Juan Montenegro began his judo training as a child in Lima, Peru. The legendary judo competitor and sensei from Tenri University, Takenori Ito moved to Lima and became the National Coach for Peru when Juan was 14. His instructor at the time, told Juan to go train with Ito Sensei.
Juan became his best junior student. At the age of 17, Juan was awarded his black belt by the Peru Judo Federation, even though the minimum age requirement that existed then was 18. He became a member of the National Team in Peru, shortly thereafter.
Takenori Ito opened his own dojo after his job as National Coach ended, and Juan continued to train under the guidance of Ito Sensei while remaining a member of the National Team.
‘Juan was always the hardest training person at the dojo. If Sensei said ‘do 100 sit-ups,’ Juan did 200.’ according to Fernando Gazzani, currently coaching at Valley Judo Institute. Juan’s dedication to his training, along with his tutelage under Ito Sensei, helped him become a 4x National Champion in Peru, along with representing them in many International tournaments.
When Ito Sensei passed away, Juan was appointed as the interim head instructor. He fulfilled his responsibilities to the dojo, while at the same time training for International competition. He came to the United States in 1986 for a training camp in Colorado Springs, and visited Orange County during his stay. He fell in love with the area, and has lived here since then, teaching judo the entire time. He still competes in National Masters tournaments, when it does not interfere with his responsibility to his students.
Montenegro Sensei has been a judo sensei for more than 20 years in Orange County. He has taught judo to thousands of kids and adults during that time.
His passion for judo, his brilliant technique, and most importantly, his devotion to his students is acknowledged by many of the top coaches and competitors in the country. He has openly shared his knowledge of judo with others, donating his time to teaching at clinics and camps throughout the area; and visited the dojos of other martial arts instructors, who wanted to learn judo techniques.
Though he is a 6th degree black belt, Montenegro Sensei has not lost the hunger for knowledge and improvement that served him so well as a young student. He regularly attends clinics and camps, always trying to learn any new ideas and approaches that might benefit his students. He is always by the side of his students when they attend camps, so that he sees what they are learning, and can help them work on it back home at the club.
Montenegro Sensei believes there is always room for improvement in his own judo, as well as his students. He believes that without the discipline, respect, and self-confidence that he learned in the dojo of Ito Sensei, he could not have become the judoka that he is today. The words ‘modern training, traditional values’ reflect his teaching philosophy.
We are proud to have Sensei Montenegro as our head instructor. Sensei Montenegro has been recognized as a world-class competitor and teacher for many years as indicated by the numerous awards and glowing endorsements and testimonials attached to him.