I started judo under Sensei Park, Sung Jae at Ball State University in September 1971. I took judo as a PE class and Judo 2 the following term. While at the university I trained for over two years (1971-73). I was on the Ball State University Judo Team as the 154 lb competitor. At the end of this time I had achieved the rank of sankyu (brown belt) recognized by the U. S. Judo Federation. I was inducted into the US Army in 1973.
I next moved to the Fort Hood Judo Club. There I was the assistant instructor and continued my training with the other judo players in the club. I was competing heavily and through special services was placed on the US Army Judo Team. As part of the US Army Team I was selected to attend Camp Olympus Judo Training Camp in Virginia. From this camp Olympic hopefuls were picked. The coaching staff at the camp was the national Japanese Olympic Coaching staff and Olympic Gold Medalist Anton Geesink. We did train and compete for seven days ending in a tournament to help select Olympic hopefuls. I placed fourth in my division.
Returning to Ft. Hood to complete my military term, I worked for Special Services in the evening teaching self defense class to military officers and their dependents who were to be assigned overseas. (I used this as a ruse to encourage potential students to join the Ft. Hood Judo Club.) At one point we had over 80 members.
After the military, I returned to Ball State University (1975-77) and continued my training with Dr. Park at the Ball State Judo Club. Just after graduation I was promoted to iikyu (the highest level before black belt). I moved to Chicago to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois. In Chicago I trained at the Oak Park Judo Club for two years. This was a small club (5-8 people). So, to improve my skills I traveled to other judo clubs in the Chicago area on a regular basis. My wife and I worked out at Uptown Dojo and several Korean and American clubs in the area.
When I moved to Oregon in 1978 I asked my Sensei (Dr. Park) where I could train. He referred me to another alumnus from the Korean Yudo (Judo) College, Master Hwang, Kyu Chin. I trained with Sensei Hwang from 1978-2003. During that time I competed locally and regionally, winning the Oregon State Championships several times. At 35 years old I retired from competition. I was promoted from shodan (1st degree black belt) to sandan (third degree black belt) while training at Master Hwang’s.
In 2004 I began training with the judo club at Best Martial Arts Institute in Eugene, Oregon. I had no teaching responsibilities and I enjoyed the opportunity to train with my son and the other members of the club. After having played judo for over 30 years, it was wonderful to still be able to participate in the sport.
What I find most important in judo is that the beginning students learn the teachings and principles of judo as set forth by its founder, Dr. Jigoro Kano. On or off the mat, in this respect, Sensei Alan Best is a living example of these guidelines. Over time Sensei Best asked me to share my knowledge of judo with the others in the club. Eventually, I was asked to lead some classes, and I became the chief instructor of the Best Martial Arts Institute Judo Program in 2008.
At this point in my judo career I am just here to train and teach. I still enjoy playing judo very much. While I am not what I once was, I do occasionally surprise myself. After competition ended, my judo goal became to encourage other beginners to give judo a try and see if judo is in their soul, as it is in mine.
PacMAC Instructor – 2009 – 2017