Albert M. Aoki

Albert M. Aoki, 89 years old, of Honolulu, Hawaii, passed away on April 21, 2021. Born in Hilo, Hawaii, to Tamotsu and Mitsuko Aoki. Albert AokiA Korean War veteran, Albert graduated from Iowa State University. Upon his return, he worked alongside his father Tamotsu and uncle Moto Aoki at American Savings Loan in Hilo. He ventured in Real-estate, and was a developer of Commercial & Agricultural properties and then became an International Business Consultant in Land development.

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Harold E Sharp

On Sunday, March 21, 2021, we lost Harold E. Sharp, Hal to his friends and Sharp Sensei to the many judokas lives he touched over his 70+ years of involvement in Judo.

Gary Goltz and Hal Sharp

Sharp Sensei was approaching his 94th birthday. He passed away peacefully at home and is survived by his wife Joan Joanie, son Richard, and daughters Kary, Denise, and Lisa. Last November, the Nanka Judo Yudanshakai (the SoCal Judo Association) recognized by Jigoro Kano in 1930, bestowed judo’s highest rank of 10th Degree Black Belt, on Sharp Sensei.

USJF recognised Hal Sharp as a member of the United States Judo Hall of Fame in 2016. To read more about Sharp Sensei, see his entry on the USJF website and Gary Goltz’s article in Black Belt Magazine.

See an interview by Masters Magazine on Mr Sharp’s history in judo.

James Colgan

Russ Scherer wrote:

I am extremely saddened to have to relay notification of the passing of Jim Colgan – a Judo Great. Jim was well known throughout the U.S. and indeed most of the world. He had major accomplishments as a competitor, coach, manager, referee and administrator. But most of all, he was a great guy. To many heavyweights of his time, he was known as the person who kept them off of the awards stand. As a member and coach of the Uptown Dojo in Chicago, Jim passed his knowledge onto such outstanding Judoka as Irwin and Steve Cohen, Bobby Berland and many others. He also was the manager for many U.S. Judo Teams around the world, including the Olympics and World Championships. Jim also provided service and leadership in refereeing as an on-mat referee (up to IJF-B), jury member for many years and mentor for many other referees. For his overall accomplishments, he was awarded an honorary IJF-A in 2011. He served in many capacities at the national level, including Chairman of the Promotion Board.

He will be greatly missed, but his memory will continue to provide guidance through the many examples he gave us.

Sam S. Imoto, Sensei

It is with great regret to inform you of the passing of our head instructor Sam S. Imoto Sensei, who established the Visalia Judo Club in 1965.

It is with great sadness to announce the passing of Sam S. Imoto Sensei on April 29, 2020 after a lengthy illness. Imoto Sensei was born in June of 1927 in Lindsay, California to Yaohachi and Sami Imoto. He would have been 93 this coming June. He dedicated his life in giving back what he had learned in Judo and passed his knowledge to those who studied under him. Many of his former students were fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of his lifelong journey as a judoist.

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Regarding Sensei Kinya Sakamoto

On April 10, 2020, Kinya Sakamoto, Sensei, 8th dan, passed away at the age of 96. Sensei retired as a successful landscaper. He is survived by two sons, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Kinya Sakamoto

Sensei Sakamoto started judo at the age of 13 at the Bakersfield Buddhist Church. Under the guidance of Senseis Abe and Tamanaha, he was promoted to the rank of Shodan at the age of 17. Along with Dr. Jerry Young, Sensei Sakamoto helped start the Bakersfield Judo Club in 1958 and joining the Chuka Yudanshakai the same year. He held the position of Chairman of the Board of Examiners in the yudanshakai organization for many years. He remained active with the Bakersfield Judo Club as Head Instructor and advisor for over 60 years, still attending practice as recently as last month.

Sensei Sakamoto left a lasting impression on all his students, not only for his judo knowledge but for his calm demeanor and clear instructions. He had a profound influence to promote the art of judo. Our organization has lost another of our founding members but mostly we will miss the leadership he provided us. One of his proudest achievements was the passing of his knowledge to his family, his two sons and four nephews all achieved the rank of black belt.

Kodokan Instructor, Sensei Murata 8th Dan, Dies

It is with great sadness that I make this announcement. On April 9, 2020 Kodokan master instructor, Sensei Murata, 8th Dan, passed away from complications with his heart. He was living in Japan.

Many of us in the United States were fortunate to receive his very knowledgeable instruction. From July 24-28, 2017 Sensei Murata together with Sensei Utsugi 8th Dan were our Kodokan clinicians at the USJF National Kata Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri.

The USJF Kata Development Committee was able to invite these master instructors from the Kodokan. We spent 5 amazing days with Sensei Murata and Sensei Utsugi. Conference participants expressed their appreciation for their teaching style and kind and cordial manner.

Certainly it is heart breaking news to learn of Sensei Murata’s passing. He is a great loss. He left us with the gift of his teaching. Through our own practice we will continue his legacy.

If anyone would like to send a card of sympathy to his family please address it to to Sensei Murata’s Family at the Kodokan International Office, 1-16-30 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0003, Japan.

Eiko Shepherd
USJF Kata Committee Chair

Sensei Murata is seated in the front row, center, to the right of Sensei Eiko Shepherd and Sensei Utsugi.

Haruo Makimoto’s Memorial Service

Due to the recent events and with the safety of all our family and friends in mind, we will be postponing Haruo Makimoto’s Memorial Service on March 20. We do not have a new date at this time. We will inform you once we establish the new date for Haruo’s Services.

We sincerely appreciate your love and support.
Joyce Makimoto