The Four Founders’ Awards

In an effort recognize the accomplishments and efforts of our students, instructors, and other contributors, we have established The Four Founders Awards in honor of the four founders of the AJJF.

Before making a nomination please read the complete criteria for the proposed award to make sure the nominee and nominator are eligible. As a nominator, please include all available and pertinent contact information requested, so we may contact you if we have questions. If you have questions please send an email to gro.fjja@sdrawa. Information on the selection process can also be found on the AJJF website.

  • All nominations must be done on the official ballot.
  • All nominations must meet all criteria in the official guidelines.
  • All nominations should be written legibly or preferably typed.
  • Any nominations not meeting the preceding criteria may be discarded.
  • With permission, ballots may be published and the appropriate credit given to the author.

Use The Online Form Download the printable form

Professor John Cahill Award – Outstanding Tournament Competitor of the year

Awarded to the person showing a commitment to excellence, sportsmanship and representing the best qualities and ideals of the AJJF, such as Ohana and Kokua.

  1. A Black Belt may make nominations for any contestant with a minimum of two contests from November to October of the year prior to the presentation.
  2. A contest host or judge can nominate an individual based on their performance and/or attitude for a single contest. Please include details on the ballot.


Professor Bud Estes Award – Outstanding Contribution to the AJJF

Awarded to the person committed to the betterment and perpetuation of the AJJF and Danzan Ryu.

  1. Any member of the AJJF is eligible, including Kyus, Dans, and Professors.
  2. Any Yudansha can nominate a member.
  3. Each Yudansha may nominate a maximum of one member.


Professor Ray Law Award – Outstanding Contribution to the Youth of the AJJF

Awarded to the person creating, supporting and/or commitment to the youth programs of the AJJF.

  1. Any member of the AJJF is eligible, including Kyus, Dans, and Professors.
  2. Any member of the AJJF can nominate another member.
  3. Each Member may nominate a maximum of one member.


Professor Dick Rickerts Award – Outstanding AJJF Sensei of the year

Awarded to the person dedicated to building the foundation of our Federation; that is, the students, from Kyu to Dan ranks; teaching the Ryu and facilitating the development character through patience, tolerance, tenacity, energy, enthusiasm, compassion, and by setting the example as a mentor.

  1. The candidate must be contributing Yudansha, this includes but not limited to School Heads, Seminar instructors, and Instructors for Ju Jitsu and the Healing Arts.
  2. Any student or instructor, excluding a member of the BOP or Operations Committee, may nominate the candidate.
  3. Members of the BOP are excluded from receiving this award.

Previous Recipients of the Four Founders Awards

(Click on the year to read the nominating essays)
 Prof. CahillProf. EstesProf. LawProf. Rickerts
2024Austin StahlJeff MeyersHarry BurlesonBarb Gessner
2023Benjamyn RoweProf. Don CrossJeremy SchoenerBrian Sincomb
2022Jozie PostTim MerrillAngel LopezHarry Burleson
2021Christian BurkhartProf Hillary Kaplowitz-Delina Fuchs
2020Henry CarrPatrick HedgepathAubrey ShawTravis Prose
2019Conor WithamPete St. PierreMarek KozlowskiJose Duenas
2018Sara RoblesWilliam GessnerDianna McKinzieThabiti Sabahive
2017John PfundProf Dennis EstesJohn Pfund Scott Redden
2016Michael ThompsonProf Tom BallAnton MullerNerissa Freeman
2015Jordan UgglaGregory PoretzProf Troy ShehornKimo Williams
2014Jered HallstromKerry SegoFiliberto GutierrezHillary Kaplowitz
2013Mark Crooks JrGerry HalliganKeith PollakKevin Colton
2012Ward MelenichProf Jane CarrBarb GessnerGreg Poretz
2011Tim NibertCynthia FruehAshley RebmannRobbin Miller
2010David MartinezProf Tom JenkinsLarry CarterKatie Stevens
2009Nerissa FreemanProf Robert HudsonProf Sheryl HagerRichard Howell
2008Bridget WilsonFrank FerrisJess GreenFrank Ferris
2007Michelle LindstromNancy BighamRandy SchusterGerry Halligan
2006Prof Geoff LaneEd ShatzenJose OrtizRobert Seiler