The Steve Sasaki Award is presented annually to a long time member of Judo BC who exemplifies the principles of Kodokan Judo. This years recipient is George Okazaki of the Vernon Judo Club.
The only thing that has kept George from being with the Vernon Judo club since its beginning in 1944 is that he’s a couple years younger than the club. Though we don’t keep a record, George has easily been on the mats decades longer than virtually all of our members. In the words of one of our oldest club members, Yosh Ouchi, “George lives judo.”
In the words of Jigoro Kano, “The ideal instructor needs some kind of outside occupation as well.” In this also, George’s dedication and commitment is clear as the longest employee with the Pontiac/GM dealership Capitol Motors, Parkside and Walthers as it changed names and owners over the years. Though small in stature, George’s strength and work ethic was clear in his judo. His gentle nature was backed up with a mechanic’s wrists and hands when it needed to be.
As the club approaches its 75th anniversary in 2019, it’s important to recognize that George will also reach a milestone at that time: he will have matched Mr. Mori’s record for being the longest running head instructor of the longest continuously running Judo Club in Canada (34 years). There are few active Vernon Judo Club members who can remember a time when George Okazaki was not a black belt. Quietly assisting athletes and instructors alike, George has been instrumental in the longevity of the club and known as Sensei to generations of Vernon judoists. George’s dedication to both the sport and martial art is an inspiration to us all.
 The Way of Judo A Portrait of Jigoro Kano & His Students, John Stevens 2013
 George started at Capitol Motors in 1964. Hired by Art Poggeomiller and with the company past its closure as a GM dealership under Larry Walthers. George probably started judo when he was in high school. He’d noticed Mr. Mori putting down, or taking up, mats at the hall. He lent a hand and has been doing judo ever since. (sister, Rose Okazaki).
 Mr. Mori was head instructor 1944-1960, 1967-1985. George has been head instructor 1985-present (2016).
 George was a brown belt when I joined the club in 1976. He’s listed as shodan in a 1980 BC Open program (Aubrey Comley)