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Editor’s Note: The 1996 East Bay
Judo Invitational Judo Tournament was very special in
1996. It represented a milestone, the 10th consecutive
tournament in the history of the Dojo. It also was the
first of many tournaments that our club would be involved
in this year. And finally, with Sensei Matsumoto in
Atlanta preparing for the Olympics, it represented the
first time that his leadership was not present to guide
the tournament process along. It was in this backdrop
that Jeff Suess, who ran the tournament for several years
as Assistant Tournament Director, stepped up with his own
brand of leadership to conduct yet another stellar event
for us. Under his direction, EBJI was able to maintain
its reputation as a leader of local Judo activities,
bringing together students, instructors, officials,
friends, and families from all over the Bay Area. It was,
indeed, the start of a long journey of tournaments last
year for us.
The tournament was held on Sunday
February 18th at the Oakland Kaiser Convention Center.
This would be the venue for the U.S.J.F. Junior Nationals
held later that summer. This was our fist time holding
the tournament at this site and we viewed it as an
opportunity to get to know the venue and be prepared for
the Junior Nationals, which would attract three to four
times as many competitors.
Our Dojo is small, but has a great deal
of pride. And while I believe that we were looking
forward to the Junior Nationals, it was very important
that we hold our tournament to the high standards that we
had in the past, as an example of putting our best
efforts forward. Everyone wanted our 10th tournament to
be something "special"
An event of this proportion is not
thrown together at the last minute, and planning and
preparation began in late 1995. Committees were formed to
handle the various functions; Program production and
development, Hospitality and Concessions, Security,
Scoring and Timing, Registration, Pooling, Floor
Management, Set up and Break down, Trophies and awards.
Each committee was vital to the success of the tournament.
As February approached, we received
news that we would have sponsorship from several major
corporations Power-Ade and Dominos. Tied in with Jr.
National promotions it was the first time in our clubs
history that national sponsors were involved.
It takes every member of the dojo,
putting out Herculean effort to pull off these
tournaments. But that is not enough, the Judo community
must also assist lending their talents and resources as
well. Okubo, Redwood PAL, San Jose Buddhist, Albany YMCA,
and C.C.S.F. all helped in scoring and timing, many
attending clinics to develop their skills. The many
referees who came and donated their time and efforts as
well as Mr. Makimoto, our head referee – who selflessly
gives of his talent and time to ensure a quality shiai.
Dr. Isono, who tirelessly ran from mat to mat assisting
the injured and protecting our Judokas. To all of these
and many more we owe our thanks. Judo is a community
effort and the success of our tournament shows the
dedication of those involved.
These local tournaments serve an
important purpose in the development of Judo and Judokas.
It gives an opportunity for players to develop skills and
technique. An opportunity for them to gain experience and
prepare for larger competitions or just improve their own
knowledge of the art. In the spirit of competition, it is
hoped that the best efforts of players will come out and
their Judo will be strengthened. The tournaments hold
other purposes as well.
For many dojos such as ours the
tournament represents the largest fund raising effort of
the year. Students, parents, instructors and family
members, reach out to the community for support of our
program. This is always a difficult thing to do and we
have always been graced with the generosity of businesses
and individuals who give of themselves so that we can
continue our program.
In preparing for our tournament it
always seems like the day of the shiai arrives quickly,
this year was no exception, and our efforts were rewarded
again. Well over 200 competitors participated and the
event went smoothly. No significant injuries occurred (always
a great concern) and our 10th annual Invitational
Tournament held its own with our previous efforts,
representing the constant struggle to improve and better
our previous efforts and increase the quality of Judo,
spirit of teamwork and community.
With this our first tournament of the
year under our belt, we had developed some of the skills
and teamwork that we would need in our participation in
the Collegiate Nationals, Senior Nationals and U.S.J.F.
Jr. Nationals later that year.