Wayne Lifshitz in Nepal for World Judo Day

October 31, 2018

by Wayne Lifshitz

Special Commentator assigned to Nepal

 

It’s World Judo Day 2018, Dr. Kano’s birthday and I’m in Kathmandu, Nepal for a few weeks for work. To start I must thank Sensei Binod Raj Sainju from College Park Judo Club who with a couple of phone calls and facebook connections has introduced me to everyone connected to Judo in Kathmandu.

 

I thought I’d have a few opportunities to train, low-key and under the radar, however, I’ve been treated like a celebrity and I believe the first American to teach judo in Nepal (other than Binod) in decades.

 

This year the theme of World Judo Day is friendship and in the span of three hours on a very early Saturday morning at a dojo, down many dusty and bumpy streets, built by the Japanese Government after the 2015 earthquake (the Multipurpose Martial Arts Center)

 
I was instantly befriended and treated like a brother by the leadership of Nepal Judo and all the players in Kathmandu. Organized by the Nepal Judo Federation we met with the players from all the clubs in Kathmandu at MMAC to celebrate Sensei Kano’s birthday.

 

I didn’t know it when I was picked up at 7am by Sensi Manoj, the first to contact me and take me to an orphanage earlier in the week to teach – a follow-up story – that I was to be one of the honored guests at this celebration of judo. Each club performed a short demo, which included the club from the orphanage, a club of kids from a juvenile detention facility, and the police.

 
The highlight of the day for me was throwing one of Nepal’s international players that just took bronze in Baku with Yoko Wakare (one of my tekui waza) because he asked me how to escape from a stiff-armed opponent and putting a couple of arm bars on the chief of police. (We’re now facebook friends so I have my ‘get out of jail free’ card.) I taught a few drills and concluded my brief teaching session, which was recorded for Nepal’s version of ESPN, with an ode to CPJC and Sensei’s Tamai with a special shout-out to Girl Power and an inspirational message that I hope to see them at a tournament one day.

 

I was humbled by the whole experience. I don’t see myself as the great master of anything and I most likely was not the highest ranked person in the room. Nor the most talented. I however was treated with great respect and dozens of players asked me questions and just wanted to chat to talk judo and practice their English.

 

 

After almost 10 years of judo this was my first World Judo Day. And it was awesome. There were speeches and judo performances, we played, I taught, we ate cake, we sang happy birthday to Sensei Kano, we laughed and inspired each other through judo, demonstrating that countries build walls and judo tears them down.

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