The Olympic Sport Of Judo!

#1 Judo Schools & Judo Classes in Minneapolis & St. Paul MN!

North Star Judo!

The North Star Judo program was founded in 1985 by Michelle Holtze (currently a 7th Degree Black Belt) and Tom Crone (currently a 7th Degree Black Belt). Michelle Holtze and Tom Crone are the two highest ranking judo masters in Minnesota!

North Star has had successful judo competitors up through the Pan American and Olympic levels. Many of our students train purely for the tremendous recreational benefits. Both are welcome.

North Star strives to offer students a lifelong opportunity for self challenge and growth. We foster those opportunities in a positive, friendly, and encouraging atmosphere. North Star subscribes to the judo principles: 1. “Maximum efficiency through minimum effort” and 2. “Mutual benefit and welfare” as guidelines for teaching and in helping students meet their objectives for growth and achievement.

Judo is a martial art which evolved from jiu-jitsu in Japan at the end of the 1800′s. Its techniques include throws, hold-downs, and chokes and arm-locks for submission purposes. It has been an Olympic sport since 1964. Judo is a grappling art, great for wrestlers and excellent cross-training for all athletes.

Whether you are looking for self-defense, fitness, focus, or fun, judo is a life sport that offers all of those things.

Getting Started in Judo!

The most challenging aspect of learning a martial art is getting up the courage to walk in the door. The uncertainty of what awaits you inside can be extremely daunting.

At North Star Judo we strive to treat all visitors and beginners with the utmost respect. Judo is a rough and tumble grappling sport, and we realize that it can take weeks, or even months to become fully conditioned for regular Judo practice.
Given such conditioning requirements, our beginner’s program emphasizes endurance building exercises and essential falling skills that will enable you to practice judo without injury. Strict safety rules are followed, and dangerous or disrespectful behavior is not tolerated.

The Main Judo Class!

After changing into our practice uniform, we bow-in together and announce any club news or events. Then we usually spend 15 minutes warming up, which might include falling practice, conditioning exercises, or ground fighting drills.

When we are fully warmed up we begin class by demonstrating one or two techniques for that night. Usually this will consist of one standing technique and one ground fighting technique. Both will be practiced through drills with different partners under supervision. The drills often consist of using the techniques as a counter to another technique, or in combination with another technique. This practice constitutes the bulk of a regular class period.

Near the end of a class we will often practice randori (free grappling) or fast-paced throwing drills using a crash-pad for safety. Beginners will never be required to randori until they are ready.

Finally we end class with cool-down exercises and then bow-out.

After attending class several times a week, for a period of several months, you may be eligible for promotion. Like other Japanese martial arts, Judo uses different colored belts to designate rank. Beginners all start with a white belt. The rank of first degree black belt requires several years of regular practice and participation in other Judo events such as seminars or tournaments.

The Street Judo Class!

Tom Crone offers a Street Judo class on Fridays 5-6pm, at the Saint Paul Warrior’s Cove. This is offered as part of the normal membership package at no extra cost!

The class is for adults only, men and women. Learn to combine the scientific do-or-die fighting techniques of the ancient Samurai warriors of Japan with judo’s refined methods of using an attacker’s force and strength and you can control and finish any confrontation or assault.   The techniques  of throwing, joint locking, choking and striking are taught with maximum concern for student safety.  Crone Sensei is a 7th degree judo black belt and a fifty year practitioner of Japanese Jujutsu. 

Judo Instructor Credentials!

TOM CRONE – 7th Degree Judo Black Belt

Tom Crone began his judo training n 1960 as a freshman at Mankato State College, Mankato, Minnesota. He rose to the rank of shodan (1st degree black belt) in three years, having won successive state championships and placing in the First Collegiate National Championships in Colorado Springs, CO, in 1962.

In 1985, he and Michelle Holtze founded North Star Martial Arts Academy. Since, he has trained at the Kodokan Judo Institute, served five years on the National Junior Olympic Coaching Staff, served Judo Minnesota as its Development Chair for 10 years, one term as President, and in 2002 became its Collegiate Committee Chair. He is a member of its Standards Committee. In 2003 he also became the Midwest Coordinator for the United States Judo Association’s Collegiate Committee, and its Chair in 2004.

Crone sensei became the first home-grown Minnesota judoka to reach the ranks of 6th and 7th degree black belt awarded by a nationally accredited judo organization.
He has been the instructor for the University of Minnesota’s academic credit course since 1995. He is Sensei Emeritus of North Star Judo.

MICHELLE HOLTZE – 7th Degree Judo Black Belt

Michelle Holtze started judo as a teenager in 1969. She began teaching judo while a student at Mankato State. Upon returning to the Minneapolis are, she eventually took over teaching at her instructor’s school, West Bank Judokan. This evolved into her becoming the co-founder of North Star Martial Arts Academy.

Michelle served as the Standards Committee Chair (Promotion Committee) for Judo Minnesota for several years, and held a variety of other JMI positions.

She and her partner, Kathy Buys, were the first kata competitors to step foot onto the mat for the Pan American Judo Competitions, and won a silver in ju no kata that day in 2000. In the new millennium, Michelle has won numerous national and international kata medals, including the one shown in the photo which is a 1st place for nage no kata at the 2003 World Masters Judo Championships, at the Kodokan in Tokyo.

Michelle is the first Home-grown Minnesota woman to be awarded the rank of 6th dan. She also holds coaching certification with all three accredited national judo organizations. In 2005, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the United States Judo Association. She continues to be the owner and Head Instructor of North Star Judo.

MIKE NORTON – 2nd Degree Judo Black Belt

Mike started Judo in 1973 in New York City. His first dojo was in a local school where the mats needed to be set up and taken down for every practice. Mike also frequented other Judo Schools in the area for extra practice with a wider array of judoka. This helped him to hone his skills and place well in local and regional competition. While in New York he also trained at Waseda Judo Club in Baldwin Long Island and Nisei Judo Club in the Bronx.

After leaving New York for Minnesota to accept a position for work Mike found North Star Martial Arts Academy. His judo career continued under the expert training of both Tom Crone and Michelle Holtze. He attained his shodan (1st degree black belt) in 1991. His enjoyment for the sport has taken him as far away as Russia where he and several other United States Judo players spent 14 days training and exchanging ideas and techniques with Russian judoka.

Mike took a brief hiatus to concentrate on raising his two children Frank and Katherine who now also train with him in judo in Burnsville.

Judo has become more than just a fun way to stay in shape and Mike expects to be both teaching and participating in judo for a long time to come.

CHRISTINA O’BRIEN – 3rd Degree Judo Black Belt

Christina O’Brien began Judo in 1987 at age eleven with North Star Martial Arts Academy under the instruction of Tom Crone and Michelle Holtze.  With Tom and Michelle as coach, she placed 1st in the State Championships in 1989 and 1991, received 2nd place in the High School Nationals in 1992 and 1st Place in the Chicago Open in 1990 as well as placing in numerous local tournaments.  She continues to compete as an adult and recently placed 3rd in the 2007 Land O’ Lakes Open, 3rd seniors, and 2nd in masters in the 2008 All Women’s Championships and 1st in masters at the 2011 All Women’s Championships.    Lately Christina has focused on kata competition and has placed at local regional and national events including the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Senior Nationals, and the 2009 Fukuda Invitational.

Christina achieved the rank of 1st degree black belt at age seventeen, making her one of the youngest women in Minnesota to attain this rank.  Prior to teaching Judo at the Burnsville location she had over two years of teaching experience.  She was assistant instructor at a program at Roosevelt High School for one year and also assisted for a time at North Star Martial Arts Academy for Sensei’s Crone and Holtze. 

No Long Term Contracts For Our Judo Program!

You will NOT be required to sign a long term contract! Simply give us 30 days notice whenever you want to take a break or stop your training. Our members stay with us because of the quality training, NOT because they are locked into a contract!

Selecting The Best Judo School For You!

If you are in the process of selecting a school, we encourage you to carefully compare, and find the best school for you. We suggest that you read the “Our Advantages” section to learn about the many important advantages our school & programs provide to you.

Selecting The Best Class For You!

You are welcome to take one FREE class in each program we offer, to see which one is best for you. Details of each program is listed under the “Classes” menu. 

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Get Started Today!!

If you are interested in taking one or more classes at the Warrior’s Cove, you may visit to observe the classes. We have a seating area for visitors. You may also participate in one free class – in each program that we offer.  You will find our instructors and the other members to be friendly, informative, and supportive. Simply fill out the GET YOUR FREE TRIAL form above to get started today!

Please contact us if you have any questions.

"Five Star" Reviews For The Judo Class!

“I loved Michelle’s and Tom’s classes.”

“Classes and instructors were top notch. I loved Michelle’s and Tom’s classes. You are lucky to have instructors like them at your club. Thanks again for offering great classes and a great setting to learn.”
Fedja Kecman – Judo Student

“They all are excellent teachers.”

“I had a very good experience with all of your Judo instructors. They all are excellent teachers. Thank you very much for your great training.”
John Gould – Judo Student