The 50-Year Club
The 50-Year Club honors those individuals who have dedicated at least 50 years of their lives to practicing and promoting Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. We are fortunate to have such dedicated individuals in our midst. The honorees are listed below, and includes the year he or she began the study of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu.
1948 – Professor Lamar Fisher
1950 – Betty Fisher
1952 – Professor John Congistre
1954 – Professor William G. Randle
1956 – Kathi Congistre
1956 – Patricia Rebmann
1957 – Professor Tom Ball
1957 – Professor Don Cross
1958 – Professor Larry Nolte
1959 – Professor Dennis Estes
1959 – Professor Tom Jenkins
1959 – Professor Rory Rebmann
1959 – Professor Clyde Zimmerman
1960 – Professor Jane Carr
1960 – Jan Ball
1960 – William Gessner
1962 – Gary DeGarmo
1948 – Professor Lamar Fisher, Judan
Professor Fisher first became a student of Professor Bud Estes in 1948, and taught at the Chico Judo and Jujitsu Academy from 1950 to 1972. He achieved the rank Godan and title of Professor in 1956. Prof Fisher also taught women’s self defense courses for 10 years at Butte College. In 1972, he became school head of the Nibukikan in Chico, California. He was promoted to Kudan in 1985, and Judan in 1995. Prof Fisher was the Senior Professor of the AJJF up until his death in 2009.
1948 – BETTY FISHER, member of the 50 year club.
Betty Fisher met Lamar Fisher in 1950 at a dance in Paradise Pines. She soon came to realize that if she wanted to see Lamar she needed to become involved in Jujitsu. She began classes in the Old Chico Record building with Lucille Estes as her Sensei. Lamar and Betty were married in 1951. We all heard Prof. Fisher say many times over his lifetime career in the AJJF, “Just never forget that you don’t interfere with my Jujitsu”. Betty and Lamar soon began raising their family of three boys. All three at some time or other tried Jujitsu. However, they all found swimming much more to their liking. Betty and Lamar involved themselves with the boys in the swimming circuit for twenty three years. The family has continued to grow to twelve grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. We thank Betty for her continued support of Prof. Lamar Fisher throughout their life together.
1952 – Professor John Congistre, Judan
Professor Congistre began his training with Professor Ray Law in Oakland, California, and practiced there until the dojo closed in 1969. He has studied and competed in sport judo, earning the rank of sandan. Prof Congistre has also trained in karate, kendo, and massage. Prof Congistre is currently the Treasurer of the AJJF. The Shoshin Ryu Yudanshakai have recognized Professor Congistre’s rank of kudan and have made him a life member.
1954 – Professor William G. Randle, Judan
Professor William G. Randle, Judan, began jujitsu in 1954 at Prof. Law’s dojo in Oakland, conveniently located eight doors down from his grandparents’ home. He opened his first dojo in 1958 in his parents’ garage in Santa Monica. In 1962, he started his second dojo at the Santa Monica and Palisades YMCAs. In 1965, he left the Santa Monica dojo in the hands of his blackbelts and went to study at the Holy Cross Brotherhood in Ohio and Texas (while running a dojo at St. Edward’s University.) In 1972, he returned to Santa Monica, opened the Westside YMCA Jujitsu dojo, and has been sensei there ever since. Professor Randle and his lineage are responsible for over 250 Danzan-Ryu black belts, dozens of schools, and his blackbelts reach down to 5th generation.
Character development is the primary focus of Prof. Randle’s teaching. Professor Randle is a former Director of both the Westside and Santa Monica YMCAs, and serves as House Committee Chair and Board Member of the Santa Monica Rotary Club. Throughout his decades of involvement with jujitsu, Professor Randle has epitomized the concepts of Ohana and Kokua in his daily life. Some of his favorite sayings, oft repeated at the close of class, are “we turn ability into responsibility” and “service above self.” In that regard, Professor Randle has truly mastered the art of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu.
1956 – Kathi Congistre, Sandan
Kathi Copley Congistre began her training in Professor Law’s Junior program August, 1956. Through Law’s Junior program, Kathi taught future AJJF Professors Don Cross and Rory Rebmann. Kathi received her shodan February, 1962, Nidan March, 1963 and Sandan in 1965. Kathi married John Congistre, her first instructor in 1966. Kathi, along with John and the Rebmanns, have co-chaired several AJJF Conventions and worked on Shoshin Ryu and Ohana Conventions.
1956 – Patricia Rebmann, Shodan
Patricia Copley Rebmann began her training in the junior program under Professor Ray Law in Oakland, California. At the age of 12, Patricia met another student by the name of Rory Rebmann and she and he were later married in 1968. She continued to train at Laws until 1969 when the Dojo closed. It was in 1973 when she and Prof. Rory Rebmann began the Amador Judo & Jujitsu Studio, located in Livermore, California. She is a past recipient of the Prof. Burt Aspinall award and helped to host a multitude of AJJF Conventions and Ohanas. She still is very actively involved in instructing youth and the everyday running of the dojo.
1957 – Professor Tom Ball, Judan
Professor Ball began jujitsu with Bud Odom and received his shodan in 1958. He taught at UC Davis in 1964 as a yodan and founded the first martial arts dojo in Davis since World War II. Hundreds of students from around the world studied with him from 1964 – 1972. Prof Ball is currently school head of the Shingi Kan. He has also helped establish the AJJF’s Danzan Ryu Restorative Therapy Program, now known as the Danzan Ryu Seifukujitsu Institute, and sits on the Standards Committee. He has been the Senior Professor of the AJJF since 2009.
1957 – Professor Don Cross, Shichidan
Professor Cross began his training with Professors Ray and Marie Law in Oakland, California. Prof Cross has also studied tai chi chuan, judo, kempo, Goju Ryu, Shotokan Karate, kendo, Sil Lum Kung Fu, and chi gong. Prof Cross has served on the AJJF’s Board of Managers as the Manager of Regions and the Manager of Internal Relations. He also helped develop what would become known as the Danzan Ryu Seifukujitsu Institute. Prof Cross was the sensei of Jujitsu-Do Martial Arts Center for 33 years and currently serves as the Vice President of the AJJF.
1958 – Professor Larry Nolte, Shichidan
Professor Nolte began his training with Professor Tom Ball. In 1960, he was awarded his shodan by Professor Bud Estes and Tom Ball. He became school head of the Medford Judo Academy in 1962 and has coached wrestling at the high school and junior high levels for more than 30 years. Prof Nolte has also trained in sport judo, karate, and Danzan Ryu Restorative Therapy. More than 40 of Prof Nolte’s students have been promoted to black belt and the Medford Judo Academy remains the oldest continuously operating dojo within the AJJF. Prof Nolte also graduated from the 2003 Okugi course taught by Professor Tony Janovich, where he received a Kaidensho and teaching title of Shihan. Prof Nolte currently serves as the Secretary of the AJJF.
1959 – Professor Dennis Estes, Shichidan
Professor Estes holds a black belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu that is recognized by both the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation and the Kodenkan Yudanshakai, as well as a black belt in Daito Ryu AikiJutsu. Prof. Estes began training in 1959, at the age of six years old. He and his father Art Estes began training with Jay Monahan in Pullman, Washington. Monahan Sensei trained in both Kodokan Judo and Shudokan Karate while in Japan and later in the San Francisco Bay area in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu under Prof. Ray Law.
After moving to Utah in the early 1980’s, Prof. Estes and his father opened the Estes Bushido Jutsu Kan in Lehi, Utah. This was in 1982. A year later Art left this dojo and started Yamanaka Kodenkan in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Dennis continued as Sensei of the Bushido Jutsu Kan. While instructing here he had 5 students reach the rank of black belt. This school has been turned over to Robert Hodgkin and Tom Greenwood. In 1986 Dennis moved to Eureka, Ca. and within six months had started a new dojo. This one he named JOBU SHIN KAN, which translates as School of the Strong Martial Spirit. This school has produced more than 21 black belts, 5 of which were charter members.
In 2003 Professor Estes left Eureka, California and moved north to Gresham, Oregon where he opened JoBu Shin Kan Hoku. The original dojo was left in the care of Sensei Jon Sylvia and Prof. Estes carried the name with him adding Hoku (north) to differentiate between the two schools.
Prof Estes trained with his father as his Sensei until he reached the level of Nidan. At that point his training switched to Prof. Robert Hudson with additional training from Prof. Tom Ball. In addition he trained with several gifted martial artist in and out of jujitsu. Professor Estes has said, “Without the training and development of Senseis Estes, Hudson and Ball I would not be the martial artist I am today.”
1959 – Professor Rory Rebmann, Hachidan
Professor Rebmann started jujitsu in 1959 at age 11 under Prof Ray Law. As part of his training, Prof Rebmann studied Shotokan Karate and Bushido Jujitsu. Prof Rebmann also holds a godan in Kodokan Judo and a hachidan in Goshi Jujitsu. He was awarded the Kodenkan Heritage Award for 2001. He is currently the owner and head instructor of the Amador Judo & Jujitsu Studio in Livermore, CA which has produced many national judo and jujitsu champions. Prof Rebmann was the previous president, vice-president and central office manager of the AJJF.
1959 – Professor Clyde Zimmerman, Hachidan
Professor Zimmerman began his martial arts training in Sherman Oaks, California in 1959. He studied Kodokan Judo, Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, Shotokan Karate, kung fu, and aikido. In the early sixties he opened a dojo in Encino Park, CA and started a judo team at St. John’s College in Camarillo, CA. After college, Prof Zimmerman went into law enforcement receiving P.O.S.T and B.P.S.T. certifications. He then began teaching both for law enforcement agencies and in his own dojos in California and Oregon. He next moved to Gardnerville, Nevada, opening a successful dojo in Carson City, NV. For his work there Prof Zimmerman has received many awards including the Luciano Service Award and Instructor of the Year Awards from the Shoshin Ryu Yudanshakai and the American Jujitsu Institute.
1960 – Professor Jane Carr, Kudan
Professor Jane Carr is our leading lady professor of the AJJF. She began her studies in Redding, CA in 1960. She is also ranked as Lakan Isa in Modern Arnis. Her specialty field is in realistic Rape Prevention courses. She is one of the original founders of the AJJF massage program, and continues to serve on the Danzan Ryu Restoration Therapy Standards Committee (formerly known as the DZR Seifukujitsu Institute). She has held many offices in the AJJF. She is an active member of the AJJF BOP, and serves on the Sr. Professor’s Council. You will find her teaching DZR Jujitsu and Restoration Therapy at dojos, seminars, and conventions. Professor Carr is Shihan at the Redding Jujitsu Academy, Inc., and teaches Monthly Black Belt classes at the dojo with her daughter, Professor Sheryl Hager. These activities are as important to her as her immediate family. Prof. Carr’s motto: “Keep young and healthy by doing, learning and enjoying life to its fullest”.
1960 – William Gessner, Yodan
When Bill moved to northeastern Pennsylvania in 1960 to take on a teaching position at East Stroudsburg University, he joined the AJJF and began studying jujitsu with Commodore Mann, a student of Professor Chuck Smith.
After one year, Commodore was deployed to Viet Nam, and, although only a Brown Belt, Bill took over the classes that Commodore had started at the local YMCA. Before he left, Commodore taught Bill all the requirements for Shodan and asked Professor Bud Estes to oversee Bill’s promotions to Shodan and through the black belt levels.
A few AJJF instructors were sent to work with Bill over those years, until Professors Estes and Fisher came back east in 1970 to run a seminar at Ed Kent’s dojo in New York City. Ed was then the Director of Region 4, AJJF and Bill used to work out with him frequently, also earning Shodan in Ed’s Eizan Ryu System.
During the time from Shodan to Nidan Bill began teaching jujitsu classes at three other locations: a local high school, a small rural community recreation program, and at East Stroudsburg University, where he managed to get not only a club started, but also got Danzan Ryu incorporated as part of the academic programs for both general students as well as physical education majors.
When Ed Kent stepped down as Regional Manager, Bill took over the position, one that he held for 15 years.
After 10 years of teaching, Bill finally had students rising to the level of Shodan themselves, a trend which led to the spread of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu throughout Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Bill began hosting Professors Estes, Fisher, and Ball, and later many other AJJF Professors for the annual Regional Conventions he held starting in 1973. The Region has continued to sponsor at least one, and sometimes as many as three such Regional Seminars to this day.
Although he retired from running a dojo, Bill continues to be active in Jujitsu by occasionally teaching at his wife Barb’s dojo at Rutgers University, as an instructor at some of the Regional Seminars. He also used to serve as a examiner for several of the AJJF exams that are part of the Regional Seminars.
1962 – Sensei Gary DeGarmo, Godan
Sensei Gary DeGarmo began martial arts with Kodokan judo in 1959 while serving in the US Army, earning his Brown Belt in 1962. That same year, he began his studies in Danzan Ryu under Sensei Lee Garrett and Sensei “Buster” Norton, receiving his Shodan degree in 1964. He received his judo Nikyu from the AJJF in 1967. After the retirement of Senseis Garrett and Norton, Sensei DeGarmo ran the Medford YMCA Judo dojo.
Sensei DeGarmo joined the Medford Judo Academy in the late 60’s, continuing his study under Sensei (now Professor) Larry Nolte, and was promoted to the rank of Godan in 2010.
He currently assists Professor Troy Shehorn in the kid’s classes and instructs during the adult classes. Sensei DeGarmo received the 50 Year Club award from the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation in 2013.