Mike Johnson, sempai

To all our Budoka:

as most or possibly all of you have heard by now, Mike Johnson was killed in the line of duty as a San Jose Police Officer, Tuesday evening, March 24th. He was known to all of you a Johnson sempai, or just Sempai. Though he has been on sabbatical leave, he had the opportunity to teach many of you still training today, from the children’s class, to the Teenager’s class, through the adults’ class.

Mike started with PJJA at the age of 17. He was a tall, thin and wobbly teenager. He had started with two other high school friends. A few years later he left stronger and more confident, but returned after 4-5 years, having graduated from the SJPD as a Police Officer. He trained with dedication and an attendance record (and punctuality) that is likely to be THE best to date. In 2008, after many years of training and after passing a typically gruesome black belt exam spanning over more than a week, he earned his Shodan (First Degree rank) Black Belt. That day he became a Sempai, and he went on to teach various weekly classes as well as joining the Black Belt class.

Johnson sempai, Mike, will be remembered by all of us in our own special way. For me, I know all too well the passion he had for teaching, Bokkendo and restraining techniques, which he loved learning as he knew would be invaluable during law enforcement arrests. But, on our annual Black Belt retreats, when the Instructor Team headed to a cabin in the mountains for a 2-3 day weekend, he brought two special qualities: his unusually long arms at our traditional UNO game that we played from after a nice dinner until 3:00 am, and an absolutely delicious cheesecake that he learned to make from his grandmother (and he kept that recipe a secret as if it were CIA Intelligence Data). He protected our community and he gave his time to teach kids and adults what he loved.

Sempai will be missed, he was one of few to reach his level among us. I wish to extend on behalf of us all at PJJA the deepest condolences to his family; may he rest in peace and enjoy practicing in Judo Heaven along with all those who went before us, who also loved and taught THE arts.

Angelo Caruana

MJ& Sensei after his Blk Blt ceremony

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