Yoshisada Yonezuka

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Yoshisada Yonezuka
Personal information
Born(1937-05-19)May 19, 1937
DiedOctober 18, 2014(2014-10-18) (aged 77)
Hackensack, New Jersey, U.S.

Yoshisada Yonezuka (米塚 義定, Yonezuka Yoshisada, May 19, 1937 – October 18, 2014), was a Judo instructor and two time U.S. Olympic Judo Team coach.

Personal life[edit]

He began training in track and sumo as a child. In 1954, he began to train in judo in high school and became the Northern Japan High School Champion in 1955. He entered Nihon University in 1956.[1] His children includes a son, Nicolas Yonezuka and a daughter, Natacha Yonezuka-Gullo.[2] Yonezuka died at Hackensack University Medical Center Hackensack, New Jersey, on October 18, 2014, of complications of Myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare form of blood cancer that resembles acute leukemia. A bone marrow drive was attempted to no avail.[3]

Martial arts career[edit]

After defeating nine 2nd degree blackbelts in succession at the Kodokan, he received a special promotion to 3rd degree black belt. He also began studying Shorinji Kempo and several styles of karate including wado ryu, and shito-ryu.

In 1959, he was a member of the university team winning the team championship. The following year he graduated Nihon University majoring in business. Following his childhood dream he went to the United States and began teaching judo at West Point Military Academy. In 1960 he moved to the United States.[4] In 1962, Yonezuka founded the Cranford Judo Karate Center. He was also the founding coach of the Judo program at New Jersey Institute of Technology (then known as Newark College of Engineering) during the mid-60s.[5] Additionally, he served as an instructor at the Jerome Mackey judo schools.

Yonezuka was twice chosen to serve as head coach of the United States at the Olympics Judo Team,[6] and he coached three U.S. World Judo Championships Teams as well. Yonezuka believed that the Japanese could not accept that Judo became more like wrestling and less of a martial art.[7] He is also founder, former President and former Executive Director of the U.S. Sumo Federation.[7]

In 2007 he was awarded the rank of Kudan[8] by the United States Judo Federation (USJF), which is the Ninth Degree black belt in Judo becoming one of only several American residents to be honored with the second highest Judo Degree. Since 1995 he also held the 8th Degree Black Belt in Judo from the Kodokan Judo Institute in Japan, an 8th Degree Black Belt in Karate,[9] and was a Godan (Fifth Degree) in Sumo. Additionally he appeared on the cover of the United States Judo Federation Magazine along with Allen Coage in 1977. He would also serve as coach of Sumo Wrestler Emanuel Yarbrough.


  1. ^ "平成21年春の叙勲について(米塚義定氏". Consulate-General of Japan in New York. May 1, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  2. ^ "Yoshisada Yonezuka Sensei - USJF.COM".
  3. ^ Melvin Givens. "Bone marrow drive to be held for well-known judo coach". KITV. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014.
  4. ^ E.M. Swift (September 14, 1988). "A U.S. Model Made in Japan Rigorously trained in the birthplace of the sport, Mike Swain is the first American male ever to win a world championship in judo". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  5. ^ NJIT: Hall of Fame - Yoshisada Yonezuka Induction Class of 1991 - Judo
  6. ^ "Black Belt". Black Belt. Buyer's Guide. 26 (10). Active Interest Media. October 1988. ISSN 0277-3066.
  7. ^ a b The Christian Science Monitor (4 January 1991). "Foreign Judo Jolts Japanese". The Christian Science Monitor.
  8. ^ http://www.nysjudo.org/nysjm.pdf New York State Judo Inc. Minutes Annual Meeting
  9. ^ "Sensei Yonezuka". Archived from the original on August 22, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2010. Cranford Judo & Karate Club: Sensei Yoshisada Yonezuka