About West LA Kendo Dojo


Since the 1930s, the Japanese Cultural Institute of Sawtelle taught kendo until the cultural animosity of World War II forced Japanese-Americans to shut down all practice of the art.

After nearly a decade of inactivity, the West Los Angeles Kendo Dojo was officially founded on October 19th, 1952 . At its birth the dojo had only four kenshi, but membership grew rapidly. The first tournament was held only seven months later, and West LA Dojo became a prominent host for tournaments until the mid 70s.

Torataro Nakabara 8 dan Hanshi was leading person of WLA kendo dojo and remembered as one of the most prominet figure in helping Kendo thrive in America.

Nakabara Sensei was the president of both the Southern California Kendo Federation (SCKF) as well as the USKF. In 1985 he even received an honorable decoration from Emperor Hirohito of Japan for his devotion to the kendo community.

Nakabara Sensei passed away in March 2008. Many distinguished guest instructors have been received at the dojo over the years, including Nakamura Sensei, Ota Sensei, Ishida Sensei, Ishizuka Sensei, Haga Sensei, and Miyazaki Sensei. Currently, Koichi Suyama 7dan Kyoshi is the Master Sensei of the dojo, and the day-to-day duties of dojo classes are handled by Head Instructor, Akira Banchi sensei.

Our Sensei

  • Koichi Suyama


    7th Dan - Kyoshi
  • Atsushi Kajioka

    梶岡 敦

    6th Dan - Renshi
  • Kenjun Kasahara


    6th Dan - Renshi
  • Naohisa Nakada


    6th Dan
  • Akira Banchi

    番地 章

    6th Dan
    Head Instructor (主任教師)
  • Masanao Fukuno


    6th Dan
  • Hayato Mitsuishi


    5th Dan
  • Goichiro Takayama


    5th Dan
  • Heejoo Lee

    李 希柱

    5th Dan
  • Victor Shin

    申 明學

    5th Dan
  • Sigeko Nakamura


    4th Dan