Our Sensei’s

Sensei’s (Teachers)

The Japanese term Sensei means teacher or “one who has gone before”.

SWJA is very proud of the quality and caliber of our Sensei’s who provide instruction and coaching at our dojo.

There are numerous black belts who attend and train at SWJA, however our classes and coaching is conducted by a team of extremely qualified and tournament-tested black belts who have, or are, champions with over 200+ years of collective judo specific experience. SWJA Sensei’s teach all levels of students from 5-year old beginners to elite senior national champions. Sensei’s teach technical fundamentals of gripping, throws, pins, chokes, and arm bars, competitive strategies, application and execution of techniques, entries and escapes, IJF (International Judo Federation) and USA Judo tournament rules and regulations, and provide conditioning, strength and nutritional assistance.

All SWJA Sensei’s are black belts, who are members in good standing with the USA Judo (US national governing body for judo and the US representative to the International Olympic Committee), are certified nationally for their rank, and as instructors, coaches and referees, several of whom are also certified in baby/child/adult CPR/AED/First Aid and certified members of USOC (US Olympic Committee) SafeSport (coaching protocol and child engagement guidelines), CDC Heads Up Concussion, and the USADA (US Anti-Doping Association guideline for drugs and supplements).

Above all, they have a true desire to teach judo and contribute to the advancement and growth of judo, by passing on their experience and expertise, while having their top priority for the safety and well-being of all our students.


Rich Moss, Shichidan – 7th degree black belt

Sensei Rich has over 40 years of judo experience having started at the age of 5 under Sensei Willy Cahill at Cahill’s Judo Academy. His accomplishments include: 6x Champion, 7x Silver Medalist at US Jr. Nationals, Bronze medalist at the 1976 Jr. PanAm Games in Mexico City, and 5th at 1983 Jr. World Championships in Puerto Rico. He placed 4th at the 1984 US Sr. Open and Gold at the 1984 USHA Sr. National Championships. He was a member of the 1983-84 San Jose State Judo Team and also served in the US US Air Force where he placed 5th in the 1985 Military World Games, 4th in 1987, and was 4x US Air Force Champion 1984-88. He was the 1987 Sr. National Ladder Champion in Oklahoma and a 1988 Olympic Trails qualifier and spent a year training at the Olympic Training Center where he met Dave Faulkner. Rich leveraged his judo skills to become a MMA professional fighter where he competed for 8 years. He is a member of USA Judo, where he is a certified World Coach and was named Coach to the 2015-16 US Jr. World Team.


Dave Faulkner, Shichidan – 7th degree black belt

Sensei Dave started his judo journey in 1970, at the age of 11, and retired from competition after making the 1993 US World Team. Included in his many titles and awards, Dave was a 3x US Open Judo Champions, 1985, 1987 and 1989, a 2x US Olympic Team Alternate in 1988 and 1992, and an 8x US Sr. National place winner. Dave spent 8 years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs training our US elite judo players. After living in Colorado until 2004, Dave and his family moved to Tempe, Arizona in order to reconnect with family and friends. He is a member of USA Judo, where he is a certified National Coach and USA Judo Coach Clinician for Arizona.


Yahya “John” Houssni, Godan – 5th degree black belt

Sensei John was born in Rabat, Morocoo and started his Judo career at age 7. As a junior competitor, he won Gold and placed at many Jr. National tournaments. He was the 1995 “Coupe de Trone Chompion” and was invited to compete int he 1998 New York Open. He is a certified “IRFCS” with a specialty in Judo, holds both a Moroccan Judo Federation Coaching and Regional Referee Certifications. He was the coach for the “Stade Marocain Judo Club for Juniors (13 years old and younger) and served as assistant coach 1988-1992, and later coach 1992-1996, of the “Stade Marocain Judo for Seniors”, all while maintaining a spot as a member ofthe Moroccan National Team 1992-1996. He placed 3rd at the 2014 US Senior Nationals and is ranked #5 in his division nationally. He is a member of USA Judo, where he is a certified Coach and State Referee.


George Uema, Godan – 5th degree black belt

Judo was an after school activity for a short, skinny kid to learn self-defense against some school bullies…kind of like the original Karate Kid movie story line. It turned out to be an awesome sport that helped develop and nurture the values of respect, discipline, goal-setting, dedication, achievement, tradition, teamwork, self-confidence, and even physical conditioning and strength; values that also apply to a person’s life. Judo was a driving force in my life that helped make me whom I am daily.”

Sensei George started judo over 50 years ago at the Milwaukee (WI) YMCA to learn self-defense and in the summer of 1968, trained at the Kodokan and Nichidai Daigaku in Japan. He won the 120# and 135# WI High School State Championships, and as a high school senior also won the Wisconsin Men’s 139# Championship where he went undefeated for 10 years, 1968-1977. He qualified for 8 US Sr. National and 2 Olympic Trials, 1972, 1976. He taught judo at various high schools, universities, and YMCAs. His biggest win was against Victor the Wrestling Bear, an 8’3”, 770 pound brown bear, trained by professional wrestler Gorgeous George. He threw Victor with osoto gari and pinned with kazure kamishiho gatame for 30 seconds. He is a member of USA Judo where he is a certified Continental Coach, National Referee, and member of the US Judo Federation, SafeSport, USADA (US Anti-Doping Association), is baby/child/adult CPR/AED/First Aid and IOC Heads-Up Concussion certified.  George also serves as the Vice President of the Arizona Yudanshakai (black belt association) and ASJI (Arizona State Judo Inc.)


Babak “Bob” Esmaeili, Yodan – 4th degree black belt

Sensei Bob as he is called by students, was born in Iran and started judo in 1994. His accomplishments include: 8x Iran State and National Champion, 5x Iran University National Champion, and he earned 2 Silver and 1 Bronze Medal in international competition. He was received the Best Technique Award in 1998 and 2002 at the Iran National Championships. He was the coach of the Najafabad University Judo team for more than 10 years and led that team to 3 National University and 8 State University Championships. At the 2014 and 2015 US Sr. Mens National Championships he won the Gold Medal in the Masters Division and is ranked #1 in the nation. Sensei Bob brings his own unique style of judo with strong influence from the European competitive techniques to complement our tournament strategies. He continues to actively randori with our competitor team members demonstrating his effective techniques. He is a member of USA Judo and a certified Coach.


Chandler “Chan” Wade, Nidan – 2nd degree black belt

“ ’ Enjoy the ride’, he remarked, as I was about to step onto the mat, obviously out-matched and out-weighed by almost 20 pounds. I remembered how those words burned… ‘I’ll show him!’ I decided and stepped onto the mat to confront my adversary whom has been a black belt longer than my entire judo career. Needless to say that I did not win, after all, this is real life, not fairy tale. But he did not win either by a throw, pin or submission. ‘I lost’. I received my third and final shido (penalty) on his attempted tomoe-nage (stomach circle throw) which landed me completely out of bounds, but on both feet and facing my opponent after performing a 180 degree spin. I’ve been ‘enjoying the ride’ ever since.”

Sensei Chan, as he refers to himself, first stepped onto a tatami (mat) at the age of 29, at a Boys and Girls Club in Georgia. He participated in numerous tournaments throughout the southern and western US, often entering two or three divisions so he could get more experience. He either won or placed in every tournament he entered until his debut in a Masters division in his later years. He was given the name, “The Gentle One” by his judo colleagues due to his respect for the sport, and his patient demeanor as an instructor. He received the rank of Shodan in 1999, and assumed the role of Sensei at the Tempe Judoki in Tempe, AZ, and later served as Sensei at TJAG Judo, also in Tempe. He uses his gift of patience and a fun style to work with new and young students, practices randori and trains with junior and senior students and competitors, and competes in the Masters division every chance he gets, and he is still placing. He is a member of USA Judo, a certified Coach and certified in CPR/AED/First Aid.