Well tonight was another outstanding judo class. Judo what? OK let me explain.

I have been in the martial art of Kodokan Judo for over 15 years now. I’ve been assisting with our kids class at Pottstown Judo since 1999 and the rank of Sankyu (3rd Level Brown Belt, judos student ranks go backwards 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)… I received my Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in 2007.

Judo (translated “Gentle Way”) though not really “Gentle” at all… Is the modern form of Japanese Ju-jitsu (Not that Brazilian stuff). Japanese Ju-Jitsu, is one of the oldest forms practiced by the Samurai. To this day JUDO is one of the most practiced martial arts on the global scale; and is second only to soccer as a world sport. Judo is both an Olympic AND Paralympic (for the blind) sport…


Judo Promotional Video by the Kyoto Judo Team, Japan.

Please note: The Paralympics is not to be confused with the Special Olympics; not the same program folks…

I started judo as a teenager at around 7th grade… Why? BULLIES!…

As a child with very bad eyesight other kids can be REAL assholes… Shoveling you down steps, calling you names (names hurt very much too), hiding things, like books, and gym uniforms… And just being plain jerks.

Why not karate? Well, for a person who can’t see, do you really want some one trying to punch or kick you in the head?… I don’t think so. Wrestling? I did try for a short time, but then got ill (over 2 weeks) and missed too much class to continue.

Many teachers knew my plight (I was always teachers pet; and I still have MANY friends in the school system today), and got to talk to Mr. Hobbs (School Disciplinarian) ~ they now call them “Resource Officers” today… and he gave me info on Pottstown Judo; he says BE THERE… I think they can help you. (Yea right!).

Mom, mom… I want to do J-U-D-O… um, ok she says… and we set off for the class, at 7PM, Tuesday, in the schools Wrestling Building… We see others arriving in there ‘pajamas‘, and make our way in, to sit and watch.

Who do I see? Mr. Hobbs! HOLY CRAP!… As I sit and watch him, teach his class of students (about 20 of all ages, boys and girls)… I’m in shock! He demos with Sensei West, showing amazing moves, flipping him up, and over… over his leg, over his hip, over his back, over his foot… doing a foot sweep… that makes the man look like he slipped on ice, putting him vertical, three feet off the ground, landing him flat to his back like he was nothing but air it self. (The throw in question – demo!)

After the demo and the class received their instruction of what to do. He excused him self, turning the class over to Sensei West, and walked over to me.

Good evening he says (to me and mom), I’m glad you could make it… So, what did you think? As I reply nervously “I never knew you did martial arts“… he says, he does not always tell school students what he does … that he’s been teaching judo for over 30 years … and he’s a 3rd Degree Black Belt. WOW!

I’m sold… I think it’s magic, mom thinks I’m nuts… But 15 years later, here I am, the 1st Degree Black Belt myself, and teaching a group of 15+ kids of my own. I’ve almost never missed a day of class unless I was on my death bed… and have out lasted 3 head sensei for Pottstown Judo, as Sensei Hobbs and Sensei West moved away… and our clubs founder Sensei Dr. Heifer (The former Superintendent of our schools; imagine that?) and 6th Degree Black Belt retired.

I’m still here… Helping other kids like me!

Knowing so many in the school system back then who did judo. Sensei, Dr. Heifer, 6th Dan (Superintendent), Sensei, Hobbs, 3rd Dan (Junior High Disciplinarian), Sensei West, 1st Dan (Senior High Disciplinarian)… I can’t help but wonder that IF our US school systems where like Japans; where they practice judo for physical education… our schools would be a lot safer, and kids would respect their parents and teachers a lot more.

Besides, it’s frik’n AWESOME to know your school Superintendent is a 6th Degree Black Belt, and can really kick you ass! And not just with his Ph.D intellectually!

Want to learn more about judo? Visit, The Judo Information Site or The Pottstown Judo Club OR feel free to contact me directly for more judo information.

Pottstown Judo will GLADLY accept ALL students who wish to learn the art of judo, including blind and visually disabled, or other disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy. No parent should ever have to hear “We don’t accept disabled children“.

Friends, Cole and Matt both have CP… Cole participates in karate, and Matt participates in judo. You can read there blogs! Cole was also recognized on KarateAngles.com – Kids Hall of Fame (June 2007). (I wonder who nominated him? 😀)  and good friend Dr. Andre Watson who is blind, and a member of the 2008 USA Paralympic Blind Judo Team… are just some examples!

Till next time… Sensei Rich

Also see: Blind and visually impaired children learn about judo…