Joe Takehara Inducted into Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame

clockwise from top left: Joe Takehara in the 1960s receiving instruction from Koichi Tohei at the old Illinois Aikido Club, teaching class at Chicago Aikido Club, demonstrating at Tohkon Judo Academy’s annual Kagami Biraki

Chicago Aikido Club (CAC) has received an official announcement that senior instructor Joe Takehara  will be inducted into the 2017 class of the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame in honor of his years of dedication to the art of Aikido as a student and instructor.

On Saturday, April 1, Takehara will join 17 other recipients representing a wide range of martial arts at the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame’s 13th Annual event, to be held at Abbington Distinctive Banquets in Glen Ellyn.

For tickets, contact Mike McNamara for tickets at or at 708-473-0682. Details may be found at the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame Facebook event page.

Complete list of the 2017 Class of Inductees of the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame

Steve Abbatte – (Posthumous) Viet Nam veteran and noted Chinese style martial artist

Oscar Bravo – Boxing Champion and lifelong martial artist

Charles Brown – (Posthumous) early Illinois karate black belt and the first African American to own and operate a commercial martial arts school in Illinois.

Gerald E Cook – High ranking Taekwondo practitioner and the first coach of multi-Olympic Medalist Juan Miguel Moreno

Tim Critser – one of the highest ranking Tracy’s Kenpo Karate stylists in Illinois and trainer of hundreds of students

Bernice Downs – the first high level female karate competitor from Illinois, she dominated local and national competition in the 1960’s and 1970’s

Manson “Master Blaster” Gibson – holder of multiple World Kickboxing Championships in several weight divisions for multiple organizations. Gibson would fight anyone, anywhere

Gregory T Johnson – early Kyokushin black belt who has operated his karate school in the southwest suburbs for more than 50 consecutive years

Phillip Koeppel – early Illinois Karate pioneer, noted instructor, formerly a high ranking USKA officer and now head of the USKK

Lorraine Lissner – Chinese stylist and competitor, a consistent winner fighting, forms and weapons

Paula Lezarz – high ranking Chinese martial artist, instructor and competitor on the regional and national level

John McSweeney – (Posthumous) early Ed Parker Kenpo black belt, early Illinois Kenpo instructor and the Father of Kenpo Karate in Ireland

Juan Miguel Moreno – member of three Olympic Taekwondo teams as a competitor, Moreno won two silver medals at the Games and is now a national team coach

Rick Sollo – one of the first people from Illinois to train Muay Thai, now a noted trainer. The first Illinoisan to regularly train in Thailand

Rick Stellwagen – retired, undefeated kickboxer and holder of several professional and amateur titles

Mark Streator – retired kickboxer who held many titles, now a top trainer

Dr. Joe Takehara – High ranking Aikido sensei and one of the original members of the Illinois Aikido Club, the first group to regularly train Aikido in the state. Dr. Takehara is also a retired dentist

John Zurisk – World Breaking Champion


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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