The Menomonee Judo Club – USA Judo Paralympic National Training Site in conjunction with USA Judo and World Sport Chicago, ran a Regional Paralympic and Military Judo Training Camp on February 22nd in Chicago, IL. The staff for the camp included some of the top Paralympic Judo coaches from around the country, including, Ed Liddie, Olympic Bronze Medalist, three time Olympic Coach and Director of Athlete performance for USA Judo, Marc Vink, 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games, Judo Team Leader and Brett Wolf, Head Instructor of Menomonee Judo, 2013 USOC Paralympic Coach of the Year and 2013 Junior World Team Coach. They were assisted by Scott Goldstein, David Tanimura, Tim Schultheis, Nicki Schultheis and Mike Minton.
This unique event brought more than 60 players onto the mat. The group included, 26 participants with visual impairment, 8 Military Veterans and 12 people with physical disabilities. ” I’m very proud to have played a part in such a great event. Exposing so many different people to the sport of Paralympic Judo is one of our missions at Menomonee Judo.”, explained Brett Wolf. There was a wide variety of ages represented at the camp. The youngest camper was an energetic six year old, while a spry 60 year old, trying Judo for the first time, was the the elder statesmen. The veterans in attendance are part of Warriors Without Limits. Warriors Without Limits is a Judo program specifically geared towards both wounded and disabled veterans ( as well as able-bodied ). The program was created in 2011 by Menomonee Judo Head Instructor, Brett Wolf. Nearly half of Menomonee Judo’s 300 players have some type of disability.
Marc Vink led the campers through a variety of drills, including falling, gripping and throwing techniques. ” Events such as these are absolutely vital to the continued growth of Paralympic Judo here in the United States.”, proclaimed Vink. While some participants were trying Judo for the first time, there were a group of experienced Paralympic Players present. Howard Wilson ( Menomonee Judo Club, Chicago, IL ), a Marine with visual impairment, took the bronze medal at the 2012 Senior National Championships in the 90kg Visually Impaired Division. Wilson, who also represented the United States at the ParaPan American Judo Championships last July in Colorado Springs, thoroughly enjoyed being part of the camp, ” I thought it was a great day. I’m really pleased that we had more than 25 participants with visual impairment on the mat at the same time.”, said Wilson.
USA Judo is committed to running regional camps like this throughout the country. ” Our goal is to build our Paralympic and Military Judo programs in every region of the United States. We are very excited about running similar events in the coming months.”, explained Ed Liddie, Director of Athlete Performance for USA Judo.
Menomonee Judo will host the next scheduled Paralympic and Military Training Camp in June or July of this year.