(This week’s article was submitted by my good friend Chris Moore from my hometown of Pittsburgh)
Ronald John Pardini’s, roots in Pittsburgh Judo run deep. Pardini, Shichidan, 7th Dan, began his lifelong study and practice of Judo 1959 at the age of twenty-two at the Pittsburgh YMCA by attending a four-week course taught by Sensei Shale Paul, a Dan-ranked Judoka from Washington State. Although Sensei Paul returned to Washington State at the conclusion of the course, Sensei Pardini and his Judo classmates continued to train at the YMCA, often turning to Jigoro Kano’s seminal text, Kodokan Judo, for instruction.
Sensei Pardini center of the second row with the late Kyu Ha Kim, Gary Goltz & Chris Moore to his right
In 1962, Sensei Pardini and several fellow Judoka from the YMCA course undertook construction of The Pittsburgh School of Judo on the second floor of a building adjacent to the Pittsburgh Observatory on the North Side of Pittsburgh. To the best of his recollection, Sensei Pardini lists this group as: initially, Charles Katz, David Katz, Steven Metro, Garland McCune, Albert Sterling, Daniel Colclayzer, James Poschel, and the Igims brothers, later joined by Nick Zaffuto, Frank Brzezinski and Joe Bova (father of Paul Bova).
Many of these gentlemen became familiar names in the Pittsburgh Judo community. Built with their own hands and utilizing salvaged building materials, including padding their tatami with sawdust from a friend’s sawmill shoveled into a rented truck, then hauled to the second floor dojo in bags! The Pittsburgh School of Judo was a notably successful, often attracting twenty to twenty-five Judoka to its training sessions. In 1963 when, the building housing The Pittsburgh School of Judo was slated for demolition as Pittsburgh’s North Side urban renewal reached its doorstep, the group lost its lease and moved to Crafton, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh to join Joseph and Thomas Vukson at a dojo founded by their father.
The Pittsburgh School of Judo was part of the Shufu Yudanshakai, a charter member of the USJF, founded by Senseis James and Edwin Takemori covering a large portion of the Mid-Atlantic States including the Washington DC metro area, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, the Carolinas and Georgia. The Shufu Yudanshakai provided an opportunity for the members of The Pittsburgh School of Judo to participate in tournaments with competitors drawn from several states and provided a formal system for rank promotion.
In the early 1960’s, upon learning of the great All-Korean Judo Champion Kyu Ha Kim, the members of the Pittsburgh School of Judo contacted Kyu Ha Kim and invited him to instruct at their school. Sensei Pardini and Robert Voge later sponsored Kyu Ha Kim’s (February 24,1935-May 14, 2021) application for US citizenship. Kyu Ha Kim agreed to teach at the Pittsburgh School of Judo and did so for a number of years, which began Sensei Pardini’s long association with Kyu Ha Kim. (Note: the legendary Kyu Ha Kim came to be addressed as Kwanjangnim, Grandmaster, GM, his honorific in the martial art of Taekwondo, or simply by his preference, Mr. Kim).
After teaching at the Pittsburgh School of Judo for several years, GM Kyu Ha Kim established his own martial arts school, Kim’s Judo and Karate (later Kim’s Martial Arts and Fitness, KMAF, which became a Pittsburgh institution and is still in operation), attracting many of Pittsburgh’s Judoka, including Sensei Pardini. The opening of KMAF was the end of The Pittsburgh School of Judo, which closed its doors shortly after KMAF began operation. Several of the original members of The Pittsburgh School of Judo went on to found Judo dojo in the Pittsburgh area.
Sensei Pardini was a member of KMAF for decades, initially as a student, later as Sempai and valued senior instructor. Training several times a week, he not only freely shared his considerable knowledge of Judo, but also provided a role model for aspiring Judoka who were privileged to share time with him on the mat.
Over the years, Sensei Pardini steadily advanced in rank; he was promoted to 7th Dan, Shichidan by USJI, United States Judo, Inc., on November 26, 2007, a level few Judoka achieve. During his long tenure KMAF, he regularly competed in Veteran’s Judo Championships at the national level and distinguished himself by winning twelve Veteran’s National Judo Championships, and placing second once. The latter came when he entered and competed with a torn rotator cuff!
In addition to his highly decorated career as a Judoka, Sensei Pardini has led a full life outside of Judo. Devoted to his family, he has been married for sixty-two years and is father to five children, grandfather to seven grandchildren and is soon to be a great grandfather. A grandson, Joseph Pardini, is also a Judoka, training under his grandfather at Spirit Forge Martial Arts in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.
The trajectory of Sensei Pardini’s academic career and professional life mirror his achievements in the Judo world. His working life began in 1958 when he went to work at Colteryahn Dairy as a milkman, where he worked for nine years. In 1969, Sensei Pardini joined the upper St Clair Police Department as a patrolman. During this time, he attended the Community College of Allegheny County, earning an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice 1976 after nine years of study! He later transferred his hard-earned academic credits to Duquesne University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1981.
Somehow during this time frame, he entered and completed the 117th Training Session at the FBI Academy, from which he graduated in 1979, followed by additional training in the US Secret Service Dignitary Protection School, graduating in 1982. Sensei Pardini followed this extensive training with a course in security and evasive driving at the renowned Summit Point Training Facility. Sensei Pardini then
entered a graduate program in Regional Planning at California University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Master’s Degree in 1990. Sensei Pardini rose through the ranks of the Upper St. Clair Police Department and in 2013, retired as Chief of Police after a distinguished forty-five year career. He continues to serve his community as a member of the Upper St. Clair Township Council.
Sensei Pardini’s life has not been without tragedy and heartache, in spite of which he continues to provide an example of strength and discipline in the face of adversity as he cares for his loved ones, contributes to his community and teaches the martial art he loves. Sensei Pardini attributes his ability to carry on through life’s difficulties to the strong spirit and internal strength forged during his years of Judo training.
I began my long association with Sensei Pardini on the mat at KMAF in the 1980’s. From the moment we first met, his encyclopedic command of Judo technique and fierce spirit were clearly in evidence! Today, Sensei Pardini, at eighty-four years old, regularly teaches a Judo Master Class on Saturday afternoons at Spirit Forge Martial Arts where he freely passes on his wealth of knowledge gleaned from a lifetime of Judo training. On July 14th we hosted a dinner to honor our Sensei Ron Pardini with several special guests.
John Beluschak, Eddie Adelson, Chris Moore, Ron Pardini, Gary Goltz, Paul Bova & Ando P-Jobb
Over 60 of Sensei Pardini’s colleagues, students, and family members attended the dinner in his honor
On July 17th Paul Bova & I conducted a Level II Coach Certification at Jan Finkbeiner’s Dojo in Altoona, PA
August 27th, 2022, 11:30 AM PDT, Black Belt will do a live stream from Goltz Judo Claremont, California.
It will focus on the practicality of judo in self-defense and police situations, as well as in MMA and BJJ. Judo is known for its powerful throws followed by an array of practical groundwork which became the basis of BJJ. Judo also teaches superior falling skills required by Hollywood to be in stunt work. Judo randori (free practice) Bruce Lee felt was the best martial arts practice form short of being in a real fight.
Gary Goltz, MBA has been practicing judo for over 50 years and is 8 degree black belt. He runs Goltz Judo in Claremont California which he founded in 1988. It is among the largest and most successful judo dojos in the country. In addition, Sensei Goltz served as President of the US Judo Association, Chair of their National Promotion Board, President of the Nanka Judo Yudanshakai, and was a Defensive Tactics Advisor to the LAPD.
Sensei Goltz is a regular contributor to Black Belt Magazine and has been close friends with Judo Gene LeBell, Hayward Nishioka, Ronda Rousey, Bob Wall, Hal Sharp, and many legendary martial arts leaders.
In 2006 he started the Judo Winter Nationals® which has become the largest judo competition in the country. He also is known for the Tiger Roll comedy bit he did with Jack Black on the Conan O’Brien show.
August – 2022
6th Saturday & 7th Sunday – Yasuo Otoguro Clinic & Red Rock Rumble Tournament, Las Vegas, NV
September – 2022
3rd to 5th Saturday to Monday – Nanka Shorai Camp with Darcel Yandzi, Baldwin Park, CA 11th Sunday – 1st Annual North American Judo Championships, Wayne, NJ 17th Saturday – Becerra Judo Challenge, Plano, TX
18th Sunday – Nevada State Kosen Judo Championship, Las Vegas, NV
October – 2022
1st Saturday – Dr. Z Memorial Scrimmage, Claremont, CA 27th Thursday & 28th Friday – Nanka’s Hand-On Police Judo Workshop, Santa Clarita, CA
December – 2022
2nd Friday to 4th Sunday – Grassroots Judo Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA
I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
b’Black Belt Magazine’
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