Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dr. Yosh Senda 1922-2009

I was sad to hear of the passing today of Dr. Yosh Senda of Lethbridge Alberta. Dr. Senda's accomplishments as a foundational figure in the world of Judo would be too numerous to mention, but here is a short list, in no particular order:

  • Highest ranking Judo Sensei in Alberta and Canada at 9th Degree
  • Taught Judo from children to elite athletes for over 50 years
  • Order of Canada
  • Alberta Sports Hall of Fame
  • Olympic and National Level Coach
  • Developed a long list of elite level Judo competitors
  • Held every conceivable executive committee position in Judo Alberta and Judo Canada, as well as international bodies
  • Developed exchange programs with Schools and Judo Clubs in Japan
  • Taught Judo and practiced well into his 80's

My first Judo Sensei in Edmonton drilled into the significance of Dr. Senda and the history of Judo in Alberta, particularly southern Alberta. My Sensei was a sharp guy and wanted us to learn about the mix between Alberta and Judo history. From the little I know of Dr. Senda's early life, his family came to Alberta as internees during the early 40's. The young men sometimes had nothing to do so they played a lot of sports. Dr. Senda developed a love for Judo and the rest is history.

There was always rivalry between the Judo clubs of Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge. Whenever I went to tournaments in Lethbridge I would obsess way too much about whether I could beat Dr. Senda's students. I rarely did. They were very good, well taught and well coached.

The last time I appeared before a Judo Alberta grading committee I was beyond nervous. I felt privileged that Dr. Senda was present that day. It made us all try harder.

Dr. Senda was very soft spoken, and his message to Judo people was always the same: keep trying and never give up.

I know that he will be missed by a lot of people.

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