This was recently submitted to me by my longtime friend and colleague Brain Mooney a Detective with the Riverside California Police Department for nearly 30 years. Brain is a 4th Dan in Judo and started their judo program in June of 2012 with 6 students.
Today the Riverside Youth Judo Club, Police Activities League (RYJC) currently has over 400 USA Judo registered members – this makes us the largest judo club in the U.S. The club includes about 150 Adaptive (special needs) players, 100+ who are economically or geographically at-risk, 100 neurotypical players, 50 therapists, and 50 UC Riverside players, plus instructors and coaches.
While the club at the Police Department focuses on youth students, we have an adult program at UC Riverside, taught by Sensei Brad Karmann 7th Dan and Satoshi Nakama 5th Dan. We have about 55 total students / instructors at UC Riverside. Approximately 60% of our UCR members also volunteer at the Youth Judo Club
We run (8) different classes with (13) separate sessions every week. have several programs within RYJC which make up the entire club. They include:
• Pre-Judo (judo games for little kids)
• Typical Youth Judo
• Adaptive (special needs) Judo
• Village Judo (for At Risk Youth)
• Adult Judo at UC Riverside
• Police Judo (for civilian and sworn law enforcement)
• Mom’s Judo
All Women’s Breast Cancer Charity Judo Tournament – We have held 5 tournaments that raised over $62,500.00. This is an All Female Judo Tournament where competitors can wear pink judo gis and T shirts. All funds raised go to help families affected by breast and ovarian cancer. Our last tournament in October 2022 included 210 female competitors with typical, adaptive, and moms’ divisions. Every medal awarded at this tournament includes the name of someone lost to breast or ovarian cancer or someone who has survived the disease.
Scholarships – 47 scholarships have been awarded to our students since 2013 for a total of $72,500.00. The scholarships are for our graduating seniors who have committed to college, military, or trade school. We also award scholarships to our Adaptive students who have completed their high school equivalent programs.
Adaptive/Special Needs Judo – We host the only Adaptive/Special Needs Judo Tournament in the U.S. in fact, we have hosted (6) adaptive tournaments in the past 8 years. Our last adaptive tournament in June 2022 included about 150 special needs competitors! This tournament is 100% free to all our competitors, including medals and a tournament T-shirt. The cost of our 2022 tournament was just at about $10,000.00. We also host the only Adaptive/Special Needs Judo Coaching Clinic in the U.S.
Our Adaptive Judo Program is one of the largest in the world. We have about 150 students with special needs including those with ASD (Autism), Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual Disability, ADD and ODD, Non Hearing, and many others.
Along with our Adaptive Judo program, we have over (50) trained Behavioral Therapists on the mat. Many of our therapists are receiving their clinical hours, on the mat, under the supervision of our Chief Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA), Pedro Villa Jr. Our therapists include those receiving clinical hours and training for beginning to master degree level behavioral therapy.
We attended to Worlds Special Needs Judo Games in Beverwijk Netherlands in 2019 and recently in March 2022. This was the first time U.S. competitors attended this event. In 2022, Our player, Kevin Lopez took 1st Place in the Level 3 Division, defeating eight players from Romania, Israel, UK, Germany and Holland. We hope to take a 5-7 person team to Beverwijk in 2023!
Village Judo Program for At-Risk youth – The kids are completely sponsored. Students are referred to us from law enforcement, schools, courts, and our own O.W.E. (Opportunities With Education) Program which is an intensive boot-camp style program.
Development Scrimmage – We started a Development Scrimmage (10 and under) at our club in 2020. This is a fun charity event with food, games, and judo. It helps our young players prepare for tournaments. We raised $2,800.00 at the event which was donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – Children’s Initiative. We are planning another Scrimmage in January 2023 to help raise funds for the “Cops for Kids” Fly-In event at Loma Linda Hospital’s Pediatric Center.
The club operates out of the Riverside Police Department’s Defensive Tactics room. Using the existing facility after hours and on weekends when it not in use by the department. RYJC uses no public funds or taxpayer resources. All money/resources are donated by private supporters and through fundraisers. We completely sponsor over 60% of our students (no tuition and we supply their judo gis). Families who can afford the classes pay about $40/month per student – these funds are cycled back through the program to help with our low income students. Our staff (instructors and therapists) are 100% volunteer. No one in the club is paid and all funds raised go the kids in the program.
Miranda Torres is one of our Amazing Adaptive (Special Needs) judo athletes. She started with us about 7 years ago when she was 13 years old. Miranda is autistic (ASD) with intellectual disability. She also has cerebral palsy. Miranda fell a few years before starting judo and her arm was badly broken. She was scared to walk and was fearful of loud noises. Judo was something that we believed would be good for her to strengthen her body and teach her how to fall. Since starting judo, Miranda can now walk independently and loud noises no longer bother her. She is a beautiful person and she always has a smile on her face. The Riverside Youth Judo Club is extremely privileged to have Miranda and many other adaptive students with our program.
Sensei Tadashi Hiraoka 8th Dan was a dedicated, lifelong practitioner of Kodokan Judo. He started judo when he was 15 and competed on his high school Judo team and was the captain of his university Judo team. He graduated from Hosei University in Tokyo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 1966. Hiraoka Sensei emigrated from Japan in 1968 to teach Karate and Judo in the United States. He went on to become a two time U.S. Champion and a World Masters Champion. He always supported the understanding that Judo was developed to help make the student a better member of society. He was the Chief Instructor at San Gabriel Judo for many years as well as the Chief Instructor at UC Riverside. He was the Riverside Youth Judo Club’s Ranking Sensei since our opening in 202. We lost Hiraoka Sensei in 2019 and we miss him every day.
Note from GG
January – 2023
28th Saturday – Veterans Judo Open, Plano, TX
February – 2023
5th Sunday – New Year’s Annual Kohaku Shiai, San Fernando, CA
25th Saturday – Las Vegas Judo Championships, Henderson, NV
March – 2023
12th Sunday – Taishi’s 13th Anniversary Tournament, Westminster, CA
18th Saturday & 19th Sunday – Youth National Championships, Lubbock, TX
25th Saturday – Shoshinkan’s Annual Kosen Tournament, Las Vegas, NV
26th Sunday – Shoshinkan’s Shintaro Higashi Clinic, Las Vegas, NV
April – 2023
15th Saturday – Couchigian Memorial Tournament, Las Vegas, NV
May – 2023
20th Saturday & 21st Sunday – Senior National Championships, Spokane, WA
June – 2023
16th Friday to 18th Sunday – USA Judo Junior Olympics, Shreveport, LA
24th Saturday – Sensei Gary’s Birthday Scrimmage, Claremont, CA
July – 2023
7th Friday to 9th Sunday – USJF Summer Nationals, New York, NY
October – 2023
1st Sunday – Capitol Open Judo Championships, Sacramento, CA
22nd Sunday – Fresno Invitational Tournament, Fresno, CA
November – 2023
5th Sunday to 8th Wednesday – IJF World Veterans Championships, Abu Dhabi, UAE
19th Sunday – National Presidents Cup Championships, Irving, TX
December – 2023
1st Friday to 3rd Sunday – Grassroots Judo Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA
Final Word – Steven Seagal Choke Hold Diorama Video!
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, thanks.
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