Yoshihiro Uchida Hall Rededication Nov. 7

CASA contact: Melissa Anderson, 408-924-1120
Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-924-1748

In 1997, SJSU renamed Spartan Complex West as Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in honor of Yoshihiro Uchida’s many years of service to the university and to the community (photo by Michelle Vaquilar, ’15 BFA Graphic Design).

San Jose, CA – The San Jose State University community will gather for the re-dedication of Yoshihiro Uchida Hall from 3-5 p.m. Nov. 7 outside the building’s main entrance. The celebration will honor the 94-year-old judo coach and alumnus for whom the building was renamed in 1997. This event is free and open to the public.

YUH reopened in August for the start of the fall 2014 semester after a year-long renovation. The $54.7 million bond-financed project also includes a renovation of Spartan Complex that began during summer 2014.

Multipurpose space

The newly renovated space in YUH is shared by the College of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, two of the units hosting the re-dedication ceremony with the Office of the President, University Advancement and the Department of Kinesiology.

The newly renovated space has a refurbished mat room that will be used by SJSU Judo, which has a history of training Olympic athletes. The space will be shared with other kinesiology courses that use floor mats, such as yoga. In addition, the building has an auditorium that is already being used for several large classes this fall. On the second floor, the roof of the amphitheater has been designed as a terrace garden that looks out toward Tower Lawn.

Other features and amenities include an updated weight training classroom, an exercise physiology research lab, a stress management lab and classroom, and an updated instructional gymnasium. Office space is being used jointly by kinesiology faculty and staff members, along with the athletics department.

Alumnus, business leader, judo enthusiast

Yoshihiro Uchida, ’47 Biological Sciences, has had a long history with San Jose State University, starting when he enrolled in 1940 as a chemical engineering student. While enrolled, he competed on the wrestling team and coached police students in judo, a sport he started as a 10-year-old in Garden Grove to connect to his family’s Japanese culture.

Uchida left the campus for four years, when he was drafted into the U.S. military during World War II while his family members were incarcerated in internment camps in Poston and Tule Lake. The former men’s gymnasium in the then-Spartan Complex West building was used as a registration center for Santa Clara County Japanese Americans before they were sent to internment camps during World War II. As part of the re-dedication, a plaque will be placed outside the gymnasium to denote its historic significance.

When Uchida returned to campus after World War II, he re-enrolled at SJSU and graduated with a degree in biological sciences in 1947. He continued to teach judo and was instrumental in creating a judo program on campus as well as bringing the sport to national and international attention. Uchida helped to establish a weight class system for judo that allowed it to be practiced by anyone, providing a framework for the sport’s expansion throughout collegiate circles. He also worked to establish judo as a sport in the Amateur Athletic Union.

After enrolling at San Jose State in 1940, Uchida served in World War II, graduated with a degree in biological sciences, and founded and later sold a chain of medical laboratories to Unilab, all the while coaching and advocating for a sport he learned as the child of Japanese immigrants to California (Christina Olivas photo).

Olympic dreams

The first National AAU championships were hosted by San José State in 1953. Uchida was the tournament director. On an international level, he was able to qualify judo as an Olympic event and was the first Olympic judo coach for the United States, which resulted in his traveling to the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. In 2012, he attended his 10th summer Olympics in London to watch SJSU’s Marti Malloy take the bronze.

In addition to his efforts on campus and with judo, Uchida has contributed to the greater community. He founded the Japanese American Chamber of Silicon Valley in 1996 and serves as chairman of its advisory board. He was also founder of the National Collegiate Judo Association; board member for the U.S. Olympic Committee (1996-2000); president of Uchida Enterprises, Inc.; chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum in Southern California; board member for the San Jose Chamber of Commerce’s San Jose Metro Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee; and president emeritus of United States Judo Inc.

In 1997, SJSU renamed Spartan Complex West as Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in honor of Uchida’s many years of service to the university and to the community. Uchida received the SJSU Tower Award in 1992. He was inducted into the SJSU Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the SJSU “Legends Hall of Fame” in 2012, to name a few of the honors and awards bestowed on him through the years.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

10 Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Spartan Squad Students

Students earn points and prizes for attending home games. Everyone who registers will be entered into a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip to the Oct. 5 football game in Hawaii. (Christina Olivas Photo)

1. Register for Spartan Squad Student Rewards and win a trip to Hawaii!

2. ESPN will broadcast Friday night’s football game. During breaks in the action, see spots on judo, animation, Spartan Racing and Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol.

3. After receiving the Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double-Goal Coaching Award, kinesiology alumna Valerie Garcia Quintero said this:

“At a banquet last week, I was given the opportunity to speak and when I did, I made sure to speak about how wonderful and amazing the faculty and my department was at SJSU and how much I learned from them. I’ve been asked how I know how to coach and I tell them that I have had great coaches to learn from but I was extremely lucky to have had professionals in the field to teach me through my major.”

4. Check out this video showing how donors power all majors, including nursing, business, and urban and regional planning.

5. The SJSU chapter of political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha was named the best in the nation for the 2012-13 academic year.

“My department is very proud of these students for achieving this national recognition for the first time in SJSU’s history,” Professor Ken Peter said. “Sol Jobrack, chapter president, is a full-time student and new father and commutes daily from Stockton on the train, on which he works as a transit officer. Bill McCraw, who is marking his 50th year teaching at SJSU, was one of the founding faculty members of SJSU’s chapter.”

6. Three Silicon Valley Startup Cup finalists are from SJSU. Their ideas? A gamer lounge, laboratory supply service and cranium x-ray shield.

10 Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library presents this six-week series focusing on film history and popular music.

7. Where else can you go to the library to check out the shared history of film and pop music from the blues and Broadway to rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop? Live performances included!

8. George Whaley, professor emeritus of human resource management, has received the 2013 Trailblazer Award from The PhD Project, which helps African American, Native American and Hispanic students earn their PhDs and become business professors.

9. SJSU’s renowned occupational therapy program is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Think of all the people living better lives with help from our graduates.

10. Spartans stay connected online. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.

Student Assistant Amanda Holst contributed to this report.

Judo Olympian Honored

Judo Olympian Honored

Judo Olympian Honored

The Order of the Rising Sun recognizes “lifetime achievement and commitment to excellence, particularly including significant positive contribution to mutual understanding and friendship between the United States and Japan.”

Three Spartans are now recipients of The Order of the Rising Sun, an honor bestowed by the Japanese government to just 10 Americans this year.

In June, Paul K. Maruyama, ’66 Business, joined judo legend Yoshihiro Uchida and former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

All three were members of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Judo Team that competed in Tokyo, with Uchida as coach, Campbell as heavyweight competitor, and Maruyama as lightweight competitor. Maruyama also served as head coach of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic judo teams.

With Uchida and Campbell in attendance, Maruyama received The Order of the Rising Sun medallion during a conferment ceremony at the residence of Japan’s consul general in Denver.

“I don’t even come close to being ranked in the same category as Ben and Yosh, but suffice it to say that we three SJSU alumni are honored to be recognized by the Japanese government for our contributions to strengthening ties between the people of Japan and of the United States, and we are all proud to be SJSU Spartans,” Maruyama said.

Judo Olympian Honored

Paul K. Maruyama (courtesy of Colorado College)

Maruyama was far too modest about his contributions. Here’s how Colorado College, where he was the first Japanese language instructor, sums up his achievements:

Maruyama is the author of “Escape from Manchuria,” which tells the story of his father and two friends who in 1946 devised a plan to escape to Japan from Soviet-occupied Manchuria. The book chronicles the courage and perseverance of the three men who eventually brought about the repatriation of 1.7 million Japanese civilians held captive under Soviet occupation in Manchuria.

He contributed to the promotion of mutual understanding between the two countries through teaching, both as an instructor of Japanese and as a judo instructor. Maruyama was one of the first Japanese language instructors at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the first Japanese language instructor at Colorado College.

Maruyama is a founding member of the Japan America Society of Southern Colorado, which has been honored twice for its active engagement in cultural exchange. In addition, Maruyama is one of the founding members of the John Manjiro Whitfield Foundation of the USA. In 1996 and 2006, he played an instrumental role in hosting of the John Manjiro Grassroots Summit in Colorado Springs, which is the largest grassroots exchange of people between the United States and Japan.


Yosh Uchida medallion

SJSU Honors Judo Legend

Yosh Uchida

President Qayoumi surprises judo legend Yoshihiro Uchida with a medallion commemorating his 65 years of service to SJSU, with friend Jan Masuda Cougill and Provost Ellen Junn (Robert Bain photo).

SJSU’s Faculty Service and Recognition Awards Luncheon is always a moving event. The recipients of SJSU’s top four annual faculty honors speak, and many more lecturers and professors offer remarks after being recognized for 15 to 40 years of service. Their collective affirmations of San Jose State’s role as a teaching college are heartfelt, often eliciting shouts of joy and the occasional tear. For example, no one will forget Distinguished Service Award Recipient Brad Stone’s shout out to his wife for all her support.

Created at the SJSU Foundry, the medallion combines the SJSU and Olympic logos with the Japanese characters for judo (photo by Robert Bain).

But perhaps this year’s greatest moment came when everyone turned their attention to a very special guest who was too shy to take the stage. Yoshihiro Uchida — local boy, World War II veteran, alumnus, part-time instructor and the driving force behind judo’s rise to an Olympic sport — was honored for an astounding 65 years of service. This is a record not just for San Jose State but perhaps the entire California State University system, said President Qayoumi.

After the crowd watched a video summarizing Uchida’s career at SJSU, Qayoumi stepped off the stage to surprise Uchida, seated with family and friends, with a medallion custom-designed and poured at the SJSU Foundry. The piece pulls together his achievements, and complements the many Olympic medals won by his students over the years, including 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy.

As fit as ever but still unwilling to take the podium, Uchida asked Provost Ellen Junn to read his remarks:

 “Though I have seen many changes in my 65 years, from crewcuts to tattoos, I think the biggest change was the closing of San Carlos Street in the 1980s and the building of additional dorms. It beautified SJSU, unified the students and one had a unique sense of community that changed us from a commuter college into a university. Over the years, we have established ourselves as a top tier facility within the CSU system and have created a campus that is highly sought after, embraces diversity and graduates students that achieve their goals.”

Among the campus improvements underway right now is the $54.7 million renovation of Spartan Complex East and Yoshihiro Uchida Hall (known as Spartan Complex West until the building was named in his honor in 1997). Plans include a new home for Uchida’s judo program, positioning SJSU to dominate national and international competitions for many years to come.

Like everything Uchida has touched during his years as SJSU, the making of the medallion reflects a deep sense of community building and pride.

“The medallion represents four distinctly different categories of students and employees of SJSU, but embodies the teamwork, effort, and honor that all Spartans have for San Jose State University and the deep respect for the 65 years of service that we have received from Professor Yoshihiro Uchida,” said Ryan Carrington, spatial art faculty member.

Here’s more on the medallion, as told by Carrington.

“The Yoshihiro Uchida 65 Years of Service Medallion was the result of the culmination of the efforts of four San Jose State University Spartans. After a design meeting of the four members of the group, Wilson Chao, ’13 BFA-Spatial Art, was in charge of making the digital version and using the laser cutter on campus to cut the medallion out of acrylic.

“From there the medallion was passed onto Ryan Carrington, Spatial Art Faculty, ’11 MFA-Spatial Art, to create a mold for casting wax. SJSU Foundry Technician Steve Davis, ’11 MFA-Spatial Art, used the mold for making both versions of the medallion in wax.  He and Yvonne Escalante, ’13 MFA-Spatial Art, encased them in plaster to begin the lost-wax process of metal casting.

“After the wax was evacuated from the mold, bronze was poured into the negative space. When cool, the metal was cleaned up, chased, and patina was applied. Yvonne was then charged with fabricating a jump ring and ribbon to finish this collaborative project.

Yosh Uchida Hall and Spartan Complex Renovation

Yoshihiro Uchida Hall and Spartan Complex

Yosh Uchida Hall and Spartan Complex Renovation

A $52 million bond-financed renovation of Yosh Uchida Hall and Spartan Complex is underway.

For eight decades, Yoshihiro Uchida Hall and Spartan Complex have housed programs that taught generations of students how to stay healthy and help others to do the same. It’s time to return the favor.

A $54.7 million bond-financed renovation of the entire wing will improve and modernize accessibility, electrical, data, heat and cooling systems, and offices and classrooms over a total of 171,000 square feet.

Construction begins this term, and continues through 2015, with the goal of boosting academic quality, enriching the student experience, providing a healthy learning environment and supporting community alliances.

The project is split into two phases, with phase one involving the renovation and seismic upgrade of Yoshihiro Uchida Hall and Annex, and phase two completing the seismic renovation with SPX Central and SPX East.

Plans for YUH include a new home for SJSU’s judo program, which has a long history of spawning Olympians. The Department of Kinesiology will also receive a state-of the-art instructional weight training classroom, exercise physiology research lab, stress management lab and classroom, dedicated athletic training classroom and lab and refurbished instructional gymnasium. The departments of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism Management, Mexican-American Studies and Athletics will also benefit from the improvements.

For the short term, all this means some shuffling of faculty member offices and classrooms while construction is underway. This includes a handful of SJSU Gymnastics meets that will be held at the Event Center this term.

No student tuition or fees will be spent on this project. Funding is provided through bonds sold by the state of California for capital improvement projects statewide, including those within the California State University system.

Because state funding is available for construction only, SJSU is raising funds for new and upgraded equipment and furnishings as well as on-going program support for the 10,000 students who take classes in these buildings annually.

For more information, please contact Director of Development Lane Jimison at (408) 924-1142.

SJSU's Best of 2012

Olympian Tops SJSU’s Best of 2012

SJSU's Best of 2012

SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy is welcomed home by her coach, the legendary Yosh Uchida (Christina Olivas photo).

We’ve had an absolutely amazing year, Spartans!

When the time came for us to select the Best of 2012, it was super tough to choose just 10!

We would like to send a huge thanks to everyone who visited all of our online channels, whether it was our news, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Pinterest pages.

We counted up all your clicks, likes, pins and tweets and SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy came out on top. Read her story and join us on Pinterest to add a comment.

Ripped From the Headlines

Many more of our top stories were ripped right out of the headlines, with students loving the passage of Prop. 30 and the tuition rollback that came along with it.

Our football team making it to the Military Bowl also touched off an avalanche of national media coverage.

Whether led by an enterprising professor or intrepid students, campus research boomed with a $73.3 million NASA grant and a mind-boggling motorcycle with spherical wheels.

We also scored in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings, coming in ninth overall among the West’s top public universities.

Enriching the Educational Experience

Student life thrived, too. In May, two undergrads and two graduate students from the class of 2012 earned accolades for their outstanding work.

This summer, we welcomed incoming frosh with a super fun orientation program followed this fall by our largest career fair in five years.

We even set the stage for 2013, launching an initiative to roll out a whole bunch of online tools enriching the educational experience here at SJSU.

Stay tuned because things can only get better next year!

2012 Olympic Judo Bronze Medalist Comes Home

2012 Olympic Judo Bronze Medalist Marti Malloy Celebrates Homecoming

2012 Olympics bronze medalist Marti Malloy greets SJSU Judo Head Coach Yosh Uchida (Christina Olivas photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

SJSU judo bronze medalist Marti Malloy, ’12 Advertising, flew straight from London to the Bay Area last night just in time for dinner following the 22nd Annual Yosh Uchida Golf Classic at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club. “I would like to thank every single person who helped me along the way,” she said before several hundred judo supporters. “Judo is an individual sport, but this medal is ours.” Malloy presented a special coaches’ medal to fellow Spartan Yosh Uchida, 92, saying, “There is no one more deserving of this than you, Mr. Uchida.” Widely credited with elevating judo to an Olympic sport, Uchida still attends nearly every SJSU judo practice as he has done for the past 66 years. Malloy visited each table at the event for photos, reuniting with teammates, SJSU judo Olympians from years past, and assistant coaches including Shintaro Nakano. “Shintaro Sensei, I felt you standing on the podium with me,” Malloy said. She is SJSU judo’s first female Olympic medal winner, and only the second U.S. female Olympic medal winner in the sport. Later in the evening, Sean Clerkin of Pasadena-based architecture firm Clerkin & Clerkin, shared plans for a new dojo (judo practice hall) that will be part of the Spartan Complex Renovation and Seismic Upgrade. The complex, which houses most of SJSU’s kinesiology programs, includes Yoshihiro Uchida Hall. SJSU plans to break ground on the $56 million project in spring 2013.

Marti Malloy and Yosh Uchida

With Judo Legend Yosh Uchida as Her Coach, Spartan Marti Malloy Wins Bronze at London Olympics

With Judo Legend Yosh Uchida as Her Coach, Fellow Spartan Marti Malloy Wins Bronze at London Olympics

SJSU judoka Marti Malloy shares her medal with Coach Yosh Uchida (photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for the USOC).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

With judo legend and fellow Spartan Yoshihiro Uchida watching from the stands, SJSU judoka Marti Malloy persevered through a tough series of matches to win a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.

A recent advertising graduate, Malloy came to San Jose from her native Oak Harbor, Wash., to train under Uchida, who has spent a lifetime cultivating judo into an Olympic sport.

In an interview with NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai, Malloy said “When I first got to San Jose, I was accepted into that program like I had been there my whole life, and ever since then, they’ve been my family.

“So just being able to bring home the medal for San Jose State and show all the hard work and dedication from the coaches and the whole San Jose State judo team — that’s winning alone for me.”

Meanwhile, Malloy’s fans here in San Jose held a viewing party to watch her compete, an event also captured by NBC Bay Area.

In a front page story in the San Jose Mercury News, columnist Mark Purdy describes how hard Malloy worked in London to bring home the bronze.

Malloy also appeared on the Today show, where she was recognized for being the second woman in U.S. Olympic history to medal in judo.

SJ Mercury News: Spartan Judoka Receives Bronze Medal

Purdy: Oh what a comeback for San Jose judoka Marti Malloy

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News July 30, 2012.

By Mark Purdy

LONDON — Monday afternoon, Marti Malloy suffered the most crushing defeat of her judo life. But at least she had time to get over it and recover from her depression before facing her one last chance to win an Olympic medal.

Like, say, about 70 minutes or so. Just 70 minutes for the San Jose judoka to wipe out the notion that she’d blown a lifetime dream and try to reboot her confidence.

“That is a good question,” Malloy said when I asked how she did it.

I have seen remarkable comebacks in many sports. I am not sure if I’ve ever observed one better than Malloy’s comeback here in the 126-pound women’s judo tournament of the 2012 Games. It was a comeback that earned Malloy a bronze medal — just the second Olympic medal of any sort won by a USA female judo competitor, ever.

Not only that, but Malloy’s bronze victory unfolded before the 92-year-old eyes of legendary San Jose State judo coach Yosh Uchida, who made the trip to London to see his pupil perform.

“It was great to see,” said Uchida, dressed sharply in a dark gray suit and blue San Jose State tie. “We’re real proud of her. It was her real determination that did it.”

Determination? Or just outright guts? Maybe a little of both.

“It still gives me goose bumps right now thinking about it,” said Malloy, a 26-year-old native of Washington who won collegiate judo titles at San Jose State and lives in the South Bay.

Here’s how the drama unfolded:

The judo event at the Olympics is brutal. It’s like staging an entire NCAA basketball tournament in one day, except with shoulder throws and leverage. Competitors work their way through a bracket against opponent after opponent, with slight rest between. Malloy spent Monday morning defeating three opponents to reach the tournament semifinals.

And when she got there, things looked good. With a spot in the gold medal match on the line, Malloy was holding her own against Corina Caprioriu of Romania. But with just seven seconds left in regulation time, Malloy took an aggressive risk that backfired. Thud. She was caught off balance by Caprioriu, who put her down to seize the victory.

Flat on the mat, Malloy covered her eyes. She knew what the loss meant. The tournament format gave semifinal losers one last, desperate opportunity to claim one of two bronze medals awarded. In this case, that task would require Malloy to face and defeat the defending Olympic champion from Beijing 2008, Giulia Quintavalle of Italy, who is five inches taller than Malloy with four more years of experience.

And their crucial match would begin in about 70 minutes. She didn’t have long to wipe out negative thoughts and create positive ones.

“I had never fought her,” Malloy said of Quintavalle. “But I had been a big fan of hers. I sat down to recover and only 20 minutes later, I had to warm up again. It’s just the hardest thing, to try and put behind something like that and get ready for another one.”

There was consolation, of course, in the fact that Quintavalle had also suffered a stunning loss before facing Malloy. When they strode onto the mat with bronze on the line, both had to be exhausted. They were tentative for the first minute or so before Malloy went for broke. She saw an opening, faked one of her best moves and then unloaded another. In less than a second, Quintavalle was flat on her back. The referee pointed. Malloy had her medal.

“I was just elated,” Malloy said. “And when I looked up, I saw Yosh up in the seats, so happy. I think I started crying. He has been my No. 1 supporter.”

In more ways than one. Malloy had originally planned to just train in the South Bay and not attend college. Uchida insisted she enroll at SJSU and pursue a degree. She recently graduated with a B.S in advertising, with multiple stints on the dean’s list.

“She wouldn’t let any obstacles stand in her way,” Uchida said. “She didn’t have any money, had to get a job or two to get by. But she wasn’t going to be stopped. I felt bad for her today when she lost in that semifinal but thought she would have the determination to fight through it.”

I wondered if Uchida had taught Malloy her winning move.

“No, no,” he said. “She’s smarter than that.”

Malloy’s victory makes it a total of four Olympic medals for San Jose State judo competitors over the years, in a sport that has traditionally been dominated by Asian and European nations. The USA has never won a judo gold medal in either gender and has only won 11 medals, period. So you could say that SJSU accounts for more than a third of Olympic medals earned by America in the sport.

That’s not necessarily a shock. Uchida has guided San Jose State to 45 collegiate judo championships and still assists head coach Shintaro Nakano there. Uchida also once served as a USA Olympic coach and literally helped write the international judo rule book back in 1964, when he and several colleagues codified the standards and weight classes so that it could become an Olympic sport.

Yet as he watched Malloy receive her medal, Uchida was beaming as proudly as he has ever beamed. These could be the last Games he attends. Uchida sat alongside San Jose State team physician Dr. Robert Nishime. One of those part-time jobs held by Malloy to help subsidize her training has been a position as Nishime’s front desk receptionist.

“I think I lost an employee,” Nishime said after the medal ceremony.

Not necessarily. Just for fun, Malloy might want to report back for duty in Nishime’s office just so she can answer the phone this way: “Hello. This is an Olympic medal winner speaking. Want to hear about my kick-ass comeback?”

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5092.

ESPN: Sports Network Profiles SJSU Alumnus Yosh Uchida, 92, Judo Champion

ESPN: Sports Network Profiles SJSU Alumnus & Judo Champion

ESPN: Sports Network Profiles SJSU Alumnus Yosh Uchida, 92, Judo Champion

ESPN has televised a profile of judo legend and alumnus Yosh Uchida.

A Champion of Judo

Posted by ESPN May 18, 2012

ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi profiles 92-year-old San Jose State judo coach Yoshihiro Uchida, whose team recently won its 45th National Collegiate Judo Championship. The video, shot in part at San Jose State, celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and the 2012 Olympics, which will feature yet another San Jose State judoka, Marti Malloy. Uchida, a 92-year-old SJSU alumnus and San Jose resident, is responsible for judo becoming a competitive sport in America. He has been involved with the sport since childhood, and championed its rise in popularity since returning from serving in World War II.

ESPN to Profile Judo Legend and Alumnus Yoshihiro Uchida

Marti Malloy

Marti Malloy

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

With the 2012 Olympics just around the corner, and Asian-Pacific Heritage Month in full swing, ESPN recently sent a camera crew to San Jose State to interview judo legend and alumnus Yoshihiro Uchida. Slated to air at 8 p.m. May 20 on ESPN, the segment (now available here) will focus on Uchida’s leadership role in elevating judo to an Olympic sport, and his many years of coaching at SJSU. After enrolling at San Jose State in 1940, Uchida served in World War II, graduated with a degree in biological sciences, and founded and later sold a chain of medical laboratories to Unilab, all the while coaching and advocating for a sport he learned as the child of Japanese immigrants to California. Uchida’s legacy includes recent SJSU graduate Marti Malloy, an American judoka set to make her Olympic debut in London. The ESPN segment follows up on a New York Times profile.

New York Times: Judo Legend Yosh Uchida Celebrates 66th Year, 2012 Olympian

Sports of The Times: For 66 Years, a Force for Judo in the United States

Published by the New York Times April 1, 2012.

New York Times: Judo Legend Yosh Uchida Celebrates 66th Year Coaching, Including a 2012 Olympian

Kevin Johnson, a junior in the SJSU Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, helped shoot and edit this three-minute New York Times clip on Coach Uchida.


Yoshihiro Uchida celebrated his 92nd birthday on Sunday.

Even more impressive is that for 66 of his years, Uchida has been coaching judo at San Jose State University. He built the program into a national power and has almost single-handedly elevated the stature and visibility of judo in the United States.

Uchida, a Japanese-American, has also been a model of determination and has had a knack for transforming obstacles into opportunity and using an opponent’s momentum to his advantage.

Last month Uchida watched proudly as San Jose State hosted the national collegiate judo championships and his Spartans won their 45th championship in 51 years. This summer, one of his athletes, Marti Malloy, will represent the United States at the Olympics in London.

As important as judo has been to Uchida, his life has been framed by other events. While he served in the United States Army during World War II, his family was sent to American internment camps. Because of his heritage, he struggled to find work after the war, but he eventually founded successful businesses. And he has never quit working or coaching.

“I thought that when I got to be 65, I’d start getting Medicaid, Medicare and all that,” he said during a recent interview in his office. “I thought, Well, that would be the end. But when I got to be 65, I felt great. I feel that if I just retire and do nothing, my whole life would start to shrink.”

Uchida was born April 1, 1920, in Calexico, Calif., the third of five children. He grew up in Garden Grove, helping grow strawberries and tomatoes. At 10 he learned judo, part of a traditional method for Japanese parents in America to instill their culture in young men.

In 1940, Uchida enrolled at San Jose State, where he studied chemical engineering and was student-coach of the physical education department’s judo program. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the Army, where he served in the medical corps as a laboratory technician.

For a generation of Japanese-Americans, the American dream disintegrated on Feb. 19, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the removal of about 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during the war. Uchida’s parents were incarcerated at a camp in Arizona; his brothers were sent to the Tule Lake Relocation Center in Northern California; his sister and her husband were sent to an internment camp in Idaho.

Reminders of that have never left. In fact, the building on campus that now houses the judo dojo — renamed Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in 1997 — was a processing center for internment camps.

“It was upsetting and confusing,” Uchida said. “You’re an American citizen, drafted into the Army. You’re in basic training, and your parents are in an internment camp. You really did get angry.”

Like African-American soldiers serving during World War II, American-born Japanese who were United States citizens — Nisei — served in segregated units where they were subjected to much of the same racist treatment.

Uchida recalled an episode in 1942 at Camp Crowder in Missouri when a burly white soldier confronted a group of Nisei and referred to them as Japs. Uchida, who stood 5 feet 5 inches, took offense and challenged the soldier. A scuffle ensued, and Uchida took down the stunned soldier with a judo throw.  “I was a hero in the barracks,” he said.

After four years of service, Uchida returned to San Jose State and earned a degree in biological science. He also resumed teaching and taught judo to police candidates.

Most of the candidates were World War II veterans attending college under the G.I. Bill of Rights. Many had taken a mongrelized form of self-defense in the service. “They had no interest in a Japanese-American teaching them anything,” Uchida said. “They were big and arrogant.”

On the first day of class, one student, a veteran and a San Jose State football player, confronted Uchida. “He asked me what I thought I could teach him and said that he used people like me for bayonet practice,” Uchida said. “He said, ‘What would you do if I did this?’ ”

The veteran picked Uchida up, dangled him and swung him around. “The class thought it was funny,” Uchida said. “I just dumped him, in front of the whole class; the class was just shocked. I turned around and said, ‘O.K. fellas, this is judo.’ There wasn’t trouble after that.”

After graduating in 1947, Uchida remained the San Jose State coach, a part-time position. However, he had difficulty finding employment in a hospital despite his degree and his extensive experience as a lab technician in the Army. One prospective employer, Uchida said, told him, “You might be able to do the work, but we’re not hiring any Japs.”

Uchida protested that he had worked with thousands of veterans during the war. “I was told: ‘That was because you were in the military. Here, we have all these civilians, and you would be touching them — and they wouldn’t want that.’ I was real discouraged.”

Fortunately, a friend who was a supervisor for the county had a friend at O’Connor Hospital and arranged for Uchida to be hired as a lab technician in the emergency room, where he worked the overnight shift. Uchida eventually became a lab supervisor at San Jose Hospital.

His passion remained judo, and his crusade was to help establish it as a sport sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union, which, with the help and influence of Henry Stone, the judo and wrestling coach at California, came about in 1953.

That year, San Jose State sponsored the first nationwide A.A.U. championships. In 1962, Uchida organized the first national collegiate judo championships, which San Jose State won. (Judo is still not sanctioned by the N.C.A.A.) He and Stone helped judo become an Olympic event, and Uchida was the coach of the United States’ first Olympic judo team, which competed at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo and won a bronze medal.

As a Japanese-American, “to be elevated to coach an American Olympic team was something you never dreamed of,” Uchida said.

“This for me was one of the greatest things,” he added. “Nobody had ever heard of such a thing.”

Judo was not enough to sustain Uchida and his young family, however. Unable to get a home loan because of insufficient income, Uchida, who was still teaching judo, went into business on his own. He bought a failing medical laboratory from an acquaintance in 1957 for $3,000, putting $75 down and paying the balance in increments. Using friendships and connections with doctors he had worked with, Uchida turned the business into a profitable venture. Part of the profits kept San Jose State judo afloat.

During the next three decades, Uchida bought 40 laboratories. In 1989, he sold his business to Unilab for $30 million. He and 78 investors later began the San Jose Nihonmachi Corporation. They built a sprawling $80 million complex of housing and commercial units in San Jose’s Japantown, converting an eyesore into an impressive community.

After more than nine decades of living, Uchida said, chief among the many lessons he has learned is that if you have a cause or a mission, determination alone is not sufficient to see it through.

Uchida uses the internment camps as an example of what can happen to the uninvolved. He recalled how Japanese-Americans were scapegoated and stereotyped and became the target of unfounded suspicions.

“People would come up with all kinds of accusations and things that were not true,” he said. “But we were not politically involved enough to be able to stop that. You have to be politically involved and know what’s going on. If you’re not politically involved, things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Uchida added: “Sometimes, you get kicked around. But if you believe in it, just keep pushing ahead. You might have to find out how to get there by going backward and then coming back again.

“But if you don’t get involved,” he said, “you won’t live long.”

Yoshihiro Uchida at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics with George Lee Harris, Jim Bregman, Paul Maruyama and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who went on to become a U.S. senator (courtesy of Bruno Carmeni's Judo Blog).

SJSU in the News: Alumnus and Judo Icon Yoshihiro Uchida to be Honored

Yoshihiro Uchida at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics with George Lee Harris, Jim Bregman, Paul Maruyama and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who went on to become a U.S. senator (courtesy of Bruno Carmeni's Judo Blog).

Yoshihiro Uchida at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics with George Lee Harris, Jim Bregman, Paul Maruyama and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (courtesy of Bruno Carmeni's Judo Blog).

Spirit of Japantown Festival to Honor Yoshihiro Uchida and Lynne Yamaichi

Originally published by Nikkei West Sept. 18, 2011.

The 2011 Spirit of Japantown Awards will be presented on Saturday, Oct. 1 to Yoshihiro Uchida, community and business leader, and Lynne Yamaichi, director of the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Lotus Preschool, during the Spirit of Japantown Festival.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. This 5th annual event, hosted by the Japantown Congress of San Jose, is held over seven city blocks throughout the 121-year old historic Japantown.

Roy Hirabayashi, president of the Japantown Community Congress of San Jose and host of the festival, recently announced the selections and stated, “Both exemplify the directives of the award in their contributions to the enhancement of San Jose’s Japantown as a vibrant community and as advocates and role models for the best interests of its residents and for Japanese Americans.”

Mr. Uchida is well known for his leadership and coaching of the San Jose State Judo program as well as internationally and at the Olympics. After selling his vast medical laboratory business, he established Uchida Enterprises and became instrumental in such activities as establishing the American Airlines route from San Jose to Tokyo, sponsoring the Sumo Basho in 1993 and spearheading the creation of the San Jose Japanese American Chamber of Commerce. He has been active as a founder, board member, trustee or advisor with the Japanese American National Museum, Yu-Ai Kai Senior Community Services, San Jose JACL, Olympic Committee, San Jose Sports Authority and other local and national organizations. He was the first to establish what has become recognition of judo in collegiate and international sports circles, including being chosen the judo coach at the first Olympics to include judo.

Partly from his early experiences as a Nisei facing discrimination, Mr. Uchida has realized the importance of cultivating relationships with civic and community leaders and has fostered communications with many sectors. His many awards include the Order of the Sacred Treasure with Golden Rays by Emperor Hirohito of Japan, induction into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the San Jose State University Tower Award (highest award), an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and the renaming of the building housing the judo dojo on the SJSU campus to Yoshihiro Uchida Hall.

Lynne Santo Yamaichi is the director and founder of the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Lotus Preschool. Lotus Preschool celebrated its 25th year in July and over 600 came to honor ‘Miss Lynne’ for her foresight and her compassionate administration of the school. They expressed appreciation for providing a nurturing environment for their children and grandchildren to learn about Japanese culture and custom and thus, have them become a part of the San Jose Japantown community.

Lotus Preschool has provided childcare for over 600 students in Japantown and the larger Japanese American community. Through Miss Lynne’s program, they have experienced a curriculum of Japanese culture, daily service at the temple, performing and working with the seniors at Yu-Ai Kai and Fuji Tower. The 3 to 5 year old students visit and participate at Suzume no Gakko and visit various business and restaurants in Japantown.

Lynne is also chair of the Kids Zone for the Spirit of Japantown Festival and has planned the entire section and entertainment from its beginning five years ago. Additionally, Lynne and her staff work for the Obon Festival and for Christmas in the Park.

As a student of Japanese Classical Dance instructor, Madame Bando Mitsuhiro, Ms. Yamaichi earned the rank of natori and the title, Bando Misashizu, only one of 28 in the United States.

Awards received by Yamaichi include the 2009 Outstanding Contributor to Childcare Award from the City of San Jose and Mayor Chuck Reed. She also received a commendation and plaque from the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin for enriching the community spiritually, physically and mentally.

The awards were designed by Ken Matsumoto of Art Object Gallery and will be presented at the Spirit of Japantown Festival on the Main Stage.

Festival attractions include performances on three stages, food booths, diverse vendors, car show, Anime by Fanime, Kids Zone, martial arts demonstrations and exhibits. A popular attraction is the Sake/Beer/Wine Garden located near the food section.

San Jose Taiko, the acclaimed taiko troupe, will headline at 12:15 p.m. on the Main Stage. The ScoJourners, a local sensation, will bring their eclectic offering of rhymes and beats that cross cultural, race, music and industry barriers. Master of Ceremonies will be Robert Handa, KTVU reporter. Other entertainment include the Wesley Jazz Ensemble, Viv Asia and other multicultural performers.

The Hawaiian Stage will focus on talent from various hula and ukelele groups as well as the appearance of the Metropolitan Band. A wide variety of martial arts demonstrations will be held in the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Annex. Kids Zone will highlight entertainment for the children.

The Midori Bonsai Club will have its show in the Wesley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. The church will also be the location for the Sogetsu Ikebana display from Madame Kika Shibata and her students.

The Festival is geared to showcasing the many diverse businesses and restaurants that comprise San Jose’s Japantown. Many will be open and participating in the festival.

Open houses and activities will be held at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, the Issei Memorial Building and the Yu-Ai Kai Akiyama Center.

Major sponsors are Gordon Biersch, Takara Sake, Jack’s Bar, The Mercury News, KTVU 2 and TV36, Southwest Airlines, City of San Jose, Fanime.com, iMCevents.com, Nichi Bei Foundation, Wesley United Methodist Church, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, PG&E, Japantown Dental, and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce.