Friday, March 7, 2014
Students of the American Judo and Jiu-Jitsu Academy of Summerville brought home medals from the first Judo Jones Memorial Tournament held Feb. 22 in Jacksonville, N.C.
More than 20 students from the school competed in the tournament held in memorial of U.S. Marine Corps (ret.) Earnest “Judo” Jones, a hand-to-hand combat specialist and instructor who fought in World War II in the first all African-American Marine Corps Regiment.
In attendance was Patriotic Tribute honoree James H. Takemori, U.S. Army (ret.), who served in the highly decorated, all Japanese American, 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the war. Takemori, who recently celebrated his 88th birthday, is now one of only a handful of Americans who holds a ninth degree black belt in the sport of judo.
The American Judo and Jiu-Jitsu Academy team included male and female students ranging in age from 4 to 67. They won nine gold medals, nine silver medals and six bronze medals. That is more than any other school in attendance, including judo powerhouse schools College Park Judo of Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy Judo team, earned.
“I am extremely proud of how well these guys performed,” Al Jacobs, a third-degree black belt and current national champion who coaches the Summerville team, said. “They trained very hard for this tournament and that hard work earned them the respect of many tough opponents.”
Outstanding performers in the Senior Competition included Elijah Fletcher, Matthew Morris and Thurston Linning, who each placed first in their weight categories.
Arianna Putnam, who has been training for less than a year, awed fans with her indefatigable drive and placed first in two weight categories after several grueling matches. Also winning gold medals were Heather Morrison, who went undefeated in her first competition, Haut Gap and Robert Gouthro, who won the formal demonstration, or kata, competition with his wife and demonstration partner, Lisa.
In the juniors competition, Marshall Peagler, 15, took home gold in his first judo competition. Peagler is a freshman and wrestler at Summerville High School who trains in judo in the off season to boost his strength and skill.
Several junior competitors won silver medals including Anthony Vaccarro, 13, Sean Jacobs, 11, David Rundall, 11, and Levi Mata, 5, who won 4 of his 5 matches. Bronze medals were awarded to Max Negreiros, 8, and Justin Mata, 10, who fought against two nationally-ranked competitors.
Judo is a dynamic sport where competitors use strength and skill to throw and pin opponents. Coach Jacobs has competed in judo since the age of 8 and wrestled since the age of 12. Recently, he won the 2013 National Master Athlete of the Year Award for his outstanding performance at the U.S. Senior National Championships.