April 2023

April 26, 2023

Yasuhiro Yamashita celebrates after winning the All-Japan Championship at Nippon Budokan on April 29, 1985, in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun

Source: Getty Images

Most people agree that Yasuhiro Yamashita is the best fighter who has ever lived. Being one of the greatest judo masters, he is currently employed by various organizations as a teacher or advisor. On June 17, 1985, he announced his retirement from competitive games after a remarkable career. He amassed 203 straight victories (with seven draws in between) and won five gold medals in international competitions.

At age 19, he became the youngest player to win the All-Japan Championships title in 1977, thanks to his outstanding performance. On October 9, 1984, he was awarded the Japanese National Prize of Honor.

In his only appearance at the Olympics, Yamashita tore a right calf muscle in the preliminary match against Arthur Schnabel. This put Yamashita at a disadvantage since he executed his throws by pivoting his right leg. Though he managed to win the game with an Okuri-Eri-Jime, the injury caused him to limp during the semi-final match against Laurent Del Colombo visibly. Yamashita was thrown with an Osoto Gari only 30 seconds into the game but returned an Osoto Gari and won with a Yoko-Shiho-Gatame (side four-quarter hold). He played the final game against Mohamed Ali Rashwan of Egypt. Yamashita won the last and the gold medal despite his injury. The match witnessed a remarkable fair play act from Rashwan, who did not aim for Yamashita’s right leg. Rashwan was even given an award from the International Fairplay Committee. Here is a YouTube video of his epic 1984 Olympic Gold medal matches.

Yamashita remained undefeated in domestic and international competitions, though he drew several matches with two-time Olympic gold medalist Hitoshi Saito. Yamashita faced Saito in the final game of the All-Japan Judo Championships for three consecutive years from 1983 to 1985 and emerged victorious in every single one of those matches. After suffering numerous injuries throughout his career, Yamashita retired from competitive judo on June 17, 1985, at only 28 years of age.

He reiterates what the founder of Judo, Kano Jigoro-Shihan says: “The ultimate purpose of Judo is the ultimate purpose of the human being, and I consider this to be the fulfillment of the self and benefit to the world.” I live by these words, and I believe these words apply not only to Judo but any other discipline or passion an individual chooses to pursue. I think the fundamental principle is “Judo as human education.” Beyond winning and losing, I truly believe the life lessons through Judo will contribute to building a society full of real winners.

There are no borders, politics, or religion on the tatami- just two athletes testing their skills in the spirit of fair play. Judo is a bridge that connects the world’s people, cultures, and countries.

April 26, 2023

For our Juniors, ages 4-12

USJF/KokaKids collaboration

The USJF Development Committee has aligned its Jr Rank Requirements with SHAPE America. SHAPE America is our national standards framework for K-12 Physical Education that defines what a student should know and be able to do at each stage of developing physically literate individuals with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthy physical activity.

We are the ONLY Judo organization with professional educators comprised of University Professors, Secondary and Elementary Credential Teachers, and Academic School Principals with the expertise to develop such a program.

Keeping with Professor Kano’s goals, judo is meant to be not just a lifelong sport but to become a way of life.  Kano’s philosophy of moralitysocietal contribution, and physical judo techniques align with the SHAPE framework’s stages of development for safe and progressive instruction. 

Visit our
USJF “Koka Kids” interactive pages.  Some of the kids will relish looking through these pages.

For new Junior members

Here is a video titled “Kodomo no Kata.” The video demonstrates how to wear your Judogi, perform bowing, and do some basic exercises & techniques. Kodokan published this video in Tokyo, Japan. The Kodokan is the birthplace of Judo, founded by Kano Jigoro Shihan. We expect our Little Kids to wear their Judogi properly and tie their own Judo belts before moving on to our Juniors’ class.

Minecraft for Judo

Exciting news from the IJF Judo for Children Commission!

We are thrilled to announce that the second edition of Minecraft, the Mystery of the Kodokan, is making waves in the gaming world, with an impressive number of downloads and only second to NASA, with over 535,000 unique players.

As a commission dedicated to promoting the benefits of judo for children, we are proud to be a part of this accomplishment.

A special mention to the leader and Director of IJF Judo for Children Commission, Mr. Ruben Houkes .

His tireless dedication, leadership, and vision have been instrumental in the success of our commission.  We are incredibly grateful for his guidance and expertise, and we look forward to continuing to work alongside him to bring the benefits of judo to even more children around the world.

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