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US Air Force--Strategic Air Command-(SAC) Judo

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Judo in the Air Force-Strategic Air Command-(SAC)

My attempt here is not to explain the beginning and end of Judo in SAC. There are several books and articles available that do so in great detail. Instead, I shall tell a story of a few men that were significant in SAC Judo, along with the story of how they, themselves, began their careers in this sport. As you will see, not all of them took the same route but all became accomplished fighters along the way. I shall list some of their accomplishments, such as Tournament wins along with some of the Air Force Bases where they served and taught. Lastly, I shall give the reader an insight into a typical SAC Judo Tournament in the years covering 1960-1963. I have concentrated on the early years of all of these fighters, because first through six degree black belts are earned most always, by tournament wins and such. There have been a few fighters that earned higher rank during their fighting years, mostly, very serious, Japanese fighters like Kyuzo Mifune. Like most sports, competing beyond the age of 40 or so, is not usual. This would require a competitor to take on all the young, vigorous fighters in major tournaments, so this is rare. All Judo enthusiasts know that most promotions to the higher grades above 6th degree are reserved for the few, active senior tournament combatants, that compete in their own age brackets. Almost all other promotions are based on teaching and contributing to the furthering of Judo.


The first story is about George Harris, one of the Legends in SAC Judo. George liked contact sports and did some boxing as a youth. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1951, was trained as a Medic and sent to the Base Hospital at Travis, AFB. In early 1952, while on duty at the Hospital, George was assisting a young Air Force Captain by the name of Philip Porter. Phil told George about the Base Judo Club, there at Travis. George began Judo training immediately under the tutelage of Walter Todd. George progressed rapidly and was promoted to Shodan in 1954.

Later that year, a 10-man AAU team was sent to compete in six Japanese cities. Five members of that team were Air Force. There were 16 contests held in six Japanese cities. The most successful member of that team was George, who won all 16 of his contest. Shortly after these contest wins, Sensei Kotani (8th dan) of the Kodokan, promoted George to Nidan.

In 1956, the national AAU Judo Tournament was held in Seattle, Washington, George Harris, placed third in the heavyweight division.

In 1957, after only five years in judo, Staff Sgt. George Harris won the Grand Championship in the National AAU Judo Championships in Hawaii. Harris was first in the heavyweight division; sweeping the division with him were A/1 C Lenwood Williams in second place and A2C Ed Mede, third. The Air Force also took the National 5-Man Team Championship for the first time. George was promoted to 3rd dan that year.

On April 13, 14, 1958, the winners of the SAC and ARDC tournaments that year, represented the Air Force at the AAU tournament in Chicago. Twelve Air Force judoists participated, with George Harris successfully defending his Grand Championship, and the Air Force team captured the National 5-Man Team Championship for the second year in a row. Due to the great power of Southern California in the lower weight divisions, the Air Force was unable to win the overall team championship.

A SAC Judo Team, consisting of L. Williams, E. Mede, G. Harris, J. Reid, R. Moxley, and M. O'Connor (trainer) was designated as the U.S. Pan-American Judo Team in 1958. Team members won first and fourth in the 3rd dan category (Harris and Williams), third in the 2nd dan (Reid), and second in the 1st dan (Mede).

In the fall of 1958, George Harris and Ed Mede represented the U.S. in the 2nd World Tournament, held in Tokyo. Harris's three wins before losing to Sone, a Japanese 5th degree, placed him in a tie for fifth place along with the four other defeated quarter finalists. As a result of this fine record, George Harris was promoted to 4th degree in judo, the first Armed Forces man to be so honored.

George had many trips to Japan and the Kodokan during the years of the 1950’s and 1960’s. His wins in the SAC, Air Force and AAU Tournaments during these years were unparallel. It all came to fruition when George represented the United States in the 1964 Olympics in Judo and garnered a Fifth place in the Heavyweight Division.

George Harris retired from the Air Force in 1972 after 22 years on duty. At this time he holds a 9th dan in Judo and is still active, teaching Judo on the East Coast.


The second story is of Millon Smith, who began his career in Judo and Karate at Hunter AFB, Savanna GA, 1956. His Sensei was Irwin Starks, 2nd degree black belt, Kodokan Judo. Stark was a graduate of the Kodokan Judo Institute, Tokyo Japan. His other Sensei was Paul Shaffer, 2nd degree black belt, Kodokan Judo.

In 1959 he transferred to RAF Fairford, England, He trained there under Sensei Kenshiro Abbe, 8th degree black belt Judo, founder of British Judo Council and International Budo Council. Sensei Abbe is the creator of KyuShin Do.

He continued his training in Judo and Karate, and started training in Aikido. He started the Judo club at the Fairford RAF, US Military Base, and at the local town of Fairford, England.

In 1960 he competed in the USAFE (United States Armed Forces in Europe) Judo Tournament, in Germany and won the 150lb class.

During his time in England, he trained with other Judokas from various organizations throughout England, including those from the British Judo Association and British Judo Council.

In 1961 he was transferred to March AFB, Riverside, CA. As a 2nd degree black belt, he shared Sensei responsibilities with Sensei Leonard Shull, 2nd degree black belt, Kodokan Judo. While at March AFB, he continued his training in Judo, Aikido, and began training in Tang Soo Doo with Carlos "Chuck" Norris.

In March 1962 he competed in the SAC, 15th Air Force Judo Tournament, at Fairchild AFB, Washington, wining the 140 lb class Championship.

In the SAC (Strategic Air Command) Judo Tournament held at Fairchild AFB one week later he again won the 140 lb class Championship and placed 3rd place in the overall Championship. Later that year, he competed for March AFB Judo Team in a minor tournament held at US Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, winning all his matches in the Open Weight Class.

In 1964 he was transferred to Griffiss AFB, Rome NY. There as Sensei, He trained members of the Griffiss AFB Judo team. He also trained with other local teams in the Rome and Utica, New York area.

In late 1964 he was transferred to S.E.A. (South East Asia), Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. During the next four years he was Sensei, training various members of the US Armed Forces, civilian personnel, Thai, and personnel from Air America in Judo, Aikido, and Karate. He also spent time training with the ROK (Republic Of Korea) Army in Tae kwon Do, in Vietnam.

On three separate occasions while on R & R from the jungles of SE Asia, he spent one week each time attending the Kodokan Judo Institute, Tokyo Japan, for advance training.

From 1969 to 1971 he was Sensei at Clovis AFB, New Mexico, training the team in Kodokan Judo and Karate.

From 1971 to 1976 while stationed at Lowry AFB, Colorado, he trained under O'Sensei Phil Porter, 8th degree black belt, Kodokan Judo, Sensei Gus Jazo 7th degree black belt Kodokan Judo. He was Sensei for the Lowry AFB Judo team, and also taught Jujitsu, Karate, Aikido, and Combative Measures (Police Tactics) to some City and State Law Enforcement personnel, including the Sheriff Department.

He served as a Reserve Police Officer for Denver, and Aurora, 1973 to 1976 and trained in advance techniques in Tae Kwon Do Moo Duk Kwan under Russell J. Perron, and served as President, International Fighting Arts Association.

Millon Smith retired from US Air Force in 1976, and became a full time Police Officer from 1977 to 1978. He lives in Colorado and still teaches Martial Arts. He holds a 7th dan Judo, USMAA, 7th dan Jujitsu, USMAA, 4th dan Tae Kwon Do, USJA, 4th dan Tae Kwon Do Moo Duk Kwan, International Fighting Arts Association.


This story is about Phil Porter, another Legend in SAC‘s Judo Program. Philip S. Porter began his Martial Arts career in boxing in 1943 at age 18. He was later a member of the West Point Boxing Team. Porter graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1948. In 1950, he was Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the Western Area of the Air Training Command, USAF.

Phil began Judo, JuJitsu, and Karate training in 1951 at Travis Air Force Base, California under Sensei Walter Todd, 2nd dan. Sensei Todd had studied under many illustrious teachers including Kyuzo Mifune, 10th Dan, and Ichiro Abe, 8th Dan, at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Japan. Walter Todd died in 1999 as a 9th dan in Judo.

In 1954 Phil received his promotion to 1st dan from the Kodokan.

In 1956 Phil received his promotion to 2nd dan from the Budokwai, in England.

Phil won the USAFE (Europe) championship in 1957

In 1959, Phil was promoter to 3rd dan.

In 1963 Phil placed third in the U.S. Judo Nationals at age 38. Shortly afterward he was promoter to 4th dan by Sensei Sumiyuk Kotani, 8th dan of the Kodokan. Sumiyuk Kotani, personally, handed the certificated to Phil at the Air Force Academy, where Phil was coaching the Academy Judo Team. At the time of his death on October 19, 1991, Sensei Kotani was the last Japanese to hold the rank of 10th dan.

In 1973, Phil was promoted to 5th dan in Judo.

Phil won the US National Masters Championship four times (1975, 1977, 1980 and 1981), and won two gold and a silver medal in the 1998 World Master athlete Games in Ottawa, Canada.

Phil was active as a national and international referee in Judo for many years. He rewrote the IJF contest rules in 1967. He refereed the finals in the 1965 World Judo Championships in Brazil between Geesink and Matsunaga. He served on the six member Consultative Committee of Referees for the first Judo Olympics in Tokyo in 1964, and was the referee for the team finals in the World CISM Games of 1971 in Vienna, Austria Phil served three years as National Chairman of the AAU Judo Committee (1961-1964), Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Judo Committee (1964-1968), Secretary General of the Pan American Judo Union (1964-1967), Technical Director of the Pan American Judo Union (1967-1969), President, U. S. Judo Association (1980-1995); Editor, "American Judo" (1960-1995), President and Head Coach, National Judo Institute and National Judo Team, (1980-1995). Phil retired from the United States Air Force as a Major in 1967. He lives in California and is still active in Judo. He teaches Martial Arts and serves as President of the United States Martial Arts Association, which he founded. Phil received his 10th dan in Judo in 2006. His degrees in other Martial Arts---Budo Taijutsu: 10th Degree, JuJitsu: 10th Degree, JunKinShin: 10th Degree, Karate: 8th Degree (Honorary) 1996 by the American Shotokan Karate Alliance. Moo Hap Sul Hapkido: 9th Degree (Honorary), 1997 by House of Discipline Martial Arts Group. Taiho Jitsu: 10th Degree 1997 by Mid-Atlantic Self Defense Association. Wushu: 9th Degree (Honorary) 1994.


This story is about Leonard Shull, He joined the Marines in 1949 and in 1958 he switched to the Air Force. He retained the same rank of SSgt and was put in charge of the Physical Condition Unit at March AFB. Later that year he was sent for four and a half months to the Kodokan, in Japan for advanced training in Judo-receiving his 1st black belt.

In 1959 he again attended the Kodokan for another four and a half months and received his 2nd black belt. During the next three years he was the 15 AF—160 lb Champion. He also competed in the SAC Tournament all three years.

In early 1964 he was transferred to Alaska where he was the Self Defense Instructor at the Air Force Base. He won the Alaska Black Belt Champion three time while stationed there. From Alaska he was transferred to Alconbury AFB, England. He was three time Armed Forces-All-European Grand champion.

Here is an article taken from the 1968--Stars and Stripes:

Shull Dethrones Wecker As USAFE’s No 1 Judoist

By Bob Wicker—Staff writer

BERLIN (S&S) –Fourth degree black belt Leonard Shull of Alconbury dethroned Berlin’s Bill Wecker as USAFE’s No 1 judoist here Wednesday in a tourney- ending thriller at the Tempelhof gymnasium. The 39-yeara-old Shull led the way as Allconbury also claimed three of the six individual weight division titles up for grabs in the two-day championships which attracted 37 of USAFE’s top judoists. Wecker, 27, the protocol officer here at Tempelhof, put up a good show for the home folks as he Breezed to the 205-pound title and then defeated Alconbury’s Roland Williams and Ankara’s Rett Summerville, a third degree black belter who outranks him a notch. Afrer a five minute rest following his tough fight with Summerville, Wecker went after his third straight USAFE over-all (Grand Champion) title. But the veteran Shull quickly threw him for a full-force fall just out of bounds which shook him up. The crafty Alconbury coach took a slim lead midway of the five-minute tussle with a haft-hearted throw and then played it safe for a close decision. Both men were expected to be named Thursday to the six-man USAFE team which will compete in the Air Force worldwide championships at Mather AFB, Calif., March 23-27. Shull won the 176-pound title for the second straight year with a hard-earned decision over Michael Cannon of Hahn. Wecker didn’t have to fight Wednesday for his 205-pound crown—his third in a row—as he had already defeated the other two finalist in Thursday’s preliminaries. Alconbury’s other winners were Paul Kube in the 139-pound division and Williams in the heavy weight bracket. Kuba a second degree black belt met Brentwater’s Peter Boggs for the third straight year in the 139-pound finale and beat him for the second time in a row, this time on a split decision. Williams decisioned teammate Billy Morgan, the defending heavyweight champ, and Wiesbaden’s Leslie Hinshaw in the round-robin finals. Rhein-Mains’ Lamont Shadowens decisioned Michael Reynolds of Midenhall for the 154-pound diadem, while Summerville registered a full point win over Al Greghorn of Midenhall to finish first in the open division. No Showdown An expected showdown between Summerville and fourth degree black belt Rene Pommerelle of Wiesbaden never came off as Alconbury white belt Darron Cannon ousted Prommerelle in the biggest upset of the tournament. Cannon used his 6’ 4” frame to keep Pommerelle at a distant. It was a very close decision in favor of the Alconbury fighter who took up Judo just three months ago.

Leonard Shull retired from the Air Force in 1974. He later served as a police officer in the Portland, OR area. He also taught a Self Defense Course consisting of Judo, Karate, Aikido and Taiho Jitsu, in the Portland area until he retired from Martial Arts in 1980. He lives still in the Portland area.

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Elwood Stevens, 180 lbs, one of my competitors in the 1961 & 1962 15th AF Tournament is more typical of the Career Air Force Jodoka, who trained in Japan. ------More information to follow----


Fred Liles was a teammate of mine on the March AFB team. He began his Judo career at March AFB in the year of -------more to follow-------


Toshiyuki Seino was born in Hawthorne, California on October 26, 1938. He spent the War years at the Tule Lake Relocation Camp in California. In December of 1945 he moved with his family to Tsunuki, Kaseda city, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan. In 1951 his family relocated to Kobe city, Hyogo prefecture, Japan.

In June, 1956 Tosh returned to the United States, taking up residence in Denver, Colorado. In July of 1956, he began his Judo Career at the Denver Dojo. In October of 1956 Tosh moved to Los Angeles, California and in January of 1957 he transferred his membership to the Hollywood Dojo.

October, 1959 Tosh enlisted in the United States Air Force. After basic he was stationed at Davis-Monthan (SAC) AFB, Arizona. There he served as the Self Defense Instructor; Feb.1960 to June 1964. In June of 1964 after serving 4 years and 9 months active duty he was discharged from the Air Force. In October of that year he took employment with Japan Airlines. He retired from Japan Airlines in January of 2002. At this time he lives in the city of Rolling Hills Estate, California.

Promotions: Shodan 1958, Nidan 1958, Sandan 1959, Yodan 1963, Godan 1972, Rokudan 1999.

Major judo accomplishment:

U.S. National Championship (AAU) 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965--- 1st place 70kgs

USAF--- 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964--- 1st place 70kgs and Overall Grand Champion

Pan American Game---1963, Gold medal 70kgs (Sao Paulo, Brazil) Pan American Game--- 1967, Silver medal 70kgs (Winnipeg, Canada) US Olympic team alternate---1964 (Tokyo Olympic)

World Judo Championship--- l965--- 4th place 70kgs (Rio Dejanero, Brazil)

World Judo Championship---1967--- 4th place 70kgs (Salt Lake City, Ut.)

Even though Seino completed in different weight classes such as 150 Ibs, 154 lbs, 160 lbs. His completion weight is shown as 70kgs (154 lbs) to avoid confusion.

As noted above, 1963 Tosh won the Gold in the 70 kilogram class at the Pan American Games. On the US Team along with Seino was Air Force Sgt George Harris who took the Gold in the 90 kilogram class, Air Force officer Paul Maruyama who took Silver in the 80 kilogram class and Air Force veteran Ben Campbell who took Gold in the Open Division.

According to Heavyweight Champion George Harris, who weighed around 220 pounds when competing in those years—he and 160 pound Champion Seino faced each other a total of 7 times in Tournaments vying for the Grand-Championship with George winning 4 times and Seino 3.

In other (AAU) Nationals Tournaments, Seino placed as follows---150 pound class 1964--2nd, 1965--2nd. 154 pound class-- 1966--2nd, 1968--3rd, 1970—2nd.

Tosh was Head Sensei: Apr.1973 Dec. 1978----Harbor Dojo, Harbor City, Ca. Currently Tosh is a member of Hollywood Dojo, Ca.

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Koichi Kusano, one of my Senseis and teammates, was born in Japan in 1937 and immigrated to San Francisco in the mid 50’s. There he attended High School and also began his Judo career at a local dojo.

Graduating from High School in 1958 he enlisted in the United States Air force. After completing his basic training he was assigned to March AFB as a plumber trainee.

He joined the March AFB Judo team as a 2nd brown belt. He progressed rapidly, placing third in the 1959, 15th AF Tournament and competing in the AAU championship held later that year at San Jose State.

In 1960 after winning the 140 lb championship at the 15th AF Tournament, he was promoted to Shodan. He also placed 3rd in the SAC Tournament and competed in the Air Force Tournament that same year.

At the 1961, 15th AF Tournament held at March AFB, he again won the 140 lb Crown, placed 2nd in the SAC Tournament and again competed in the Air Force Tournament. Koichi assisted Sensei Shull at March AFB as a Sensei during the 1960-1962 years

Sensei Shull opted to place Koichi in for Nidan but Koichi, who was to be discharged the coming year, declined the promotion. He was discharged from the Air Force in March of 1962 and moved to the Los Angeles area.

There he began his civilian career as a plumber. He continued his Judo work-outs at the Hollywood Dojo, earning his promotion to Nidan and competed for several more years in the Southern California area.

He has owned and operated his own Plumbing business for many years and hopes soon to sell the business and retire. At this writing, he lives in the Chino Hills area of San Bernardino County.


The story of Raymond Steve Hoyt is somewhat different. Steve was nine years old in 1962, when his Dad dropped him off at a Judo Dojo near Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. I have posted Steve’s Judo years because his dad was Career Air Force and served during these years of SAC Judo and since Steve was a card holder during those years in the Judo Black Belt Federation of America and USAF Yudanshakai. Steve was also my Sensei at the Santa Barbara Judo Club for the three months that I worked out there in the summer of 2005. Steve also played football and earned All-American honors as a running back at Moorpark Junior college. He received a football scholarship at Texas-El Paso where he played one year of football but later opted for a scholarship in Judo at San Jose State, where he excelled as one of the best Judo Players in the U.S. He was promoted to Shodan in 1970. Steve entered in numerous Tournaments over the years and won more than his share. In 2006 he competed at 53 years of age in the World Masters Junior tournament in Tours, France. He won the world championship in the 90-kilo-and-under, 50-54 age group. Steve has continued his Judo uninterrupted for all these years and still competes in many tournaments in the Senior Division. He presently holds a 5th degree black belt. He owns and works at The San Ysidro Pharmacy in Montecito, Ca. Steve is co-owner with Brian Griffin of the Santa Barbara Judo Club where he teaches classes on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.


Harold G. Robinson, (Robby) was a native Bronx, New Yorker. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1952. After Basic training he attended B-29 electronic turret systems gunnery school at Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado. While there his background records were scanned by Headquarters USAF Special Project personnel officials. His high school background in weight lifting, gymnastics, fencing, wrestling, and boxing with the New York City Police Athletic League, caught their eye and he soon found himself as a “volunteer” on his way to Fairchild AFB, Spokane, Washington, destined to become a member of the USAF's Elite Strategic Air Command (SAC) Combative Armed and Unarmed Cadre of Escape and Evasion Instructors. He began his Judo career in 1953 at Fairchild AFB under the tutor ledge of the late Sensei Emilio “Mel” Bruno, GS-15, the Superintendent for USAF Aircrew and Air Police Combative Training and Physical Conditioning, Headquarted at, SAC, Omaha, Nebraska. That same year Robby trained with a team of the highest ranked Japanese martial arts masters ever to visit the United States. This prestigious grouping of Judo, Karate, Aikijutsu, Taiho Jitsu and Goshinjitsu ambassadors included Takahiko Ishikawa, Kenji Tomiki, Tadao Otaki, Hidetaka Nishiyama, Isao Obata, Toshio Kamada and Sumiyuki Kotani; the last of the great Kodokan 10 th Degree Black Belts (Judan). In 1956 Robby shipped out to Chitose AFB on the island of Hokkaido and upon arrival was immediately relocated to the US Army's former First Cavalry Garrison at Camp Crawford, Sapporo, Japan, as the overall Director of Special Services. It was here that he began his formal Kodokan training with his Sensei and mentor Yasumasa Kanemoto, Kudan. In 1956, Robby was awarded Kodokan Shodan in Judo while training alternately with Japanese Military Self-Defense Forces in Kendo and Shorinji Kenpo and Kendo. He relocating to Tokyo in 1957, where he studied Shotokan Karate under Hidetaka Nishiyama at Fuchu Air Station and Kodokan Judo at Green Park Annex with Kodokan's Sensei the late Sadaki Nakabayashi, Shichidan. In 1964, while attending a USAF advanced senior instructors martial arts training course at the Kodokan Judo Institute, Tokyo, Japan, the Foreign Division's Senior Sensei Sumiyuki Kotani, promoted Robby to Nidan. Mr. Risei Kano, son of the originator of Judo, Jigoro Kano, formerly presented Robby's promotion certificate to him in ceremony at the former Kodokan Judo Institute. In 1966 after extensive training in advanced techniques, Kotani Sensei advanced Robby to Sandan.

In 1968 after a stint at Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas, Robby left for the first of six Southeast Asia (SEA) tours of duty Later after a short stateside assignment at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas, from 1972 -1974, Robby again returned to SEA training Royal Thai and U.S. Security Forces in armed and unarmed self-defense. Robby retired from military active duty on December 31, 1976. He returned home to the states where he completed his Associate, Bachelors and Masters Degree programs. At present he lives in Florida. Current Major Martial Art Ranks: • 9th Dan - Kudan, Traditional Kodokan Judo • 9th Dan – Kudan Umi Bushi Goshin Jutsu • 9th Dan - Kudan, Ju-Jitsu • 9th Dan - Kudan, Taiho Jitsu • 8th Dan - Hachidan, Goshin Jitsu • 9th Dan – Dong Koo Yudo Kwan, Republic of South Korea No. 0879 • 9th Dan – Ryu Kyu (Okinawa) Kempo • 10th Dan Soke - International Kempo Federation (IKF) Iran • 10th Dan Hanshi - World Ju-Jitsu & AIKI Bujitsu Federation • 10th Dan Hanshi – Samurai Ju-Jitsu Association International, Teacher’s Diploma, All- Japan Seibukan Martial Arts & Way Association • 10th Dan – Life Member, European Samurai Ju-Jitsu – AIKI Society • 10th Dan Hanshi – Nippon Yawara Ryu AIKI – Ju-Jitsu Renmei

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The system used in most judo matches including SAC:

The object in a judo match is to either throw your opponent to the ground flat on his back, to pin him to the ground on his back, or to force him to submit using a choke or an armlock. This will score an ippon a full point that wins the match. Anything else, such as landing your opponent on the hip or shoulder from a throw, will be waza-ari, yuko or koka (waza-ari being the highest of the 3, koka the lowest) or even no score. Technically speaking, a waza-ari is a half-point, two of which will earn the match. Yukos and kokas are not fractional points in that they do not accumulate to equal a waza-ari or ippon-- in fact a waza-ari beats any number of yukos and a yuko beats any number of kokas. Rather, they are used as tiebreakers if the match ends before an ippon is scored. At match end, if one player has scored a waza-ari and the other has not, the player with the waza-ari wins, but if they are equal in that regard (both with zero or one) yukos are used to break the tie. If they are also equal in yukos, kokas break the tie. Finally, if both players have identical scores, the match is resolved by having the contestants continue fighting in a sudden death overtime called the Golden Score period where the first contestant to get any score wins. If After a throw occurs (whether or not it is scored), combat may continue on the ground. Pinning an opponent, with both shoulders on the mat, for 25 seconds (20 if you previously scored a waza-ari, since two half-points will complete your ippon) results in an ippon. An automatic ippon is also granted when one's opponent submits (which frequently occurs when strangleholds / armlocks are used). If there is no ippon, the one with the highest score wins. Penalties may be given for being inactive during the match or using illegal techniques and fighting must be stopped if a participant is outside the designated area on the mat (tatami). If the referee and judges need to discuss something during groundwork, the referee will call sonomama (which means "do not move") and both fighters must stop in the position they are in. When they are done, the referee says yoshi and the match continues. All scores and penalties are given by the referee. The judges can make a decision to change the score or penalty given by the referee.


Judo Practice at March AFB:  

A typical practice at the March AFB dojo after the March, 1961 Tournament, with new players joining the team, consisted of Kata ---the prescribed forms, throughout the late spring months. By summer we were all well into Randori --- free-style playing and Shiai --- playing in contest. By the end of the calendar year, we were spending quite a lot of hours on the mat doing Katame-waza---grappling techniques---arm-bars, chokes and pins, as well as most all of the Nage-waza---throwing techniques. The first hour of our two hour practice began with warm-ups—stretching, judo push-ups, Ukemi---body rolls, and then it was onto Uchikomi---using all the basics. The second hour for the experience players was spent mostly doing a lot of Randori and mat work. There were forty throwing techniques in the Gokyo in the 1960’s, but since only about ten were used in most contests, we began to zero in on our favorites. My favorite was Tai-otoshi. By the end of December, after we warmed up, we spent the remainder of the two hours, doing Randori.


On the 31 of January, orders were cut—my read as follows—

Base Judo Team

15 RTS (15th Recon Sqd.) The 1962 15th Air Force and SAC Judo matches are scheduled to be conducted at Fairchild AFB, Washington, from 22 to 23rd March 1962. The following named personnel from your organization have been selected to represent March Air force Base in the forthcoming matches. The 1962 March Air force Base Judo Team has an excellent chance of again winning the 15th AF Judo Championship. To insure the success of this venture a properly trained and conditioned team must be entered. It is therefore requested that the airman selected from your organization be permitted to practice from 1500 hrs to 1800 hrs, Monday thru Friday, commencing 9 February 1962.

       Grady Overstreet                A2C                    AF14711124


Thus on the 10th of February, our practices intensified dramatically—3 hours a day---6 days a week. We did our typical warm-up, then went on a three mile run, followed by two and one half hours of serious Randori and mat work. Practice continued as such until we left for the Tournament.


On the 15th of March, orders were cut for the Judo Team and the short version read as follows---

With the concurrence of the Comdrs concerned, the following Airmen, the organizations indicated, SAC, March AFB, Calif, are authorized to precede on or about 21 Mar 62, for approximately 4 days, to Fairchild AFB, Wash, for the purpose of participating in the 1962, 15 AF Judo Tournament.

Team Members listed that made the trip were-- TSGT Lloyd Fairfield, SSGT Leonard Shull, SSGT John Spencer, A1C Fred Liles, A1C Carlos Norris, A1C Allen Parris, A1C Millon Smith, A1C Willie Wilbourn, A1C Grady Overstreet, A1C Richard Warren, A2C Patrick Hess, A1C Travis Hill.

Team Members listed that did not make the trip were-- A2C Francis St John, A1C Paul Valenton, SSGT James Botts,


On the 20th of March the March AFB Judo team climbed aboard an Air Force C-47 and flew to Vandenberg AFB, loaded their team aboard and headed to Fairchild AFB


1962, 15 AF Judo Tournament:

In the 1962—15th AF Tournament, as I remember it but could be incorrect, that rules were used that were somewhat different than was used in some other SAC Tournaments. I assume this was done, since there were so many participants in the 15th that year. It went as such---Winning by Waza-ari or decision gave the winner one neg point and the loser 2 neg points, Ippon-the winner 0 points—the loser 3 neg points. A total of 5 neg points and a contestant was out of the Tournament. The Tournament was not a round robin type since I never went against any of my Team mates througout my six matches. Fairchild AFB--Program of Events:

Wednesday: 21 March 1962, Base Gymnasium 0900 hours: Physical check-up and official weigh-in 1330 hours: Tournament Orientation (all participants)

Thursday: 22 March 1962 , Base Gymnasium 1000 hours: Welcome by Base Commander to all participants in the Fifteenth Air Force Judo Tournament. 1015 hours: Meeting of team Captains and Coaches with Tournament Official on conduct of tournament. 1500-1700-1900 hours First and second rounds of Novice & Open division Elimination

Friday: 23 March 1962, Base Gymnasium 1000 hours: Third Round Elimination Novice & Open Division #140 through Heavyweight 1300 hours: Fourth round Elimination Novice & Open Division if necessary 1700 hours: Finals for Novice Division #140 through Heavyweight 1900 hours: Finals for Open Division #140 through Heavyweight 2030 hours: Tournament Banquet and Presentation of Awards

Tournament Officials

Chief Scorekeeper: SSgt Robert C. Herro-2nd Black Belt (Fairchild AFB) Asst. Scorekeeper: A1C William X. Johnson-1st Brown Belt (Fairchild AFB) Chief Timers: A1C Charles J. Mitchell & Mr Jack Koyama Asst. Timer: A1C Gene Farmer & Representative of Seikikan Judo School Runners: A1C Daroll Burhart & A2C Robert J. Martin Chief Referee: TSgt George Harris-4th Black Belt (Travis AFB) Asst. Referee: TSgt Leonard Randall-2nd Black Belt (Vandenberg AFB) Asst. Referee: SSgt Donald Sine-2nd Black Belt (Vandenberg AFB) Asst. Referee: A2C Toshiyuki Seino-3rd Black Belt (Davis-Monthan AFB) Technical Advisor: MSgt Jay W. Tyrrel-2nd Black Belt (March AFB) Technical Advisor: MSgt Michiel O’connor-2nd black Belt (Wurtsmith AFB)

In the 1962, 15th AF-SAC Tournament, 14 Air Force bases participated—Walker, Fairchild, Davis-Monthan, Warren, Schilling, Larson, Beal, Dyess, Ellsworth, Malastrom, March, Mountain Home, Glasgow and Vandenberg. There was a total of 173 competitors----62 in the Novice (beginner) Division and 101 Open (Expert) Division. In the Open Division the number of Participants were as follows—24 (140 lb), 31 (160 lb), 26 (180 lb) and 20 Heavyweights. I will use myself as an example of how matches progressed, along with a few other contestants that had some matches that were somewhat different. My first match was against a first black. We had a good match with me finally getting a waza-ari and hanging on for the win. He got two negative points but I now had one negative point, myself. The second match was a very tiring match against TSgt George Woodard—a second black. I was 7 or so years younger but he had about 15 pounds on me. After a good three minutes attacking and defending, we somehow ended up on the mat—his favorite place, I was told later. Luckily, I got him in a pin. He worked hard to free himself but in the end I held the pin and got the win. My third match ended quickly with me getting a submission from an arm bar on a White belt. Next I drew a brown belt. He gave me a good go but I caught him with my Tai-otoshi for Ippon. I then drew another brown belt---a first brown. He was quite good. We had a great battle going but when I came in for a throw; he caught me in a counter and got waza-ari for it. Time was running out and he was trying to keep me at bay. I worked in a standing choke and it looked like I had him good but he was able to get a hand under my choke and hold on till time was called. He told me after the match that he came very close to submitting a couple of times. Well, too bad, I now had three negative points. He received one. I remember 2nd degree black belt Elwood Stevens and 2nd degree black belt TSgt Woodard having a long defensive bout with Elwood taking a close decision. Finally, it came down the 180 lb class semifinals and I had the misfortune of drawing Elwood Stevens in my final match. Of course it was just a matter of time that I would be facing Elwood anyway but later would have been better. Elwood was someone I remembered well from the 1961 Tournament. I had won my first two matches but still had accumulated a couple of points. That year I had somehow got Elwood for waza-ari in the first couple minutes but being inexperienced, I was not smart enough to try to keep him at bay, if that was possible. As it was, we ended up on the mat and he got me in a pin. I came close to freeing myself but had not done enough mat work and lost the match. Since that loss in 1961, I had worked hard on the mat and felt very comfortable by the 1962 tournament. Well, I should have waited for Elwood to make his attacks and look for a counter. I did not. Instead I spent too much time thinking what I was going to do with him if we went to the mat. I ended up on the mat but it was after he threw me for a beautiful ippon. Oh well, 4th place was as far as I would get this time. Elwood went on to win the 180 lb Championship. Another great match was my Sensei—Leonard Shull—2nd black belt against a young 1st black belt that had recently come state-side from Japan. He had a sharp looking judogi---with black trim all around. I have never seen another judogi like it. More like a Karate-gi than a Judogi. But it did look impressive with that black belt and black trimmed white judogi. The match was going like I thought it would, until Shull ended up on the bottom with the young guy straddling him. He had Shull in a choke and we could not believe what we were seeing. Shull did not seem to be making a good effort to extricate himself either. About a half minute or less passed and the young guy just fell down on Shull’s chest and rolled sideways. Shull immediately stood over the young guy and began to pump air into the guy by lifting on the guy’s belt. Shull told us later that the young guy had pretty much worn Shull’s chin raw but that is all. Shull had a choke going on the guy the whole time. Should have known better, since Shull loved chokes a lot. In the first match of the Grand Championship, 2nd black belt Elwood Stevens 180 lb Champion defeated the Heavyweight champion —waza-ari. My Sensei, 2nd black belt Leonard Shull 160 lb Champion defeated my other Sensei, 2nd black belt Millon Smith 140 lb Champion—decision. The final match for the Grand Championship was a hard fought one with Elwood Stevens making numerous attacks and Leonard Shull defending them. Elwood took the decision and the Grand Championship for the second year in a row. An hour later, we, all in Dress attire, attended the Banquet and the trophies were handed out to the first three spots in each weight division. Only the top three finishers in each weight class—novice and open would stay and compete in the SAC Tournament. The top winners from 2nd, and 8th AF would fly out to Fairchild AFB and complete the contestants. Early the next morning the March AFB members not in the top 3 finishers along with the Vandenberg Team, boarded an Air Force C-54 for the return to our home base.


Newspaper Article March 1962:

Judo Teams Throughout Strategic Air Command Converge At Fairchild AFB For Championship

Anticipation increased today as top judoist from Second, Eight and Fifteenth Air force compete for Strategic Air Command Championship in the annual SAC Judo tournament underway at Fairchild’s base gym. Early this morning, anxious participants were busy weighing in for matches. Until 5 p.m. today, elimination bouts will be underway to determine those to vie for honors in the final elimination contest slated at 7:30 p.m. During that period, the over-all championship matches will be held. SAC’s best are participating in the competition. Last week simultaneous tournaments were held by the numbered air forces. The Fifteenth Air Force tournament was held at Fairchild last week. Fairchild was selected as the site of this national event by Gen. Thomas S. Power, SAC commander-in-chief. This is the ninth annual judo tournament staged by the command. Participants in the SAC competition by numbered air force are listed—(names of Novice and Open division participants). Following the championship matches in the base gym, presentation of team trophies will be held. Shortly thereafter, a banquet will get underway at the NCO Club with the presentation of trophies and awards to numbered air force winners in the tourney. Judo training has been an important part of crew training in SAC since 1950. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay initiated the plan and made it mandatory for all combat crews.

 

1962 SAC Champions:

The winners in the Open finals were---140 lbs—2nd black belt Millon Smith---March AFB, 160 lbs---3rd black belt Toshiyuki Seino---Davis-Monthan, AFB, 180 lbs, ----------------AFB, Heavy weight---3rd black belt Lenwood Williams, Westover AFB. The Grand Champion winner was 3rd black belt Toshiyuki Seino---Davis-Monthan, AFB.


Physical Conditioning Unit

The March Air Force Base Physical Conditioning Unit was located near the Flight Line. It was an old wooden building constructed in the 1930’s or 1940’s and built into a right angle-shape. As one entered the building at the front door—located at the top of the angle, there was an area to the right that served as a changing area. It had a mirror and a space for hanging clothes. There we would change into our workout gear or Judogi. Valuables were put into a wire basket and turned into the Sgt in charge. There were shelves located behind the Sgt desk, for storage. Three stars General Archie Old (of WW11 fame) used the same area to dry off after his workout and massage. I remember the first time my friend Tom Palucki went to the PC Unit with me; he bumped into General Old, coming out of the shower, as we went down the hall to the weight room. Tom said ‘watch out old man’ as he went past. I grimmest and kept walking. General Old did not say anything and when I asked Tom if he knew who he had run into, He replied ‘no.’ I told him later “That was General Old” and Tom said—‘well he should watch where he is going.’ A couple days later, as Tom and I sat in the sauna, who but General Old, came and sat down beside us. “Afternoon Sir,” I said, hoping he did not remember. If he did, he only said ‘Afternoon’ and then we discussed the weather. My Sensei Leonard Shull, recently told me that General Old always considered himself an enlisted man’s General—A Great Man--I will say. To the left of the changing area was a massage room, then a rest room with showers. Across from the restroom was the sauna with bleacher seating, which seated about 8 to 10 people. Past that in the bottom of the L-shape was a small tatami mat covered room about 15 X 15 feet or so, used for boxing workouts, Judo and other sports. As one headed up to the other part of the building there was a 30 X 30 feet area with free weights. At the end of the building there was the Judo-dojo that measured about 15 X 30 feet or so? The floor was covered with a large plastic covered mat with small tatami mats hanging around the wall up to about five feet high. This is where most of the Judo practice took place. In the next few months after the 1962 Fairchild AFB SAC Tournament was held, the March Air Force Base Judo Team began to experience decline. Although the Vietnam Situation had not been officially called a War yet, things were starting to heat up and this affected all the Bases throughout SAC. Our team began to lose many of our Judo players who were transferred to other Commands as well as others that were up for discharge. John Spencer (Air Police) who had learned all of his Judo in the 4 years he trained at March had been promoted to Shodan after the 1962 Tournament. John decided that two enlistments were enough and left for a position with the Riverside Police Department. Tracked him down recently and found out that he spent the next 27 years as a Police Officer in Riverside. I was not slated to be discharged till the next year. For the next few months I spent three days a week working out at the dojo and two days a week lifting free weights in the weight room at the Physical Conditioning Unit. Chuck Norris was due to be discharged late that summer. He and I and a few others, sometimes worked out on the judo mats but as summer approached Chuck began to spend more of his time in his Karate-gi. He gave me some lessons in the Korean Karate form he used. He had mentioned several times that he planed to start a school in Los Angeles for Karate, after his discharge. (I, being from a small Southern town, could not believe anyone could make a living that way.--So much for my beliefs.) By early summer Chuck spent most of his time practicing Karate with one of the young guys that had dropped out of judo. The young man would hold pine boards in the position that Chuck preferred and then Chuck would kick or strike them with his hand and break them. Chuck was discharged in late summer. I was quite alone on the mat many days after that, with many of my Teammates away on TDY's, leaves and such but I still managed to practice some. Also took some Japanese Karate from A1C Grillo, with whom I worked at the 15 TH Recon Squadron. By the beginning of 1963, many days there was only myself and a couple brown belts recently arrived at the base from overseas. Worked out with them some and hoped to make it to the Tournament to be held in early March. Near the end of February my Dad had a severe heart attack and died. I climbed aboard a C-119 (flying box car) and left for South Carolina on emergency leave. I missed the 1963 Tournament but continue to work out in judo and with weights a few days a week till my discharge in early November. I played several sports for recreation over the next few years but did not work out on a judo mat till late summer of 2005. I trained for three months under the tutelage of Steve Hoyt and Brian Griffin at the Santa Barbara Judo Club. This was composed of some mat work and throwing. The first hour or so I worked out with Rodrigo who taught Brazilian Jujutsu and the young men on his team. The Brazilian Jujutsu I found out is pretty much the same as the Katame-waza---grappling techniques---arm-bars that we did on the March AFB Team. The second hour was spent with the Judo guys, which were for the most part fairly young also. I found out that 65 years old is not the best time to try to get back into Judo. Had a good time with some Great Guys and did get back into it enough for me to write about some of my and other teammates Judo years. I located several of my judo team mates, Leonard Shull, Millon Smith, Fred Liles, Koichi Kusano, John Spencer and Thomas Palucki. I also located a few other great ones, like George Harris, Phillip Porter, Elwood Stevens, Toshiyuki Seino and Robby Robinson to write about. While there was around a thousand Judo fighters active during the 1960-1963 of SAC Judo, I can not, of course, list them all.

At this date 2006 there are 3 living 10th Dan at the Kodokan: • Daigo, Toshiro (1926- ), Promoted 10th Dan 2006 • Abe, Ichiro, Promoted 10th Dan 2006 • Osawa, Yoshimi, Promoted 10th Dan 2006

 

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2006