Hideo Hama

last updated 21 May 2017

Hideo Hama

Hideo Hama

Inducted 1993

Tak Mizuta wrote:

The following are anecdotal incidents regarding Sensei Hama.

During the mid and late 1930s, I practiced judo at the Yakima (Wapato, Washington) Dojo. Sensei Hama occasionallly dropped in to our practices. I remember him always being very physically fit. He was strong but also very supple and relaxed. He use to walk around the mat upside down on his hands and not lose his balance. He was always friendly and not arrogant. He came to our dojo from Seattle.

In a friendly team competition (during the 1930s} between a navy judo team from the Japanese navy and a judo team made up of the best judo players from the northwest clubs, I heard that Sensei Hama was the only northwest competitor who won.

Hideo Hama appreciation

Among the papers Jerry Hays unearthed was an extract from a book with brief biographies of judoka.

On the 29th of September, 1900, Hideo Hama was born in Okayama City, Japan. His Judo career began in 1921 in his hometown at the Butoku Kai through which he received his first degree black belt. In 1923, Hama immigrated to the United States and took up residence in Seattle, Washington. He joined the Kodokan in 1929 and received the Kodokan rank of Sho Dan. In the early 1930's he took his examination for San Dan. It was at this time that he was serving as assistant instructor to Mr. Kurozawa Third Dan, who was teaching at the Tentokukan Dojo in Seattle, Washington. After the death of Kurozawa, Hama took charge of the dojo and also instruction at the Kent Dojo and the Belleview Dojo in Washington.

Washington had two very strong dojos and both were located in Seattle. Competition between the Seattle Dojo and the Tentokukan Dojo was very sharp. Both schools called instructors from Japan and Professor Chuji Sakata, Sixth Dan, came to the Tentokukan to take over the technical instruction and the teaching of Judo kata. Under the guidance of the dojo's new sensei. Hama felt that he was able to make great technical progress.

Before the outbreak of World War II, Hama was recommended for promotion to the rank of Fourth Dan. At this time many Japanese were relocating throughout the country, with Hama going to Alaska. When the war started he was sent to Fort Richardson as an alien Japanese. While at the fort he taught Judo to high ranking Uniled States Army officers.

The archive produced a number of articles in which Hideo Hama was mentioned. (Thanks to Jerry Hays for searching.)

In the early 1930's, Mr. Kurokawa, Third Dan, taught at the Tentokukan Dojo in Seattle, Washington. Mr. Hideo Hama, who had just been promoted to Third Dan and Mr. I. Sakano assisted him. After the death of Mr. Kurokawa, Mr. Hama and Mr. Sakano took charge of the dojo and also of the instruction at the Kent Dojo and the Bellview Dojo in Washington. During this time, both the Tentokukan and the Seattle Dojo's were hiring teachers from Japan. Once a week the instructors would travel to neighboring dojos to help out. Otherwise, instruction was given by the “old timers” and advanced Nisei students.


From 1935 to 1938, Chuji Sakata, Tentoku Kan's Japanese head instructor, visited Bellevue Dojo about once a week. By this time, with automobiles, motor buses, and a regular ferry service, Bellevue was only fortyfive minutes from Seattle, so the trip was not the major expedition it had been even fifteen years earlier. When Sakata left Seattle, first for California and then Japan, Hideo Hama and other Tentoku Kan black belts made the trip instead.


In 1947 the Chicago Judo Yudanshakai, with approximately fifty members, was formed, with the blessing of Kodokan. The first officers were as follows:

President   John Osako (Sandan)
1st Vice-President  Masato Tamura (Godan)
2nd Vice-President  Henry Okamura (Sandan)
Treasurer  Hikaru Nagao (Sandan)
Secretary  Kenji Okamoto (Nidan)
Board of Directors  Hideo Hama(Godan), Shitsuke Maeda (Yodan)


By 1948 four dojos were established:

the Lawson YMCA with H. Hama, H. Okamura, K. Okamoto
the Jiu Jitsu Institute with M. Tamura, Vince Tamura
Chicago Judo Club with John M. Osako
Oak Park YMCA with S. Maeda, Y. Kakazu , Matsuoka

The first children's tournament was held at the Lawson YMCA in 1953. There were five children in this first tournament, which was actually sort of a demonstration.


group photo of distinguished Chicago judoka c. 1950

The Minutes of the Promotion Committee on November 30, 1966

After considerable deliberation, the candidates were recommended for promotion by the Promotion Sub-Committee including … 7th DAN   Hama, Chicago

The full committee passed the promotions unanimously proposed by Koiwai of Shufu and seconded by Fujimoto of Konan.


usjf junior national program 1972

Profs Maeda and Hama with Masato Tamura