Judo Blog: Update on the 2022 Grassroots Judo™ Winter Nationals® & Clinics

Judo Blog: Update on the 2022 Grassroots Judo™ Winter Nationals® & Clinics
In 2006 I was asked to start hosting a national tournament. That event evolved into the Grassroots Judo™ Winter Nationals® & Clinicsthe largest event of this kind in the country!

In 2019, I felt the event needed a bigger sponsor with more resources so I donated it to the Nanka Judo Yudanshakaiwhich I had the honor to serve as its past president.

Here is an update from Eddie Khchirian this year’s Event Director.

Over the past 2 years sports have taken a big hit during the Pandemic, especially close contact martial arts like Judo. We are super excited to be having the 2022 Grassroots Judo™ Winter Nationals®after having to cancel it in 2021. Looks like judo in Southern California has made a huge rebound and dojos are growing at an unprecedented pace. With the expected growth we have decided to make this year's tournament a 2 day event on Saturday and Sunday December 3 and 4 with a Coach and Referee Clinic on Friday December 2nd. We have also brought in Olympian Marti Malloy and her husband David Torres to run a Skills Clinic on Saturday December 3 after the 1st day of competition.

Registration was launched just about 10 days ago and we have already have 300+ competitors with athletes coming from as far aways as Tahiti and Canada. At this pace we should top 1000 competitors making this one of the largest tournaments of the year.

The venue at Azusa Pacific University is a world class venue and the accommodations are amazing. Over the past 15 years Gary Goltz the founder of this event has done an amazing job growing it into one of the premier Judo tournaments in the country. Gary was very gracious in donating this event to Nanka to run for years to come and we hope that we can meet and exceed his expectations.

Looking for to seeing everyone!

Eddie Khchirian

This year's Grassroots Judo™ Winter Nationals®

is a two day event scheduled Saturday and Sunday December 3- 4.
Venue will be Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California 91702

Coaches and Referee Clinic with Calvin Terada (IJF-A), Richie Endow (IJF-B) & Phillipe Morotti - Friday December 2nd, 5pm to 8pm

Clinic with Marti Malloy (US Olympian) - Saturday December 3rd, 4pm to 6pm

Here’s lookback at a great moment in the history of this event from 2009!

The Ultimate Throw

by Edward Pollard, Black Belt's Managing Editor

Photo by Gary Wagstaff

Click here to watch Gokor’s uchimata in the final on YouTube #1 & YouTube #2

When Gokor Chivichyan walked into the United States Judo Association’s and United States Judo Federation’s 2008 Winter Nationals® held La Verne, California last December, he was dutifully playing the part of the sensei. He'd brought a number of his best grapplers--including Roman Mitichyan, the judoka who insisted he was able to continue competing on Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter despite having suffered a broken arm.

Neil Simon, USJF President, Olympians, Jimmy Pedro, Ronda Rousey, Jim Bregman, with Dr. AnnMaria

DeMars, USJA President, Gary Goltz, USJA COO, and Robert Fukuda, USJF, Executive Director

Not long after arriving, Chivichyan was confronted by Gary Goltz, the event's creator and host who also serves as COO of the USJA and Head Sensei of Goltz Judo in Claremont. Goltz's mission was to convince the Armenian expat to enter the master's blackbelt division.

“I'm not here for the tournament,” Chivichyan told Goltz. “I'm here because my students are competing.” Goltz countered that if Chivichyan entered, he'd make a lot of spectators happy. “Listen,” Chivichyan said, “I'm 45 years old and retired. You want me to go up against world-class guys? They will kick my butt!”

Perhaps betraying the fact that he was beginning to entertain the prospect, the former judo and sambo champ then said he didn't have his gi with him. Goltz offered to provide him with whatever he needed. "I said I'd remove any barriers such as pre-registration, weigh-in, fees, and so on," Goltz said.

Before the Black Belt Hall of Fame member knew it, the loudspeaker announced that he'd be fighting. “I'd called the pooling room and told my guy to add him,” Goltz said. “As a judo advocate, I knew what it would mean to get Gokor out there.” As he'd predicted, a wave of supporters came to encourage Chivichyan and express their excitement.

“I was too embarrassed to back out after that,” Chivichyan said. “They gave me a gi and got me ready to go. The problem was that I didn't have enough time to warm up.”

His fears proved to be unfounded as he faced his first opponents. “In judo, when you pick them up and throw them to the floor perfectly, the fight is considered over,” Chivichyan said. “I didn't play too much on the ground. I started to, but those guys knew my style. I had to come up with something else.

Judo rules don't give you much time on the ground, so I decided to save my energy and follow another strategy. All the guys were very good, but I was determined to finish everybody before I got tired because I wasn't in shape. I thought I'd be lucky to get to the final.”

As the tournament progressed, he almost didn't make it. Chivichyan defeated a man named Gary Butts an officer for the Los Angeles Police and West Coast National Training Center Judo Coach in an early match. He found himself facing the same opponent again at the next stage of the competition, but Chivichyan pulled a groin muscle and was forced to forfeit because he asked for medical attention.

“I couldn't even move," he said. “The doctors told me that ignoring it would only make the damage worse. I said; it’s already damaged. What does it matter if there's more I'm going to continue?”

In the final, Chivichyan was once again pitted against Butts, because of the tournament’s double-elimination format.

The man immediately sensed Chivichyan's weakness. “He started trying to sweep the leg that was hurting,” Chivichyan said. “I thought I should be smarter, so I threw him.”

The throw, an uchimata (inner thigh sweep), was later called the best judo technique of 2008, Chivichyan said. It won him the match, but he was sidelined for several weeks because of the pulled muscle. “It was swollen so much that I couldn't move,” he said.

“My whole leg was purple from top to bottom. I didn't know whether to be happy that I competed and won or unhappy because I was hurting.”

Despite the injury, Chivichyan set a fine example for everyone--both as a competitor and as a coach.

With over 92 schools registered, his Hayastan MMA Academy won the overall tournament award for having bagged more points and more gold medals than any other, beating out the second place dojo by 26 points.

The winning team from Gokor’s Dojo

Flash Forward - Gokor’s son Arthur at the 2017 Grassroots Judo™ Winter Nationals®


On October 27 and 28 Jess Duran and I held a 2 day clinic in Santa Clarita. The participants provided us with great feedback and found the techniques appropriate, easy to learn and effective. Hayward Nishioka 9th Dan senior advisor, as well as senior advisor Gary Goltz 8th Dan, were on hand and gave us very informative information on judo history, its purpose and it’s applicability to law enforcement.

As we continue to move forward, if you’re willing to host or know someone who would like to host a seminar so we can continue to refine the program please advise. A refinement of our reference manual is taking place as well.

Thank you for your continued support!

Robert Draper,

Chair of Nanka’s Police Judo Committee

November 2ndCarlson Gracie Jiu-jitsu Team, Riverside, CA

Nathan Goltz Presents Sean Ruiz his Judo 1st Degree Black Belt

November – 2022

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

Introducing Martial Arts School Listings on Black Belt Mag!
Sign Up Now To Be One Of The First School Listed In Our Database.
Don't miss a single issue of the worlds largest magazine of martial arts.