The Perfect Focus

Finding focus in a blurry world…

Do you know amazing people?

Six Degrees of SeparationI was speaking to my dad tonight after he got home from the hospital.

I had went to visit him this past weekend, and while I was there I gave him a photo of my friend Dr. Andre Watson, and myself, a photo that was taken at the Pennsylvania State Judo Championships… But, I had forgotten to write the information on the back of the photo for dad. So he had called tonight to tell me he was home, and ask for the information.

After telling him about Andre, he mentioned how nice it is that I know such people, and how he wishes he could meet Andre some day. I really thought nothing of it till now, but I really do know some amazing people.

You see, my friend Dr. Andre Watson, is a black belt in judo, and a member of the US Paralympic Blind Judo Team. He fought in the 2008 Paralympic Summer Games, and Parapan American Games, visited many countries including Brazil, China, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, and many states in the USA. He’s received his master’s and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology from Widener University. – He’s blind…

Rich (Left) and Dr. Andre Watson (Right)

I think that qualifies as amazing. Don’t you?

I can think of a few other people I happen to know. Because of Andre, I also know Marc Vink, Paralympic Judo Team Leader, and Heidi Moore, Director of Judo Development for the US Association of Blind Athletes.

I can also think of some people who truly inspire me. Elaine, my Orientation and Mobility instructor; she has dedicated her life to helping people like me, who cannot see well to get around safe.

My first judo instructor Dr. Frank Heifer, who just happened to be the superintendent of our school, back when I first started judo, and many other teachers in the school system that happened to also be judo black belts, that until I started judo, I did not know where black belts.

Other friends such as Cole Massie and Skilled Companion Ilia, and their family who inspire me to keep working hard no matter what. Who shared the most private parts of their lives as a family and a child with a disability on national television. Whose service dog won the 2008 ASPCA Dog of the Year, and as a family won the 2009 Honda Helpful Award. He’s helped inspire the writing of this blog, and me to seek orientation and mobility training to become an independent traveler.

Yea, I do know some amazing people!

So, who do you know? A teacher, doctor, son, service person? Who are the people who inspire you, and are the amazing people you call friends… Blog it! And share your story…

Hell, I’m a legally blind photographer, and a black belt in judo myself. Do I inspire any one? Let me know!

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  • 2009 Pennsylvania State Judo Championships

    aventure-judo-18This past weekend we attended the 2009 Pennsylvania State Judo Championships. I had six junior students attend plus Sensei Andy, Sensei Fred and myself. I think we made out alright, though I think we could do a little better. I’ve very proud of my students as for some of them, this was their first ever judo event. It’s not easy when your first ever event is the State Championships!

    I had three matches myself that day in Mens Open category at 145lbs (66kg)… My first match the guy just muscled me. I went in for a dropping shoulder throw and I missed! He got in behind me, and… choked me out… The good thing is you don’t remember much…

    My second match I did much better… This time again with the dropping shoulder throw I got under the guy and planted him in the center of the matt with a perfect throw – Ippon! The match was over in less then 20-seconds. Nice crowed reaction too. Every one complimented me on the nice throw!

    My third match I just screwed up. It was a skinny brown-belt guy, likely on the light side of 145lbs. I had control of him; or so I thought… At one point I actually moved his whole body with a foot-sweep, but… didn’t follow threw… He scored two, 1/2-point techniques on me, and the match was over… That one upset me more then being choked-out!

    My students did well:

    • Nick took 1st!
    • Matt took 1st!
    • Brandon took 2nd!
    • Jason, Attended… He was my youngest student, sadly he did not place. But I’m very proud of him. It was his very first judo tournament.
    • Paul took 2nd!
    • Justin took 3rd!
    • Sensei Andy took 3rd in Mens Masters Over 30.
    • Friend, Dr. Andre Watson took 1st in Mens Masters and 2nd in Mens Open 90kg.

    Nick with 1st!


  • Filed under: Judo, Personal
  • That Kind of Week

    Well it has not been THAT bad, but you know the kind of week you just don’t feel like doing any thing? I have a sports poster I need to make for a client, and I’ve been going over in my head of what I want my judo students to do for promotions.

    Last weeks Orientation and Mobility was canceled because of bad weather, and for this week it is likely to be canceled as well, we have 4-inches of fresh snow outside at this moment. What a bummer.

    My judo students as of late have been off the wall… No concentrating one bit. Not seeming to care that promotions are only ONE WEEK away. No one is going for a particularly high rank; the highest being from Yellow+Orange Stripe to Solid Orange Belts, and all others are lower; and a few first timers. (The kids are aged from 7 to 12).

    Even Sensei Fred got in on some action, yelling at a student in the middle of class. It’s rare I see him yell, but man… The concentration factor for the past few weeks has been the pits! I guess I’m just too soft.

    The PA State Judo Championships are March 14th, and training will soon pick up, for my students and myself. Though I really don’t feel like fighting, I should. I will likely have to loose about 6 or 7 pounds to get down to my fight weight of 65kg (145lbs); that should not be too hard.

    In other news, I did manage to find a photo of our friend Andre on the Getty Wire Service photo archive from the 2008 Paralympic Games. Andre fights for the USA Blind Judo Team, and is a good friend of ours at the judo club; he comes to train with us some times.

    Andre Watson

    Andre Watson, Image Copyright Getty 2008

    I managed to send the photo to Coach Marc, Team Leader for the USA Paralympic Blind Judo Team (whom we know from Andre); to which I get the always-prodding e-mail reply of… “Just think, in 4-years you could represent the United States in London. It would be a shame to see your judo talent go unrewarded.

    Well, yes… Most normal people would say GO FOR IT are you NUTS… But we do still have that travel anxiety we’re working on, remember? And to be honest… I don’t know why he thinks I’m that good… It’s not like I compete every month… Then there is that little thing about qualifying for the team first they forget to tell you about.

    The fact is there are very few visually impaired judo players in the United States; and when one comes along, the coaches do every thing in their power to try and snatch us up. So, as much as I’d like to cross the pond; I think I need to take some smaller steps first.

    Your comments are always welcome. And I will likely be posting a little more information about Blind Judo in the future, even the process of becoming a Paralympic Judo player, if you’d like to know.

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  • Filed under: Judo, Personal