The following biography of Sensei Joe was originally written in February 2011 and published in one of our newsletters in celebration of his 80th birthday.
Sensei Joseph Kajita was Born in the Yamaguchi Prefecture of Japan in January 1931. Sensei Kajita began studying Judo at age of 7. He later moved to Tokyo, where he studied at the Kodokan under the tutelage of Kotani-Sensei (10th Dan) and became an Assistant Instructor there. At 20 years of age, Kajita-Sensei won the Kanagawa Prefecture Championships, becoming Grand Champion, after defeating Isao Inokuma, who would become the future Olympic Champion.
In 1955 at the age of 25, Kajita-Sensei emigrated to America, and during his first year fought in the National Championships, winning 1st Place in the Team Division.
Sensei was drafted into the US Armed Forces in 1956, and wasted no time in winning the US Forces Championships, defeating Sea Born, the then current USA National Wrestling Champion. In 1958, Sensei went on to win the Midwest Championships, becoming Grand Champion after defeating John Osako, Hank Okamura, and Frank Razensky, all reigning National Champions. During his downtime, Sensei was the Head Instructor of Chicago’s largest Judo dojo, the Chicago Buddhist Temple.
It was in 1987 when Sensei Joe moved to California. Here he joined the Orange County Kodokan, assisting Head Instructor Shag Okada.
In 1998, he re-opened the El Toro Dojo in Forbes Rd, Laguna Niguel, where he tirelessly grew the club.
It is with great respect that we mention Kajita-Sensei’s participation in the Masters Championships, and from the age of 50 yrs old, he has won 1st place five times. When he was 74, Sensei Joe took World Masters Champion.
Over the course of his lifetime, Kajita-Sensei has taught many rising Judo stars, including Bob Berland, Olympic Silver medalist at the 1984 L.A games, Hillary Wolf, and many others. In addition, Sensei was a renowned Kata judge, and often displayed his detailed knowledge of the official seven katas of Kodokan Judo
Sensei Joe Kajita spent his lifetime dedicated to the sport of Judo, and all his students valued and respected his knowledge and expertise. Sensei Joe was always there at the dojo and had that 'special trick' that was used many years ago and still seemed perfectly valid in today's competitive environment.
2012 JudoTalk article about Sensei Joe.
JAPANESE & AMERICAN GRAND CHAMPION AND PREVIOUS KODOKAN ASSISTANT INSTRUCTOR SENSEI JOE KAJITA