By Michael Dao
San José State University Judo is one of the most renowned judo programs in the nation, having garnered international acclaim. Judokas (judo athletes) that come through the program often train with the aspiration of becoming Olympic athletes. Recently, SJSU judokas such as Colton Brown and Marti Malloy have represented Team USA at the Olympic level. The success of the program continues to this day.
In light of the programs well deserved reputation, the National Collegiate Judo Association (NCJA) held the college and high school national championships on April 1 and 2 in Yoshihiro Uchida Hall on the SJSU campus. Judokas from all over the nation – from universities such as Texas A&M, UC Davis, and Stanford – all came to SJSU to compete for a national championship. With a huge turnout, the competition was high; however, both of Spartan’s Mens and Womens teams, came home with team gold! The championship is especially exciting for the Women’s Judo Team, who successfully defended their title for the sixth time in a row. The Men’s team was able to climb back up the mountain to their rightful position in the USA Judo world. There were also many individual competitors and winners in their respective divisions:
- Conor Uyekawa (-60kg Gold)
- Anakin Mendoza (-60kg Bronze)
- Colby Hanley Jr. (-66 KG)
- Matthew Bata (-66 KG Bronze)
- Weston Uyekawa (-73 kg Gold)
- Kristian Espinoza (-73 kg Silver)
- Eli Elvira (-73 kg)
- Ryan Kuratani (-81 kg)
- Nina Seoane (-63 kg Silver)
- Nancy Nguyen (-70 kg gold)
The legacy of SJSU continues with the tremendous resiliency and effort espoused by the amazing Spartan Judoka. I was able to briefly sit down with Head Judo Coach, Sensei Kosuke Tanaka about the success of both teams. Tanaka Sensei expressed, “…the positive experience of having both teams winning the championship was much needed as we have not had many team competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Tanaka also highlighted how “this year, it really feels like the team is going in the right direction, and I feel confident in how the team is moving forward.” A primary goal of the SJSU Judo team is to win championships, and this year both teams showed that they are competing at a high level.
The success of the SJSU Judo teams this year comes with Yoshihiro Uchida being recognized for his 75 years of service at SJSU and for him celebrating his 103 birthday. As the first head coach of the SJSU Judo team and founder of USA Judo, Uchida Sensei was celebrated by a ballroom full of people and standing ovations at the faculty luncheon on April 5. Everyone in that room understood the importance that Uchida Sensei plays at SJSU. His legacy continues, and SJSU Judo lives as a firm fixture on our campus.
Congratulations to SJSU Judo and another Happy Birthday to Uchida Sensei!