Shufu Judoka Earn Honors at National Championships in Reno

May 6, 2014

 

 

The Sierra Grande Hotel, site of the 2014 Senior National Judo Championships

The Grand Sierra Resort, site of the 2014 Senior National Judo Championships

 

By Chuck Medani, for Shufu Judo Yudanshakai

(Parts of this article were recently published on the USJF website.)

May 3- 4, 2014

On this beautiful weekend in Reno, Nevada, hundreds of judo fighters and kata specialists, from novice through Olympian level, gathered in Reno Nevada for the 2014 Senior National Judo Championships.

 

A multitude of judokas, fans, coaches, teachers, families, and volunteers assembled for the 2 day event at the Grand Sierra Hotel and Resort, where the expansive convention hall afforded close proximity of the spectators to the action not often seen with events such as this.2014 Senior Nationals

 

A total of 626 entries were registered for the championships.  The first day saw fighting competition in ten men’s and women’s categories, and competition in five katas in men’s, women’s, and mixed divisions.

 

On Sunday, competition continued with six additional senior men’s and women’s categories, followed by a full afternoon of matches in the masters (ages 30+), visually impaired, brown belt, and novice categories.

Edwin Vallejo-Alvarez receiving conseling from coach

Edwin Vallejo-Alvarez receiving counseling

 

Shufu Yudanshakai competitors brought home their share of honors in senior men and women, kata, and visually impaired divisions.

 

Edwin Vallejo-Alvarez, from the Washington Judo Club, earned two bronze medals, in the men’s -73 kg division, and in the men’s Open division, while Will Inserra, from Sport Judo, and who now is a member of

William Inserra of Sport Judo and San Jose University Judo Team

William Inserra of Sport Judo and San Jose University Judo Team

the San Jose University team, also won bronze in the men’s -66 kg division.

Leah Fisher, who trains at DC Judo, won silver in the women’s -70 kg division.

 

In the Visually Impaired category, Jason Lefevers of the Baltimore Judo Club, and Harvey Guary of the DC VAMC

Coach Eric Spears and Leah Fisher

Coach Eric Spears and Leah Fisher

Jason LeFever, Harvey Guary, Chip Jost, and Jason's service dog Coach

Jason LeFever, Harvey Guary, Chip Jost, and Jason’s service dog Coach

each took bronze medals in the men’s -90 kg division. Chip Jost, also from the DCVAMC and a polytrauma wounded warrior, finished 5th in his open weight novice division

 

Shufu’s kata teams collected multiple honors, continuing the region’s tradition of very strong kata team performances.

Robert Guthrow and Lisa Capriotti

Robert Gouthro and Lisa Capriotti

 

Robert Gouthro and Lisa Capriotti, of Samurai Judo in South Carolina, competed in three mixed divisions, taking gold in Goshin Jutsu, silver in Nage No Kata, and winning the overall mixed kata award.

Karl Tamai of College Park Judo and Diane Tamai Jackson of Hui-O Judo won gold in both their mixed Nage No Kata and Katame No Kata divisions.  Tamai then paired with Fran Vall, also of College Park Judo, to earn a bronze in the mixed Ju No Kata category.

Diane Tamai Jackson and Karl Tamai

Diane Tamai Jackson and Karl Tamai

Karl Tamai and Fran Vall

Karl Tamai and Fran Vall

Miki Takemori and John Floyd

Miki Takemori and John Floyd

Miki Takemori and John Floyd won bronze medals in the mixed Nage No Kata division.

 

Laurel Faust and Mark Smith

Laurel Faust and Mark Smith

Michelle Veloso and Wayne Stone

Michelle Veloso and Wayne Stone

Also representing Shufu were Mark Davis and Laurel Faust of Hui-O Judo, and Wayne Stone and Michelle Veloso of College Park.

Shufu's 2014 National Kata Contingent

Shufu’s 2014 National Kata Contingent

 

At the opening ceremonies, a special presentation was made to two well-known Shufu individuals who have been long-time dedicated judokas and senseis, Jim Takemori of the Washington, D.C. Judo Club and Sergeant Major E. L. Beshimentob Mayfield, of MOJJJO, Mayfield’s Martial Arts Academy in Jacksonville,

North Carolina. Judo artist Andor Paposi-Jobb made the presentation of a large portrait of each of the two men, acknowledging their lifelong work for the sport.2014 Senior Nationals

 

The championship event was also the site of the annual meetings of the various committees and working groups of United State Judo Federation (USJF), bringing men and women from throughout the country who contribute their time and energies, mainly on as volunteers, toward the conduct and advancement of the sport. Many of these officials had spent several days preceding the competition working in their respective areas.

 

A special treat was the appearance of two Olympic medalists from the 2012 London Games, gold medalist and world champion Kayla Harrison, and bronze medalist and world silver medalist Marti Malloy.  Harrison made a public appeal for support of her foundation, Fearless, created to support young victims of sexual abuse.  A photo session then followed, with Malloy and Harrison posing together with delighted individual fans who left with once-in-a-lifetime photos and the experience of having held a genuine Olympic gold medal.

Olympians Joe Marchal, Brett Baron, and Michael Swain

Olympians Joe Marchal, Brett Baron, and Michael Swain

Also present for the event were several former judo Olympians including Michael Swain of San Jose, California, Brett Baron of San Mateo, California, Joe Marchal of Las Vegas, Nevada, Damon Keeve of Morin, California, Leo White of Atlanta, Georgia, Ed Liddie of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jim Pedro of Wakefield, Massachusetts, current USJF president Kevin Asano of Hawaii, and Travis Stevens of Tacoma, Washington.

Barbara Shimizu

Barbara Shimizu

 

Barbara Shimizu, Chair of the US Judo Kata Committee, was enthused about the participation in the kata categories.  “I thought it was a great competition.  About half of the players in this year’s competition had not competed (at this level) previously, and so it was great to see a lot of new faces and some great performances.  In particular, Ju No Kata had some fantastic performances and lots of new faces.  It was also the first time that we had a visually impaired competitor, and we’re hoping to expand the involvement of visually impaired players and players such as wounded warriors who could find kata a great way to compete if they can no longer do regular shiai.”

 

Among the various officials, there were 65 referees, 13 of which were IJF-A referees, the highest possible referee

Joon Chi

Joon Chi

certification in the sport.  Chief Referee Joon Chi, from Edina, Minnesota, was most appreciative of the work his referees were doing: “I really appreciate their sacrifices, paying their own airline tickets and hotel bills, and only getting a free lunch. They are away from their families, and from the bottom of my heart, I really appreciate them.  I’m here not as the chief referee, but as their assistant, and I told all the IJF-A referees to help bring up the better qualities of the referees. So we are family. I told them if one person does a bad job, then we are all faulted. So we have good teamwork, working together.  They are doing a good job.”SrNationals_2014_lowres-53

 

Event Director Corinne Shigemoto, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was equally enthusiastic about the work of the dozens of volunteers:  “Without our volunteers, we couldn’t run an event.  It takes many different pieces of the puzzle to be able to pull off an event and volunteers are just such an important part.  We appreciate all the help that they give us and we couldn’t do it without them.”2014 Senior Nationals2014 Senior Nationals

 

Several hours later, after the end of the tournament, many of those volunteers were still working to clear the pallets full of boxed equipment from the huge hall and pack the tractor trailers shipment to the next venue.

 

Vaughn Imada, Director of Marketing for the USJF, wishes to remind judokas, families, coaches, officials, and fans about the next major event, the combined USJF/USJA Junior Nationals to be held in Hawaii over the July fourth holiday.

Some guy with a camera

Some guy with a camera

 

 

Photos courtesy of Roy Nanjo and Chuck Medani

 

 

 

 

 

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