Tag Archives: judo

Women’s Judo: From Olympic Bronze To MMA World Champion And What’s Next For Olympic Gold Medal Winner?

I will be absolutely honest with you, again.
I have not been watching much Olympic Game coverage this time around, simply because my schedule has been posing other priorities lately.
But there is something on my mind that I have to post about and it is Olympic-related.

Four years ago at the Beijing Olympic Games an American judoka won the first Olympic medal ever for the U.S. judo team. It was the bronze medal and as we all know by now that definitely means a spot in the limelight.
This year at the London Games we experienced another first. An American judoka who took the top spot and won the first Olympic gold medal ever for American judo.

So, who are we talking about here?

4th degree judo black belt, Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey, and currently ranked the world’s #1 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter can look back on a stellar judo career which has lifted her to her current MMA ranking and celebrity-like status.
As a 17-year-old, Ronda was the youngest judoka at the 2004 Athens Olympics and that same year she became the World Junior Judo Champion in Budapest, Hungary.
In 2006, she won both Judo World Cop in Birmingham, England and the bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.
A year later, Ronda was able to attain the silver medal at the World Judo Championships and follow up with a bronze medla at the 2007 Pan Am Games.
Two years after winning Olympic bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games, Ronda officially entered the MMA arena and has been wreaking havoc on her opponents, usually ending their bouts by submission via Ronda’s trademark armbar.
It looks something like this in one take:

Ronda’s current professional Strikeforce MMA record is 5-0 and she is scheduled to fight Sarah Kaufman on August 18, 2012 who will be dealing with this kind of stuff. By the way, in case you’re not a friend of the background music,
simply turn down the volume, like I did.

But wait, there’s more!

Just last week, on August 2, 2012, fellow American Kayla Harrison won Olympic gold at this year’s Olympic Games in the -78 kg category. She had to overcome some major obstacles during the previous years to achieve her Olympic greatness.
Before she started training with 4-time judo Olympian, Jimmy Pedro in Wakefield, Massachusetts, who by the way trained Ronda Rousey, before she moved the West Coast, where she is now training under Gene “Judo’Lebell and
and Armenian grappling greats such as Gokor Chivichyan and Edmond Tarverdyan, Kayla Harrison Harrison took up judo at the age of six, having been introduced to the sport by her mother who was a black belt.
She began being trained by coach Daniel Doyle, and won two national championships by the age of 15. However, during that period Doyle was abusing Harrison, who reported it to another judoka, who in turn told Harrison’s mother.
She subsequentally reported this to the police. Doyle was convicted and sentenced to a ten-year prison term.[2] A month after the abuse was revealed, she moved away from her home. (Source: wikipedia).

In 2010, Kayla became World Judo Champion in Tokyo, Japan and the following year 2011 she won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Paris, France.
At the Panamerican Games in 2010 and 2011, Kayla won first bronze and later gold!
One could say that this development has cemented here standings in her current category of -78 kg and has helped her attained Olympic glory by winning the 2012 gold medal.

So, what’s next for Kayla Harrison? Will she follow Ronda Rousey and possibly enter the world of mixed martial arts?
Her grappling skills and her groundwork certainly give her an excellent starting position.

Take a look at what Kayla Harrison is capable of:

Undefeated In Over 9 Years, Judo Legend Yasuhiro Yamashita

Judo is a traditional Japanese grappling art developed by Jigoro Kano, whereas the competitors try to throw or force their opponent to the mat.

When competing in judo one can score points by performing an effective throw, or by forcing an opponent into submission.

Judo players, a.k.a. judoka, will do their best to gain control of their opponent before applying a throwing or holding technique.

Along with such greats such as Masahiko KimuraYasuhiro Yamashita is considered one of the best judoka ever.
When his home country of Japan boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow for invading Afghanistan, Yamashita had a winning streak of 194 (!)  fights to his record.
And there went his chance of winning an Olympic gold medal. Yamashita was devastated and even wept on Japanese television.
As the only judoka  from the 1980 Japanese judo team to qualify, Yamashita got his chance four years later at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Very unfortunately in an early match of the tournament, Yamashita tore the calf muscle of his right leg. This painful injury did not deter him from continuining and winning this and several consecutive Olympic bouts.
In his final match against Egyptian Mohamed Ali Rashwan, Yamashita won the gold medal despite his calf muscle injury and became a national hero.
Noteworthy is also the fact that Rashwan did not attack Yamashita’s right leg. For his act of fairness he received an award from the International Fairplay Committee.
Yamashita went on to be awarded the Japanese National Prize of Honor and  at the age of only 28 he ended his extraordinary with a whopping 203 total victories in 1985.
Ever since, 9th degree black belt Yasuhiro Yamashita has been an instructor and a trusted advisor for Tokai University and the All Japan Judo Federation as well as the International Judo Federation.
I enjoy watching ’16 Days of Glory’. I hope you do, too.

Girl Power Expressed Through Karate Kata Perfection

If you have been following this blog lately you probably have noticed that I like to mix things up between different martial arts styles such as Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aka BJJ aka Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Western Boxing, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun Kung Fu, just to name a few.

Today, I’m in the mood for some really impressive Karate moves. The kind of moves you see when true artists are at work or better performing a kata.

For those of you not familiar with kata, here a short description:

Kata is a Japanese word for choreographed patterns of movements that can be performed either solo or in pairs or even groups.

Kata is commonly known in the Japanese martial arts such as Aikido, Judo, Karate, Iaido and others.

You come across patterns of movements in other non-Japanese martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan and Taekwondo. They just use Chinese and Korean words instead.

To get a better idea of what karate kata perfection looks like, have a look at this video clip of the Japanese Female Kata Team competing in 2008.

Amazing! But I will let you be the judge.

A Tribute To The Godfather Of Grappling, “Judo” Gene Lebell

It’s about time for a tribute to The Godfather Of Grappling, “Judo” Gene Lebell!

In case of an emergency, people normally call ‘911′.  Right?!

Well, when seasoned martial arts and wrestling greats such as Bruce Lee, Ed Parker, Chuck Norris, Bob Wall, Ken Shamrock, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, The Rock, Gokor “Armenian Assassin” Chivichyan and many many more needed grappling advice and training, guess who they called?

You guessed right, “Judo” Gene Lebell.

In 1954, as a twenty-two year old judoka, Master Gene accomplished something at the National Judo Championships in Japan nobody had done before:

He won the Heavyweight Title as the first non-Japanese weighing only 165 lbs.!

Master Gene repeated this extraordinary acomplishment the next year.

All while competing in a pink judo gi. So what’s with funky colored gi?
I’m glad you asked.

When Master Gene was in Japan the first time, the laundry service cleaning his gi messed up big time by somehow throwing in red clothing and so turning his white gi into the now infamous pink.

Master Gene had no choice but to compete in pink. The Japanese were outraged, because they considered it disrespectful. Traditions can be very strong.

Master Gene prevailed and the pink gi has been his trademark ever since.

So, when looking around a dojo you knew that dangerous guy was always the one wearing pink.

For years he continued to successfully compete in the Judo and Pro-Wrestling.

His proven skills have helped him in stunt-work in literally hundreds of movies along side with celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

Master Gene continues to share his vast knowledge in Los Angeles and at seminars around the country such as the Paradise Warrior Retreat with other martial arts legends.

Master Gene is certainly not your typical 77-year old.
He’s as sharp as a tack and as witty as they come. And he owns the mat.

And what’s absolutely amazing: His sleeper choke keeps on putting people to sleep within seconds.
Nobody does it better!

Or as the famous saying goes, “When in doubt, choke him out.”

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Let me know if any of you have met “Judo” Gene Lebell in person.