Professor Merlin “Bud” Estes

Born on October 1, 1909, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Francis Merlin “Bud” Estes was the oldest sibling among his brothers Ivan, Burl and his sister Pat. Their parents, James and Olive were migrant workers and most of the children dropped out of school at around age 15 to help support the family.

While out hunting with his brother Ivan, the shotgun accidentally discharged and hit Bud in the right forearm. The injury was severe and took out much of the muscle and bone in his wrist and forearm.

His family moved to Los Angeles, where he studied Judo and earned a Black Belt.  Bud entered the Salvation Army College in San Francisco, studied to be an officer, and was assigned as a Captain to a group in Honolulu in 1930.

While walking down the streets of Honolulu one evening, Bud observed several young toughs attacking an old Japanese man. Believing in his skills and thinking he should equalize the situation, he took on one of the toughs, but watched as the “Old Man” took the rest of the thugs down rather easily.  It turned out that the “Old Man” was Professor Okazaki, and young Bud Estes gave up his judo shodan and joined Professor Okazaki’s class at the Kodenkan as a white belt.

After approximately two years of deep, concentrated study and training, Bud moved to Chico, California, in 1939, and started the Chico Judo and Jujitsu Academy. He and his wife Lucille taught Jujitsu in Chico and seminars across the country.

Professor Estes co-founded the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation with fellow Okazaki students John Cahill, Richard Rickerts, and Ray Law.

Professor Estes was eventually rose to Judan. After teaching a seminar in Ithaca, New York, Prof. Bud Estes passed away on June 7, 1981. Lucille died from cancer shortly thereafter.