Monday, May 23, 2016

Reposted from the blog of Chicago Aikido Club.

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.

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 Pushing

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Aikido Instructor Relives the Past

This is a repost from the blog page of Chicago Aikido Club, the dojo where I have been teaching and practicing the Japanese martial art of aikido for the past four years. 

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 involved 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:
Inline image 1
Group photo from the railroad shoot