Sensei John Anderson Passes Away

March 16, 2017
John Anderson

John Anderson, 1928 – 2017

To our judo family:

 

Sensei John T. Anderson passed away on Wednesday, March 16th, 2017.

 

John joined the U.S. Navy at 16 for the WWII effort, and started judo in 1946 while stationed in Hawaii.  After being transferred to San Diego, he joined three different clubs so he could practice six days per week.

 

After the war and spending five years in the navy, he moved to Baltimore where he taught judo at the Baltimore YMCA as a brown belt.  He also studied under Don Draeger, and was a founder, along with Lanny Miyamoto and Kenzo Uyeno, of the Baltimore Judo and Jiujutsu Institute of Maryland, eventually renamed as the Baltimore Judo Club that he operated for a half century and hosted the Senior Nationals in Baltimore in the 1970s.

 

John met Laureen Pearson, a young woman who was working in downtown Baltimore, while roller skating and skate dancing at the Carlins Park Roller Rink.  She decided it would be a good idea if she had some self-defense training and ended up at the Baltimore Judo Club.  Her sister, Peggy Lea Gosnell, says that “It was pretty much love at first sight”.  They were married for over 50 years, and created a family of four children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

 

John rose to the level of Kodokan Hachidan (8th degree recognized by the original school of judo in Japan) and was one of the earliest U.S. high ranking judokas of non-Asian heritage.

 

At one time, he was widely regarded as the most knowledgeable instructor of newaza (ground grappling) in the country, and was invited to give newaza clinics at the U.S. Senior Nationals.

 

In the 1950s, he was a founder of Shufu Judo Yudanshakai (USJF Black Belt association for the east coast), and over the years held virtually all of the high level board and committee positions in that organization, including Registration Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman of the Board of Examiners for four years, Vice-President for eight years, and President for 17 years.

 

John was very active at the National level. He served as First Vice President of the United States Judo Federation (USJF) and as Chairman of the Standards Committee, Chairman of the Teachers Institute, and member of the National Tournament Committee, National Board of Examiners, Kata Development and Certification Committee, and Self-Defense Committee.

 

John and his long-time friend and Shufu co-founder Jimmy Takemori used to travel throughout Shufu from Maine to Florida spreading judo by providing promotionals and clinics.

 

John was also a founding member of Maryland Judo Inc, the state member of United States Judo Inc (USJI), the National Governing Body (NGB) of the U.S. Olympic Judo program.

 

He was certified as a National Referee, officiated at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and was a certified National Kata Judge.

 

John received several prestigious awards including the Jeremy Glick Memorial Spirit of Judo Award in 2009. (Glick was one of the 9/11 heroes on flight 93.)

 

John was a multifaceted judo teacher.  His students were prominent national and international champions and competitors in both Kata (form practice) and Shiai (fighting competition) as well as thousands of recreational players.

 

He was also regarded as one of the most respected and honorable men in the sport of Judo. He maintained a personal and informal relationship with his students, and was addressed simply as “John”, without the formal title of “Sensei”.  But he was a true Sensei in every sense, giving all of his time and efforts to work for the success of his students and for the major national and regional judo organizations.

 

Visitation and funeral services for John will be at the Eline Funeral Home, 11824 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown, MD 21136.

 

Visitations will be on Saturday, March 25th, from 1 pm – 3 pm, and from 5 pm – 7 pm.

 

Funeral services will be on Sunday, March 26th at 10 am.

 

The following link will provide his full obituary and detailed information for services:

 

 

Many thanks to Eric Spears, John Morrisson, Barry Hoffman, Richard Hugh, Tad Nalls, and Peggy Lea Gosnell, all of whom contributed to this summary of the judo career of John Anderson, a teacher and friend to so many of us.

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