Remembering Sensei Tsuyoshi Miyazaki (1931-2016)

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By Rachel Friedrich and Tad Nalls

Sensei Tsuyoshi Miyazaki passed away in the evening of Friday the July 29, 2016. He was 85 years old and died of heart failure at Howard University hospital with Janet, his beloved wife of 57 years, nearby.


photo from Shufu website

As a Kodokan 8th dan, Mr. Miyazaki was a leading member of DC area’s Shufu Judo Yudanshakai. He taught at the Washington Judo Club-Georgetown University after moving to the District of Columbia about seventeen years ago.

Tsuyoshi Miyazaki was born in Japan in 1931. Judo first became an important part of his life as an elementary school student when he began studying at both the Kodokan and the Keio Judo Club. He became an exceptionally strong player and as a university student became the captain of Keio University Judo team as well as a nationally known competitor. His favorite technique was Osotogari, for which he is still well-remembered.

In 1957, two years after graduating from Japan’s Keio University with a major in Law and a 5th dan black belt, Sensei Miyazaki came to the United States. His mission was arranged with the help of the Kodokan for the purpose of teaching judo and practicing with various American judo clubs. Although his original plan was to stay here for 2 years, he met a beautiful American girl, fell in love, married her and had a family, making the choice to live the following nearly sixty years of his life in the United States.

After his two years in America through the Kodokan program, Mr. Miyazaki became a businessman, using his connections and ability to function in both America and Japan to build his career and support his family. As he did so, he also continued his original mission, contributing to American judo through teaching, practice and competition in such places as Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, and finally in Washington, D.C.

From the beginning of his teaching experience, in both Japan and the United States, he was unusual for the importance he attached to teaching and encouraging women in judo and he developed a particular expertise in teaching women’s kata. Another feature of his judo passion was bringing young people into judo. After moving to New Jersey, he regularly made the 100-mile drive from his home to Purchase, New York, the location of the United States campus of his alma mater, Keio High School. Judo helped the students there stay connected with Japanese sports and traditions while they were immersed in American culture, and some among his students truly excelled. One, after returning to Japan, went on to become the captain of the Keio University Judo Team.

After his retirement, Mr. Miyazaki and his wife Janet moved from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., to be near their son. Once here, Mr. Miyazaki joined the Washington Judo Club-Georgetown University, enjoying the mix of students and professionals of all ages who shared his love of judo. He was known for great one-on-one teaching techniques and for strongly encouraging Japanese living in Washington to join the club, which helped expand the Washington Judo Club-Georgetown University programs of exchange with Japanese university judo organizations.

In 2013 Sensei Miyazaki’s lifetime of work in judo was recognized when he received Japanese Foreign Minister’s special award for “promoting judo in the United States.” He is survived by his beloved wife Janet and son Michael.

We will miss his passion for judo and his ever-powerful Osotogari.

Category: obituaries

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