Prof. Tom Westfall
Shihan, 8th Dan
Professor Westfall has been involved in the martial arts for over 50 years and is currently ranked Hachidan, 8th degree black belt and was awarded his Professorship from Prof. Janovich in 2012.
In the winter of 1984 while at a martial arts demonstration, he saw someone whom he describes as the "first true martial arts master" he had ever seen. This master was Prof. Sig Kufferath of Santa Clara, CA. After the demonstration, he asked Prof. Kufferath about becoming a student. The Professor directed him to the Kodenkan Jujitsu School of Santa Clara, which was Prof. Kufferath's main dojo, run by his senior instructor, Prof. Tony Janovich.
Prof. Westfall became a Danzan Ryu Jujutsu student under the professors attending any and every workout he possibly could. Prof. Westfall regularly worked out 7 days a week attending classes at the Kodenkan, assisting in instructing classes at the Santa Clara Community Center, and assisting Prof. Kufferath in classes at other dojo's where he taught. Prof. Westfall spent many hours not only learning the techniques of Danzan Ryu, but also the "little things" that make this style so effective. Prof. Westfall also studied the healing arts under the professors and is certified in Seifukujutsu and Kodenkan Restoration Therapy.
For many years, Sensei Westfall was one of Prof. Kufferath's main demonstration partners, a privilege reserved for few. He spent many countless hours going over the ‘Okugi’ (inner mysteries) of Danzan Ryu with Profs. Kufferath and Janovich; and by Prof. Kufferath's own account, Sensei Westfall is one of only a few students that he ever conferred copies of his personal notes.
In 1993 he attended the ‘Kodenkan Jujitsu Okugi’ special black belt class held by Professor’s Kufferath and Janovich and was awarded a KaiDenSho with the title of ‘Renshi’. He attended the 2nd 'Okugi' in 2003 and advanced his title to ‘Shihan.’ This formal teaching license signifies that he has received all of the Danzan Ryu and designates him as an advanced master instructor. Professor Westfall was honored to serve as an Assistant Instructor for the 2013 and 2023 'Okugi' courses.
In addition to jujutsu, Prof. Westfall holds black belts in multiple martial art systems as well as having studied Aikido and Judo.
Sensei Ben LaBelle, Chief Instructor
Shihan, 5th Dan
Ben started his martial arts career under Nikko Dojo with Sensei Tom Westfall in April of 2004, where he continues today with the rank of Godan (5th degree black belt). In 2005, Ben traveled to California and was certified in Seifukujutsu and Restoration Therapy by Prof. Janovich at the Kodenkan Jujitsu School in Santa Clara.
Ben attended and graduated from the 2013 & 2023 Kodenkan Jujitsu Okugi course held by Professor Janovich. He was awarded a Kaidensho (full transmission and mastery certificate) and the title of Shihan (Master Teacher).
In 2008 Ben started studying Goju Ryu Karate under Sensei Zach Zinn, where I earned the rank of Shodan (1st degree black belt) and continues to intermittently train. In 2010 He studied Judo in Tumwater for about two years. He has always been active in the martial arts community having been to several seminars with Rory Miller and Kris Wilder working through violence drills and self-defense legal points, attending several other martial arts seminars, and learning many things from many different systems (Krav Maga, Silat, Escrima, Wing Chung, etc.). He likes to live by a phrase Sensei Rob Gebhart told him once “good in doesn’t mean good out”.
Ben has been running the Nikko Dojo kids and adult classes at the Briggs YMCA since 2009 where he continues teaching to this day. He founded Ju Te Dojo in 2012 in his home to do some additional training and train anyone looking for extra mat time. Ju Te Dojo is a member dojo of KDRJA and the Nikko Jujutsu Kai and where he trains adults to this day.
Ben has spent several years studying, improving his skills, and incorporating his skills into everyday life. He believes that to progress and improve you need to be humble and seek knowledge as much as possible, always self-evaluating, and most importantly show up. He believes that learning martial arts will improve you not only physically but also it will make you a better and more confident person. “Seek not what you believe, as it is not always the truth but seek the truth even if it be an uncomfortable one”.