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Mits Kimura

Mits Kimura

Inducted 1993

Mitsuho Kimura was born in San Francisco in 1916. He was oldest of 8 children. About 1931, the family moved to the San Gabriel valley, in Southern California, and a few years later, Kimura graduated from El Monte High School, where he wrestled on the varsity team.

He started judo at the San Gabriel Judo dojo in 1931, at age 15 (e.g., upon moving to San Gabriel). By 1934, he was 1-kyu. He received 1-dan in 1935, and by spring 1936, when he was co-captain of the Nanka team that met Seattle in LA, he was 2-dan. During this tournament, Kimura got a tie with Ken Kuniyuki. Kimura was promoted 3-dan as a result of this tournament. Jigoro Kano was present, so this is a Kano promotion.

In 1938, Kimura joined the Hollywood dojo.

In 1939, Kimura attended a seminar with Sumiyuki Kotani, then visiting LA. He got his 4-dan around this time.

During WWII, the Kimura family was interned at Santa Anita and Tule Lake. Kimura established judo clubs at both camps. His assistants included Hank Ogawa, formerly of Bainbridge Island and eventually of Ore-Ida.

In 1949, Kimura moved to San Francisco. The first dojo was on Post Street. In 1950, he moved to a dojo on Bush Street. In 1966, the dojo moved to Taraval Street, at which time it was renamed San Francisco Judo Institute.

Kimura was elected president of Hokka Yudanshakai in 1954. In 1955, he was elected to the board of Judo Black Belt Federation. In 1956, he participated in the first World Championships in Tokyo.

In 1997, he was promoted to 9-dan by USJF. He died on January 28, 2001, age 85.

source: Joseph Svinth, Moderator on ebudo.com

In 2002 the fiftieth anniversary was celebrated with a book of USJF history. In it were a number of biographies. including this:


Hokka Yudanshakai

Mitsuho Kimura, Kudan (1916-2001) devoted his entire life to the service and development of Kodokan Judo. He proved to be one of the most influential Judoka in the early history of American Judo. The 1950’s and the 1960’s were bubbling cauldrons of Judo activity. It was a time for growth, organizing and visionaries such as MilS Kimura, Yosh Uchida, Henry Stone, Bill Godfrey and Duke Yoshimura.

He began his Judo career at age flfteen and four years later he was awarded the rank of Nidan. That same year. 1935, be received his Sandan rank personally for Kotani Sensei. At that time winning tournaments and being physically fit was not enough to merit black belt rank and rapid promotions. The Kodokan principles of morality, integrity, and intellectual honesty were important and integral parts of a promotion. All of these qualities. and more, set him apart throughout his life.

His base of operations was Hokka. It was one of the four groups that Jigoro Kano invited to form Yudanshakais and associate with the Kodokan. He was elected President of Hokka in 1954 and with the passing of years chairman of various positions. He was elected to tbe first Board of Review of the Judo Black Belt Federation of the United States of America in February, 1955.

He was Chairman and Vice Chairman of the National Amateur Athletic Union Judo Committee.

In 1956 he was a competitor in the first World Championships in Tokyo and a member of the delegation along with Masato Tamura, Vince Tamura, and Kenneth Kuniyuki.

He was very proud of his students especially those with the high ideals of the Kodokan. He was a strong “grass roots” advocate both in training and funding trips to tournaments. Many Senior and National tournaments were held under his leadership. Helping to found and form California Judo. Inc. was an exciting event for him.

He served as Treasurer and Registration Chairman for several years, as a volunteer, during a dark period in the life of the United States Judo Federation (USJF). He and his wife Helen were able to revamp the procedures and reverse the problems. All of the above eventually came to a point where his past endeavors were recognized by his associates in the USJF. The totality of his accomplishments and service to Judo was acknowledged in 1997 by honoring him with the rank of Kudan, 9th degree black belt. This was a very special and heartfelt award given to him freely and gladly by his companion Judokas.

Submitted by: Joseph Fitzsimmons, M.D.