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Masao Fukuma: One of just a few living Judo Legends in American Judo

Masao Fukuma

Born: 1943 in Okayama, Japan
Trained: Okayama, Tokyo and Kanagawa

• 1965 All Japan National Team Tournament (Represented Kanagawa)
• 1968 US Senior Nationals 176 lbs - 2nd
• 1970 SPAAV - Open Class - 1st place
• Grand Champion - 1st place

• Daijuken 1967-1969 • Venice 1967-1974 • Gardena YMCA 1967-1978
• Norwalk 1975-Present

(Note from the Editor: A trait seen in many accomplished judo players is humbleness, a virtue of the person’s character and so is it with Fukuma Sensei. The information in the article was collected over the years, with input from different senseis’ and involved much digging, prying and coaxing from Fukuma Sensei.)

The head sensei of Norwalk Judo Dojo comes from a family rich in the heritage of judo. Masao Fukuma’s family owns a private dojo called Kobukan in Okayama, Japan which was started by his Grandfather. His Grandfather was originally schooled in jujitsu and later transitioned to judo. Sensei’s youngest brother is now the head sensei at the school.

Fukuma Sensei has 5 brothers, all black belts, with the lowest degree being a 3rd degree.

Fukuma Sensei started judo around the age of 5 or 6, his first thought of judo was that “I did not like judo.” He continued through junior high school and high school. During his junior high
school years, he started to enjoy judo. In high school he trained six days a week, with tournaments
on Sunday.

After high school he was sent to train at Asashi Dojo in Yokohama which was one of the two power houses in Yokohama and in Japan. Asashi Sensei coached Okano in the 1964 Olympics. Their rival dojo in near by Yokosuka produced champions such as Inokuma and Takahashi.

In 1965, Fukuma Sensei represented the Kanagawa prefecture in the prestigious All Japan Team Championship. In this tournament he defeated Takahashi. Takahashi was never able to defeat Fukuma as a later rematch ended in a draw. At a Kohaku (compete until you lose) tournament, in the ni-dan category, Fukuma Sensei defeated 12 straight opponents.

In 1967, at the age of 24, Fukuma Sensei immigrated to the United States. In the 1968, at the South Pacific AAU (SPAAU) tournament he placed 2nd and in the 1970 SPAAU, he was Grand Champion. In the early days of judo there was a Grand Champion classification. The individual weight category champions then had matches to determine the Grand Champion.

Fukuma Sensei is known for his left hand uchimata, tai-otoshi and ashibarai (footwork).

Information provided by www.norwalkjudo.com

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Comment by Richie Endow on August 4, 2010 at 1:35pm
Sensei Masao Fukuma is an awesome sensei. I've known for many years now, and he's always been very, very kind, generous and respectful. Sensei Fukuma's judo is awesome too. He's over 60 years old, and he can wipe out everyone else on the mat of every age and rank. If you want to know what real judo is about...Sensei Fukuma can show you. =) There's definitely not many senseis like Fukuma, Hiraoka, Shinohara, Nagatoshi and those alike. Richie Endow

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