Sensei Thomas Gianakon
All journeys begin with a single step, Tom Gianakon’s ongoing journey to become a martial artist would start at the age of 30 while he was completing work on a Phd in plasma physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He started training with UW-Madison’s Japanese Karate Association (JKA), which through weekend training sessions in Chicago brought him into contact with the regional head of JKA, Sugiyama Sensei. Sugiyama Sensei instilled a philosophy into him that a good martial artist can learn something from all questions and all people regardless of the rank. As training in the martial arts improved his self-confidence, a post-doctoral appointment at Cadarache in southern France would lead to a year of training with Sensei Laurent Saidan. The return to the U.S.A. would lead to further post-doctoral work at Madison and eventually a promotion to Shodan with the JKA before Sugiyama and Nishiyama Sensei’s. Somewhere on this journey, the notion had taken hold that the essence of karate was to train. So when he moved to Santa Fe in 1999 and started training with Renshi Steve Flores, the notion of starting once again as a white belt was not bothersome. Tom Gianakon was promoted to 3rd dan during July 2003 and now humbly carries the title of Sensei at the Karate Academy. Gianakon tested and was promoted to his 4th degree black belt in the summer of 2007.