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John Osako Referee Development Fund

Johnny Osako
John Osako, © 2016 Osako family


The John Osako Referee Fund was established in 2008 with a generous initial donation from Evelyn Osako, John’s wife, and the Judo Affiliates of Michigan to provide financial aid to aspiring PJU Regional, IJF Continental, and IJF International level referees intent on gaining further experience in order to develop and improve their skills, remain abreast of emerging standards, achieve higher international certification, and be in contention for consideration to officiate at the highest levels in the world – Junior World Championships, World Championships, and the Olympic Games.

About John Osako

John (Minoru) Osako was born in 1921 in California, but returned to Japan when he was 13 years old and eventually emigrated back to the US in 1941, where he lived until he passed in 1983. He was a 7th Dan, former Pan American and National AAU Grand Champion and head of the USJF Standards Committee and the chairman of the IJF Referee Certification Committee. He was an Olympic referee and was one of the founders of the judo referee training program in the US.

He is a member of the Michigan Judo Hall of Fame, was the respected head sensei at Detroit Judo Club, and one of American judo’s true pioneers. He left an indelible stamp on the sport of international judo and his mark on anybody that encountered him as a coach, sensei, or referee. He is survived by an enduring legacy and inheritance that continues to enrich us and this fund will help ensure his dreams to promote quality officiating survive. His goal was to develop the well-rounded judoka, emphasized a critical balance between competitive judo, kata, refereeing, and teaching. As background, he took great pride in developing the caliber of brown belt referees and sponsored many tournaments. The funding will be determined annually with the objective to: fund training for selected individuals who apply for consideration and who best exemplify the commitment to volunteering for international refereeing assignments, nurture refereeing talent development within their Yudanshakai and among those who are committed to achieving training required for an IJF ranking.

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Application process

Applicants will be expected to maintain

  • Annual affiliation/member in good standing by being registered with USJF for the grant year
  • Attending and refereeing at least one international event in year the grant is made
  • Applicants are also responsible for gathering and submitting all necessary information for the application which is available on the USJF website. Applications are evaluated on the information supplied, therefore, the full application must be completed. Funding is based on the applicant’s commitment to refereeing learning as shown by training and volunteering efforts. Financial need is not a consideration.

The Board of Trustees will meet to review applications in April of each year to determine grant awardees.

Funding is Paid by Check from USJF to the grant winners.

Board of Trustees

Jerry Wee (Chairperson), Steven DeRaedt, Dave Wertheimer, Robert Fukuda and the current Chairman of USJF Referee Development and Certification Subcommittee

Official Guidelines

Applicants must be a black belt in rank and be an active PJU C, Continental, or IJF Referee

Applicants must be currently registered with USJF and must maintain that membership during grant.

Application period is between December 1 thru March 31 and recipients will be announced at the USJF Annual Meeting. Applications after March 31 will not be accepted.

Awards will be made by check from the USJF

Taxes on awards are the sole responsibility of the recipient(s)

A written report on how the funds were utilized must be received by year-end of the year granted.

The United States Judo Federation (USJF) is a non-profit tax exempt and educational corporation dedicated to the teaching and promotion of judo in the US as provided by law. Contributions will be treated as tax deductions and contributors should consult their tax advisors to determine tax deductibility in each individual case.

Community Leaders and Judo Supporters: The John Osako Referee Development Fund is an important funding vehicle targeted to ensure judo training and instruction can be measured in competitive events with the support of qualified and dedicated referees. All sports rely on well-trained, impartial judging to foster fair competition.

    The longevity of competitive judo and the continued advancement of the sport as an Olympic event demands qualified refereeing and judging. We need to develop our youth to respect refereeing and training is the best means to ensure that we have ample progression and succession in the future.

Thank you for considering a contribution to USJF Endowment – the John Osako Referee Development Fund.