In 1995 Manfred Chiu and Craig Hamman founded the Saratoga Dojo at the Southwest YMCA in Saratoga, California. Manfred led the first practice in February of that year, then Craig Hamman and Olof Tornblad took over leading the adult classes with the assistance of other black belts.
From the beginning the dojo offered separate classes for children and adults, and continues to do so today. In 2006 the YMCA honored Johnny Martin and Jim Nomura, children’s class instructors at the time, as Volunteers of the Year for their hard work, dedication and commitment. Mack Kusumoto has also been honored as Volunteer of the Year by the YMCA, recognizing the strong participation of our dojo in the YMCA work supporting the community.
The Saratoga Dojo has hosted several Northern California SKA events, including Women’s and Self Defense Practices, Sunday Black Belt practices, NorCal kyu tests and jiyu kumite tournaments, as well as visits from senior godans from other USA and International SKA dojos.
The black belts from the Saratoga dojo have founded several SKA dojos in the area and collaborations with other YMCA centers through the years, while the Saratoga dojo thrives with strong support from its members and from the Southwest YMCA.
Originally this was the most important thing about martial arts – to reach a higher level, to become a strong human being. Strong doesn’t mean big arms. It means who can be a more strict human being with himself. That is the ideal of martial arts – Tsutomu Ohshima