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.
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.
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.
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.
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.