Dr. Kuniko Takeuchi was born in Tokyo, Japan. She grew up in the small town of, Chiba Ken, Japan. When she was the age of 14, her desire was to practice kendo. Fortunately for us, her town (Sakura) did not have a kendo dojo, but they did have judo. She began to attend judo classes and really liked it. She always liked more physical activities, being the 2nd highest student in her class while growing up and judo expanded her ability to move athletically.
Why is Sensei so passionate about judo? In the beginning as a little girl, she had very good and strong instructors. They had developed excellent assistant instructors whose movements were very fluid. Her discovery learning began while doing rondori with instructors who never used strength, but always used the movement, their movement, and her movement, to execute techniques.
In 1955 Kuniko began at the Kodokan at the age of 16. She was beating the other boys and girls so easily at her dojo, her sempai invited her to come with her to the Kodokan.
The dojo was full of women working hard at their judo. Sensei recalls the shodan’s and nidan’s were no problem; however, there was a very memorable sandan. A large part of the remainder of her Kodokan experience was motivated by the desire to improve her judo techniques from 1962 to 1968 and to one day defeat that sandan.
With Kuniko’s execution and work against that women, the Kodokan instructors recognized her very strong discipline and strong ukemi. They quickly realized her Judo potential. With that, Takeuchi was given the opportunity to practice, learn, and work to perfect kata.
Through 1962–1968, she earned her shodan, nidan, and sandan as well as a position on the Kodokan faculty in the women’s section; and for 2 years she was an overall instructor.
Also, in 1962 Takeuchi graduated from the Nippon University of Physical Education (Nippon Taiiku Daigaku, Tokyo, Japan).
Life was teaching school Monday through Saturday from 9am to 3pm and teaching judo at the Kodokan from 5–7 pm; also Monday through Saturday.
With permission from a very understanding principal at Josai High School, Tokyo, Japan; Kuniko accepted an invitation to be a visiting instructor at the YMCA Judo Club, Specialist Teacher’s Institute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (upon request from the head instructor while visiting the Kodokan) in 1964, and at Shinwa Kwai Judo Club in Grimsby, England in 1966.
A third visiting instructor, Ken Santiago, a Hawaiian native, invited Dr. Takeuchi to his dojo, San Juan Judo Club, California, USA.
Following her guest teaching in San Juan, Dr. Takeuchi began teaching school in Sacramento and was able to attend the Sacramento Judo Club; and in 1984, Kodokan West Judo Club in Sacramento, CA. After they closed, she taught at the Soko Joshi Women’s Judo Club in San Francisco with Fukuda Sensei from 1988–1995.
Beginning in 1995 she has taught at the Okubo / APOA Judo Club, also in Sacramento, CA.
When asked how judo in the United States can improve, Sensei was quick to respond with increase the number of good judo instructors. With more instructors we can provide more facilities, additional leveling of instruction based on abilities. The instructors must have strong teaching methods as well as judo skill.
Why may judo be the chosen sport for children, parents and families? In general, students need to have good basic techniques and skills. With no physical education in the required K-12 curriculum, students generally need ways to develop their motor skills. We need to teach basic skills of movement.
2003–2007 Instructor of Physical Education at VAPAC (Visual and Performing Arts Centre) in Sacramento City Unified School District
1970–1999 Instructor of Physical Education at Grant Joint Union High School District, Sacramento, California
1962–1968 Instructor of Physical and Health Education at Josai high school – Tokyo, Japan
1980–1982 Department Head at Las Palmas Junior High School
2003 CPR and First Aide Teacher Certificate
1969 Teaching Credential for Secondary in Physical Education, California
1962 Teaching Credential in Physical and Health Education, Tokyo
1992 Doctoral Degree – Philosophies; International Christ Theology College – Taipei, Taiwan
1984 Master’s Degree – Physical Education; California State University, Sacramento – Sacramento, California
1962 Bachelor’s Degree For Physical and Health Education; Nippon Taiiku Daigaku (Nippon University of Physical Education) – Tokyo, Japan
1958 Graduate; Josai High School – Tokyo, Japan
Other Skills and Accreditation
1995–Present Instructor at Okubo/APOA Judo Club – Sacramento, California
1974–1994 Instructor at United State Joshi Judo Camp
1968–1988 Instructor at San Juan Judo Club, Sacramento Judo Club and Kodokan West Judo Club – Sacramento, California
1962–1968 Instructor at Kodokan Judo Institute Women’s section – Tokyo, Japan
1962–1968 Instructor at Josai High School Women’s Judo Club – Tokyo, Japan
1966 Visiting Instructor at Shinwa Kwai Judo Club – Grimsby, England
1964 Visiting Instructor at YMCA Judo Club, Specialist Institute – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Coaching and Managerial Positioins
2002 United States Team leader and Judge for Pan American Judo Kata Championships, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republics
2001 United States Team leader and Judge for Pan American Judo Kata Championships, Cordoba, Argentina
1996 Technical Staff for Olympic Game for Judo
1995 United States Team leader for the Mikohouse International Women’s Judo Championships, Osaka, Japan
1993 United States Coach for the World Judo Championships Women’s Team; Hamilton, Canada
1988 United States Manager for the Polish International Women’s Judo Championships, Poland
1986 United States Manager for the World Women’s Judo Championships; Maastricht, Netherland
1983–1986 Coach for the Olympic Festival Women’s Judo Team – USJI
1985–1992 United States Manager for the Fukuoka International Women’s Judo Championships
2016–2018 Kata chair person PJC Kata Commission
2008–2012 Member of International Judo Federation Kata Commission
2009–2014 Kata chairperson PJC Kata Commission
2009–Present Member PJC Kata Commission
2009 Kata Coordinator – Pan American Judo Confederation
2003–2009 Pan American Judo Union Education and Coach Commission member
2003 Member to USJF Teachers Institute
2001–2005 Secretary to USJI Promotion Subcommittee
2001–2006 USJI Promotion Committee member
2001–present Member to USJI Teachers Institute
2000–2009 Chairperson to USJI National Kata Judges Certification Subcommittee
2000–2009 Chairperson to United States Judo Federation Promotion Committee
1995–2015 United States Judo Federation Promotion Committee member
1995–Present United States Judo Federation Board of Examiner
1995–2000 Vice-Chairperson to USJI National Kata Judge’s Certification Sub Committee
1995–Present Technical Advisor for Daiheigen Yudanshakai, USJF
1985–Present United States National Kata Judge’s Certification Sub Committee
1984–1987 Vice President to Daiheigen Yudanshakai – USJF
1979–1983 President of Daiheigen Yudanshakai – USJF
1974–1987 Board of Directors, Board of Examiners – Daiheigen Yudanshakai – USJF
1974–1978 Vice President to Daiheigen Yudanshakai – USJF
1973–1969 Technical Advisor for Hokka Yudanshakai – California
1970–Present United States National Kata Judge – USJI
Certifications and Awards
2009–Present IJF Kata Judge A Judges Certification Issued From United States Judo Inc. Class A Kata Teaching Certification Issued From USJF
2003 Faye Allen Award – USA Judo
1986 Outstanding Women’s Award in Sports – YWCA – Sacramento, California.
1986 Instructor of the Year – YWCA – Sacramento, California
Issuance of Judo Rank
2014 Hachidan – 8th Degree Black Belt
2001 Shichidan – 7th Degree Black Belt
1989 Rokudan – 6th Degree Black Belt
1978 Godan – 5th Degree Black Belt
1970 Yodan – 4th Degree Black Belt
1962 Sandan – 3rd Degree Black Belt
1960 Nidan – 2nd Degree Black Belt
1958 Shodan – 1st Degree Black Belt
1955 Entered Kodokan Judo Institute – Tokyo, Japan
1954 Received initial Instruction at Shudokan Judo Club – Sakura; Chiba Ken, Japan
2010–Present Jan Ken Po Gakko 3rd grade teacher
2010–2018 Japanese Hoshuko 3rd grade Taiko instructor
2003–2007 Teacher – Visual and Performing Art Charter School at Sacramento City
2002 Performing tour in Nagano, Japan
1999–Present Performing at various places in Northern California
1999 Selected to performing group
1998 Entered Sacramento Taiko Dan