As per the Chinese Zodiac, 1964 is the Year of the Dragon. Looking at the traits of those born under the dragon sign, we find that they are intelligent, confident, charismatic, powerful, and naturally lucky and gifted. It’s said that everything they do is done with the highest of standards and to the best of their ability. It’s the year Taimak was born; I ask you, coincidence or fate? Although his parents were New Yorkers, he was born in Los Angeles. Taimak, himself a true New Yorker, has also lived in London and Italy. While he’s lost much of the language over time, the man with “The Glow,” who defeated the Shogun of Harlem, Sho’nuff, still understands some Italian.
His name, pronounced ‘Tie-Mock,’ was given to him by his father. Years before, his father met a young boy with a similar name and became friends with the boy and his parents. He was so impressed by the boy’s character that he named his son after him, although misspelled- hence, Taimak. Call it what you will, whether it be serendipity, happenstance or destiny, but the boy, Teimoc Johnston-Ono would become a lifelong Judo practitioner and World Champion many times over. Before leaving New York for Europe, Taimak began his martial arts career at 6. His teacher, Gerald Orange, trained the young karateka in Nisei Goju. While the time he spent training was only a few short months, it was practically the yellow brick road that would become the cement of his life’s work. His time living on both continents gave him a great comparative outlook on life, and as he got older, he welcomed the insight. It impacted his many life decisions as a man and a man of color. For the next few years, while on the other side of the pond, he trained in Judo, but it was more of a pastime than not. However, like most Europeans, he engrossed himself in their apple pie, soccer. About the sport, he says, “It got me athletic, fast, and good with kicking,”
Leaving Europe, the family headed back to the States. By 13, he was lean and strong from his time on the ‘football’ field. Looking to start his martial instruction again, he trained in the Japanese art of Aikido under Rauif King and then with Richard Chun in Taekwondo. Taimak found another love within the arts; competing. His soccer paid off in many ways, his legs were strong, and all the running he did back and forth across the field gave him unlimited wind while fighting. The fighting aspect of taekwondo was an excellent experience for him. It was his road to point fighting. Unfortunately, he was a heavy-handed fighter who was often disqualified for excessive contact. Once Taimak stopped going full contact up top, he started winning fights more often. Also, noticing that his timing and speed improved drastically, upon changing his training for points rather than full beast mode. His desire to learn more of the arts and become the best he could be led him to Ron Van Clief, the original Black Dragon. The talented student absorbed everything thrown his way. This included the full contact fighting that his teacher preferred to the tip-tap strikes of point fighting. With a quiet thanks to taekwondo, he barreled forward and challenged himself by entering the more aggressive ring, where you’re awarded points for actually hitting the opponent, or forcing them to quit. These martial contests would lead him toward kickboxing, where he faired extremely well.