2012 IJF World Grand Masters Judo Championships


The 2012 IJF World Grand Masters Judo Championships                                                A Judo Travel Blog – by Ken McAviney

Tuesday November 6: Arrived in Miami two days ago. The resort is excellent, I’m staying in luxury, two TVs and bathrooms and a king size bed. It’s got three eighteen hole and one nine hole golf courses and all the famous golfers such as Hogan, Snead, Nicholas & Woods have won here.  I’m working at getting on the local time for sleeping; we’re 16 hours behind you. I’m weighing 1.3 kilos over so I'm off to the spa and sauna and missing dinner and drinks. I weigh in tomorrow and fight the day after. Picked up Kristof’s patches and explained that he is not here because his wife is having a surgical procedure. Another Australian Mick Cutajar had visa problems and didn’t make it. There is one other Aussie; Michael Griffiths who won silver at the Commonwealth Championships earlier this year. There are 761 shiai competitors. I met some English, French & Turkish players today. Injuries are down to a dull roar so I'm feeling pretty good.

Wednesday: Made the weight with the help of the sauna, got seven in my division, a Brazilian, Czech, Albanian, three Americans and myself. Didn't look at the draw last night, thought I'd sleep better not knowing. Finally got a good sleep with the help of some melatonin, which is not on script here. Love the excitement of fighting in contest. Here we go.

Thursday: I fought an American called Bob Champy in the first round.  Bob is short and stocky, he used to fight under 90 kilos and came down to 81s but even then is short for an 81 player. I thought because he was short I'd throw him with uchi mata but not so. Michael (the other Aussie ex Brit) had seen Bob fight and told me he took a right grip and liked to control your right sleeve. That was true but his big throw was a left jump in seoinage from your left lapel and a minute into our fight I found myself in the air. Time slows down and I thought “you’re going out in the first round” but I managed to extend myself and slid forward on my face to avoid him turning me. My face tells the tail. I tried uchi mata and yoko tomoenage but he was too solid. I turned for a low left seoinage and saw his leg and did my leg grab and flicked him for an ippon with two seconds to go. The leg grab which has helped me win many fights has been outlawed (disqualification) but if it is done in a combination after some other attack it is allowed.

Bob was good and I was lucky to get through the first round.

Unfortunately I lost in the next round, which turned out to be the semis, because there were eight in the division; two Brazilians, a Czech, Mongolian, three Americans and me.

I got caught with an ouchi / kouchi combination by the Brazilian Irahy Tedesco who lost the final to his fellow country man Mario Da Silva. It's no fun lying on your back looking up at the referee with his hand straight up in the air and your hopes of winning the thing gone.

Photo 1 (seoi-otoshi)

The only photos taken, by the official photographers, of that fight were of my attacks (seoi-otoshi, yoko tomoenage uchi mata and) all to no avail.

Photo 2 (yoko tomoenage)

If I had a photo of me flat on my back courtesy of Irahy’s kouchi I would have included that.

Photo 3 (uchi mata)

After that I fought a Japanese American. He, like the other two, felt strong. It could be that I’m getting weak (due to rotator cuff tears in both shoulders). Michael was in the coach’s chair. This bloke had lost his first fight to the eventual winner Mario then won his next fight. I threw him with the seoi - leg grab and the referee gave an ippon but he was over-ruled by the judges for a wazi. I was walking backwards trying to wiggle away from his strong right hand grip on my left lapel. Michael said that his coach was saying “don’t follow him”, then I don’t remember turning in for left seoi-otoshi and found myself on one knee looking at his feet in the air and thinking “Wow, look at that!” He thanked me! That was a bronze medal fight. It's a bit of a consolation to play my best match at the end with a nice throw to at least win a medal.


Photo 4 (podium)

Bob, my first round opponent went on to throw a Czech and a Mongolian for ippon, with that same left ippon seoinage that he got me in the air with, to win his way through the repo charge and win a bronze medal alongside me. He was unlucky not to go the whole way. Bob is tough and gracious in defeat and very funny and he’s got seven screws in his ankle.

Photo 5 Bob and Ken

I've made some friends from Germany. You know they're friends when they have a laugh at your expense while patting you on the shoulder by way of apology. I've met some really good blokes from Turkey and the US and some old friends from Ireland.

Friday:  Did a coach tour of Miami which is famous for it’s dozens of art deco buildings, beaches and beach front cafes. One third of the three million population is Cuban descent and there is an interesting Little Havana section where they roll hand made cigars etc. The highlight of the boat trip was Star Island where stars live in multi million dollar mansions. We saw where Madonna and some of the Rolling Stones live part of the year and where Elizabeth Taylor and Al Capone used to live.

Saturday: The other Aussie Michael Griffiths fought today. I acted as warm up partner and general dogs’ body. Michael is a very experienced judoka who won a national age championship at 17 in England where the judo is very strong. He won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Championship in one of the masters division earlier this year. He is on the committee of our technical body the Black Belt Register in Sydney and is also a kata expert. There were 15 in his division M5 (50-55 yrs u66 kilos). He drew a Frenchman (from French Polynesia) in the first round and there was no score so it went into golden score extra time. You will see a photo of Michael and the Frenchman both doing tomoenage to each other at the same time.

Photo 6 (duel tomoenages)

The Frenchman then threw him for a lovely ippon with yoko tomoenage just like Kristof's. As good as the Frenchman was he got beaten next round by a Ukrainian which meant that Michael didn’t get a chance in the repo charge where, the way he can play, he would have surely won some matches and had a chance at bronze. The Ukrainian got beaten by another Frenchman Didier Bonhoul who was the eventual winner. In the final he beat a Japanese American Douglaas Tono in golden score in a fantastic match. The top three guys in this division, in their 50's, would probably win our under 66 kilo Nationals.

Photo 7 (Michael getting thrown)

Since Miami Michael won gold and silver at the Oceania Kata Championship with partner Ernie Wakamatsu.

I made a friend named Ayman Massar who is the only player from Egypt. He works for an Egyptian Organization but lives with his wife and daughters in Canada and travels to Egypt a lot. Until recently he worked as the liaison officer between The Canadian Embassy and the Egyptian Government and organized the evacuation of 500 Canadian expats from Egypt during the recent revolution. He is also a hammer thrower and represented Egypt in trap shooting at the Sydney Olympics. Michael Diamond is a friend of his. Today he competed in the over 100 kilo M5 (he weighs 105) and I sat in the coaching chair for him. That didn't help because he lost in the first round. I represented him in queries with the organizers to see if he would get in the repo charge but that didn't help either and he was out. The photo shows him fighting a big Italian. You can see the penalty score he loses by in the background.

Photo 8 (Ayman and the Italian)

He needs to go down to under 100s. He gave me an Egyptian Olympic Committee key ring and took me to dinner. Next year this event is in Abu Dhabi and he suggested that I go a little early and he will show me around Egypt. I’ll take his advice about how safe that will be at the time. The year after that the event is in Spain then either China or Japan, probably Japan because China didn’t participate but that might change. Australia got a mention despite our limited participation because everyone knows about and was wowed by the Sydney Olympics.

Sunday: Today I watched the open. I've never seen so many giants. Some of the men in Ayman's division and in the open are two metres and over 130 kilos. Russia dominated the men’s divisions and Germany just piped France in the women's. France had seventy five competitors. All of the eighty one Russians of all ages had their fares and accommodation paid for by the Russian Government! Judo is a big sport among Russian government officials and former colleagues of the President.  Russia got three times as many gold and overall medals as the second placed team Germany. It follows their Olympics superiority. I was told that there are eight players who competed in the recent London Olympics. The standard in M1 (30 to 35 years) is high.

Overall the judo was much more watchable than the grip fighting waltzes to a decision that we saw at the recent Olympics. The standard of the refereeing was excellent and there was video review of controversial matters. The organization by USA Judo was not flawless but given that they took the event over late, following cancellation of Brazil as a venue, their performance was good and they should be thanked for their hard work. The general atmosphere was more relaxed than an open international. Even with forty players on the warm up mats at any one time there was such courtesy. There was tension but an overall feeling of comradery.

Kristof won gold at this event last year and Mick Cutajar nearly won a bronze. Mick won gold at the Commonwealth Championships earlier this year and Michael Griffiths won silver in that event. With a full team Australia could have done a lot better than our 32nd place out of 46 countries in front of Norway and South Africa (courtesy of the IJF website).        With the standard of the players we get at Australian Masters and Pan Pac Masters we could get a good team together.  Let’s aim for top fifteen in Abu Dhabi.

Monday: Flew to New York and stayed near JFK to make sure I could get back to the airport after the super storms here. Caught the subway into downtown New York and walked around Broadway. I walked past one group of five police, four with automatic assault rifles and one with a german shepherd. Caught an open top bus around the city and saw many of the places that NY is famous for. There is a near completed building where someone has paid $96 million dollars for the top two floors apartment. I didn’t go to Long Island because it still had no electricity and I didn’t go to New Jersey because it is all but washed away. I’ll come back later.

Tuesday 13 November: New York to LA and got on a QANTAS flight, feels like home already.

Over and out,

Ken McAviney

Acting Egyptian Judo Coach.