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.

Sam Imoto Continue reading “Sam S. Imoto, Sensei”

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

Memorial Service for Haruo Makimoto

Hello Everyone,

Haruo Makimoto Sensei passed away on February 12, 2020, after a long fight with pancreatic cancer.

A memorial service for Makimoto Sensei will be held as follows:

Friday, March 20, 2020, at 13:00
Sacramento Japanese United Methodist Church
6929 Franklin Blvd
Sacramento CA 95823

Please feel free to distribute this information to interested parties.

Thank you very much.

Jack Hatton

image of Jack HAtton from the USAJudo siteimage of Jack HAtton from the USAJudo site

An item from the USA JUDO COACH of September 28, 2019

We’ve lost someone. I started to say we’ve lost an athlete, because he was, and a very good one at that. But the reality is, we’ve lost a human. A young man in his prime who could have done anything.

At one point or another, Jack Hatton was a student of more great coaches than many athletes. From New York, Texas, Phoenix, Colorado and Massachusetts and beyond, Jack sought out some of America’s best coaches and teams to train with. He dedicated his life to preparing for greatness.

On behalf of all USA Judo Coaches, we extend our deepest condolences to Jack’s family, his friends and all of his coaches, both previous and current.

As Coaches, it is important to tell our athletes that while it is noble to strive for greatness in one thing, it is imperative that they understand that opportunity and options are nearly limitless. And above all things, they are loved.

On Sunday, September 29th, 2019, a wake for Jack Hatton was held at the Keefe Funeral Home – Arlington, MA. A reception followed to share memories at Common Grounds in Arlington.

Celebration of Life/Fundraiser for Jerry Wee

On Thursday, July 11, 2019, Gerald Wee, devoted husband, father, grandfather, son and brother passed away surrounded by his family.

Jerry Wee

Jerry was born in Detroit, Michigan on January 3, 1951. He graduated from Cass Tech High School and went on the Wayne State University.

Jerry started judo at the age of 14 in 1964. He was a member of the Detroit Judo Club and trained under the late John Osako. Jerry quickly became dedicated to the sport. First as a competitor, then a referee, instructor and coach. He was promoted to 7th dan in 2018. Jerry truly loved the sport of judo and this showed. It was not uncommon for him to let players sleep at his home, for him to drive them to events and sometimes even pay for their meals. He was the head instructor of Wee Dojo and developed countless students. He was a lifetime servant to the sport of judo. He was the last one off the mat and the first one to grab a mop. Sometimes he would mop his students in to a section of the mat. They would ask that he stop, but he was determined to mop the mats. We will forever smile when we remember this. He dedicated 54 years to the sport of judo and is considered to be a true “ichiban.”

On April 5, 1975 Jerry married the love of his life, Reta Comer Wee. They met in the sport of judo when Reta was 15 and Jerry was 18. It was a true love story. They spent 44 wonderful years together.

In 2017 Jerry suffered an aortic aneurysm. At the same time, he had to have a double bypass. During the recovery from these events it was discovered that Jerry had a rare form of aggressive stomach cancer and his stomach had to be removed. Following the stomach removal Jerry went through 8 rounds of chemo. He was on tube feeding for over a year. Jerry fought and beat the odds so many times that it was shocking when Jerry died from complications of emergency surgery.

Jerry was forced to take time away from the sport he loved, judo, but every opportunity that he had you could find him on the mats or at a tournament. He loved sharing the sport of judo, sharing his grandchildren and visiting the local restaurants. With every tournament there was a predetermined restaurant he would visit with his family and friends. This became a joke amongst judo friends.

Jerry was the type of man who would visit you at work or at home and bring you special treats and gifts. Jerry was a great man, a caring family man who was committed to his family and the ones he loved. He was a humble man with an infectious smile. He was known for being a great story teller, a joker and a family man. When someone needed something, he was the first one there. If you called in the middle of the night and needed help, he would be there. Any time there was a judo tournament he would take people in, take them to the tournament (in the US or otherwise) and feed them. He’s housed people from multiple countries and never hesitated to help.

He fought many health battles over the past few years that left him unable to work and drained all savings and retirement which went to pay for countless medical bills. This was an unforeseen catastrophic cascading event that could not have been planned for. Jerry spent 45 years in the insurance business, this could not have prepared him for the events that emerged. Most people would not have survived what Jerry went through, but he did this with his warrior spirit and smile. This Celebration of Life/Fundraiser is being put together in an effort to help his widow pay for the massive amount of medical bills that have been accruing as a result of the continual medical treatment he received. Jerry was a practical person that would give you his $5 and leave $0.25 to himself. He thought of others and always wanted to help. He paid it forward and we hope that he will receive the same in return. Wee Judo shirts are still available. Please email if you would like a shirt.

For those of you who have supported us through these difficult times, we THANK YOU. It warms our hearts to hear the wonderful stories and pictures you have to share. We want to remember his legacy, all of the good times that we had, and they will be cherished forever.

Date: 8/10/19
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sons of AmVets Post 93
75185 North Ave.
Armada, MI 48005