Joe Thambu was born on 24 March, 1961 in Seremban, Malaysia. Thamby Rajah, his uncle, was the first Malaysian to grade black belts in Aikido and Judo. At 11 years old he entered uncles dojo which was next door to Joes home and he was practicing almost every day. Internationally famous martial artists were frequent visitors to his uncle’s school like Kenji Shimizu, Donn F. Draeger, Junichiro Yagi and others.
In 1978 Thambu received a shodan and soon moved to Australia to attend university in Melbourne. He was looking for a suitable dojo, tried Aikikai, Jujutsu but nothing seemed right for him and he opened his own aikido dojo in Australia.
In 1983 Joe Thambu flew to Japan and entered Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo as an uchi-deshi. If you know nothing about Yoshinkan – Gozo Shioda is the one to tell you best. A 10th Dan Sensei and one of the most senior students of Morihei Ueshiba.
Gozo Shioda, Kyoichi Inoue, Takafumi Takeno, Tsutomu Chida, Hitoshi Nakano were the ones to instruct Joe during his first visit to Tokyo. And the Yoshinkan aikido was born in Australia just like that, upon Thambus come back in the same year. Aikido Shudokan was established and is the name of the school.
Joe Thambu came back to Yoshinkan Hombu a lot of times to improve his knowledge and skills. In 1993 he became the last person to be graded by Gozo Shioda. At the age of 32 he became a youngest non-japanese aikidoka to receive a 5th Dan.
In 2001 he was awarded with his 6th Dan in Aikido and was called “Aikido Instructor of the Year” by the Blitz Magazine. In 2005 he was awarded with the Tokubetsu Embu Sho (an award given for the best demonstration), at the 50th All Japan Yoshinkan Aikido Demonstration.
He never stopped and received his 7th Dan and status of Shihan in 2007 by Shioda Yasuhisa, a head of the Yoshinkan family and son of Gozo Shioda.
In 2015 Joe Thambu was granted with the 8th Dan by the Kyoichi Inoue and he is the only non-japanese to have this title.
Joe Thambu Sensei is doing aikido for around 40 years now. He is traveling frequently around the world to spread his knowledge. England, Poland, Malaysia, Indonesia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and it’s not a full list.