San Jose Mercury News: San Jose State in the Spotlight for July 4 Parade

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News on June 24, 2016.

By Sal Pizarro

San Jose State University will be in the spotlight at this year’s Rose, White & Blue Parade, which will wind its way through San Jose’s Shasta Hanchett neighborhood on July 4.

When I first heard about the theme, I wondered who would be grand marshal. President Mo Qayoumi? Maybe one of the university’s many distinguished alumni? The answer floored me, and in a good way: Krazy George. The inventor of “the Wave” and the best drum-banging cheerleader the Spartans ever had, will be one of the guys leading the parade and trying for the world’s longest “wave.”Read the full story.

San Jose Mercury News: San Jose State Rededicates Refurbished Athletics Building

Posted Nov. 7, 2014 by the San Jose Mercury News.

By Sal Pizarro

Even at age 94, legendary San Jose State judo coach Yosh Uchida retains a quiet dignity that demands respect. Uchida was speaking Friday on campus at the rededication of Yosh Uchida Hall, the refurbished athletics building named in his honor, when a stream of skateboarders rolled by the ceremony.

The last two in the line stopped, dismounted their boards and walked quietly by, as though they could feel the eyes of the old judo master on them from behind his oversize sunglasses. No wonder this guy can still prepare college kids to stand on the Olympic stage.

“Uchida Hall is an important part of this university’s legacy,” said SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi. “Coach Uchida’s life embodies what it means to be a Spartan. Today is about much more than the dedication of a building on campus.”

Read the full story.


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.

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.

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.”