Meet the JKA Chicago Sugiyama Dojo Sensei

Sugiyama Sensei

Shojiro Sugiyama


Karate spread throughout the Midwest primarily due to Sugiyama, Shihan and his students who have founded many dojos in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 1954, after having trained in two other styles of Karate, Sugiyama, Shihan began training under Nishiyama, Shihan among other instructors at the JKA headquarters dojo in Tokyo. In 1963, at the request of the Chicago Karate Club and sponsored by Walter Nakamoto, he moved to the U.S. to teach Karate. The Club was then renamed to JKA Chicago with Sugiyama, Shihan as its Chief Instructor.

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Michael Arab

6th Dan – President & Chief Instructor

Sensei Arab was born in 1954 in the city of Shiraz, Iran. At the age of fifteen he began to practice Judo, and after two years he began to practice karate Kan Zen Ryu and Shotokan. Soon after, he devoted himself specifically to Shotokan. During his time in Iran, Sensei Nosratian, Sensei Abe, and Sensei Naito were among his teachers who helped him on his journey of learning and perfecting his art of Shotokan karate. In 1978 he came to Chicago as a student to pursue his education in Business Management in and joined the Japan Karate Association under the direct guidance of Sensei Shojiro Sugiyama and the late legendary Master Hidetaka Nishiyama and from 1979 to 1991 competed in several national and international events.

Sensei Arab is devoted to karate and has added many great qualities to the art of Shotokan. His main goal is to improve karate by producing quality students with good character. He has been teaching at JKA Chicago dojo since 1993 and many of his students have become great karatekas and competitors. In addition to karate, sensei Arab also teaches Ki energy and Kobudo (weapons). He currently holds the rank of Roku Dan. On January 1, 2001 Sugiyama Sensei, President of JKA Chicago, appointed Sensei Arab as the new president for JKA Chicago.

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Rachel Lavin

5th Dan – Technical Director

Sensei Lavin received her Go-dan (5th Dan) from Sugiyama in 2007. In Addition to Karate, she has a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and a Guro in Eskrima. Her competitive experience in karate includes being as international gold medalist in the 1994 Pan American Games (Fukugo division) and in 2006 winning gold medal in the VII Olympic Gay Games in kata. She is also a national gold medalist in Judo winning first place in the 2008 USA National Judo championships.

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Gregory Winston

4th Dan – Senior Instructor

Sensei Winston began his journey wrestling in high school where he competed to state recognition going to college on an athletic scholarship. He began training Shotokan karate under Sensei Shojiro Sugiyama in 1981. At this time JKA Chicago was the main dojo for the AAKF Great Lakes region with Sensei Sugiyama the regional director and Master Hidetaka Nishiyama the president and national director of the organization.

In 1990 he began to teach at JKA Chicago’s main dojo. In 2000 he became the main instructor for the University of Chicago Shotokan Karate Club and between then and the present he has led the club to several championships. From 1985 to 2012 he competed in many regional and national events. He currently holds the rank of Yodan.

Juan Lopez Karate Instructor
Juan Lopez- Karate Instructor

Juan Lopez

3rd Dan – Dojo Manager & Instructor

Sensei Lopez has been training Shotokan Karate at JKA Chicago dojo since 2005 and currently holds the rank of Sandan. He has competed in many States and National ‎tournaments including WKF, USKF, and AAU, winning several gold medals both Kata and Kumite. He enjoys teaching students the fundamental Shotokan techniques as well as fighting styles that will help them build confidence believing in themselves in the dojo and outside.
Joseph Frey Karate Instructor
Joseph Frey- Karate Instructor

Joseph Frey

3rd Dan

Sensei Frey began practicing Shotokan Karate under Sensei Joseph Truncale in 2005, and under Sensei Winston from 2006 to 2010 at the University of Chicago Shotokan Karate club. He also served as club president and organized several collegiate tournaments. He has been training at JKA Chicago dojo since graduating in 2010 and currently holds the rank of Sandan. Sensei Frey has competed in many local and collegiate tournaments medaling in both kata and kumite divisions. He has also been training in Jiu-Jitsu since 2005 under Sensei Jurinek and teaches police defensive tactics course at Oakton Community College. Sensei Frey’s emphasizes on the fundamentals of kata, kihon, and kumite, as well as numerous defensive applications such as grappling, joint locks, offensive and defensive weapon usage, physical fitness, flexibility, and overall spirit and focus.

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Juan Lopez- Karate Instructor

Ethan Sahinoglu

3rd Dan

Sensei Sahinoglu has been studying Shotokan Karate since he was 7 years old. He started his training in Adana, Turkey and has competed internationally in numerous tournaments and countries. After moving to Chicago, he began training under the tutelage of Sensei Sugiyama and Sensei Arab in 2000. He currently holds the rank of Sandan. Sensei Sahinoglu has a passion for the martial arts as it provided him the foundation for success in life, and now he shares that passion with others.

shotokan karate kumite 
Joseph Frey- Karate Instructor

M.J. Arons

3rd Dan

Sensei Arons started her karate training in October 1994 and shortly after joined WSKF and trained under Sensei Colin Smith. MJ received her Nidan (2nd Dan) in Osaka, Japan from Hitoshi Kasuya Sensei in September of 2000. In 2011 she joined JKA and now trains under Sensei Arab. Sensei Arons enjoys helping with the children in the Saturday morning family class. Teaching them to focus on learning the Katas and to respect each other is very rewarding to her.