Kayla Harrison Draws 150 at First Takemori Clinic

January 14, 2017
Double Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison

Double Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison

Sensei James Takemori, 1926 - 2015

Sensei James Takemori, 1926 – 2015

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The first James H. Takemori Memorial Clinic was held on December 4th at Sport Judo in Northern Springfield, VA.

 

Kayla Harrison, 26 years old, World Judo Champion in 2010 and a double Gold Medal Olympic Champion (2012 and 2016), was the first clinician in what is expected to be a long line of outstanding judo clinic teachers for years into the future.

 

Roy Englert and the other members of Shufu’s Takemori Fund Committee were dedicated to find an appropriate way to honor Jim Takemori’s legacy, as he describes:

Miki Takemori, who along with Jim Takemori’s brother Edwin, represented the Takemori family at this inaugural event, gave the introduction to the clinic series.

Miki Takemori, Kayla Harrison, and Edwin Takemori

Miki Takemori, Kayla Harrison, and Edwin Takemori

Before the clinic, she spoke of her father and the meaning of the James H. Takemori Fund and Clinic Series:

Ms. Takemori also presented Kayla with a special pin that had been her father’s, appropriate for Harrison as the first James H. Takemori Fund clinician.

Miki Takemori presenting Kayla Harrison with a special pin owned by her father, Jim Takemori

Miki Takemori presenting Kayla Harrison with a special pin owned by her father, Jim Takemori

 

 

About 150 judoka attended the sessions, with the juniors in the morning, and seniors in the afternoon.  The Sport Judo mat was filled with judoka and the gallery with parents, coaches, with many others along the walls of the dojo.

Olympians Craig Agena and Kayla Harrison

Olympians Craig Agena and Kayla Harrison

And one of those clinic attendees was a former Olympian who is now a Virginia resident and member of Sport Judo – Craig Agena, member of the 1984 Olympic Judo Team. Three Olympians – Kayla Harrison, Maurice Allan, and Craig Agena – on the same mat – a special day indeed.

Mike Spittel, who, along with his wife Mary Beth and daughters Makaia, and Malia are members of the College Park Judo Club, was excited about attending the clinic. “Kayla has really elevated and brought a level of nobility to the sport.  Her sportsmanship and grace has

Mike Spittel, College Park Judo Club

Mike Spittel, College Park Judo Club

made it something that my girls have really looked forward to.  We watched all her videos and

Malia and Makaia Spittel having their belts autographed by Kayla Harrison

Malia and Makaia Spittel having their belts autographed by Kayla Harrison

couldn’t sleep just knowing we’d be coming here today.  Thanks for giving us this opportunity, we’re really proud to be here with Kayla, and we look forward to seeing more of her.  We wish her the best of luck.

 

Chieko Cuyler brought her son Kosei, 13, and her daughter May, 10, to the clinic to see and learn from Harrison.  Kosei and May, along with their 7-year old sister, are members of Sport Judo. Cuyler, originally from Japan, was very pleased with the clinic. “It makes me very happy that

May, Cheiko, and Kosei Cuyler

May, Chieko, and Kosei Cuyler

other countries are so interested in judo and that everybody is eager to learn.  Seeing judo in a cultural experience like this makes me very happy.  Kayla is a fantastic lady. She is very energetic and disciplined, has no fear, and is

always going, going, going.”

 

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Harrison conducted the kids’ and adults’ clinics with her characteristic hands-on personal style, with lots of individual interaction with the attendees, and up-close demonstrations of and assistance with techniques, along with discussions of training methods and other topics.

Of particular interest was her discussion of her future, and how she would use her position as an Olympic champion to further the cause of judo.  Although she mentioned

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an interest in following her former teammate Ronda Rousey in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) or possibly in professional wrestling, she also acknowledged that she felt a _Q0A7842strong responsibility to concentrate on judo as a truly_Q0A7811 different sport, with the traditions and values that make it special.

 

Harrison also spoke about the Fearless Foundation which she has created for the dissemination of information and teaching about sexual abuse.  She spoke of hoping that this will be her true legacy, helping the many victims and diminishing the occurrence of abuse.

 

After the close of the clinic, Maurice Allan, sensei of Sport Judo and a former Olympian himself, said that we were incredibly lucky to get Kayla for this event, considering that she is in great demand all over the country.  He was eager to talk about Kayla:

Shufu’s first James H. Takemori Clinic was one of the most successful judo events of recent times, enabling the attendees to meet a truly great Olympic champion who is respected and honored all over the world.

We were able to speak with and learn from her, and especially, from this commentator’s view, be motivated and inspired by the example of a true champion of athletics, character, and human resilience.

Chuck Medani

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Coach Certification

SafeSport Certification is now required for all USJF registered clubs. If you have already completed the course and submitted a copy of your certificate, you do not need to resubmit. For more information or to take the course, please visit www.safesport.org.

Heads Up concussion training, through the CDC's website, is a requirement for all members of your USJF registered club who function as teachers at any time. Please advise all of your instructors and assistant instructors of this requirement. The training can be accessed at: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/