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8/27/12 6:35 PM
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Why A Senior USJF Program?
By Hayward Nishioka

(Artilcle to be posted in the upcoming USJF Magazine)
In another 20 years what will the current generation of upcoming JF judo leaders be speaking of when they refer to the “Good Old Days?” It may go something like this, “ Back in the day I had a really tough match at the 2012 Junior Nationals. Conversations like this will probably be our plight. This is because at the present time we have no higher aspirations for our judoka other than junior judo.
Ever since 2006 when USA Judo cut down to a 10 man board and began exclusively to run things on their own, both the USJF and the USJA have slowly but surely been cut out of any involvement in a senior program. Where as USA Judo once acted as the middle ground on which all judo organizations in the US could come to reach an agreement now the judge suddenly turned ruler and competitor. Originally our national judo championship was under the auspices of the Amateur Athletic Union. Then in 1980 with the National Sports Act judo along with all other Olympic sports was to control their own fate.
During the 1980’s judo created a model United States Judo Inc. ( USA Judo) hoping to include all possible factions of judo, be they organizations or States. All who joined were to have a voice and vote according to their participation level. Added to the mix was the mandated 20% athletes representation. We all had a say in how our champions were trained and selected. There was a sense of ownership and pride for all as our elite athletes went forward into international competition. This all faded into the mist of time with the coming of the new USA judo10-member board in 2006.
Whereas the former USA Judo board consisted of 120+ members and was cumbersome it at least allowed the judo community a voice and a vote to determine the course of judo in the United States. And whereas, it did vote to downsize to a 10-member board it did so on the promise of more financial support for athletes and officials from the Olympic Committee. Thus far as a result of our decision to downsize we have seen less financial support to athletes who now even after
qualifying to make a US Team must pay their own way or not go. The
vacant spot is usually filled by the next, less capable, but willing
candidate who is able to pay his or her own way. Referees and coaches
are subject to the same treatment. Pay or don’t play. Other make shift
restrictive rules include that participants must stay at a specified hotel.
(the hotel with the meaningless discount) Another is that you must have
your coach at the draws or your athlete will not be allowed to compete.
As for those who bid for and are awarded a National point tournament it
no longer is financially advantages since the monetary advantages of
putting on a USA Judo tournament to help the local area are just not
Probably more than anything else that has hurt US judo is that
now that we can see that the move was a mistake is the fact that we
cannot vote to go back to what we had. We are left with no avenue of
voicing our displeasure and voting to make things better.
One of the invisible scares left by this schism is that it has left the
two larger organizations without a senior program. Both organizations
have relegated themselves to the position that they should be the junior
developing organization and that it is the domain of USA Judo to
develop senior elites. On the other hand it may be that USA Judo is the
organization that is supposed to develop elite players for international
competition but it really is not set up for the job. There are less than a
half dozen viable truly USA Judo centers. Many are really USJA or
USJF clubs that sign on for the name, USA Judo Training Center.
There really is no real training plan or model for success. Most USA
Training Centers consist of a banner that you pay for that says USA
Judo Training Center. Much of what USA Judo does in the name of
development is to run a system of elimination tournaments to decide a
USA Judo team. These tournaments force JF and JA members to join
USA Judo in order to qualify for a spot on an international team.
Thus USA Judo relies on the JF, the JA, and a few State
organizations to give them their best seniors to compete at International
events where other countries do have a plan and do support their elite
athletes and officials. We merely stand still, stunned by our USA Judo
leaders who think that running tournaments will produce stellar
champions. The rest of the judo community while it has one of the finest
junior programs possibly in the world has given up on building senior
champions. Unfortunately this is when they are in a better structural position to do so than USA Judo who have little infrastructure to do so.
First of all both the JA and the JF have to understand that we need a senior program and not only because USA Judo is not doing a good job at it. Here are a few good reasons why we need a senior program.
1. The quality and intensity of a senior program provides a greater understanding of judo than does just a junior program alone. If we aspire to excellence we must know that just a junior program is not a complete program. The lessons learned in senior endeavors are crucial to the next generation of leaders.
2. A senior program provides program continuity. It seems wasteful to invest time, money and effort only for our juniors to have no where to go when they grow up. If we had our own Senior Championship our juniors would then have a place to go and have a higher aspiration level. Is being a junior champion the highest level that we offer our membership. Roughly 1/3 of our membership are seniors who have no chance at becoming a National Champion just because we don’t offer one.
3. Our Senior Championships will provide an avenue for our better seniors to become hero’s and role models for the next generation. Who will be our next Kevin Asano? We had them in the past, but not today. Johnny Osako, Gene LeBell, Tosh Seino, George Harris, Ben Campbell, Jimmy Bregman. Paul Maruyama. These are names we don’t readily forget. Do you remember any of the names of our Junior champions from two or three years ago? Have have our junior champions stayed on to help build our future generations?
4. A senior program provides learning opportunities for athletes, coaches and administrators. The issues encountered at the senior level require more information and experience beyond junior level issues. Are we just hoping to train athletes, coaches, and administrators to carry on as Junior leaders? Do we have any prospects in our ranks to make the next US Team as a coach or as an athlete? What senior programs and opportunities do we offer for our members to gain the experience to succeed?

The plain truth is we really don’t have a USJF National Senior Program because we quietly lost it along the way and never bothered to pick it up again. We need to bend our knees, lower our center of gravity, get under t
8/27/12 6:40 PM
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I would add that the fighting among Nanka Clubs and bias against non-japanese players has reaaly hurt Nanka's Senior program. USA Wreslting pays for the there top wrestlers to train , travel ,and compete. Why is it so hard for US Judo to do the same.
8/27/12 10:08 PM
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Edited: 08/27/12 10:09 PM
Member Since: 10/12/07
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 Much of that has to be put into context when USA Judo is discussed.

The USOC in 2005 requested that all NGB's re-organize their organizations and bylaws to be in sync with their standards of best practices.  NGB's who did not comply risked a reduction in their funding.

USA Judo, working with the USOC re-wrote their bylaws to bring them into compliance with the USOC mandate. The bylaws were voted on in a contentious meeting during the 2006 Houston Nationals. The bylaw changes were approved.  USA Judo was one of the first NGB's to make the changes.

The facts are that funding from the USOC did go up significantly.  This can be seen in the financials.  Let us look at USOC support from 2005 and beyond. I'm going to skip Olympic years for obvious reasons.

2005-----  $320,523
2006-----  $346,.225
2007-----  $460,625
2009-----  $600,405

Bottom line, the change DID result in significantly higher funding. The first new allocation after the meeting was 2007.  It went up over 33%.

That is a gigantic increase in funding from the USOC. It is going to go even higher with Kayla and Marti's results.   As far as the USOC is concerned, USA Judo is doing exactly what they want.  I'll bet any amount of money they get more funding in 2013, than they did in 2011.

Remember this as well.  Those funds from the USOC are specifically targeted.  If USA Judo does not use those funds as directed and in accordance with USOC instructions, they must be returned to the USOC.  The USOC audits the expenditures to make sure that USA Judo is in compliance.

We might not like the way that USA Judo spends the money, but the biggest supplier of funding does.

8/28/12 12:11 AM
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OC is 100% correct. Though, even within the realm of his the USOC wants certain dollars spent, there is still most likely much wasted within USA Judo and there are still many things about how it is run, and treats people at times, that is pissing a lot of people off... There is a very good reason why the Golden State E-level event attracts less players than your average NANKA local tournament...

beyond that, Gary... you must realize that the USJF does not want to have have a real senior program. Nor does the USJA. If they were serious about having programs it would be easy-- there is a wonderful model existing already in SJSU and there are many universities across the USA that would eat up the chance to have a national judo program that is self-funded and attracts kids from across the country.... ive said this many times, but I think it is the dumbest thing ever that NANKA and the JF have not figured out a way to get Tokuzo Takahashi to coach a dedicated team at Cal State Los Angeles-- which is only 4 miles away from his home....

But, that's the USJF for ya..! oh, and the USJA!

btw... don't even get me started on why Miami even has a training center... who does Miami have? what players are from Miami and made an Olympic team... or even come close to qualifying??? It is a total joke that they have a funded training center... I'd rather get rid of it or move it to Chicago....
8/28/12 1:17 PM
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I can't comment being a Brit, but whatever needs to happen, I hope it does.

I was at the Olympic Judo for a few days and I really enjoyed watching the USA players. In particular I thought Marti had a very pleasing style to watch.

The Coach (who's name escapes me right now, and it shouldn't) also seemed to be a good bloke.
8/28/12 11:59 PM
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Edited: 08/29/12 12:00 AM
Member Since: 8/4/12
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This is all true to a certain extent. But like I was noting before, even if Judo was as integrated into our scholastic system and we replicated the success of SJSU Judo - which as we know could take upwards of a full decade at least - it would still not guarantee tremendous success like we have seen, for example, in track and field. Wrestling in the US is fully integrated into our scholastic system, we have multiple college programs that are as effective in training wrestling as SJSU is in training Judo, we keep many of our best wrestlers involved at the collegiate level and we still don't exactly rule wrestling with an iron fist. We had an unusually good performance in freestyle wrestling in the 2012 Olympics but as a general rule we are hardly miles ahead of everyone else; in 2008 Olympics we had one medalist in Greco Roman and one medalist in freestyle- and that was won by a guy who never wrestled in a collegiate program. Even if Judo was as supported in the collegiate system as wrestling, it would only guarantee residual placing at best in each Worlds and Olympics tournament.
8/29/12 12:13 AM
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Edited: 08/29/12 11:18 PM
Member Since: 10/12/07
Posts: 582
North Miami's training center was originally funded by the city of North Miami. It was a great deal for USA Judo.  The city had grandiose plans for the Biscayne Landing project including an Olympic Combat Sports training facility which was to cost $20M and a new library.  Like lots of other projects, it basically died with the housing bubble.  Once North Miami realized the dream was a nightmare they stopped funding the training center.....even though they had a 10 year contract.

There were big plans for Brownsville's CODP with big announcements from the USOC, USA Boxing and USA Judo. The funding was always an issue and they moved that to Harlingen. Harlingen stopped funding once they realized that it was a bad economic deal for them, and the minimum number of hotel room nights were not satisfied.

Again, in context,  North Miami had a strong national team in 2006.  If you look at the results at nationals, they did very well in the lighter female categories, and Bobby Lee and one or two other younger males medaled.  There were high hopes for that program back then.

Who knows if they will be funded in the next year? The only reason I could see them still get some funding is if it is tied somehow to the support that the Miami-Dade Sports Commission and other agencies give to the US Open/World Cup and other events.

How about the Olympic Training Center?  It has 1 bronze medal in the World Championships in it's entire existence.  That was in 1997.

I agree that USA Judo has done some things that piss people off, and were wrong decisions.  The major tournaments should have stayed out for bid.  That would have gotten buy-in from the local clubs, states, and yudanshakais which is so important to the success of a national tournament.  They should have just adjusted the fees.

The new Olympic qualification system also hurt the tournaments tremendously.  E through C, even B points are not that important anymore.  I bet the qualification system was a huge reason so many younger competitors went away.  At least with the Olympic Trials, there were reasons to show up, and also to stay active.

As for the hotel rules, I really don't know what else they can do.  If they don't get a minimum number of hotel nights, they have to pay out of pocket. They simply don't have it.  This way, people pay one way or another.  People might not like it, but what other choice do they have?  I guess they could just run them out of high schools, but is that the type of national event we want to have?

People expect a lot of service for their $50, and about $35 of that goes to insurance.  Promotion and qualification fees add some to the bottom line, but it is never enough.

I think there is also a huge misunderstanding about the actual funding of athletes by NGB's.  It is very few athletes who actually qualify for funding in any sport.  Wrestling has been helped in a big way by some large money contributions from former athletes who are now very successful.  On a per capita basis, USA Wrestling receives less money from the USOC than USA Judo does.  USA Wrestling is much better at finding sponsors and raising funds from it's community than USA Judo.

Edited:  Below is a link to funding for USA Wrestling discussed above.  Of the $9.5 million dollar budget,  about $1M comes from many people on Wall Street. Most had wrestling backgrounds.  Also, notice that the monthly stipend the one wrestler receives is lower than the announced stipends of Kayla, Marti,  and Travis.


8/29/12 9:20 AM
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Great perspectives on this subject. Most of this is above my understanding of the development of judo in the US. Good point by OCJTR is the Olympic funding has increased. But do we have the athletes?
8/29/12 10:09 PM
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 jbb, that is the million dollar question.  From the USOC perspective it is a $2.5M-$3.5M question.

Kayla is 22, Marti and Travis are 26.  So, if they pursue it, they should have one more Olympiad in all of them. Michael Eldred should be mentioned as well.  There are some other young players who may surprise you, but no results as of yet.

That said, there are some good signs.  SJSU has their biggest incoming class ever with 13 or 14 freshman.  The psychology has changed.  Young people now know that it can be done.  An Olympic gold medal is within their grasp, and there are people in the USA who can help them get there.

8/30/12 1:49 AM
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emax... the more programs that emulate what SJSU has the more depth in our key age range for the Olympics. Even if that number was to double-- which is still a rather pathetic number that is equal to about what Korea, France or Japan have at ONE university-- it could pay huge dividends over time. Building alumni is what really matters though... It is through alumni that the future rests...
8/30/12 11:09 PM
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 " But like I was noting before, even if Judo was as integrated into our scholastic system and we replicated the success of SJSU Judo - which as we know could take upwards of a full decade at least - it would still not guarantee tremendous success like we have seen, for example, in track and field."

What you are asking for is the impossible.  There is nothing we can do to guarantee success. We can only do the things that make success more likely.   If there was a way to guarantee success, don't you think every country would do it?

You mention Track & Field.   Do you realize how many athletes come from the NCAA?  Do you realize that the NCAA even trains many foreign athletes in Track & Field....who win medals for their home country?  Here's a link to a Wall Street Journal article that you might find helpful.


USA Wrestling understands the importance of what Joshua is saying. That is why they put money into NMU. Here is a link to the page about NMU.


"This program is designed to train young Greco-Roman wrestlers in an intense training environment, with an expert Greco-Roman Coach. The program offers, at the same time, the opportunity to receive a great college education from the University of Northern Michigan. We at USA Wrestling believe that this new program will be one of the keys to our future World and Olympic success. We look to the participants of this program to become our future Olympic Champions in Greco-Roman wrestling."

Joshua is also correct about the alumni.  USA Wrestling is fortunate to have several very wealthy  alumni(guys who wrestled in college) who are now providing more than $1M annually to the budget of USA Wrestling.
3/23/13 12:55 PM
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Edited: 03/23/13 1:46 PM
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Judo needs to know what it is. Is it a martial art, is it a sport, both, neither?? thats the first of many problems.
sports are regional, there are small pockets in the country that consistantly produce great wrestlers, football players, basketball, soccer, etc. Judo needs a few regions in the country.
it needs a better system and it needs money. kids today want to be great at certain sports because they know it will get them out of the poor house, it will bring them celebrity and get them on TV and make them money. that is a possibility on a world scale, but not in the US. Look at Ronda, she left judo because judo left her broke. they kept using the "do it for judo" BS. She did an interview where she talked about having to sleep in a car or RV and how judo wasnt paying/providing like they promised. She seemed quite bitter about it and understandably so.
and then there are the major rules changes. No more hand on the hip, no more 2 hands on 1 and of all things, taking away leg grabs. (and getting instant hansuko make) it is just as blatently ignorant as taking away a single leg from wrestling. whoever decided that rule should be fired. and that doesn't include the other rules changes.
Judging is too subjective. No shoulder locks are allowed but for some reason ude garame is? fix this and it may have a chance. but otherwise don't be surprised at what is happening

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