Dan Augustine, Head Instructor
Dan began judo under his Dad at 8 years of age in 1970. He won his first national championship at 12 years of age (and didn’t win his next until he was 19.) In 1984, at 21, Dan won the Sr. National Judo Championships at 71 kilos: he was the best competitor in the country at that weight division.
In 1984 Dan also graduated with a teaching credential from San Francisco State University and moved to New York where he taught at PS 72 in East Harlem. He continued practicing judo at the prestigious NY Athletic Club on Central Park South. Then the following year he took his judo international, first by living at the Olympic Training Center in Mexico City, where he learned to speak Spanish, and then by moving to Tokyo, Japan. In Japan Dan trained at the world headquarters of Judo, the Kodokan, along with the “Keisujo,” the Tokyo Police Academy and at other universities around Tokyo.
In 1988, after 2 years in Japan, he spoke Japanese fluently and flew home to compete for a spot on the Seoul Olympic Team. He got second in the trials, losing to Mike Swain who had won the world Championships the year before. (Swain went on to win the bronze medal in Seoul.)
Dan finished his competitive career at the US Open International Judo tournament later in 1988 where he won a silver medal. He did come out of retirement briefly at 32 (after the birth of his second child, Wesley) and placed second at the Senior Nationals at 78 kilos. He also competed in the National Master’s competition in 1993 and 1994, winning each time.
Dan has a Master’s Degree in Education and has taught in New York, Tokyo, San Francisco and in Berkeley at Columbus Elementary School. With his teaching experience he added the pre-judo and beginning judo classes to the Albany Judo Club’s offerings in 2010. He has also started judo programs at Berkeley High School, the Bay Area Kinderstube – German language pre-school, the Ecole Bilingue, “The French School” of Berkeley and Tehiyah, Jewish day school in El Cerrito.
Dan is currently a sixth degree black belt and is the head instructor at the Hanabi Judo Club.
Spencer and Wesley Augustine: The Third Generation
Dan’s first son Spencer, and his second, Wesley are also proficient judo players and wonderful instructors.
Spencer began judo at 8, placed in the California State Championships at 9 and won the Jr. Nationals at 10. His win made the Augustines the first family in American judo history to have had three generations of national champions.
Spencer went on to win the state championships many times and place several more times in the Jr. Nationals. In 2009, at 16, he did not just place second in the Jr. Nationals, he also received “Batsugun” or instant promotion to Black Belt for his outstanding performance. Out of 650 competitors only two others received this recognition (one of whom was his 15 year old teammate Flora Ziprin). An excellent student, Spencer graduated from Berkeley High with a GPA near 4.0 and is currently a student at Boston College where he continues to practice judo and compete. Spencer was named the Outstanding Male Competitor in the collegiate division of the 2011 Scholastic Nationals. In 2012 he again won the national collegiate title in addition to placing third in the International Judo Federation Jr. division for athletes under 20 years.
Wesley, Dan’s second son, started judo at 7. After taking a break to pursue other interests, Wesley returned to judo in 2010 and has become a strong competitor, placing third in the 2012 High School Nationals in Honolulu, Hawaii. Wesley is the Caption of the Berkeley High School Judo Team. In addition, he is one of Hanabi’s most popular children’s instructors.