last updated 20 vii 2016
Vince Tamura was born in Fife, Washington, one of eleven children. It was there in a Japanese-American community, that he first became interested in Judo. At the age of five, Vince stepped on Judo mat for the first time. After residing approximately twelve years in the Pacific Northwest, he moved to Chicago where he studied advanced Judo and self-defense under the tutelage of his brother, Masato Tamura. With Mas’ encouragement, Vince began to enter major Judo tournaments. He won the U.S. National Championships in 1954, 1956 and in 1959. From 1951 to 1959 he never placed lower than third in any AAU competition. Vince represented the United States at the World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Japan in 1956 and was a quarter finalists. In 1964, again in Tokyo, he served as a referee and judge at the first officially recognized Judo competition of the Olympics.
At the age of 15, Vince was already teaching judo. Before he graduated from high school, Vince had attained the rank of Sandan or 3rd Degree Black Belt, a feat almost unheard of in the Judo community.
Following graduation from high school, Vince entered the army and served with the Combat Engineers of the First Cavalry Division during the Korean War, during which he taught self-defense and saw front-line duty as a rifleman.
When his division was relieved, he was transferred to Japan for six months before rotation back to the States. During those six months he was able to visit and study at the Kodokan, the world’s most renowned Judo facility.
After his discharge from the army, he returned to Chicago and attended Business College and worked with his brother Mas teaching Judo at the Jiu Jitsu Institute. He moved to Dallas in 1960, and opened the Tamura Judo Institute. Literally hundreds of Texans have studied Judo and self-defense at his school, and Tamura-trained Judoka have earned many championships and trophies in state, regional and national meets.
With his brother Masato (8th Dan and one of America’s most revered Judo teachers), he helped devise many of the self-defense techniques now used by the United States Military and numerous law enforcement agencies.
Most recently in 2004, sensei Tamura was honored by the Judo community through his promotion to 9th degree Black Belt, through the USJA, making him the highest ranked Judoka in the United States.