Gary’s Judo and Jujitsu Background
My first interest was from reading a book when I was quite young. Probably 8 to 9 years old. In this book, the subject (hero) was a brown belt. I remember reading that he wore his brown belt all the time under his street clothes. This for some reason always stuck with me.
I went into the army in 1959 and was stationed at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. There I saw a couple of real brown belts working out at the base gym. I talked to them and they directed me to a Sergeant Gerimilo at the Provost Marshall’s Office. I don’t know if Sergeant Gerimilo had any judo background or what. He never was in a gi that I saw. At any rate he introduced me to the two brown belts and got me started with rolls and falls. He knew rolls and falls and basic throwing. Most important, he knew how to teach. Sergeant Gerimilo also had unique way of presenting a new gi to a new student. Not in the plastic package, but folded and tied. Kneeling, with a short talk on the gi was a uniform and not a costume, to be treated with respect. Folded and tied. Not rolled up with the obi looped around.
Once I got the basics down, about two months, I began to receive instruction from 1st brown Inum Glipa and 2nd brown Jerry Kusano. During my time with these instructors I learned the basic throws of the KODOKAN.
Of course I was pumped about all the knowledge I had. So in a general B.S. time at the barracks I was babbling about learning judo. Fortunately I was not bragging about my new knowledge, just talking about the fun I was having. Then this guy comes over and asks if I thought I could throw him. Told him I was just learning but had the basics of Ogoshi. So I said I could try. I didn’t touch the ground for what seemed like 5 minutes. His name was Bob Leight and was a black belt from Korea. Bob then came to the base gym and sort of took over the training but not very consistently. Inum and Jerry remained my instructors. Another black belt showed up, Dan Burford. He and Bob where very different in the approach to judo. Dan was JU and Bob very Go.
I was in a research and development project so I traveled all over the U.S. Was too bad I was as early in my judo knowledge as I had the opportunity to visit many dojos. One in particular I remember was in Salt Lake City. The Black Belts did not instruct at the classes I attended. They sat at the front of the class and the Brown Belts did the instruction. They must have had colored belt classes at other times.
Then in 1962 I went to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. There I worked out with a small group and was invited to a promotional tournament somewhere else in Florida. Got permission to go from my C.O. to make the trip. We flew an old DC-3 and what was funny was we had to wear parachutes while taking off and landing. But not when we were actually flying went they might have done some good. At any rate I got to enter the tournament and apply for the promotional portion. Was tested in front of 4 or 5 Black Belts. Demonstrated several throws in each area. Foot, hip and sacrificing techniques. Also the 4 basic chokes and some ground holding techniques. There was no indication of how I had done from the judges. Then the contest. We were broken into class by weight only. My first opponent, if you can call a Sandan an opponent. He was a really good guy. Had been one of my judges so he knew I was trying for my Sankyu rank. I of course was figuring it was all over for me. But he said “come on, give it your best”. By then we were probably 20 seconds in to the match and I knew had he wanted, it would of been over. So I tried to throw him several time and he encouraged me to stay with it. After a couple of minutes he finished the match, shook my hand and basically said “well done”. Right. Did better on my second match. Was a draw. Third match I lost and then got to watch. The head instructor, Kenjii Honda, from my dojo was injured by countering an attempted KANA SUTE (flying leg sissors). Apparently a legal throw at that time.
While I had always had respect for the various Black Belts I had encountered. It was this Sandan showed me what it was all about. Helping and encouraging others. He, and I never knew his name, will always be remembered by me.
I was promoted to Sankyu as well as the other dojo member from Eglin. So we were pretty happy on the trip back. A lot of the “ Sankyu, you’re welcome” jokes.
The date on my certificate is Feb 4, 1962, issued by “Florida Judo Yudansha-kai”. Signed by Kenjii Honda, instructor of dojo and also by Charles Brown, president.
Got discharged from active service in 1962.
Returned to Oregon and began to look for a judo group. Found one at the YMCA here in Medford. Was just a small group 5 or 6 students. The instructor was an Ikyu named Harold Devos. Worked out with this group until Harold was replaced by Lee Garrett and Buster (Buz) Norton. They had broken away from the Medford Judo Academy and came to the YMCA. They were DANZAN RYU and AJJF. I would guess this would have been March/April 1962. The MEDFORD YMCA JUDO club was formed. Beings we students had been studying judo under various people for some time, it did not take too long for us to get in step with DANZAN RYU. We, Loren and Joan Pryor, Murray and Irma Powell and I all received our Black Belts in 1965 or 1966. Can’t remember for sure. My certificate has a date of 2/27/60 which cannot be correct as I was still in the Army at that time. All I can figure is the Professors had signed a bunch of certificates at that time. 2/60. Received my certificate from Professor Bud Estes. My certificate is signed by Professor’s Lamar Fisher, Bud Estes, James Muscleman, Marie Law, and Carl Lundin.
Continued my study under Lee and Buz for several years with like most dojos, students coming and going with a core group staying. Buz moved away, Loren and Joan also moved. Murray and Irma stopped their studies. Leaving Lee and myself for quite awhile. John Freeman joined us. He was a Black Belt and Lee knew him. Do not know where John got his belt or who from. Lee quit one night just like that. At the end of class, he just said it was his last night and was turning the club over to John and I. And that was it, done deal. John and I had no idea of how to run the business end or how the AJJF was involved or how to stay involved. So we just plodded along. Actually we did well and I would stack our students abilities alongside any others.
The AJJF also had a judo program at that time and I eventually got my Nikyu judo rank on Sept. 16, 1967. Japanese exchange students would visit and lend their abilities to our studies. In judo, they of course cleaned our clock. But were always very polite and helpful.
I was never a good judo player. This realization came to me after I made Nikyu. Now I was getting into some good judo players and I was completely out classed. I could do ok here locally in Southern Oregon but if I went to any of the larger tournaments, Eugene or Bay area I was way out of realm. This one of the big advantages to Dan Zen Ryu. I only had to defeat myself. Be confidant, pay attention and work out. The only thing that will stop a person from earning his or her Black Belt is lack of confidence. And that of course can be a big enough obstacle. There are plenty of people in the AJJF who will give of their abilities to help.
Maintaining a class schedule became more and more difficult and John and I had to work more and more overtime. John was a heavy machine mech. and I worked for the gas company. Our management did not share our judo and jujitsu commitment.
Ended up I was running the Medford YMCA by myself as John just had to give it up completely. Got into a problem with YMCA management. Yoga classes were becoming popular and a lady had a class before our judo classes. She would stop her class at 7 and then have here students sit and meditate for 3 to 5 minutes. And then about 5 minutes for them to get out and us in. At any rate it ticked me off and I made no bones about it to the yoga instructor and those who ran the programs. It turned out she was bringing more money into the “Y” than me. So as usually happens when we get mad, I spoke out of turn to the people who I needed something from. I didn’t get it.
So I called Larry Nolte with the Medford Judo Academy and with hat in hand asked if I could join his group. This would of been late 60’s. I had met Larry before and did not like him. My instructors didn’t like him so I didn’t like him. I never knew what the problem was but both Lee and Buz had no use for Larry. Larry invited me and my students out to Phoenix and we ended up joining up. I quickly found out Larry was not a bad guy. He welcomed both me and my students (now his students) to Medford Judo. A lesson is to be learned here. Do not dislike or like someone on someone else’s say so. Find out who they are and approach with an open mind. Sensi Nolte, now Prof Nolte has been a good friend and an excellent instructor. I can say I am proud to be one of his black belts and one of his instructors. Larry over the course of several months worked out with me, going over all the lists of techniques. Apparently was satisfied and ended up giving me the Tues night class. At that time the MJA had probably 25 to 35 students that were pretty regular. We had classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With colored belt classes on Wednesday. It was in the late 60’s or very early 70’s that I received my first instruction in the SHINYO list. Prof. Tom Ball gave the class. I was a Shodan and didn’t seem to be any big deal about rank, just a black belt. Now its Nidan and above. I had several classes in SHINYO over the years and again no big deal as to your rank, just being a black belt. Prof. Carr is one I can remember with clarity. Prof Ball gave a class, formal introduction to SHINYO, Nidan and above and by invite only. Larry got me special permission to attend this class by Prof. Ball. A lot of what he said went over my head. Or thru my head. A lot of mental stuff as to what we were supposed to gain from the SHINYO list. As I stated in my notebook. SHININ…confidence and SHINYO…faith. To me these cover what we develop as were work in these lists.
At any rate I continued to plug along. Teaching and learning. Not necessarily independent of one another.
I moved out of town in1976 and back in 1986. I resumed by practice of DANZAN RYU at Medford Judo Academy. There was Larry Nolte, Troy Shehorn, Terry Peirce and myself as BLACK BELTS.
Larry promoted me to Sandan March 21, 1995. My promotion was accepted by the AJJF.
I have been thru the SHINGIN NO MAKI list three times. We, the fellow BLACK BELTS of MJA who also went thru the lists had worked out in this list at different times but I am referring to a formal class. Sensi Bob McKean (Professor Montero) in Aug. l994. Professor Lamar Fisher (Professor Bud Estes) in 2000. Professor Tony Janovich (Professor Kufferath) in 2000.
And that probably does it. Its 2001 and I’m 61. Still working out, although certainly not as flexible and when I get hurt, its takes a long time to get better.
I am helping Troy with the kid’s class. And am really enjoying this. Daniel, my grandson, worked out for awhile and quit. I hope when he gets over these initial teen years he’ll want to continue. My granddaughter, Kassidy, is studying and seems to enjoy it. Hope she continues. She is now the bright spot in my jujitsu.
My own hope is to continue as long as I can be helpful to students. And to know when to stop when I become unable to be helpful. Hopefully that will be off awhile yet. As I’m fond of saying when asked if I still do judo. I respond “Yes, I just don’t take as many falls and don’t get up as fast”.
April 9, 2002, Professor Nolte promoted me to YODAN. It was a very emotional promotion. Professor presented me with his belt. I thought this was a very great honor.
It is now March of 2010. Have been slowing down, just had 70th birthday. Helping with instruction in kids class twice a week and just once a week in adult class. Seems to be working out well for me.
May 15, 2010, Professor Nolte promoted me to GODAN. This was at our dojo 50th anniversary. My certificate was signed not only by Prof Nolte, Sensei’s Shehorn and McKeen. Was also signed by Professors Tom Ball, our AJJF senior Professor, Professor John Congistre ( JUDAN) and Professor Jane Carr (KUDAN).
To have these Profs. sign a dojo promotion was an extra honor.
Received my 50 year pin,AJJF, in 2013.
Prof. Nolte promoted me to Rokudan in Dec 2015. Did not receive title of Professor.
Was awarded “Title Of Professor” from Prof Nolte and from Pacific Jujutsi Alliance, awarded by Prof McKeen. This was Feb. 2017.