Fix America’s Broken Judo System

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Date: February 25th, 2018


Dear Board Of Directors, Committee Members & Executives,

I am writing you today as a coach, athlete, small business owner, and Judoka. I am asking for your support for an “realignment” program that addresses 3 major issues preventing the United States from vastly growing the sport of Judo, its athletes and and the community.

Form a committee to research alternative rules being used in countries such as France and Australia to examine the potential increase in safety, competitor retention and overall growth in the sport. Allow the sanctioning of events that use alternative rule sets aside from the existing rules implemented by the IJF.

France leads the world with a Judo population of approximately 800,000. They use an alternative rule set which focuses on children's safety and long term growth of Judo on a grassroots level. Jigoro Kano's vision for Judo was physical education. The United States is home to the highest number of overweight and obese people in the world. In the U.S., 70.9 percent of men and 61.9 percent of women are overweight or obese, compared to 38 percent of men and 36.9 percent of women worldwide. 1 in 3 children are obese.

By sanctioning alternative rule sets you allow tournament directors to modify rules to make judo not only safer but a more enjoyable experience. For every kid that gets hurt at a Judo tournament at least 300 don't put on a gi.

Review and revamp the existing teaching/promotional guide lines for juniors to require safe, age appropriate techniques be taught. Create a comprehensive instructor certification program and ensure safe judo instruction by encouraging instructors to avoid dangerous or inappropriate technique for juniors.

As of now just about anyone can open a Judo school. By creating a teacher certification program, national associations can use their resources to lobby for Judo in public and private schools throughout the nation. Once a base of certified instructors is established, governing bodies can pair public schools and certified instructors.

Merge the USJA and AAU with USA Judo to pool resources and membership to solidify the community and its resources. USA Judo can establish a small business program for entrepreneurial judoka to follow so they can ultimately increase the Judo population from the ground up.

USA Judo is limited in resources as well as funding for International Judo Athletes. The volume of members is directly correlated to the budget available. By consolidating organizations we allow for a larger budget which will create a better national training program for elite athletes. It will also allow additional funding for international competition opportunities.

With sanctioned alternative rule sets, there can be Freestyle, Kodokan, Kosen or any other variation present at tournaments, no longer prohibiting anyone interested in competing under a non-limited rule set. This will attract many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Sambo enthusiasts to the sport of Judo, ultimately growing the Judo base.

The future of Judo rests in your hands.


Joseph Cannizzo