Francis Merlin "Bud" Estes

Cofounder of the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation (AJJF)


Born on October 1, 1909 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Bud Estes was the oldest of four siblings. His 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.

At the age of 16, while out hunting with his brother Ivan, a drunk man accused Bud of backing into him. An argument ensued, and Bud received a shotgun blast to the right forearm, head, and shoulder. The injury was severe and took out much of the muscle and bone in his wrist and forearm. Bud spent many months in the hospital recovering.

Bud's family moved to Los Angeles, where he earned a Black Belt in Judo. 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, Hawaii.

While walking down the streets of Honolulu one evening, Bud observed several young thugs attacking what seemed to be an old Japanese gentleman. Believing in his skills and thinking he should equalize the situation, he took on one of the thugs, but he found the rest were taken down easily by the old man. Upon witnessing the quick and easy manner this man introduced a "new discipline" to his attackers, young Bud laid aside his black belt and entered the school where the Japanese American gentleman taught, the Kodenkan, located in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Bud later moved to Chico, California, in 1939 and started the Chico Judo and Jujitsu Academy. He and his wife Lucille (Lukie) lived on the Esplanade in Chico. His wife also taught Jujitsu in Chico. They also taught seminars across the country.

Professor Bud Estes received his Judan (Tenth Degree Black Belt) in 1971. Bud Estes passed away on June 7, 1981.

Co-founder of the AJJF, Professor Bud Estes dedicated over 50 years to the propagation of DanZan Ryu / Kodenkan Jujitsu and is fondly remembered by his family, friends and students as a kind man and a skilled teacher.