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On November 10th I traveled to Miami, Florida with the intention of competing at the 2012 World Judo Masters. This would be the second time I competed in the awesome tournament. The tournament was supposed to be in Brazil but six months before the event it was moved to the United States.
The venue was at Trump’s Doral Resort and Spa and hosted by USA Judo. The turnout included over 900 competitors from 30 countries including Russia, France, Germany, Mongolia, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and of course the United States with 178 entrants including myself.
For the past few months I had been training and preparing myself, I knew that the level of competition would be high. My weight was right on and I would be competing at 73kg (160.5lbs), over the past year I had lost almost 40 pounds. The last time I competed at this tournament I fought at 81kgs (177.5lbs) and had 55 competitors in my category. When I got to Miami and weighed-in I was anxious to see how many competitors I would have this year. The final count was 28 competitors in the M3 73kg category. In order to compete in this tournament you must be at least a Black Belt and over the age of 30, categories are divided every 5 years, M1=30-34, M2=35-39, M3=40-44 and so on.
I wasn’t scheduled to compete until the next day so I enjoyed the day watching other compete. Day 1 included men and women from around the globe, the quality of technique was high. I found a seat and watched judoka over the age 60 and even 70 years old fighting. Just goes to show that age is not a limiting factor, not only can you practice judo at any age you can compete at any age.
The next day when I arrived at the tournament I saw that I would be the second fight so I started stretching and warming up. My fist competitor would be from French Polynesia and I had no idea what to expect. But once I was on the mat I just let my training and instincts take over. We began gripping and moving around the mat, my competitor was strong but felt stronger and faster. I attacked with shoulder throw and scored a yuko, I followed him to the mat and captured him in a judo pin holding him for the 25 seconds and win.
I would only have a short time before next fight against an even stronger fighter from Brazil. As we stood in line waiting to be called out we shook hands, gave each other a quick hug and wished each other good luck. On the mat our grip fighting was intense! I attacked with foot sweeps to disrupt his balance I attacked with various techniques but his balance and defense was tough. Unfortunately for him he was penalized for not attacking himself, when we re-gripped I was able to get a high lapel grip just as he attacked with a low shoulder throw. I quickly avoided the throw and followed him to ground. With my lapel grip I was able immediately lock in a tight choke under his chin. I secured the choke and began to apply pressure, he tried to defend but it was too late, he tapped and submitted.
After my first two wins I was still feeling great, I looked at the board to see how my next opponent would be. I saw that I would next be facing another tough judoka from Russia this time. Once again when the action started the grip fighting was intense and difficult. He was able to gain the advantage on the grip fighting and grabbed both of my sleeves very low at the wrist then quickly attacked with a drop shoulder throw. I new immediately that I was in trouble and started to defend the attack. Because he could not throw me forward he adjusted and took me to the side instead. There was nothing I could do this time to avoid the throw and landed on the tip of my shoulder. As I hit the mat I felt the excruciating pain as my shoulder exploded separating my AC joint. I knew my day was over, I would have to resign from the rest of the tournament.
At the emergency room they took the x-rays and put my arm in a sling and secured it to my body. The diagnosis was a class 3 AC joint separation. I returned to the tournament to watch my friends, Dimitri, Adel, Sugi, and Sebastian compete.
At the end of week I was able to fight three world class competitors and beat two of them decisively, I enjoyed every moment of the tournament as a spectator and competitor. I shoulder will heal and I will be back on the mat teaching and training within weeks.
One the things I love most about judo is opportunity to meet and fight with people from all over the world. There is no doubt in my mind that Judo is the greatest sport and martial art. I can’t imagine life without Judo which is why I share what I know everyday with my students. It does not matter if you are 5 years old 50 years old its never too early or two late to learn. Judo has something for everyone! This is the philosophy we go by at Wall 2 Wall Martial Arts.
For a complete list of results and statistics, see www.ippon.org or on the IJF Veterans facebook page
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