View Full Version : Cuban Judo In South Florida

30th October 2001, 02:54
Has anyone had the opportunity to visit and/or train in South Florida and see the high level of judo being practiced here.?? Primarily I am talking about the way the cubans practice it.??

P. Castillo

Steven Malanosk
30th October 2001, 03:40
When Fidel let some of the folks go, way back when, he kept their yudansha certificates, so they had to come to the USA and retest. No problema.......................

The Cuban Judoka are some of the best in the world!

In the 70's in a place called Union City NJ, there was a dojo called the CubaKan, and they where great.

I know MANY Cuban JuDoKa, and was married for 5 years to a Cubana, back in NYC, so am an honorary Cubanichi so to speak.

Anyway, Fla. especially Miami and points there about is well stocked with all sorts of Cuban Budoka. The Judo from Cuba is authentic, and losing them, was Fidels mistake " among many" :D

Judo de Cuba es dabien!

30th October 2001, 09:49
Currently, Cuba has two fast-rising teams, as one woman judoka from Cuba won the gold in Sydney 2000. Look for Cuba to get even stronger. Many legends and myths came from Cubans who defected to the US and England, but the teams, as they stand now will probably be a powerhouse if they are not all ready.


hector gomez
30th October 2001, 14:00

I remember, as a kid training at the hialeah judo school on 29st
in hialeah,this was a great judo school run by raul guash,with
many jr national champions in the early 70s.

The cubans have always taken two sports very seriously1.baseball 2.judo
The hialeah judo school eventually years later became the budokan ,a highly competitive judo school in south fla
run by evelio garcia.

Many of the cubans that defect or leave cuba end up
at one time or the other training at the budokan school.

Some of the early cuban instructors, in miami ,that i can remember
mesa,loco valdez,monpellier,amado,raul guash,laguardia.

Mr.jack williams(not cuban)was the first judo instructor in miami
in the 60s.

Hector Gomez

Don Cunningham
30th October 2001, 14:06
I lived and trained in South Florida many years ago while residing in Boca Raton. There were many small to large judo clubs within the Cuban communities from Fort Lauderdale south to Miami. In addition to coaching some of the best judo athletes I've ever seen, they support judo like nowhere else I've been in the U.S. The spectators at judo tournaments were also certainly excited about the sport, making judo tournaments down there a very lively event.

I understand the University of Florida in Boca Raton now has a very active judo club. Also, the club in Hialeah has some of the highest standards for competitive judo. You're definitely going to find you're in judo country while in South Florida.

hector gomez
1st November 2001, 17:58

In brief,The first letter arrived on the last day of may1956.
"please send us the strongest and,most skillful judo fighter in all japan"We want a champion to teach us. Addressed to the president of the kodokan judo institute in tokyo,the letter was stamped with a postmark from havana ,cuba a list of guarantees
were attached:all expenses paid for six months,judo teaching
stint,including meals and hotel accomodations,free round trip
airline ticket, tokyo to havana,a weekly expense allowance,this
letter was signed by the secretary of the cuban federation of judo
black belts.

The kodokan decided on sending the two time all japan judo champion takahiko ishikawa,calls were made to the tokyo metropolitan police academy, where ishikawa was head instructor
he asked questions and recieved answers,yes ishikawa would
be delighted to go to cuba as official representative of kodokan

One week later ,after ishikawa arrival in havana ,the second letter arrived at the kodokan"why
have you send us such a weak judo fighter to teach us"This ishikawa can't fight worth a damm.Not only can't he throw any
of us cuban federation black belts,but we can throw him any time we like....at the same time that the kodokan was recieving this letter ,malcon j.gregory a 4th dergree blackbelt in judo was recieving a letter in california from Ishikawa
stating"for the next 6 months i'll be teaching judo in havana".if you
can spare the time please fly out here ,i would be most happy to
see you.

Arriving in havana, Mr gregory, with some 50 passengers also on board ,deplaned the at the havana airport.
it was 1956 ,batista ruled in cuba,castro was on the lam and these
airport guards surounding the airport, were obviously making sure he didn't slip back
into the country.

Ishikawa was waiting in the airport parking lot. A thickset 200
pounder with a broad cherubic face.they got in a taxi and headed
for downtown havana, they drove along curve roads ,some paved
some not ,and down cobblestone streets M.gregory noticed a lot of things
among them ,was the fact that ishikawa was not doing much talking.in fact, he wasn't doing much of anything.he sat staring
straight ahead stone faced and narrowed eye.the taxi pulled up
to the presidente hotel where ishikawa was staying,after dumping bags in the hotel room and washing up gregory meets ishikawa downstairs by the hotel lobby for drinks,ishikawa was
in no rum boogie woogie mood,gregory sensed something was
really bothering ishikawa"something bothering you, i'd like to know what it is.

Ishikawa proceeded to tell gregory how he had been invited by the cuban federation of black belts to teach them judo.
On the first day of judo practice he let the men he worked out
with throw him ,then he let them defend against his attacks,telegraphing his moves so they could counterattack him
his reason?he wanted to see how much they new about attacking
and defending while he obseved their faults and made mental notes.

He did this for two days with a different set of students,but on the
third day he noticed a changed in attitude.before they treated him
with respect and kindness.Now ,they acted in a sour way,greeting most of his remarks rudley.

Ishikawa reached into his coat and pulled out a letter "it was wriiten by an old friend at the kodokan"The letter was written in kanji
It read,I saw a letter sent to the kodokan by the secretary of something called the cuban federation of blackbelts.This secretary writes that
you cannot throw cuban judomen,and that they can throw you with ease.he wants kano(resei) the president of the kodokan at that
time, to explain, why they sent such a weak teacher.this is an insult to you and a black mark against japanese judo.

ishikawa proceeded to crush the letter into a ball and flung it into
a ashtray,he told gregory to eat a good meal and go to bed early, because in the morning he needed to be in top condition to fight.

The next morning 3 cuban men ,each carrying a judogi under their
arms waited for ishikawa and gregory in the hotel lobby,for the
next 10 minutes they drove thru small towns and roads untill they
reached a 3 story building .once inside ishikawa and gregory changed in the locker room of this big gynasium that had been made exclusively for judo training.

" To make a long story short"
Upon entering the gynamsisum floor there was over 40 cuban
blackbelts dressed in judogis kneeling in single file. Ishikawa
instructed Mr.gregory to kneel to his left to begin class,at this
time Ishikawa asked for a translator to translate to the class his
words exactly,he proceeded to let everyone in the gymnasium know
how he had come to cuba in good faith upon the invitation of the cuban federation of black belts .but thou the invitation was kind
the reception he was gettting lately anyway -was anything but
kind,and now he knew the reason why this was so.

They were no longer friendly toward him,because they felt superior
,and because they had the mistaken belief that their judo was
stronger.he could understand how they could possibly have come
the this concluson,but what he could not forgive them for, was the letter they had sent to the kodokan.
he did not know ,if they'd had learned anything from those three leesons he'd given them.nor did he know ,if they would learn anything from the leeson he was about to give.

With that said, Ishikawa divided the class into two groups one line of
students to face Mr gregory, and the other to face ishikawa,in randori ,the rest as they say, is history ,when the words were finally
shouted out "hajime"the cubans finally realized what kodokan judo
was all about,they had definitely underestimated Ishikawa and his student,they went on to throw every black belt there that day,as Ishikawa and Mr.gregory were leaving the gymnasium ,some of the senior black belts offered there
sincere apologies and asked Ishikawa, what they can do for him.
Ishikawa looked around the gym ,scratched his head ,and pointed
to the secretary of cuban
judo blackbelts ,"I believe i need him to write another very important

Hector Gomez

PS:This story appeared in an article from black belt magazine, in april 78 issue.

3rd November 2001, 00:40
Hector. Actually that is a great story about Ishikawa going to Cuba.
In the last couple of weeks I have been watching some of the tapes from the Olympics and the Pan American Games for the last number of years and there is a knak that the Cubans have for this sport. Like the Japaneese, the Cubans look outstanding. The techniques and the womens ippon seionage are outstanding and far superior at times when comparing competitors. Bottom line, you become a good judo player when you have good coaches/instructors.

P. Castillo

3rd November 2001, 00:49
I had the opprtunity to visit this school a number of times and analyze some of the workouts taking place here daily. THIS IS A FACTORY OF CUBAN JUDO PLAYERS AT THEIR BEST. From the minute you walk in you can see and feel the energy and the attitudes of the young and old players and instructors. Every time I have visited this dojo there has never been less than 25-30 judokas ready to workout. BEGINNERS SIMPLY STAY OUT. I want to add that I just visted, but, never worked out here.

P. Castillo

Goju Man
6th November 2001, 22:27
That was a great story Hector. I remember the old days with the likes of Amado, El Locco Valdes, the east side dojo etc. I had never heard that story. Nice job. Maybe we could start a thread about the old days in Japan and feature stories about Jack Williams.

Manny Salazar;)

Bustillo, A.
7th November 2001, 09:23
Excellent story Hector.
(That is the type of info I asked you a few weeks ago.)

It would also be interesting to hear more about Jack Williams and the Japanese judokas who visited his dojo.

Antonio Bustillo

hector gomez
7th November 2001, 15:51
Hey Guys, thanks for asking about sensei jack williams
He is doing fine, at 72yrs of age, he still puts on his judogi everyday and rolls around on the mat.

He was, i believe the first person to open up a judo school in
miami in the early 60s the "miami school of judo".

Since ,at that time, he had the only martial arts school in miami ,most japaneese judokas and karatekas going thru
miami at the time, would definitetly visit jack,some staying for
long periods of time.

He tells me about the time mehdi from brazil visited the school
and all hell broke loose,but that's another story.

He made great contacts, at that time and eventually traveled to
japan back in the 60s on various ocassions.

I believe, he was one of the first to be liscensed in taijo jitsu
(police arresting techniques),he tells me about the time he met
D.Draegar in japan,and how at that time in japan,because the
resentment of the war still fresh in the minds of some,the tap
was not always acknowledged."that's a tough way to learn judo."

Hector Gomez

ps: He did meet kimura once ,coming out of the locker room at the kodokan,way past kimura's prime.

Goju Man
8th November 2001, 03:39
I remeber hearing those stories too. He is still an excellent teacher.

Manny Salazar;)
BTW next time, fish.

Bustillo, A.
8th November 2001, 13:33
Well, Hector... Don't leave us hanging. Elaborate on some the stories Jack Williams tells you.
I remember seeing a couple of different Japanese judokas living in a small back room of Williams school.

Antonio Bustillo

12th November 2001, 00:11
Everyone in the judo world seems to to know Sensei Jack Williams. East to west. He definitely gives judo a good name and makes it a way of life. I was talking to a good judo friend (who trains with Jack) the other day and he tells me that he puts on his judo gi every single day and go on the mats. Wow.!! He certainly can share MANY excellent stories with you from some of his experiences when he visited the kodokan in Japan.

P. Castillo

12th November 2001, 00:22
Getting back to Cuban and/or South Florida judo, there is one name that you just CANNOT leave out, and that is Sensei Monpellier. From what I can recall, Monpellier came from Cuba at an early age already an international judo champion. Immediately arriving from Cuba in the late 60's or early 70's. he established his dojo in Hialeah.
Can anyone share a little more on this GREAT JUDOKA.???

P. Castillo

Bustillo, A.
10th December 2001, 10:30
A real character, 'el Loco Valdez'.

Reportedly, he taught a few national judo Champs. I heard mention that he was part of the Cuban 1968 Judo team, but I don't know for certain.

Anyone train with him?

Antonio Bustillo

10th December 2001, 11:28
Is this the guy who was waving the Cuban flag at the Sydney 2000 Olympics when one of his woman won a gold medal in the Judo Venue?

I heard tell a few calling him "el loco" but it could have been for the once instance.


Bustillo, A.
10th December 2001, 12:12

I didn't see the 2000 Judo Olympics, nevertheless, I doubt he is the same person. Although I can picture the guy doing something like that. But, then again, there are so many of us 'Locos', especially Cubans, around here in South Florida.
(i.e. el 'loco Hector G.', el 'loco Bustillo' el loco Ferny who resembles the not so macho interior designer Christopher Lowell, 'el loco and Local Yahoo Mike Mitchel...and of course 'el loco Mr. budo barn who trains with chickens while kiaiing yabadadooo Manny S.)

All kidding aside, the 'loco Valdez' I met lives in Miami. He must be in his late 60's.
He said he competed in a tournament, the Master's division, within the last four years.--I don't know where though--
And, I heard claims that he cpmpeted in the '68 Olympics as part of the Cuban Judo team. But, although I knew he had taught locally for some time, I had never heard of the claim about him as an Olympian until the other day.

Antonio Bustillo

Goju Man
10th December 2001, 23:27
Antonio, to my knoledge, I had never heard about the Olympics.
I trained with Johnny Hobales who was an alternate for the games in the eighties, and never heard that mentioned. That doesn't necessarily mean he didn't. If he did, it's been a well kept secret. I don't think he's been in any kind of fighting shape
for quite some years now. How you've seen him is pretty much how he's been. well, I hear the whistle blowin', gotta go get Barney "vive bien" Rubble. Yabadabadooo!

Manny "el loco from bedrock" Salazar:D

11th December 2001, 10:06
Bueno, Antonio,
No hubieron Juegos Olimpicos de judo en 1968.

There wasn't any Olympic competition for judo in 1968. In 1964 it was a demonstration sport, and first appeared officially in the Munich Games in 1972.

I wasn't sure you meant a team for the Olympics, but there may have been a world championship team that year, if they were held that year. Today, they generally are held every other year, as there were World Championships this year, the next will be in 2003.

I was pretty sure this coach wasn't the same guy. He wasn't old enough to have been there anyway. I didn't see the games then, either, but have seen clips. He made the news when his woman judo player won the gold, though he wasn't 'loco' just proud.:)


Bustillo, A.
11th December 2001, 13:01
Mark F.

Thanks for the info.

I think Hector G. is trying to cross reference the claims and verify info on Valdez..

We'll wait and see.

A. Bustillo

hector gomez
12th December 2001, 04:47
Antonio ,i am pretty sure Mark F. is correct there was no olympics
in 68 ,as far as loco being on the team that year who know's
any way all of these guy's were good in their days, i have alway's
heard stories about monpellier being one of the first successful
cubans to place in int'l tournaments for cuba way back before or
in the beggining of castros revolution.

The big heavy cuban that coaches the current women's cuban
team is not loco v.,athough he does act very loco everytime his
girls win ,which is very often.

I hear they train those girls similar to the way the thais train
muaythai very brutal,no wonder our USA girls sometimes don't
stand a chance,most of our girls are juggling college,carrer
oportunities and all the great things this country has to offer.

In cuba when you are picked as a youngster to be on the
cuban national team,you are basically training like a proffessional
athlete does in other sports "FULLTIME"around the clock, winning
a silver medal sometimes could be a dissapointment for them.

Hector Gomez

13th December 2001, 03:42
The fat coach on the cuban team that was waiving the flag is not loco valdez. Thats the coach for the womens team. The guy is intense and a maniac at times. If you see the Olympic judo tapes you can see him analyzing what the other judo player and coach are planning on doing vs concentrating on his players. I'll tell you, those women can throw any of us easy with that seionage that they have perfected.

P. Castillo

13th December 2001, 03:54
Unlike other women judo players, these cuban girls are ready to roll if necessary. At the Worlds or the Olympics, immediately, most players like to get back up and randori. These cubans chicks are so strong that these other girls do not want to roll around and possibly get caught with a choke or pin.

P. Casillo

13th December 2001, 04:03
This young man, Manolo, is probably the next best thing that happened to cuban judo (in Cuba) internationally. Evertime I see this lad compete he impresses the shit of me. As you probably know, the women have been more successful in international competition and the men need someone to step up. Arencibia is another kid that looks pretty sharp if he doesn't loose his confidence with a wazari or kuka at the start.

P. Castillo

13th December 2001, 10:31
I hear they train those girls similar to the way the thais train
muaythai very brutal,no wonder our USA girls sometimes don't
stand a chance,most of our girls are juggling college,carrer
oportunities and all the great things this country has to offer.

In cuba when you are picked as a youngster to be on the
cuban national team,you are basically training like a proffessional
athlete does in other sports "FULLTIME"around the clock, winning
a silver medal sometimes could be a dissapointment for them.

Hector Gomez

Well, however they train there is a winning attitude, something which the US teams lack sometimes. If the theme "Just making the team and going to the Olympics is an honor" doesn't work, and mostly, it hasn't, perhaps they are doing something we need to pick up.

If the point is to win gold, then losing to win silver shouldn't be an option. I hear it time and again: "I don't think of it as losing the gold, I think of it as winning silver." The American audience eats it up which simply leaves them an "out" if they don't win.

I do think the women's team here is poised to win gold before the men do as they don't have as long a losing history.

Any place less than first means one has to lose to win second or third. Winning at all costs may not be what is important, but if it isn't, then begging to show matches on American Television is a long way off. The IJF wants a good piece of that action, and Korea is a powerhouse, much as is Europe is today. Still, the money is here.

I was pretty sure the Cuban women's coach wasn't that "Loco," but he is a character.:eek:


PS: Perhaps we need younger competitors as in most everything else. Thirty somethings just don't stand a chance anymore. But, one goes with what one has.

13th December 2001, 10:50
BTW: I have a friend who has won silver and bronze in athletics in the 1996 games. Before the World Championships in Spain in 1999 she contracted malaria. That didn't keep her out of the running though (she is a sprinter in the 200 m and 400 m), she did not compete in the 200, but did in her best event, the 400. With Malaria, she came in fourth, the only bad race of the year for her. She collapsed when she began her cool down lap.

That is a winning attitude. In the 2000 games she injured here leg and ran in two events, the 400 m and the 4 X 400 m. While not fully healed, she came in seventh in the individuals, but in the 4 X she anchored the Nigerian team which came in fourth.

She had surgery in Europe, went to Lagos to rest up and visit with her son. She is back on the circuit expecting to beat her personal bests in all events. She holds most of the sprinting and medium distance records in the All-Africa and holds second fastest time ever in the 400 m. The only woman to run faster was an East German in the 1970s whos speed was so enhanced by drugs it will be twenty or more years before anyone comes near it.

As a friend said after she collapsed in the world's "She runs until she can't run anymore." She still isn't satisfied with the two medals she has, and will probably be back in 2004. She lives and trains in this town.

Perhaps we need some of that on the judo teams, as well. Don't get it the first time, do it until you can't do it anymore. God knows well all could have used some of that from time to time.:)


14th December 2001, 03:42
Hi there Anotnio & Goju Man. Mr. Valdez is definitely talented and loco at the same time over the years. I remember about 6 years ago, I went to a judo tournament in Fort Lauderdale and all the local judo players were there and ready to compete. Loco Valdez had one of his black belt competing (freshly from Cuba) and he was competing against one of the Tomadachi judo club players (a palm beach rival) in the finals. It was a very even and tough fight until a tocallo starting yelling and disagreeing with the referee about a koka called on loco's student. Well, the name calling and the taunting kept increasing until the ref called him again with stalling, OH BOY.!! All hell broke loose.!! Loco Valdez furiosly ran into the middle of the ring shouting out of his mind at the ref and at the other school sitted across the tatamis. Immediately, right behind him loco had an infantry of student behing him just in case. Well, the first punch flew and before you know it there was about 20 people fist fighting in the middle of the ring. The whole tournament stopped and others got into the fight, punching, kicking, headlocks, hairpulling, mothers, kids, grandparents, all involved and scrapping it out. IT WAS GREAT.!! It was a riot and it all ended there, no more tournament.
The police and swat teams came in and stopped everything. Just thought I share this story with you.

P. Castillo

14th December 2001, 10:07
WOW! Thanks for the play by play. While the general 'wa' of judo shiai has suffered some in later years, if it happens, there should be SOME entertainment value to it.;)


18th December 2001, 00:05
What happened to the replies I was Involved in?:nin:

Henry Infante

18th December 2001, 11:19
Hello, Henry.

Not too long ago E-budo.com was hacked. The Back up used was for the date 15 Nov., 2001, and any posts after that date (It was a few days to a week) were lost.

I apologize for it, but as far as I know, nothing could be done to recover everything. I don't understand the whole thing, but if you require more detail than I can give, contact the administrator John Lindsey at e-budo@houston.rr.com.

If I can get more details of it (it was a hacker who did it and left a signature) I will post them on this thread.

Again, I apologize, as most all lost some posts.

You can also contact Mr. Lindsey by Private Message instead of email. He tends to read those before the email.


18th December 2001, 14:43
Thanks Mark, It's a shame people have nothing better to do than cause problems.

Henry Infante

8th January 2002, 03:10
Come and experience some of the local South Florida judo tournaments. They are full of energy and local talent whether you are Cuban or beige. If I do not compete, I just go and support the sport of judo. Its unbelievable (as you might know) how you can learn and pick-up strategies and techniques that other players use in tournaments.

P. Castillo

8th January 2002, 09:18
For all those who live in Florida, have you heard of something called the "Florida League of Martial Arts?" Apparently, it is new and recently had its first jujutsu tournament (a gendai form of jujutsu).

It's just curiosity, something a friend told me about. Please keep the pilot light on only.;)