The Liberty Bell

April 19, 2017

 

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The 30th annual Liberty Bell Judo Championships were held on Saturday, April 1, at the Asplundh Field House of the Academy of New Church in Bryn Anhyn, PA, northeast of Philadelphia.

 

A total of 542 registrations made this one of the best-attended Liberty Bell in years, according to tournament director Adam Moyerman.

 

More than 200 Seniors, 300 Juniors, and nearly 40 Veterans from Maine to North Carolina and as far west as Colorado competed in one of the largest tournaments in the East.

 

The venue supported five mats, which were fully utilized from 9AM to 5 PM.  Thirty-one referees, jury, and evaluators worked the mats in rotation for the entire day.

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Lou Moyerman talks about the Liberty Bell’s recent success, and about how the whole thing got started

 

The tournament was conducted under the new 2017 IJF rules of competition, with changes in the scoring, penalties, golden score (extra time), and other components.  (For the new rules, go to http://shufujudo.org/?page_id=13584.)

 

Janet Johnson, an IJF-A referee and sixth degree (Rokudan) black belt, and who

Chief Referee Janet Johnson

Chief Referee Janet Johnson

directs the Children’s Judo program for Renshinkan Judo Dojo in Brockport, NY, was the invited Chief Referee for this event.  She is a member of the USA Judo Referee Commission, and took the opportunity on the evening before the tournament at the referee meeting to explain the new rules in depth. She also presented an abbreviated version of the information on Saturday morning at the referee meeting immediately before the tournament.

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Sensei Dale Swett, President of Tohoku Judo Club in Cambridge, MA opines about the Liberty Bell.

 

Tournament Co-Directors Adam Moyerman and Tony Kenis were clearly pleased with the turnout and the smooth operations of the event.  This commentator was able to catch up with each of them during the day to get their thoughts:

 

Adam, this is your third year as tournament director.  Can you talk about how that’s been going?

“After three years, I don’t know how my father did it for 26.  Given the past two weeks when I’ve been working my normal job, trying to do some judo from time to time, and prepare for this tournament, I’ve really got to give my dad and the Condellos and everybody who ran that with him all the credit in the world, for what they’ve grown here and what I’m trying to continue.

Adam Moyerman

Adam Moyerman

 

“I think we’re doing a very good job in growing it, Tony (Kenis, co-tournament director) and I taking some things each year, trying to do a little bit of improvement on different things with the money we’re making and funneling it back into the tournament so we can really put on a great event on the east coast to show off the quality of judo here.”

 

The tournament appears to be resurgent, after a slow period.

“Our numbers had been declining for a while.  I think the last time we were over 500 was back in 2012.  There was a year in which we were in the low 400s, and now today we are up around 540.  So it’s a good problem to have.  A lot of athletes is always a nice thing to have.  I regret not getting the sixth mat when I had the opportunity to get it when I was renting them – it would have made this day a little bit shorter.  But too many people is not a problem.

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I want to keep having this event that people are enjoying, they’re going to be involved and like to keep coming to it and to the venue we have now and like the setup I’m going to keep doing this as long as I can, and promote this event and promote judo.”

 

What do you think the main reason for the resurgence is?

“We’re starting to be around a little bit more as a club, Tony and I and some of our students so it helps some of the relationships we’ve formed over the past couple of years, lot of the stuff when I was traveling internationally –  a lot of the guys are coming – I think that’s helping with the seniors.

 

“I think we’re getting a little bit of resurgence in junior judo as a whole, too on the east coast.  There’s a couple more coming out now – different clubs that seem to be doing well and getting bodies in their dojos and the people want to fight.LibertyBell_2017_lowres-53.jpg

 

“I would like to take a little bit of credit for the seniors, I consider them all my friends.  Maybe they’re just coming to make sure that I don’t sleep and dream for a couple of days – to get back at me for something.  But I am very happy with our senior and junior turnout this year, I thought it is really great. Giving prize money to the athletes also helps them with their opportunities to travel and compete.”

 

Why are you giving prize money?

“It’s nice to give back.  We’ve always been trying to figure out a way to give to the athletes.  This year, we talked some of the athletes and they said that more money would be something they would be more interested in with the world rankings and the process now we thought that it would be good to contribute to the athletes, helping them in ways to get to events and fund their judo traveling nationally or internationally.  If we can help them, I want to do so.”

 

Other thoughts about the Liberty Bell?

“My volunteer staff and the referees who have been coming here for years – we really can’t do this without either of these groups.  The volunteer staff is basically LibertyBell_2017_lowres-36.jpgthe judo family.  We’ve had people here every year.

 

“This tournament is slightly younger than I am.  This is the thirtieth anniversary and we have people who have helped at every single one.  This is the Liberty Bell family here.  It is growing and we wouldn’t be able to do it without them.  There’s just too many things going on – if I don’t have people helping me, it’s just not going to happen.”

 

“I really have to give them a lot of credit and the referees who come from all over, spending the day at a judo event when I know it’s not the most fun thing in the world to deal with athletes who are either not be very happy with you or very upset with you.  There’s no real middle ground.  So they’re dealing with a lot and it’s great to have them promote judo, too, and with relationships between athletes and the different volunteer groups that help to support judo.”LibertyBell_2017_lowres-33.jpg

 

And with Tony Kenis:

“In general, any tournament is an event of judo development.  In the case of Liberty Bell, I believe the level of organization, and the way we approach running the event place it at a different level.  I like our event, not just because of the high level of competition, or because people like to compete here, but people like it because of the way everything is structured.

Tony Kenis

Tony Kenis

 

“It is structured in such fashion that there is no dead time on the mat.  Everyone knows what he’s doing.  Everything is prepared. The team of referees who work with us are professionals.  And even the ones who do not have a lot of experience use this as a base for learning.  Sometimes you see a young referee on the mat who doesn’t have a lot of experience, and he is guided by the more experienced referees.  That is why our tournament is a referee certification event.

 

“Judo development is a funny thing.  If you look at it from the perspective of how you develop the judo player, you develop them in the practice, with hard work and continuous repetition of the same moves over and over again.  But you also develop judoka by testing in competition.  You test his character, you test his mind, you test his skills, you test everything that he is made of.  So I believe our tournament is perfect for everyone to test himself.

 

“This tournament is special because it has a history.  And people believe that if they get a medal or win at the Liberty Bell, it means something.LibertyBell_2017_lowres-99.jpg

 

“The general thought is that we have come back to our feet.  We had a time of (shrinking) with a decrease of numbers of competitors, but now we’ve come back.  It’s fun to work with Adam (Moyerman) who is young and fresh and has our backs, and with his experience he knows what he is doing and is always there and ready to help out.”

 

Roy Nanjo’s Photo Gallery 1

Roy Nanjo’s Photo Gallery 2

Roy Nanjo’s Photo Gallery 3

 

by Chuck Medani

(The author accepts kudos for not using a headline such as “The Liberty Bell Rings Again”
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