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Dr. Kuniko Takeuchi

Kuniko Takeuchi

Inducted 2019

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.

Work Experience

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

Administrative Position

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



Teaching Experience

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

Kuniko with Toshiro Daigo
Kuniko is with Toshiro Daigo. Toshiro Daigo is the Chief instructor at Kodokan and former manager of the Japanese national team. He is one of three living Kodokan 10th dan.

Administrative Positions

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

with the Foreign Minister's Commendation
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded her the Foreign Minister’s Commendation in honor of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

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

Order of the Rising Sun for Kuniko Takeuchi

Ms. Kuniko Takeuchi, who resides within the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco’s jurisdiction will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays. Here is the letter of commendation, English and Japanese.