The Four Founders’ Awards Nominating Essays for the 2014 Award Recipients

Prof. Cahill Prof. Estes Prof. Law Prof. Rickerts
Jered Hallstrom Kerry Sego Filiberto Gutierrez Hillary Kaplowitz


Jered Hallstrom, recipient of the Professor John Cahill Award
Outstanding Tournament Competitor of the Year

I would like to nominate Jered Halstrem. I believe he has only been in two tournaments, taking  a second place, and a fist place, But I am not nominating him on how well he preformed but the energy and enthusiasm that he brought to the dojo by wanting to compete.
Because of Jered we had seven students go to the last tournament and most of them did very well, and all of them had a great time. I don’t think any of the other students were planing to go to the tournament before Jered started talking to them and telling them how much fun they would have. He told them that it’s not about winning or losing its about having fun and meeting new people.  I think this is what the contest are really all about. Getting us together and making an AJJF family. I have made many life long friends from entering into contest and know because of Jered so have some of our students and maybe next time they will get someone else to go with them and it will keep bringing up all closer together as one big family.
Thank you for your time.

Kerry Sego, recipient of the Professor Bud Estes Award
Outstanding Contribution to the AJJF

With all the adversities of breast cancer, chemo, radiation, Kerry has never missed attending a major seminar or clinic whether its in California , pennsylvania , South Carolina, Utah or national convention. The first thing when she arrives is to go straight to the exams coordinator and reports to work. She will call anywhere from 3 to 4 exams per event and even help train callers and will remain as long as needed. So in some small way Kerry could be eligible for this award.

Filiberto Gutierrez, recipient of the Professor Ray Law Award
Outstanding Contribution to the Youth of the AJJF

I would like to nominate Sensei Filiberto Gutierrez for the Ray Law Award.

He currently has a large dojo in the Chicago, IL area.  He has been teaching juniors in his programs for the last 12 years.  I am not sure as to the number of children but he has the largest dojo in the AJJF with over 150 members and most are juniors.

He talks with them about how important it is to help at home and at the dojo.  He asks the parents prior to promoting them.  He asks to see their report cards from school.  He does formal testing and does a ceremony for their promotions.
I have been present when he would get a call from a parent about a situation with their child.  Next thing I knew he was on his way to help.  This is not just for disciplinary issues, medical situations as well.
He is involved in teaching them personal discipline, decision making and developing their leadership skills.  If my grandkids lived close, I would have them enrolled in his programs.

Hillary Kaplowitz, recipient of the Professor Dick Rickerts Award
Outstanding AJJF Sensei of the Year

When a Sensei is faced with students that we might call “challenges”, and they will, as this is unavoidably part of every Sensei’s path, their true colors shine. What is meant by “challenges” you may ask? Well, let’s just say students that show up to learn jujitsu that are not obvious shoe-ins for black belts; ones that may not know their left from their right, not necessarily physically gifted or athletically inclined; I am one such student.This school head is being nominated for the best Sensei because they have tackled many obstacles in this regard with the students in our dojo.
 We’ll start by saying, the median age of our dojo is not that of a spring chicken. We are mature adults, our bones ache and our joints do not have a maximum range of motion. This provides extra challenge to the teacher of a ryu that requires falling from heights, flipping head over heels and willingly accepting positions of a contortionist. While we are in class, our off-the-mat  friends are not doing martial arts or Parcour classes, instead watching Netflix with a jar of Nutella in one hand and a spoon in the other, and wondering why we don’t join them.
 Since this award asks for an individual who “facilitates the development of character through patience”, let us count the ways:
Patience – a student who was on the mat for months and months on end absolutely refusing to do a forward roll out of fear. Our Sensei patiently worked with her, class after class, until finally, the day we all thought would never come; despite her ever-present defiance, she executed her first forward roll. With pride and new-found confidence, she returned to class and happily performed forward rolls for many months before having to return to her home in Italy. She did not go on to become a black belt, but in the spirit of true Danzan Ryu, she overcame fear and went out into the world an improved person with the help of this Sensei.; a notch on her belt!
This award also recognizes a Sensei with Tolerance:
We marvel at our teacher’s tolerance with many things, but mainly her ability to put up with thousands of excuses for why we are not coming to class. This was tolerated:
-“I won’t be coming to class today because I’m reading a book in the bathtub and the water is so warm and the book is so good.”
We have suggested she cash in on our myriad of excuses and publish a coffee table book on the subject.
Tenacity – yes, tenacity is one of our Sensei’s strongest points. I would not still be here if it were not for her tenacity. The first 2 visits to the dojo, I watched class on the sidelines, refusing to set  foot on the mat. Our Sensei at the time was an Ikkyu and the Sempai and was very encouraging and insistent that I try it. It looked scary and crazy out there on the mat. 16 years later, despite myself, and thanks to her, I am still coming to class and enjoying it.
Energy & enthusiasm – 2 more qualities of a good Sensei, and she’s got ‘em.  Beyond the many hours of teaching and overseeing our learning process, she herself continues to train with gusto, having attained the rank of Godan in the AJJF. She has become an instructor of Seifukujitsu, our healing massage. She is naturally a good mentor by being a great student herself. Although all her students already benefit by her great teaching skills, she continuously hones her skills as a Sensei of DZR and in her own profession as a teacher. She also served for many years as an officer of the AJJF as SW Regional Manager and then National Manager of Regions. She encourages participation by her students in all AJJF activities.
One more quality of a good Sensei? And this one is not listed among the guidelines for this award, but important nontheless…a sense of humor!
Our Sensei can laugh at what’s funny; at us and at herself and can dish out Godan-level wisecracks and humor to keep us going when it all gets too serious.
I nominate Sensei Hillary Kaplowitz of Pacific Jujitsu Kai as Outstanding Sensei of the Year.