Happy World Judo Day in honor of Jigoro Kano's 161st birthday!
My good friend Ed Rodriguez (pictured below), a Federal Judge and 6th Degree Black Belt has served in national and international judo organizations with his main focus helping in the development of the Judo Veterans Program. This past week Ed was in Lisbon, Portugal for the IJF World Veterans Judo Championships where he both competed and coached many players from the USA. He prepared this report on the event for my Blog this week.
Despite Covid protocols, the IJF World Judo Veterans Championships held in Lisbon, Portugal from October 21-24, 2021, was a total success. Kudos to the IJF and the Portuguese Judo Federation. The quality of Judo that was witnessed by attendees and the public was very high. The USA shiai team consisted of nineteen people including Covid Manager and Coach Tracy Crawford, as well as myself as both a competitor and a Coach. The USA delegation was also represented by IJF referees, Dr. Gary Berliner and Oren Knopfmacher.
Team USA Judo
With a little more work, the USA team has the potential to reach a higher deserving position in the world of Judo Veterans!
USA Judo Delegation to IJF World Kata Championships. Eight competitors:
- Nage no Kata – Gerardo Tello and Sergio Suguieda from Florida
- Katame no Kata - Douglas Newcomer and Ray Cox from Texas
- Ju no Kata – Frederick Dagdagan and Lee Pasteris from California
- Kime no Kata – Lisa Capriotti and Robert Gouthro from South Carolina
Four IJF Level Judges: Eiko Shepherd Frances Glaze Carla Martin Barbara Houston-Shimizu Coach: Kuniko Takeuchi Team Manager:
Theodore Schwalm Lisa Capriotti and Robert Gouthro made it to the finals, after scoring top in their Group (the teams in each Kata are divided into two groups and the top three from each group move on to the Finals).
In the Finals they came in Sixth Place, a second time ranking sixth in the world for the pair. The completion was two days long and had a total of 204 competitors from 24USA Judo Delegation to IJF World Kata Championships.
Photo by IJF
As to the Covid protocol, each team member needed two Covid tests 72 hours apart before traveling to Portugal. The delegation was picked up at the Lisbon airport. Once the athlete arrived at the hotel in Portugal, another test was required. While the results were in process, the athlete was to wear a red colored wristband and sent to the assigned hotel room, until the results were out.
Fortunately, No one tested positive. The results took from two to four hours, and if negative, then you were provided with a green colored green band and could move freely inside the hotel.
Players were given access to a nice training room in the hotel, but teams were required to schedule a time and day slot. All meals were included, and food was served in the hotel restaurant. The USA Team always sat together for every meal displaying a very united team. Food consisted of a repetitive, but fairly good buffet that included fish, turkey, vegetables, potatoes, soup, desserts, etc. There was also a bar in the lobby which seemed to be the meeting place for everybody that had finished competing for the day.
I'm always impressed by the camaraderie between the veteran athletes. You could always see people from multiple nationalities sitting and enjoying time together. A great display of the spirit of judo was always present. One example was the Americans and Georgians spent an entertaining evening and exchanged sports attire in a true brotherhood spirit.
There is no doubt that the Covid restrictions and protocols caused the event to have a lower turn out than in previous years prior to 2020. However, it was precisely these restrictions which brought everyone closer as we had no one but ourselves to hang out with. At the end it felt as if were part of a big international family like visiting a Disney Park, there was magic in the air.
You could feel the pride of representing your country. We face opponents on the mat that we deeply respected, but at the end of the day we are all friends and enjoy having a good time together. I am optimistic that there is so much room for improvement of Veterans Judo in the USA. We have so many talented people and we must work hard to bring them back onto the tatamis. Even if they can't compete for whatever reason, they can help in so many ways, such as serving as uke, being advisers, referees, etc. Age is just a number. Judo is health and we want to get the message across.
Photo by IJF
Some people start Judo early in life, others a little bit later, and at times family and work responsibilities might distance us from judo, but in the end every judoka comes back home to the dojo. The emotion, the feeling, the nervousness is no different for a veteran than from a child. In sum, judo is a long journey and judo is for life.
More on Ed Rodriguez - Ed started Judo over 50 years ago under Sensei Gerardo Chiu, a Cuban Judo legend who was among the first five black belts in Cuba who established himself in Puerto Rico after the Cuban Revolution. Ed also in Spain where he practiced at the great Bushidokwai dojo in Madrid, and medaled at regional tournaments. Later he moved to London for 2 1/2 years and headed a university judo club as a volunteer.
Upon his return to the U.S., Ed continued practicing judo mainly as a recreational player while he was working as a Civil Litigation Attorney, Prosecutor, Federal Public Defender, General Counsel for U.S. Courts, and Judge. In the early 2000's Ed decided to go back to competition as a veteran athlete. He won several Pan American Masters Championships and attended a large number of international championships and training camps where he has established close links to leaders of many countries. In addition, he is a USA Judo International Coach and successfully completed the online IJF Academy Course.
Among Ed's most immediate goals is to bring the Pan American Veterans Judo Championships to the United States in 2023. He also believes in creating Committees for older judoka in grassroots organizations. Ed is known as the person to turn to when people want to know about veteran judo tournaments and camps anywhere as a respected member of the international judo community.
I'm always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, thanks.
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