorary VP for 2014 Host Community), Martino Tangkar (Indonesian American community representative, AACC Board of Directors), Stephen Weinberg, Satoko Bourdagh and Qin Zheng.

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Stay Calm, Parents

On Monday, May 9 and Wednesday, May 11, Chicago Aikido Club (CAC) member Dwight Sora gave a short demonstration of aikido for the parents and children of the Tampopo Kai play group at the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) of Chicago.

Aikido Pushing

Invited by Tampopo Kai organizer Naomi Negi, Sora (whose 22-month-year old son Jack regularly attends Tampopo on Mondays) gave a short explanation of aikido’s history and principles, and then demonstrated some basic techniques. He was partly aided in his demonstration by fellow parent Shimako Asakawa Walker (a former student of Tatsuo Toyoda Sensei at Tenshinkan Dojo), as well as some volunteers from the audience.

Aikido with Baby

Video from the presentation may be viewed here

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Aikido on Daley Plaza

There will be a joint aikido demo by members of Chicago Aikido Club and Chicago Aikikai as part of the 15th Asian American Festival at Daley Center Plaza, sponsored by the Asian American Coalition of Chicago. The demo is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 around 12:45 pm. If you happen to be downtown that day and have time to support us, come on by.


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Aikido Instructor Relives the Past


A member of the crew adjusts Joe Takehara’s wardrobe

On Thursday, April 28, Chicago Aikido Club senior instructor Joe Takehara stepped back through time into his own past. Although the actual place was the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, it had been dressed up with props and other items to recreate the moment when Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes and board trains, eventually bound for “internment camps” set up in rural areas around the U.S. following the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that kicked off the Pacific War and full-scale American involvement in World War II. As a result of public wartime hysteria and racial intolerance, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans, nearly all who lived on the West Coast and including many American citizens, lost the homes and businesses they had spent lives building up, and would largely remain in the camps until 1944.

This was the set for The Orange Story, a short film in which Takehara plays a West Coast grocery store owner named Koji Oshima saying goodbye to his store before heading to the camps. The film is the first of four planned productions, and is being made in conjunction with an educational website for inclusion in curriculums at all levels of education.

The film is being produced by Chicago filmmaker Eugene Sun Park and his company Full Spectrum Features, in collaboration with fellow filmmaker Jason Matsumoto (a member of the Japanese drumming group Ho Etsu Taiko and is providing the soundtrack).


A shot is lined up on set

In real life, Takehara grew up in San Diego, California, and was relocated with his family to Poston War Relocation Center in southwestern Arizona. When the internment ended in 1945, his family migrated east, following a wave of some 20,000 Japanese American resettlers from various camps to Chicago (he was fourteen at the time).

The Orange Story is also being shot in California, and is slated to be released this year. It has been partially made possible by a nearly $160,000 grant from the National Park Service, which allocates funding for projects commemorating and preserving Japanese American confinement sites.

If you are interested in more information about The Orange Story project, please contact Jason at or 773.504.4107.



An official fundraising campaign has been launched for The Orange Story. If you are interested in contributing, please visit the campaign website at

Please include any of these links to your family and friends if they’d like to learn more:
Project Website:

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Group photo from the railroad shoot






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