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Kevin Asano

Executive Director

Judo Instructor

8th Degree Black Belt

Kevin Asano was born in Honolulu, Hawaii but began his judo career as a 7-year old boy in Okinawa under Sensei Tsuruo Fukushima. After moving back to Hawaii he practiced judo at Pearl City Hongwanji Judo Club and later at Leeward Judo Club. Following his graduation from Pearl City High School, he trained at Tokai University in Kanagawa, Japan for two years. Upon returning to the U.S., he trained at San Jose State University.

Kevin’s accomplishments include winning the high school nationals, junior nationals, collegiate nationals, U.S. Open and a bronze medal at the 1987 World Championships. After 18 years of training, Kevin earned a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Kevin has been inducted into the United States Judo Federation Hall of Fame, the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame, the San Jose State University Sports Hall of Fame, and the USA Judo Hall of Fame. He is an 8th degree black belt and a professor of judo. In 2019 Kevin was awarded the Government of Japan’s Foreign Minister’s Commendation in recognition of his work to promote mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and the U.S. (Hawaii) through sports.

He is also the past president of Hawaii Judo, Inc. and the United States Judo Federation. He is currently a managing partner at a wealth management organization, and the co-founder of Personal Transformation International, a non-profit organization committed to transforming individuals by helping them find their life’s calling. He is a public speaker and author of the book, Step onto the Mat which highlights his discipline and journey to becoming an Olympic Silver Medalist.

Steven Alphabet

Head Judo Instructor

5th Degree Black Belt

Steven Alphabet is originally from Georgia but currently calls Hawaii his home. He has over four decades of experience in practicing and teaching judo and jujitsu. He has a passion to educate and mentor children and young men and women to become successful in all aspects of life.

Steven is a 5th degree black belt who started judo in 1980 with Sensei Bruce Toups at the Blackbelt School of Judo in Atlanta. He is a certified national judo referee, certified international judo coach, and certified Department of Education teacher with 20 years’ experience in general education, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and special education.

In 1993 he founded Judo the Ultimate Challenge, Inc., a 501c3 organization. JTUC provides children and young adults with quality programs and experiences that will positively impact their intellectual, social, ethical and physical development. Programs under JTUC include Ultimate Challenge Afterschool Judo Program, Youth Exploring Science (Y.E.S.), Youth Career Initiative (YCI), Today Not Tomorrow (TNT Fit), Cognitive Awareness Training (CAT), and Walk It Out/Talk It Out. Steve is also the creator of the ABC Judo Curriculum which is the basis for the success of his students both on and off the mat. 

Steven founded Kokoro Tatsu Marital Arts & Fitness in Georgia where he developed local, national and international champions. In 1996 he was the competition manager for the judo event at the Centennial Olympic and Paralympic Games. Steve is also the creator and founder of Judocise, a fun, invigorating, and challenging physical fitness program based on the principles of judo movement.


Gina Sullivan

Judo Program Supervisor

Open Mat Coach

4th Degree Black Belt

Gina Sullivan was 8 years old in 1988 when she began taking judo with Bob Harder at Pacific Judo Academy in Spokane, Washington. She later trained under Jason Morris at Jason Morris Judo Center in New York. 

She won many Junior National and Junior Olympic medals before going on to become a senior elite athlete ranked in the top 5 in the US Female 52kg division from 1999 to 2004. Her major accomplishments include gold medals in the 2004 Quebec Open and 2004 Ontario Open as well as silver medals in the 2000 Collegiate National Judo Championships and the 2004 Senior National Judo Championships.

Gina has a B.S. in Sport Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Chaminade University. She is currently a busy homeschool mom educating her three children. In her free time, she enjoys reading, skiing and playing basketball. 

Matthew Ogata

Open Mat Head Coach

3rd Degree Black Belt

Matthew Ogata began his judo career in 1998 at the age of seven with Sensei Leigh Nakamoto at Leeward Judo Club in Pearl City. 

After training with Japan's top college judo players at Tokai University from 2009 to 2010, Matt went on to compete for the San Jose State University judo team, winning gold in the 2013 and 2014  National Collegiate Judo Championships. 

Matthew is currently a teacher with the Hawaii Department of Education. When he is not at school or at the dojo, you can find Matthew surfing or playing spike ball.


Shintaro Taniguchi

Open Mat Coach

3rd Degree Black Belt

Coach Shintaro Taniguchi has been practicing judo for over 25 years. He studied judo and wrestling under the tutelage of  Senseis Tomoki Kamatsuka, Noboru Saito, Hachiro Oishi and Masaaki Hatta. His favorite techniques are morote seoi-nage, kouchigari, and ippon seoi-nage. 


Taniguchi Sensei has a BSE in Aerospace Engineering, an M.ENG in Space Engineering, and an MS in Atmospheric and Space Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor as well as an MBA from the University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium and an MS in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently employed with the Tokai University Educational System - Hawaii Tokai International College as an associate professor in the liberal arts program. He teaches mathematics, statistics, economics, and accounting.   


Shintaro is the head coach of the Judo Club/Team at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His favorite pastime is practicing and coaching judo as well as studying judo videos. He claims to possibly possess the largest collection of judo related videos in North America.

Russell Ogata

F.I.T Class Instructor

3rd Degree Black Belt

Russell Ogata started judo at the Pahala Hongwanji Judo Club on the Big Island of Hawaii. His Sensei was Shiro Fukunaga.


He went on to compete in olympic weightlifting and lived and trained at the Olympic Training center in Colorado Springs. He started teaching judo at Leeward Judo Club in 1995 when his oldest son Matthew started judo . All three sons are currently black belts in judo.

Russell is a veteran PE teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience. He was selected as an outstanding physical education teacher of the year for the Hawaii State Department of Education. He has an innovative and engaging curriculum and methodology which motivates his students.

In his free time, Russell enjoys the Japanese martial arts of naginata and kyudo. 


Tyler Matsumoto

Adaptive Judo Head Instructor

1st Degree Black Belt

Tyler Matsumoto started Judo in 2009 at the age of nine at Leeward Judo Club in Pearl City with Sensei Kevin Asano.

Throughout his Judo career, he has had the opportunity to travel to the mainland U.S. to compete and to Japan as well to train. He placed 3rd in the 2014 Junior Nationals and 1st in the 2016 Junior Nationals. 

Tyler is currently working as a registered behavior technician at an ABA clinic in Aiea and has a passion for teaching and helping others. When Tyler is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing with his dog, and creating art.


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