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    Clovis Judo Club is about tradition. The club is now on it's fourth generation of family members studying & teaching judo. The Club was started in the spring of 1956 by Professor Toshitaka Yamauchi, 7th Degree Black Belt from Japan (after death he was posthumously promoted to 8th Degree Black Belt). He started the first women's class in Central California, at the Club, in November of 1956. Professor Yamauchi was a direct student of Professor Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan Judo. Sensei Fumio Ikeda, was a charter member of the first class and Myra Kirk-Goode, the current head instructor of the Club was a charter member of the first women's class. Myra is still very active in keeping the tradition going today, which is a big tribute to a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the local community and its youth and families become an integral part of the communities' growth.

    Judo means "gentle way", therefore, Judo is considered a martial way while Jujitsu is a martial art. Professor Jigoro Kano started Judo in 1882 in Japan. He combined his techniques of Jujitsu, implementing his change of techniques for a softer way, adding his philosophy and started Kodokan Judo.

    Shortly thereafter, his students competed against the Jujitsu trained Police Academy and won. Judo took roots and flourished. Professor Kano demonstrated Judo at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Judo was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1964 when Japan hosted the event. Native American and retired United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was a member of that United States team. Russian President Vladimir Putin is a 6th degree Black Belt and still practices and studies judo today. Women's Judo was not introduced until the 1988 Olympics.

    The Clovis Judo Club began its long history at the old Clovis High School, then moved to the Clovis Memorial District building in the 1960's, where they stayed for about 16 years. The Club spent the next 26 years at Clovis High School. As of October, 2003, the Clovis Judo Club's Dojo is now at Alta Sierra Intermediate School.

    While the Clovis Judo Club is rich in tradition, Club instructors stress discipline, confidence building, physical development and maintaining a family oriented environment. The Club instructors also stress education. The Club is proud of its past students who have gone off to prestigious schools such as UOP, MIT, USC, and the United States Military Academy at West Point. Many of the Club's students are "B" and "A" students and some maintain a grade point average of 4.0 or higher. Of course, not all the students are A/B students, and many are involved in other community service activities such as 4-H, Boy Scouts, church activities, organized hospital visitations, community fundraisers, and numerous sport activities.

    There have been valedictorians and honors students who practice Judo two and three nights a week. Some school districts allow their more progressive students to receive credit for their Physical Education through other means such as Judo. Sensei Matt Vanoni was an Honors student at Edison High School, before moving on to Fresno City College & Fresno State, and received his PE credit at the Clovis Judo Club. Over the years the Club has worked directly with and taught Judo to students from the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters and PAL programs.

    Clovis Judo students have always had the reputation of showing good conduct, spirit, self control, and sportsmanship. The Club is also known for their spirited competitors in both kata and shiai. Over the past 49 years the Club has had 6 national champions, 10 national place winners, and during the last ten years there has been approximately a dozen state champions and place winners. Five of the Club's members, and supporters, are inducted in the Clovis Citizens Hall of Fame: Yoshito Takahashi, Hifumi Ikeda, Mary Shimizu, Fumio Ikeda and Ron Goode.

    The Club's first national champion in shiai, was Haruo Imamura in 1960 and again in 1962 in the 180 lb. wt division. In 1960, Haruo was the Grand Champion (he was the champion of all champions). In 1954 Haruo was also a national collegiate champion in Japan. In 1955 he made his first tour of America. In 1958, he returned to California and has continued to build judo in Clovis and Fresno since his permanent arrival. He is now a 9th Degree Black Belt and continues to invite students to come to America from Japan and takes Central California Judo students back to Japan. Sensei Haruo Imamura is the Head Instructor of Fresno Judo Club and Fresno State Judo Club, and was one of the past head instructors of Clovis Judo Club.

    In 1968, Myra Kirk-Goode, (6th Degree Black Belt, Rokudan), was one of the early National Ju-no-Kata Champions along with her partner Nan Ellis, a former Clovis Judo Club member. Thirty years later, Myra returned to the international kata scene with her new partner, Eva McCatty, Godan, of San Diego, and took third place at the Fukuda Kata Championship. Myra Kirk-Goode is a student of Sensei Keiko Fukuda (10th Degree).

    In 1995, Rod Haas, Godan, and Raul "Rudy" Flores, Sandan, placed first and second respectively in the masters division at the Senior Nationals. That same year, Rod's grandson, Scott Ferguson (a graduate of Clovis High) took first place at the Jr. Olympics. Scott attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he started at 174 pound for the Army's NCAA Division I wrestling team. In 1997, Doug Vandecaveye placed second in the Male Juvenile-A 192 pounds and over pool at the jr/youth national championships. In 2001, Alex Gonzalez (Sunnyside High football and wrestling athlete) became the Club's latest jr/youth shiai national champion.

    In 2003, some of the Club's students competed at the State Jr/Youth Judo Championships held in Los Angeles; Matt Vanoni (Edison High graduate), Olivia Moricca (Freedom Elementary), and placing 2nd was Alan Richards (Clark Intermediate School). Olivia Moricca also went to Florida for the United States Judo Federation Jr/Youth National Championships. In 2005, Daniel Kingen competed in the Junior Nationals Championships in Irvine, CA., where he advanced through the fifth round of competition. Had he made it to the next round, he would have had a podium finish. In 2003, one of the Club's instructors, Kevin Young, Yodan, went to Japan to compete in the 5th World Masters Championships, and 2004 he and his daughter Alexendra went to Vienna, Austria where Kevin competed in the 6th World Masters Championship. In 2005, he again headed to the Pan Am Games in Colorado, placing 3rd in his age & weight division and 2nd in the Open division.

    Judo is an Olympic sport. While the club offers a high level of competition and training, the club instructors also teach kata, self-defense, culture, history, as well as the philosophy behind the "Way" of Judo. In Judo, one can expect to raise your self-regard and self confidence while learning to control and refine your physical and mental well being. The club instructors encourage family participation. The highly noted Clovis Judo Club instructors design programs for all ages from the very young to the elderly and disabled.

    The Beginners Class instructors teach students coordination, body movement and balance. The class teaches Japan and Judo history, judo etiquette, discipline, and verbal and escape self-defense. Exercises and drills are constructed to develop one both physically and mentally.

    Club Instructor, Ron Goode, Godan, is one of only a few instructors in the state who holds a college credential to teach judo. Goode's experience has led him through teaching judo at Fresno City College, Yosemite Middle School, and together with Sensei Kirk-Goode, has taught several summer classes at North Fork Elementary and Sierra High Schools. For ten years they also ran a Judo camp at Sierra High School, bringing in some of the top black belt instructors in the nation as guest instructors.

    During the early 1990's, while working at Yosemite Middle School, Sensei Goode implemented Judo in the physical education program. This was a first since the 1960's when Ben Campbell taught judo in several Sacramento schools. Another Club instructor, Dr. Larry Moricca, Nidan, has utilized his judo and teaching experience in his therapeutic treatment centers. In 2003, four of the Club's instructors attended a national teaching seminar in San Francisco and one of the instructors, Dan Treadwell, Yodan, has been attending training in Colorado Springs to achieve his Class C Coaching Certificate. In 2004, Dan and his son Brian Treadwell traveled to Hawaii for the National Teachers Institute where Brian studied five advanced katas. The club has 4 National Certified Coaches in Myra Sensei, Ron Goode, Jacque Harrell, and Amanda Means. Continuing in the study trend, Sensei Myra and daughter Elena Goode attended the National Joshi Judo Camp in San Jose, CA. And Sensei Myra continues to take students, such as Jacque Harrell, to the Camp. These are but a few examples of the depth of teaching experience Clovis Judo Club instructors have to offer.

    Clovis' judo tradition is expanded through former club members, Sensei Haruo Imamura, Kudan (9th Degree Black Belt), Fresno Judo Club and Sensei Jeff Takeda, Rokudan, West Clovis Judo Club, both of whom have and are building their own set of national and state champions. Another one of the Club's young black belts, Devin Ramsey, Nidan, while in the Air Force and stationed in San Pedro, started a judo club on-base at the Fort McArthur Housing Base. Sensei Kevin Young assisted and supported a new club getting started in Selma.

    All instructors are volunteers, and the Club has 11 Black Belt instructors, 6 of whom are constantly on the mat teaching.



Last modified: 02/02/2018