I started judo under Sensei Park, Sung Jae at Ball State University in September 1971. I took Judo as a PE class and Judo 2 the following term. While at the university I trained for over two years (1971-73). I was on the Ball State University Judo Team as the 154 lb competitor. At the end of this time I had achieved the rank of sankyu (brown belt) recognized by the U. S. Judo Federation. I was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1973.
I next moved to the Fort Hood Judo Club. There I was the assistant instructor and continued my training with the other judo players in the club. I was competing heavily and through special services was placed on the U.S. Army Judo Team. As part of the Army Team I was selected to attend Camp Olympus Judo Training Camp in Virginia. From this camp Olympic hopefuls were picked. The coaching staff at the camp was the national Japanese Olympic Coaching staff and Olympic Gold Medalist Anton Geesink. We did train and compete for seven days ending in a tournament to help select Olympic hopefuls. I placed fourth in my division.
Returning to Ft. Hood to complete my military term, I worked for Special Services in the evening teaching self defense class to military officers and their dependents who were to be assigned overseas. (I used this as a ruse to encourage potential students to join the Ft. Hood Judo Club.) At one point we had over 80 members.
After the military, I returned to Ball State University (1975-77) and continued my training with Dr. Park at the Ball State Judo Club. Just after graduation I was promoted to Iikyu Brown Belt (the highest level before black belt). I moved to Chicago to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois. In Chicago I trained at the Oak Park Judo Club for two years. This was a small club (5-8 people). So, to improve my skills I traveled to other judo clubs in the Chicago area on a regular basis. My wife and I worked out at Uptown Dojo and several Korean and American clubs in the area.
When I moved to Oregon in 1978 I asked my Sensei (Dr. Park) where I could train. He referred me to another alumnus from the Korean Yudo (Judo) College, Master Hwang, Kyu Chin. I trained with Sensei Hwang from 1978-2003. During that time I competed locally and regionally, winning the Oregon State Championships several times. At 35 years old I retired from competition. I was promoted from shodan (first degree black belt) to sandan (third degree black belt) while training at Master Hwang’s.
In 2004 I began training with the judo club at Best Martial Arts Institute in Eugene, Oregon. I had no teaching responsibilities and I enjoyed the opportunity to train with my son and the other members of the club. After having played judo for over 30 years, it was wonderful to still be able to participate in the sport.
What I find most important in judo is that the beginning students learn the teachings and principles of judo as set forth by its founder, Dr. Jigoro Kano. On or off the mat, in this respect, Sensei Alan Best is a living example of these guidelines. Over time Sensei Best asked me to share my knowledge of judo with the others in the club. Eventually, I was asked to lead some classes, and I became the chief instructor of the Best Martial Arts Institute Judo Program in 2008. I received my Yondan (4th degree black belt) in 2012 from the United States Judo Association. I am also a Certified Rank Examiner for the USJA.
At this point in my judo career I am here to train and teach. I still enjoy playing judo very much. While I am not what I once was, I do occasionally surprise myself. After my competition days ended, my judo goal became to encourage other beginners to give judo a try and see if judo is in their soul, as it is in mine.
Sensei Billy Dover began his judo training in Okinawa in 1976. He studied there for six years before moving to Tokyo, Japan and receiving three years of training there. Sensei Dover brings a world of judo knowledge to BMAI, having lived and trained in Judo in Okinawa, Japan, South Korea, The Philippines, Hawaii, Alaska, Virginia, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma before finally settling down in Oregon and joining Best Martial Arts Institute in 2007.
He was selected as the Heavyweight representative of the U.S. Air Force Judo Team in 1987 and placed 3rd in the 1987 All U.S. Military Judo Tournament. Sensei Dover received his Sandan (3rd degree black) at the Kodokan Institute, the world headquarters of judo, in Tokyo and is also certified through the United States Judo Association.
Sensei Dover regularly travels to tournaments throughout the Northwest to coach the BMAI students who enjoy the competitive aspect of judo. His vast knowledge of judo techniques and strategy make him an invaluable coach for our competitors, and his traditional background in judo culture and philosophy helps connect the students to the roots of this ancient art.
Alan Best is the founder and chief instructor of Best Martial Arts Institute in Eugene, Oregon.
Sensei Best began his training in 1974 in Missoula, Montana under Larry Foust, a student of Grand Master Ken (Kyung Ho) Min. In 1978, Best became a student of Kancho Shigeki Umemoto, the founder of Toushi Kan Karate, who is also a taekwondo, judo and hapkido master under Grand Master Jae Ho Park.
In 1980, Best earned his black belt in both karate and taekwondo. From 1980-1991 he competed in eight U.S. National Taekwondo Championships, placing in the top 8 four of those years. In 1986, he won the heavyweight division at the Asia-Pacific Full Contact Kyokushin Karate Championships.
In 1982, at 18, Best was accepted as an uchideshi (apprentice) under Master Umemoto. He spent the next six years completely immersed in training and teaching martial arts. During this time he trained in karate, taekwondo, judo, hapkido, and kendo. He lived off a small stipend and spent 12-14 hours a day at the dojo.
In 1988, Sensei Best made the decision to take the challenge of opening his own school. He dropped a finger on a map and landed in Eugene, Oregon, where he has been teaching and practicing the martial arts ever since.
Sensei Best has been the martial arts coordinator for the Oregon Asian Celebration since 2003 and Regional Coordinator for Washington and Oregon for the United States Judo Association since 2010. He founded the Pacific Martial Arts Conference in 2007.
Sensei Best holds the following black belt ranks: Karate – 6th dan, Taekwondo – 6th dan, Hapkido – 4th dan, Judo – 3rd dan, Aikido – 1st dan