Professor Ray Imada – USJF Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Professor Ray Imada on his induction into the 2023 USJF Hall of Fame.

Ray T. Imada was born and raised in Hawaii, with frequent time spent in
Kumamoto, Japan during his youth. He had a challenging beginning in kindergarten, speaking only Japanese. His English developed into winning statewide writing contests in elementary school. He was an excellent student to the level of being asked to enter a special school for the gifted in the fourth grade. He refused because he did not want to part with friends he grew up within his Kalihi neighborhood.

When he was nine, his parents decided his “round” girth needed to be addressed. His athletic father decided to send him to a Judo class. Yasuyuki Sakabe, a Shichidan from Japan, became his sensei. Sakabe Sensei, at that time taught at six dojos across the island. He had settled in Hawaii after his visits to Hawaii with his good friend, Masahiko Kimura, who traveled to Brazil and became a legend competing against all comers, including jujitsuist Helio Gracie.

Young Imada tried everything he could to quit the martial art for the first five years. His weight placed him in divisions determined by weight only, so he always matched up with boys more than four to five years his age. He eventually gave in and tried to be a bit more serious in practice. Soon after his fifteenth birthday, he placed third place in a local tourney for the first time.

Surprise Trip to Japan!

Four months later, he left, on three days’ notice, on a surprise trip to Tokyo… alone. His parents and Sakabe Sensei organized a three month stay at a dorm that was walking-distance to both the Kodokan and the Tokyo Police Headquarters. He was scheduled for 82 practice days, two hours daily at the Police headquarters in the morning and four hours per night at the Kodokan. The dorm owner had housed his father during college and helped to organize his son’s stay. After losing twenty pounds, with a heavily bruised and injured body, he came home.

Three weeks later, at his first Shodan Shiai, he won six matches. Five ippon under a minute each and a waza-ari. Most of the opponents, were those he had never beaten since he began Judo. He was awarded a Batsugun promotion and became the youngest shodan at that time, in 1968 at age 15!

He consistently won local competitions. His senior year was his first national event at the High School Nationals. He fought through a broken hand in mid-competition to finish second. A year later, he competed in the 1972 Olympic Trials, finishing in sixth place with a 6-1 record.

Two years later, as he was earning his teaching degree at the University, he was approached by the Yudanshakai to help start a high school competition league in the public schools. As only a nidan, he was honored to work with six long-time sensei who also volunteered. Three years later, in 1977, Judo was officially added as a spring sport in the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s public schools. During this time, he started the Wadokan Judo Club, as a home for his area’s Judo participants.

In the early 1980s, he organized high school students from various schools to train together on weekends to compete in the yearly National High School Judo Championships. Most of the students had never competed on the mainland but did well. In 1980, led by future Olympian, Kevin Asano, the ten students won the Most Outstanding Team recognition.

In 1984, Imada Sensei turned over the original Castle High School coaching duties to one of hisgraduate coaches after ten seasons. He turned his attention to training and assisting his students that were building their own programs at other high schools. Since that time and still today, he has regularly coached and traveled to each of their seven schools to mentor the coaches during the seasons on Oahu, Hawaii and Molokai islands.

In 1996, girl teams were allowed in the league. In the 2003 season, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH), the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL), and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation (BIIF) started programs in their leagues. That started the first official State Championships. Currently, there are more than seventy high schools, with over a thousand students each season. As the lone survivor of the original high school program, Imada Sensei has taken on the additional steps of sharing with any team, dojo, or even leagues. Evaluation input, talks, demos and seminars that could help the high schoolers and their coaches keep him busy. He also attended the meets to evaluate the coaches, officials and parents every season, to emphasize proper conduct and etiquette. For the last six years, he also flew out to Maui and Molokai to help their programs and has flown in pre-season demonstration assistants to help raise the level of competition.

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

When violence against women became news during the late 1990s, he organized
a serious self- defense course to help. His free ”Women Awareness and Response
Seminars (WARS)”, was a six week ( 2 times per week) training program.
Students of adult ages were given information, physical and psychological
training. Police, lawyers, Aikido, Kung-fu instruction,, along with “street
smarts” and basic falling/ protective drills provided simple, easy-to-learn
techniques and advice.

Over the course of three years, there were more than 400 graduates and
several dozen “survivors”. Sensei was honored with a proclamation from
the Mayor of Honolulu at the time.

Imada Sensei has always been the organizer of major tournaments for the
50th State Judo Association. From 2008 through 2013, he had run the USJF
National High School Championships. He also was the tournament director
of three USJF Junior, Senior, and Masters National competition, the last
being the 2014 event.

Ten years ago, he decided to distribute a simple collection of Judo history
and etiquette to coaches, parents and older judoka. “Traditions Not to
Be Forgotten” was his reminder for judoka to share the basic history of
Judo and reminders of proper conduct and attitude for students and their
families. Judo is NOT a “sport”, but a way of life. Students don’t have
only to be proud of their medals and trophies, but the WAY they live their
life. His collection has been revised and is still being shared.

Currently, Imada Sensei has been serving as Promotion Committee chair for
the 50th State Judo Association for the last seven years. While still wearing
a judogi for sixty-one years, he anxiously awaits the 50th anniversary
of the Hawaii High School Judo program in 2027, or more fondly 2024, the
starting date of Judo in Hawaii high schools.

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Ray Imada

Ray Imada

2023 © USJF, all rights reserved

Notable Accomplishments

  • Youngest Shodan at that time, in 1968 at 15 years old
  • Help start a high school competition league in the Hawai’i public schools.
  • 1977 started Wadokan Judo Club.
  • In the early 1980s, he organized high school students from various schools
    to train together on weekends to compete in the yearly National High School Judo Championships.
  • In 1984, Imada Sensei turned over the original Castle High School coaching
    duties to one of his graduate coaches after ten seasons. He turned his
    attention to training and assisting his students that were building their
    own programs at other high schools. Since that time and till today, he
    has regularly coached and traveled to each of their seven schools to mentor
    the coaches during the seasons on Oahu, Hawaii and Molokai islands.
  • Organized a serious self-defense course to help violence against women, FREE Program called Women Awareness and Response Seminars (WARS)
  • Honored with a proclamation from the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu
  • Major tournament organizer for the 50th State Judo Association.
  • Published “Traditions Not to Be Forgotten” includes basic history of judo and proper conduct and attitude for students and their families.
  • Serving as Promotions Committee Chair, past 7 years
  • Over 61 years of dedicated judo service as a competitor, High School Judo Coach, Head Instructor, 50 th State Judo Association Promotions Committee Chair, and among the many other countless activities noted above.

“I pick up things from other instructors, I ask questions, I read books, I do everything to try to increase my knowledge.”

“…life is not fun and games. They can realize they have goals, they have to work, and not let anyone just give it to them. I try to make them realize they have to be inquisitive and motivated to bring themselves to what they want to be.”

Pearl City Ken-Shin Tournament

Congratulations to the winners of the Jr Kamikaze Team competition!

Winning the team banner, head bands and swords were Connor Iwane, Ryley Ono, Colin Iwane, and Nigel Sarmiento of Pearl City Hongwanji Judo Club.

The runner-ups from Pearl City Ken-Shin Judo Club took home gift certificates.

Congratualtions to all!

Kazoku Invitational Tournament and Technical Exam

Congratulations to the winners of the Nagekomi Challenge! Contestants tested how many times they could complete their favorite throw in one minute. Both winners were 2 brothers from Pearl City Hongwanji Judo Club!

 1st place Jaylen Yasay: 30 throws!
2nd place Jayden Yasay: 27 throws!

442nd Veteran Memorial Tournament

The annual “Go for Broke” Award is presented by Aiea Hongwanji Judo Club to the competitors with the most Ippon wins and no losses. The 2022 recipients were Connor Badua from Leeward Judo Club, and Logan Puahala representing Hawaii Kaikaku Judo Club. Congratulations to the two mighty warriors for their performance and dedication to Judo!

Dr. Lloyd Migita

Lloyd Migita, a judo red and white belt

Congratulations Dr. Lloyd Migita!

2021 US Judo Hall of Fame Inductee

Dr. Lloyd K. Migita started Judo in 1946 at the age of 7. At 16, he won the Territorial-wide Senior Judo Tournament. He received his Shodan at age 17 and became the assistant instructor at Shobukan Judo Club. He won a silver medal in the 1963 Senior National AAU Judo Tournament and placed second at the United States Judo Olympic Trials at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. At age 24, he was given his Yodan.

Dr. Migita has taught as a guest instructor at various dojos including an Air Force Base near the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1962); University of California at Davis Judo Club (1967-69); and Woodland YMCA Judo Club in Woodland, California (1967–69).

He held positions in the Judo Black Belt Association of Hawaii as a member of the Board of Directors, Review Committee and Insurance Committee. He has also been the JBBAH coach for several Hawaii teams participating in national competitions, the JBBAH trainer for the special senior training program, and a special lecturer for judo instructors and officials at the University of Hawaii in 1983.

We celebrate Dr. Migita’s 74 years of devotion to judo, and sincerely thank him for his contribution to the study and development of judo.

Aoki Sensei

Albert M. Aoki, 89 years old, of Honolulu, Hawaii, passed away on April 21, 2021. Born in
Hilo, Hawaii, to Tamotsu and Mitsuko Aoki. A Korean War veteran, Albert graduated from Iowa State
University. Upon his return, he worked alongside his father Tamotsu and uncle Moto Aoki at American
Savings Loan in Hilo. He ventured in Real-estate, and was a developer of Commercial & Agricultural
properties and then became an International Business Consultant in Land development.

Throughout his life, Albert was an outdoorsman. He attributed his love of outdoors from his
confinement during WWII in the concentration camps along with his parents and siblings. He was an
avid fisherman, hunter, and for over a decade, a top contender in G class Hydroplane speed boat races at
Keehi Lagoon.

His two greatest passions: judo and ranching, encompassed his life. He founded Seidokan Judo Club and
later, 50th State Judo Association, the largest membership in the nation. Aoki-Sensei held rank of
Kyudan 9th and was also the recipient of the Emperor of Japan’s “The Order of the Rising Sun Gold and
Silver Rays” for his exemplary service and dedication as an American-Japanese, who built healthy
connections between Japan and United States. His love of ranching took him all around the world;
Hawaii, Japan, China, Canada, South America, Vietnam, Guam and Australia.

Albert is survived by two sisters (and spouses); his two children (and spouses); three grandchildren;
and one great grandchild.

Congratulations Professor Robert Brink

Congratulations on your being accepted into the 2020 Class of the USJF Hall of Fame.  Your contributions have been acknowledged at the highest level.  Thank you for all you have contributed to Judo.

Official Camp Shirts

2020 Hawaii International Judo Camp tees will be on sale at clinics starting January 3.

Shirts are $20 each. Cash only please. We will not be set up to accept credit cards at the events.

Classic “Shaka” blended with a distinctive Judogi pattern. If you know, you know.
Quantities are very limited for this exclusive run. You’re gonna want this! 

Tournament Activities

Our recent tournaments has been full of activities.

At our last tournament honoring the 442nd Veterans, 3 outstanding judokas we chosen for the most Ippons. Kalei Yasumura from Mililani Hongwanji Judo Club for the girls. Two boys tied for most out standing, Rey Brown from Aiea Hongwanji Judo Club and Seamus Herrington from Kazoku Judo Academy Judo Club. Each won a certificate with the 442nd logo patch, a judo gi donated by Trelco & Grapplers Closet and a huge trophy with the 442nd honoree’s names. 

Half time activities consisted of “Question & Answers” game by the host club, Aiea Hongwanji Judo Club. Students won back packets and draw string warrior bags.

We also had a 5-man “Tug of War”. The Grand Champion was Kazoku Judo Academy. The youth division champion was won by Precision Grappling. The winners received huge bags of Halloween treats and Judo animal key chains. The Grand Champions won the Winner Belt. It was so exciting seeing the crowd cheering on their favorite team. 

November’s tournament will have the “Question & Answers” game with prizes. We will also have guests from our sister city, Ehime, Japan. They will be demonstrating Kata for the audience. Their students will be competing in this event. After the tournament we will be hosting a Shinjiro Sasaki Clinic. He will be sharing very useful techniques that are easy to apply. He is highly recommended by other instructors. He has achieved much greatness in his competitive years. 

“Tug of War” Grand Champions
Kazoku Judo Academy

“Tug of War” Youth Division Champions
Precision Grappling 

Female Outstanding Judoka for the most Ippons
Kalei Yasumura – Mililani Judo Club

Male Most Outstanding Judoka for the most Ippons
TIE: Rey Brown – Aiea Hongwanji / Seamus Herrington – Kozoku Judo Academy