I’m sharing with you a new venture that I believe can be a great help in making our nation a better place, especially with the current environment of racial tension, changes in policing and the need for more equity. With this message today I wanted to talk about our vision, a little about my Judo story and changing the world! To begin with I’ll share with you my own personal story of how I came to love Judo.
I grew up in a predominantly black and ethnic neighborhood in northern Ohio. As a somewhat quiet kid - a little unathletic - I went through a phase where I was bullied. As a result I started taking Judo. I studied with the Sensei Mr. Keil Soon Park. Bertram today holds black belts in judo and jiujitsu.
With Judo I realized that by training hard and if I did what the coaches and leaders taught that I might do well. I totally enjoyed the sense of progress and confidence I learned from taking Judo. I can remember it well, my first Judo tournament where I lost both matches. Being so young, after the first match I just cried because I wanted to win at something. After that first loss, my Mom told me not worry about the loss.
“Go out there and just DO better.” In the second match, even though it too was a loss, I did DO better, didn’t cry and from that moment in the early 70’s I knew Judo would be my sport. But there was a major challenge, my family could not afford to pay for Judo lessons.The blessing is that even after my Mom told Mr. Park we couldn’t afford it, he said don’t worry about it. “Come to every practice.” So I did just as my coach told me. By age 13 since I was dominating my age group, Mr. Park had me competing in the men’s division, where I met mixed success but a great amount of progress. Enough that around the same age I told my friend, Ron Mosley, that I wanted to make the Olympic team.
Kiel Soon Park & Gary Goltz in 1970 & 2020
This was after seeing Alan Coage take the bronze medal in the Olympic games. Even then we both had dreams, Ron wanted to go to college, Ivy League, go into business and be successful and I wanted to go to the Olympics.
As an Olympic Training center resident athlete, I became a member of an elite team competing internationally at the us open and invitational, as well as at the Sung Gu Cup and a few others. Being coached and mentored by Leo White and Coach John Saylor, again, I was truly blessed to have this once in a lifetime experience. After series of injuries I was forced to use what I had learned from Judo. Specifically, judo values in joining the work force as a counselor.
Bertram Griggs & Leo White
In applying judo values and ethic in the work setting, I became a senior licensed addiction counselor, manager, and certified crisis prevention and intervention trainer for the City and County of Denver. I retired from this career in 2016. With my background in judo and our values plus expertise I had developed in dealing with abrasive and sometimes violent clients, I was tapped to lead our program in de-escalation.
Having been involved in a sport that required mental and physical skills, in combination with being a licensed and experienced counselor, I had developed the unique ability to utilize verbal persuasion to calm heighted situations and people. And, when needed use safe physical de-escalation techniques to keep people safer.
After retiring from this work in 2016 and thinking about the idea of combining what I had learned to help others, I went back to a close childhood friend who I had shared my Olympic dreams with, Ron Mosley.
We began brainstorming how we could turn my experience into an education and training venture. Ron had experience working in commercial sales and marketing with several large corporations as well as some recent technology startups.
Even prior to the Covid19 pandemic, we saw a need for combining my unique skill set because of all the pain and suffering we were seeing on the news. As African Americans, the unrest we were witnessing in our country increased our desire to want to make a difference, and leverage our know-how to help our communities.
Whether a person works in airlines, schools, small or large customer service businesses, or law enforcement, there’s not a place that deals with people that cannot use what we teach.
With all this in mind we started the GentleWay Institute. Our Mission, keep people safe. Our Purpose, help people use words that calm situations and actions to enhance safety for all parties. Hence the name GentleWay, which represents, judo and judo’s values.
We want to teach people to treat everyone with dignity and respect. As part of the solution, we also want to train people how to use safe judo techniques, in a non-violent way, that allow someone to escape, getaway, or neutralize a situation.
The GentleWay Institute is a minority owned business that offers three basic courses: Verbal Persuasion, Safe Judo Physical De-escalation, and Social Styles. We currently are affiliated with Summit Metro Parks in Akron, Ohio. To learn more visit: GentleWay Institute’s Website.
3 Club Scrimmage held last Sunday (Photos)
- 13th Friday to 15th Sunday - Golden State Open & Israel Hernandez Clinic, Covina, CA
- 19th Thursday to 22nd Sunday - Senior National Championships, Daytona Beach, FL
- 18th Saturday - Sensei Gary's Birthday Scrimmage, Claremont, CA
- 24th Friday & 26th Sunday - National Junior Olympics, San Jose, CA
- 17th Sunday - California State Games Judo Event, San Diego, CA
- 21st Thursday to 24th Sunday - Grassroots Judo Summer Nationals, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- 28th Thursday to 31st Sunday - U.S. Open, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- 2nd Friday to 4th Sunday - Grassroots Judo Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa. CA