Food, Festivities and (High) Falls – Kicking off the New Year at Tohkon Judo Academy’s Kagami Biraki

Doug Tono, Andrew Vitale, JASC CEO Michael Takada and Dwight Sora mochitsuki

Douglas Tono (Head Instructor of Tohkon Judo Academy), Andrew Vitale (CAC),      Michael Takada (CEO of Japanese American Service Committee) and Dwight Sora (CAC)

 There was a great gathering last weekend at Tohkon Judo Academy’s annual kagami biraki event on Saturday, January 10. Things kicked off in the early morning with mochitsuki: the traditional pounding of rice to make rice cakes (mochi) for the New Year. Several club members jumped into the fray, including Joe Takehara, impressing everyone with his perfect and powerful form.


Joe Takehara showing the rice who’s the boss (courtesy of Andrew Vitale)

 This was followed by an oharai purification rite of the building performed by Rev. Goro Oki, a Rokudan in judo and Tenrikyo Shinto priest. Now in his 90s, intermingled his blessings with anecdotes of his colorful life history, which included time as a POW during World War II.

After a Japanese drumming performance by the Kokyo Taiko group, CAC took the stage for its annual demo appearance. This year’s participants included Trevor Clarke, Patrick Miller, Cyrill Oseledets, Dwight Sora, Nguyen Tran, Andrew Vitale and Kathryn Worthington. Also, for the first time ever, senior instructor Joe Takehara took the stage. His unscripted and unrehearsed portion surprised everyone, including his own students, with his speed and variety.

Demo video (courtesy of Erik Matsunaga)

 The afternoon concluded with a demo by the children and instructors of Tohkon Judo Academy and a community potluck. All in all, a wonderful way to start off the new year.

Dwight and Joe high fall (2)

Joe Takehara throwing Dwight Sora

Patrick Miller and Cyrill Oseledets

Patrick Miller and Cyrill Oseledets

Kathryn Worthington and Nguyen Tran

Nguyen Tran and Kathryn Worthington

Photos courtesy of Joan Anbo, Erik Matsunaga and Kathryn Worthington


About ChicagoAikidoClub

Chicago Aikido Club is non-profit organization dedicated to the free and creative exploration of Aikido in all its aspects – martial, physical and spiritual.
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