Yoshihiro Uchida, Peerless Judo Coach, Is Dead at 104

Yoshihiro Uchida, the longtime San Jose State University coach who helped establish judo as one of the most popular martial arts in America — and who was widely regarded as the best college judo coach in history — died on June 27 at his home in Saratoga, Calif. He was 104.

His daughter Lydia Uchida-Sakai confirmed the death.

The son of Japanese immigrants, Uchida, who went by the nickname Yosh, began coaching judo at San Jose State in the 1940s, while he was still a student there.

It was a pivotal moment for the sport, which had been created in 1882 in Japan as a means of self-defense, built around a series of throws and holds that use opponents’ weight and movement against them. Americans had long incorporated elements of judo into other combat sports, and returning soldiers from the Pacific Theater brought a new level of interest in martial arts to the country.

Uchida, who had been practicing judo since he was 10, despaired over the quality of the training available, especially at the higher levels. Working with a judo coach at the University of California, Berkeley, he established standards for competition, including weight classes, and in 1953 won approval from the Amateur Athletic Union.

The first national amateur championships took place at San Jose State that same year. The first collegiate championships took place in 1962, and Mr. Uchida’s team won.