Sunday, March 27, 2011


     For a complete story about how I began training in Judo, click
     This is an article I published in Mobility International—an online magazine focusing on the stories of peoples with disabilities who travel—detailing  my experiences arriving to Japan and joining the Shishinkai Judo association of Sensei Masamitsu Haga.  It would be next to impossible to recreate the article in this blog with the same impact as when I wrote for the magazine. 

    To watch an interview Fox News conducted with me at a Judo Tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan, click

     AS I wrote in “Fighting the Good Fight” (What was I thinking with that title… *shudders*) I began Judo by pure coincidence.  When my neighbor in Japan found out that I practiced Aikido, he invited me to try Judo at the club where he trained.  From the first time I sparred, I was hooked.  Judo combined the aspects of the martial arts I had come to respect—an emphasis on balance, speed and the use of an opponents energy against them—with a competitive spirit similar to that of wrestling.  Furthermore, the amazing group of people who joined together to form the Shishinkai association became the best and tightest network of friends I could have hoped to have in Japan. 
     Though I credit Haga Sensei for promoting such an atmosphere of encouragement and support within his dojo, I believe it speaks as a credit to the art of Judo that I have found the same Budo spirit in clubs throughout the world.  At the
in Tokyo, I met and trained with people from around the world.  From the Venezuelan paralympic team, French and German teams and instructors from Israel, Trinidad and Egypt, I found that regardless of the nationality or the language, judo players want to help eachother improve. 
     Someone once described Judo to me as, “Interupting a fall with a throw”.  Judo is truly one of the most elegant demonstrations of the martial arts.  One seeks to induce movement in an opponent and, then, uses the opponent’s motion to generate a throw.  Balance and speed are crutial.  Though we use these exact principals and even some of the same throws in Aikido, Aikido is a partner-based art that relies on cooperation.  Judo, on the other hand, requires a yet deeper understanding of the fundamentals of momentum because the opponent, far from cooperating, is doing his or her best to prevent the throw. 
      Although it is true that muscle can play a roll in Judo, relying on muscle will result in a mockery of the art.  I have been thrown across the width of a room by men much smaller and less muscular precisely when I have tried to use my strength to advantage.  This, however, is why I love Judo.  A clear demonstration of one’s knowledge in the art can usually be seen by who is left standing. 

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