End of the AJA Cooperation Among the 3 J’s!

USA Judo
USA Judo
Several days ago this announcement was emailed to the US Judo community from USA Judo, the designated National Governing Body (NGB) of Judo for the US Olympic Committee.

March 10, 2023

Dear USA Judo Members,

USA Judo has been part of the American Judo Alliance Agreement with the US Judo Association (JA) and US Judo Federation (JF) for the last six years. That agreement will expire on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. Both JA and JF were notified by USA Judo last fall that we would not be able to renew the agreement as it was written due to increased athlete safety mandates required by the U.S. Center for SafeSport that needed to be addressed. Unfortunately, the three organizations have not been able to come to a renewal agreement prior to the expiration of the current agreement next Tuesday.

What does this mean for USA Judo, JA and JF Members?

USA Judo Sanctioned events will allow ONLY USA Judo Members to compete effective March 15, 2023.

USA Judo Members’ participant accident insurance will not cover any injuries sustained at a non-USA Judo

Sanctioned event, nor at a non-USA Judo Club.

USA Judo will allow JA and JF Certified Coaches to coach at the 2023 Youth Nationals in Lubbock, TX March 18-19. A USA Judo Coaching Certification will be required at all future USA Judo Sanctioned events beginning on March 20, 2023.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport Trainings and Certifications as well as NCSI Background Screening applications through the links found on the Sport:80 Membership Platform will be available for USA Judo Members only.

You can find a full list of changes here.


It’s good to see the that the USJA and USJF have already agreed to continue their working relationship. (In speaking with Mitchell Palacio, current USJF President they plan to extend this to include a joint ethics reciprocity agreement which was a key component of the AJA.)

But the question remains, now what?

So with the AJA (American Judo Alliance Agreement) ending the demise of cooperation and collaboration between USA Judo with the Grassroots Judo™ Organizations; USJA and USJF is eminent. The consequences of this demise will be putting a new hardship on our meager judo community.

List of some of the ramifications

  • Tournaments, participants, coaches, and growth of players will all be effected by the demise of this agreement. Tournament sanctions will be for only that organizations players. Those who want to participate in tournaments will have to have membership in the sanctioning organization. There will be fewer people in the tournaments reducing the pools and diversity of the players
  • Many clubs have their players join the different organizations. Within a club does the insurance still apply if members belong to the different organizations? For example, a club may have players for all three organizations. Can they play against each other and be covered by the insurance. Will the club owners have to pick an organization and what about their other players who belong to the other organizations?
  • The three groups had a developmental referee system. With a lack of agreement will each organization needs to develop its own referee rating system and train referees to their standards. What will happen to the current national and above referees. Will we be able to have a referee developmental system?
  • Each organization has its own Coach Certification process that used to be acknowledged by each other’s organization. Without an agreement will the coaches be restricted to coaching only at their organization’s tournament? Will coaches have to join other organization to coach at those competition?
  • Will players be covered by insurance in they have other organizational members on the mat?
  • Will the clubs be able to exist and grow properly if they are aligned to only one organization?
  • Judo, like other sports, have had members who have not behaved properly. The 3 organizations developed an Ethics Agreements to help root out those members who do not follow the ethics purported all 3 organizations. Will players who are not ethical being able to again flourish and continue to play the because the organizations are not communicating putting players at risk?

This demise appears to go against Kano’s Judo Maxims:

  • Strive for perfection of character. The agreement allowed the players to grow from the experience off all three organizations helping perfect what and how they perform.
  • Mutual and welfare and benefit. The organization in the past did communicate and help the individual players, coaches, and referee grow to help the sport improve.
  • Maximum efficiency with minimum effort put one's best into the effort. This is the Maxim that was most troubling for the organizations. Under the AJA each organization ran its own office duplicating many efforts. The demise of the AJA will increase their members cost by having to join more than one organization in order to attend their tournaments..

The long history of American Judo Politics was covered in my Black Belt Blog back in February of 2021.

In 2003 the Joint Tournament Agreement between the USJA, USJF, and USA Judo was formalized. This was further solidified along with coaching reciprocity in 2007 as indicated by documents below.

Then exactly 5 years ago today on March 15, 2018 after a more than a decade of cooperation, the 3 national organizations signed the AJA (American Judo Alliance Agreement).

American Judo Alliance Leaders (L to R): Mark Hill, USA Judo President; Neil Simon Past USJF President and meeting facilitator, USJF Executive Committee; Keith Bryant, USA Judo CEO; John Paccione, USJA President; Gary Goltz, President, Nanka Judo Yudanshakai and Past USJA President, and Kevin Asano, USJF President; Robert Fukuda, USJF Executive Director

Prior to the AJA the USJA, USJF, & USA Judo had an innovative trial All American Membership (AAM).

We are proud to announce that as of January 1, 2013 the leadership of the United States Judo Association (USJA), the United States Judo Federation (USJF) and USA Judo, are now delivering on our promise of furthering the working relationship of our organizations by announcing an unprecedented membership program, The All American Membership. Please find below an excerpt of an email from the then USA Judo's CEO, with the details...

"The All American Membership program is a significant milestone as it symbolizes a commitment by the three major organizations to become goal congruent and true partners for the future growth of Judo in the United States.", commented Gary Goltz, President of the USJA. USJF President and Olympic Silver Medalist, Kevin Asano further noted, "This will lead to even greater success for our athletes."

We have worked diligently over the last few months to get this program ready to go and have intentionally waited until this December 31st to unveil it to the Judo family in the United States. We want this to be a truly 'New Year' and a truly 'New Olympic Quadrennial.' "As we head into Rio 2016, we will be asking much again of our athletes and coaches. We all agreed that we needed to go further in our cooperation with the USJF and the USJA, and all three Boards of Directors are to be commended for continuing to think out of the box for the good of Judo in our nation," commented Lance Nading, President of USA Judo.

So, what is the All American Membership program all about?

Well, we know that many of our USA Judo members are also members of USJA, and USJF, and this is true in reverse. We also know that at times due to financial constraints and other reasons, a person only joins one organization over the other, yet they would want to support all three. Now, with the All American Membership program, you can! Here are the quick facts on how the program will work starting today!

  • You decide which of the 3 organization will be the principal for your membership – that organization will be the one which will provide your insurance coverage.
  • You may register as an All American Member with any of the three organizations by following the selected principal organization's procedure for membership registration.
  • Soon after registering, you will be issued an All American Membership card, featuring the name and logo of your principal insurance-issuing organization accompanied by logos and recognition of the other two organizations. That will be your official membership card that you will present for participation in all USA Judo, USJA and USJF events.
  • The All American Membership fee will be $100.00 and it will be distributed among the three organizations as follows: $40.00 to the principal organization issuing the insurance and $30.00 to each of the other two organizations. The success of this new membership program lies in the opportunity it presents to have the true strength of the sport reflected in the number of members it can show to the media and to potential sponsors. This program also demonstrates to all the members that our three organizations, with all their strengths and weaknesses, can and will work together to become a world power in the sport. By cooperating we can better serve our members, grow the sport and provide for our athletes, from youth to elite to veterans.
Go American Judo!

This program was originally my idea and postulated on one of our presidential 3-way calls in early 2012. I was the President of the USJA at the time; Neil Simon was President of the USJF, Lance Nading was President of USA Judo, and they both liked the concept. So after almost a year of careful negotiation and operation design we rolled it out on 12/1/2013.

A year later it was starting to catch on. Our final report indicated there were 227 AAM card holders and it was growing exponentially. However, it became an administrative challenge due to the archaic database management systems that were in use at the time. In addition, there was some hesitancy towards sharing membership information, perhaps some feelings of loss of territorial control and even job security, so the program was abandoned.

The AAM was the first time the competing US Judo Organizations ever tried to unite and become goal congruent. Perhaps with enough positive feedback from the current members, especially now during this apparent meltdown of cooperation, these programs can be resurrected and we can goBack to the Future!

Yosh Uchida Turning 103!

My friend George Membrila submitted this update on last Saturday’s banquet to honor the founder of San Jose University’s Judo Program and the first American Olympic Judo Coach who will be turning 103.

Family, friends, dignitaries of San Jose and of course San Jose State Judo Team (both past and present), came together to celebrate the birthday of Yoshida of 103 years. He will mark this blessed event on April 1, 2023. Everyone enjoyed the festivities and closed with a heartfelt singing of Happy Birthday to Yosh!

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March - 2023

18th Saturday & 19th Sunday - Youth National Championships, Lubbock, TX

25th Saturday - Shoshinkan's Annual Kosen Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

26th Sunday - Shoshinkan's Shintaro Higashi Clinic, Las Vegas, NV

April - 2023

1st Saturday & 2nd Sunday - High School & Collegiate Nationals, San Jose, CA

2nd Sunday - Mojica Tournament (16 & Under), Baldwin Park, CA

5th Wednesday to 9th Sunday – Judo Carnival, Varadero, Cuba

15th Saturday - Couchigian Memorial Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

16th Sunday - Ryoku's Amarilis Savon Clinic, Las Vegas, NV

16th Sunday - Garden State Open Judo Classic, Wayne NJ

22nd Saturday - Arizona State Championships, Tucson, AZ

29th Saturday & 30th Sunday - Golden State Open, Azusa, CA

May - 2023

7th Sunday - CJI State Championships, San Francisco, CA

20th Saturday & 21st Sunday - Senior National Championships, Spokane, WA

June - 2023

4th Sunday - Nanka Spring Tournament, Westminster, CA

16th Friday to 18th Sunday - USA Judo Junior Olympics, Shreveport, LA

24th Saturday - Sensei Gary's Birthday Scrimmage, Claremont, CA

25th Sunday - U.S. Adaptive Judo Championships, Riverside, CA

July - 2023

7th Friday to 9th Sunday - USJF & USJA Summer Nationals, New York, NY

16th Sunday - CA State Games, San Diego, CA

August - 2023

6th Sunday - Nikkei Games Budo Tournament, Cypress, CA

September - 2023

17th Sunday - Nevada State Judo Championship, Las Vegas, NV

24th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA

October - 2023

1st Sunday - Capitol Open Judo Championships, Sacramento, CA

22nd Sunday - Fresno Invitational Tournament, Fresno, CA

29th Sunday - Fight for a Cure Women's Tournament & Clinic, Riverside, CA

November - 2023

1st Wednesday to 3rd Friday - IJF World Veterans Championships, Abu Dhabi, UAE

5th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA

19th Sunday - Presidents Cup National Championships, Irving, TX

December - 2023

8th Friday to 10th Sunday - Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA

April - 2024

7th Sunday - Nanka Spring Tournament, Westminster, CA

May - 2024

5th Sunday - Nanka West Coast Invitational, Westminster, CA

June - 2024

28th Friday to 30th Sunday - USJF & USJA Summer Nationals, Tacoma. WA

September - 2024

29th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA

October - 2024

20th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA

December - 2024

6th Friday to 8th Sunday - Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA

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.

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