A Whole Lot of Judo

This post is a little over due but we have been so busy over the past week and a half that I just have not had time to sit down and write anything.   I have started posting videos of techniques in the meantime that you can checkout at http://www.allaboutjudo.com/category/video/.   The first is of me teaching one of my favorite turn overs into tate shiho gatame and the other one is 2012 Paralympian, Ron Hawthorne demonstrating a choke he picked up from one of the Japanese 66kg players at camp.

2013 US International Training Camp

2013 US International Training Camp (Not everyone made this picture)

As I said, the past week has been very busy.   The US hosted three tournaments on July 13-14, then we had a three day training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.   The first tournament, held on Saturday, July 13, was the 2013 IBSA World Youth Championships.   The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) hosted this multi-sport event, but Heidi Moore was the tournament director and I was the coach for USA Judo’s team.       The very young US team did well, earning 1 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze medals.   I’ll post links to the full results at the end of this article.   One of the standouts for the US team was newcomer, Ben Goodrich who took first in the boys 18-20 -100kg division.   He only had one other kid so the fought the best 2 out of 3 with Ben winning both matches pretty easily.     Ben was a high school wrestler who had a 33 and 3 record in his senior year.   I found out about Ben through my old teammate, Jim Mastro, and actually got to meet him when I went to Jim’s camp back in July.   I wrote about my trip to Minnesota in “Sports Camp, What an Experience.”    Ben won both his matches by throwing his opponent from Russia with a variation of Ko Soto Gari, then pinning him for ippon.   Ben is only a yellow belt in judo so he still has room for growth but is a tremendous athlete, with a bright future in Paralympic Judo.

The next event, also on Saturday, July 13, was the Para Pan American Championships also hosted by the USABA with Heidi as the tournament director and me as the coach for USA Judo’s team.   In this one, the US team, comprised of a mix of athletes from newcomers to Paralympians.     The US team earned 2 gold, 4 silver, and 3 bronze medals in this one.   Some of the most exciting matches of the day were in the -90 and -100 kg division with our 2012 Paralympic medalists, Dartanyon Crockett and Myles Porter.   Dartanyon dominated the -90 kg division, including the final match when Dartanyon, 2012 Paralympic bronze medalist, went up against 2012 Paralympic champion, Jorge Hierrezuelo Marcillis of Cuba.   Dartanyon lost this match when he was caught for a waza ari and he couldn’t get it back, but Dartanyon completely dominated the Paralympic Champion throughout the match.   I know I may be a little biased here but that attach that resulted in the waza ari was one of only two attacks in the entire match by the Cuban.   Dartanyon was working him over and threw him for what everyone except the referees in the match thought was ippon.   But the scoring in judo is subjective, what bothered me the most is how the Cuban finished the match with a wazari and not one shido!   It is beyond me how you can spend so much time in a match without attacking and not even draw one shido.   I have seen players do a lot more work than the Cuban did in this match and get 4 shidos.   The Cuban is great player, I’m not trying to take anything away from him but in that match Dartanyon was a far superior player even if the referees did not allow the scoreboard to show it.   I will say that the Cuban better get to work because the way Dartanyon has developed over the past year, it will not be long before he will be looking up at Dartanyon on the medal stand!

Bowing in at the 2013 US International Championships for the Blind

Bowing in at the 2013 US International Championships for the Blind

The other exciting division was the -100kg division.   This was a round-robin match-up with 2012 Paralympic silver medalist, Myles Porter – USA, 2000 gold 2011 bronze medalist (81kg), Isao Cruz – Cuba, and 2000, 2004, 2008 gold, and 2012 bronze medalist, Antonio Silva – Brazil.   The first time through, that’s right I said the first time through, Silva beat Cruz by ippon, Porter beat Silva by ippon, then Cruz beat Porter by ippon.   In that match, Myles was looking a little flat and got caught in a pin.   After the ref called ippon the Cuban player sat up over Myles with his hands raised and yelled something celebratory in Spanish then stood up and turned to the obviously pro-Myles crowd and celebrated his win.   A little side note, I remember this kid from the 1998 World Championships when the US team that I was on fought Cuba in the team competition for the bronze medal.   He fought a really tough match with our 81kg player Richard Kinney.   The match went down to the very end with Cuba pulling out the win.   After the match Cruz ran over and started shouting in the face of my coach, Larry Lee.   It was very heated, but Larry only responded by holding up 5 fingers and saying 5th, because even with his win, we won the overall round to take the bronze medal.

Ok, back to the less distant past.   Because each player had won 1 match by ippon and lost 1 match by ippon, they ended in a 3-way tie, so the division had to be fought again.   In the first match, Cruz beat Silva who was visibly tired throughout the match.     The next match was Porter and Silva, but, exhausted from his last three matches, Silva pulled out, leaving Porter and Cruz.   After losing to Cruz in the first round, then having him taunt him after the win, Myles was fired up and dominated Cruz, knocking him down a few times then arm-barring him for ippon.   This was the last match of the tournament and made for a very exciting finish!

Gi's drying at the OTC

Can you tell there is a camp going on?

I also wanted to congratulate Adnan Gutic for his first Pan American win.   Adnan has been with us for a few years now and missed qualifying for the 2012 Games by a few matches, but is working hard to make the team in 2016.   Adnan is one of the hardest working athletes I have ever worked with so it was really awesome to see him on top of the podium.   When the winners were announced there was a question from the Brazilian team who thought their player had finished second.   I ran over to the announcer and took a look at the bracket to make sure.   Because it was a round robin division with 5 players, it is not just about wins, but how you win, so it came down to the total number of points and the Brazilian had in fact taken third.   When I finished explaining that to the Brazilian coaches, I heard Adnan from atop the podium say, “but I’m still in first right?”   Great job Adnan!

Now on to tournament number three for the weekend, the US International Championships for the Blind, hosted by USA Judo with Heidi as the tournament director and me as the USA team coach.   Over the past few years we have hosted a VI US Open along with the regular US Open but since there is no US Open this year we decided to host a separate event and this turned out to be one of the biggest VI events in the world, far bigger than anything previously held in the United States.   We had 83 VI athletes, including 12 of the medalists from the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.   In this event, the US team earned 1 silver, and 6 bronze medals.   This was a very strong event, with Dartanyon Crockett taking bronze with another tough loss to the Cuban in the semi-final match.   He went on to beat one of the Canadian players, Tony Walby, for the bronze medal.   Walby was an elite player in the sighted ranks in Canada for many years. Myles lost in the semi-final to Oliver Upmann from Germany due to a leg grab, then lost a tough match to the Cuban to take 5th on the day.

Myles Porter and Ron Hawthorne with, Chief of US Paralympics,  Charlie Huebner,

Myles Porter and Ron Hawthorne with, Chief of US Paralympics, Charlie Huebner at camp

2012 Paralympian, Ron Hawthorne took a hard fought bronze.   Ron had a tough first match against Selli Musa of Turkey.   Ron dominated the match and had several small scores then threw the Turkish player for ippon with Uchi Mata Sukashi.   In his next match he fought a tough Korean player.   There was no score about a minute into the match when Ron grabbed the leg and was disqualified from the match!   Remind me to write a blog on the leg grab and other IJF rules!   The loss to Korea   who, by the way, went on to win by getting leg grabbed in the final as well, dropped Ron into the bronze medal match where he blasted  Taiga Kato of Japan with a beautiful Tai Otoshi in the first minute of the match to win the bronze medal!

Overall the events ran very well and we are hoping to make the US International a yearly event and are even looking into what it will take to make it a qualifying event for the Paralympic Games.   As of right now there are only three events a judo athlete can attend to qualify for the Paralympic Games, and that is not nearly enough!   Wow, I am seeing all kinds of potential future blog topics as I am writing this one.

Ok, so now the tournament is over, it’s time for camp.   After two great days of competition we had a three-day training camp at the OTC.   The camp format was two practices a day for three days.   All but the last practice started with a warm-up then about 20-30 minutes of technical practice, then randori.   Rather then Heidi and I doing the technical portion of every practice, we thought it would be good to get some of the other coaches involved.   I taught for the first practice, then 3-time Olympian Celita Schutz did the evening practice on the first day.   Kumagai Sensei of Japan took the first practice on the second day and J.P. Bell of Great Britain took the second practice on day 2.   Heidi took the technical portion of the first practice on day 3 and then we did not do a technical session for the last practice.   Some of the teams had left after the morning session so we decided to just warm-up and go right into randori and we finished a few minutes early.

US Coach, Heidi Moore with Swedish Coach and friend, Martin Pernheim

US Coach, Heidi Moore with Swedish Coach and friend, Martin Pernheim

All three tournaments and the camp were a great success and several of the coaches told me if we have the US International and a camp next year and do the same thing they will definitely attend.   The biggest concern you have as a tournament director is hoping people will come to your event then hoping everything runs smoothly.   For the weekend, we had 120 athletes over all three tournaments with 83 in the US International and 70 athletes stayed for camp.   Can you imagine a camp with 70 blind people on the mat at the same time?

I have watched Heidi worry over the Denver Classic for the past 12 years.   It has always been a great event because Heidi does such a great job of organizing and running it.   I also feel the three tournaments and camp were such a huge success because Heidi did such a great job of recruiting all the other countries and because she did such a great job organizing and running them.   She also has an awesome assistant (lackey) – me.   I’m only a great assistant because I do what she tells me to do!

So for that I applaud USA Judo for allowing Heidi to take charge and run the event and Heidi for all her hard work to make the event such a success!

I also wanted to say a big THANK YOU to the OTC athletes.   Many of the athletes not only came to the evening practice, which was an hour earlier than their normal practice time, but they also came to the morning workout as well.   Your time and efforts are greatly appreciated, not only by me, but by the international players coaches as well!

2013 ParaPan American Results
2013 US International Championships Results

As always, thanks for reading.

Talk to you soon…

Do Dumb Juvenile Delinquents Grow Up to be Stupid Criminals?

As the tag line suggests, this blog is about sharing our judo experiences.   Well, last night I had an all-new experience in judo.   I teach the advanced classes at Denver Judo, so I don’t often get to attend the beginning classes.   We have some really awesome instructors who teach the beginning classes so Heidi and I can spend some time together with our son, not on the mat.   I do enjoy going to the beginning class but it has been a few months since I have been to one.   Last week the instructor for our Tuesday class had to move to Dallas to fulfill a new work obligation and will be gone for a year.   While we find someone else to teach that class, Heidi and I will be teaching the beginning class.   Last night was the first one that we had to cover and boy was it exciting.   I was telling the aunt of one of our members that I am going to expect this level excitement every week, but actually I hope this will be the most exciting one, for a while, at least.

Mad Mx just after catching our would be burglars at Denver Judo!

Mad Mx just after catching our would be burglars at Denver Judo!

We have an apartment above the dojo that Jim, who I wrote about last week, and his wife Jessica use to live in, but now one of our other black belts, Ryan, lives there.   He moved in about a week and a half ago.   The apartment can be accessed through a door from just inside the dojo lobby or through a door that leads directly to the outside.   Ryan usually comes in through the dojo then goes through the inside door, so when he comes down from judo he doesn’t lock that door.   The door to the outside is always locked.

So last night, we are about 5 minutes into our warm-up for practice and a kid comes in and finds Bandi, whose daughter is in the class, sitting on the couch in the lobby.   Bandi is one of the best judo players to ever walk into our dojo.   He moved her from Mongolia in 2005 after taking 2nd at the Korean Open, which was a very tough tournament.   Bandi has been out of judo for a while due to work, but he is one of those guys who doesn’t practice for 6 or more months then shows up the week before the Denver Classic and walks through the 90kg division full of elite players.   Anyway, his English is not all that good so he calls down to the mat asking for someone to come talk to this kid who he assumes is interested in learning more about judo.   So, Nikki, a brown belt goes up to talk to him.   She invites him to take off his shoes and sit on the balcony to watch the class to see what judo is all about.       We often have kids from the neighborhood surrounding the dojo come in to watch.

We carried on with our warm-ups and after about 5 minutes, the kids who Nikki later told me she found out was 15 years old, gets up and leaves.   I remarked to Ryan and some of the others, that I guess we were too boring for him.   As soon as he left, another kid appears on the balcony.   One of our other instructors, Max, notices this exchange and after a few minutes becomes suspicious and goes upstairs to the lobby to see what is going on.   Max is a black belt who has been with us for several years and has been in judo on and off for about 45 years and is one tough dude!   Max was there to help me with the beginning class because he is going to cover the class next Tuesday when I am out of town attending the training camp following the US International Visually Impaired Judo Championships.

When Max gets to the dojo lobby he finds the second kid and a third kid but does not see the first kid.   Feeling that something is amiss, Max starts questioning the kids as to why they are there and not at home.   I could hear him talking to them but couldn’t hear what he was saying.   I had started teaching the first technique of the night.   All of a sudden I hear Max getting louder so I start going toward the stairs up to the lobby when I hear Max shout for someone to come up and call 911.      Of course, being that Denver Judo is my club, my first thought is that something happened and someone got hurt.   I ran up to the lobby to find Max with the first kid’s face pressed to the wall and his arm pinned behind his back.   I ask something along the lines of “What the hell is going on?”   Max yells that he caught this kid trying to rob us.   He then yells to Bandi to come hold the kid so he can get the others.   I go back down and ask Nikki to watch the class and when I go back up I can hear Max outside yelling at the kids to sit down.

Denver Police Department BadgeAt this point, Max, Bandi, and Ryan seem to have everything under control so I went back down to the mat to check on the class.   After getting them going on a new technique I see Bandi come out on the balcony so I assumed the police were there and did not need him to hold the first kid’s face against the wall.   I went back up and find that the police are not yet there but Jesse, who had called 911 earlier, is taking his turn holding the kid against the wall.   I few minutes later the police arrived and got the story from Max who had seen the kid coming down the stairs with Ryan’s Xbox stuffed in his shorts.   They talked to Ryan whose apartment was burglarized and took the older kid, I assume, to the station.

It was a very exciting practice and over all the only real damage that was done was that Ryan had to pay $140 to have a lock smith come open the door to his apartment because his keys were up stairs and the kid locked the doors when he went up to load his shirt and pants with Ryan’s possessions.   The other damage that was done is that this kid is now in the system, if he wasn’t already.

The whole thing was more annoying than anything, especially to Ryan.   The thing I am so perplexed about is the mentality of these kids.   I can only imagine the scheming that went into this one.   The older kids comes in, scopes out the place and upon finding 4 or 5 black belts a few brown belts and some yellow and white belts, tells the smaller kids, hey, go keep an eye on all those trained fighters so I can steal all their stuff.   Let’s not forget the extremely skilled fighter on the couch.   Granted Bandi was not in his gi, but he was sitting right there when the kid snuck up the stairs.      It sucks that it happened but it’s a shame it didn’t happen when one of the many police officers in our club were not there.   Of course if there had been a cop there, the other guys would not all have had the opportunity to hold the kid against the wall.   I kinda wish I would have taken a turn myself.     I also should have gotten pictures of all the guys and myself holding the kid.   His face was obscured by the wall it was smashed against, so it would have been ok to get pictures, right?

So my question stands, do dumb juvenile delinquents grow up to be stupid criminals or do they learn from their mistakes?   Going to jail is a hard way to learn but I guess if it doesn’t make you chose the straight and narrow, I would think it would at least give you incentive to do a better job so you don’t end up there again.   I would love to hear any comments you have no this situation..

I’m making light of this situation but the fact is, it is just stuff that he was trying to steal.   Don’t get me wrong, I abhor stealing and people that, rather than working hard, take from others, but I also hate the road this kid is going down and hope this experience will not be the start of something that will lead him down the wrong path for the rest of his life.   He is still young, so my hope is that he learns from this experience.   Maybe being taken in a police car to the station will scare the hell out of him and if not, his parents will put the fear of God in him.   However it happens, I truly hope he learns something from this, even if it is nothing more than he is not smart enough to be a successful criminal!

Please share your thoughts below.

As always, thanks for reading.

Talk to you soon…