This Page is to honor some very special Judoka who are no longer with us, yet their Spirit & Philosophy Greatly Influenced Metro Orlando Judo Kai
Dr. Shigeyoshi Matsumae
( 1901 - 1991 )
Please click the link below to go to the Tokai University website for a complete biography of the life of this great and gifted man
Dr. Sachio Ashida 9th Dan
The emblem of Dr. Ashida's dojo has great significance. The center of the emblem is the Ashida family crest, awarded to the family, with their name, by Minamoto No Yorinobu in approximately 1028 AD. The Minamoto clan was descended from the Emperor Seiwa (858-876), included descendants of emperors from the Emperor Saga to the Emperor Koko, and is considered representative of the rise of the warrior class. The remains of the foundation of the castle in which that first Ashida family ancestor lived and served as regional battalion leader for Minanoto No Yorinobu can be found at the foot of Mount Atago in the town of Hikami in the prefecture of Hyogo. The crest, musubi-karigane represents a goose whose wings are bound, a symbol of peace. The Japanese characters around the crest are translated in the lower half of the circle. The name of Dr. Ashida's dojo, "Renshinkan", reflects his visionary philosophies.The word Ren means to knead or temper. Shin is the mind, heart , and thought processes. Kan is a club or society. Therefore, the name Renshinkan means a club where one tempers the mind and spirit, making them stronger, yet more flexible. Judo is the path of duty, justice, and truth through gentleness. The philosophies which guide the tempering process are reflected in the principles of seiryoku zenyo, jita kyoei, and in fudo-shin.
by Doug Clark
Dr. Ashida was born in Tamba Takeda in Hyōgo Prefecture in 1924, and was one of eight children. In 1936, at the age of 12, Ashida began studying Judo & Zen under the tutelage of a brilliant young teacher, and accomplished Judo Yondan, named Muneyuki Genji. He studied Zen at the Kasei Zen temple in Nishinomiya. Muneyuki sensei had such a tremendous impact on the life and thinking of the young Ashida that in his later years he asked that his beloved grandson Alan also carried the name "Genji" in honor of Muneyuki. Though Ashida came from a prominent "Samurai" family, with a long and distinguished history, the reality was that after the Meji Restoration the family retained only their name and title, but lost land and money. Thus a reoccurring theme in Ashida's life was that, as the eldest son, he made many sacrifices to support his family, including dropping out of school at a young age to get a job. Ashida immediately showed great talent as a Judoka, and in 1938 he won the All Japan Kotoshō Gakkō Championships at the age of 14, and after winning many other tournaments received his Shodan promotion at age 15, which was the youngest age that was allowed in Japan to receive a Dan grade.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was eager to serve the emperor and was convinced that Japan would defeat the United States. His father opposed the war and believed that Americans would soon learn to make planes and tanks as well and quickly as they made cars. The war, he was sure, would destroy Japan. During the war Ashida served as a cadet in the Imperial Army Air Force, eventually training to be one of the famed and feared "Kami Kazi" pilots. In a quite interesting twist of fate, Ashida and one other pilot were sent to investigate the results of the Atomic attack on Hiroshima, arriving about seven hours after the explosion. Ashida and his companion landing their plane at a considerable distance and then bicycled toward the ruined city. He and his companion were the first investigators to report on the aftermath of the world's first atomic bombing. The destruction was of course beyond comprehension, as were the massive casualties. One scene that haunted Dr. Ashida was a woman walking around in a daze with the head of her deceased daughter in a bucket...the head having been separated from the body as a result of the bomb blast. Upon subsequent reflection, Ashida realized his father was correct, and that the war had been a mistake. Instead of committing ritual suicide, as many of his fellow officers did, a small group which included Ashida realized that Japan needed bright young men and women to help rebuild the country from its ruins, so fortunately Ashida did not participate in the ritual suicide as some of his compatriots did. Also, as an interesting side note, Ashida later reported that as horrible as the Atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, he believed that they were part of the calculation that led to an early surrender by Japan, thus sparing millions of lives on both sides. Ashida repeated his opinion on several times to this author that the younger Japanese were so conditioned by the government that even small children would have fought to the death to try to fend off an Allied invasion and occupation of Japan.
Both before and after the war Ashida's outstanding Judo record as a young competitor caught the attention of many prominent Sensei and top competitors, which resulted in Ashida being mentored by such famous Judo names of that era as Yamamoto, Watanabe, Tokizane, Tenzaki, Kotani, as well as continuing to receive instruction from his old teacher Muneyuki before the War...regrettably Muneyuki sensei was killed during the WW II. Ashida went on to win the coveted Hyogoken Senengakko Yudansha championship for three consecutive years, as well as winning the Hyogoken Seinendan Judo championship. Ashida twice had the honor of competing in the All Japan Judo Championships. After the War Ashida continued his Judo and Martial Arts training in spite of his rigorous academic schedule. In addition to Judo, Ashida also studied Tenjin Shinyo Ryu Jujutsu under the famous Nagasuga-sensei, and was only one of 3 people from his dojo who were taught the Kuden, the most closely guarded secrets of the Tenjin Shinyo Ryu school of Ju Jitsu school, which included lethal striking techniques, resuscitation techniques, and techniques used to fix dislocated joints and broken bones. Dr. Ashida was also one of the rare individuals to have received rank from the Kito Ryu Ju Jitsu school. Thus Ashida learned two of the principal schools of Ju Jitsu that Kano Jigoro had studied and that had the most influence in his formation of Kodokan Judo. Dr. Ashida also held Dan ranks in Kendo and Karate, and later also learned some of the Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu techniques via Tomiki Kenji and the Goshin Jutsu program at the Kodokan. Again, in spite of having a job, studying two different majors at university, and training in Martial Arts, Dr. Ashida eventually obtained a degree in Economics from Kwansai University in Osaka, and a degree in Psychology from Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya. Interestingly, Ashida had been accepted into the prestigious Kyoto University, but due to his family situation he declined and instead worked a job while going through "night school". Also during this time Ashida was an assistant instructor of judo at the Nishinomiya Police Station and at the Osaka West Police Station from 1948 to 1953.
Dr. Ashida moved to the United States in 1953 to study experimental psychology. Originally he had planned to go to Yale University, but the professor he was interested in studying under moved to the University of Nebraska, so Ashida followed his professor. Imagine that this was less than 10 years after WW II, and anti-Japanese sentiments were still high. Nonetheless Ashida prevailed, and eventually received his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. During his time at the University of Nebraska, Ashida received tutoring session in English from a young graduate student named Ellie. They fell in love and eventually married, though they had to go to Iowa to get married as it was illegal at that time for a Caucasian to marry a Japanese person, or marry a person of Japanese ancestry. Once back in Nebraska they also had to make special living arrangements due to the intolerant climate at the time. And if things were complicated enough, the father of Ashida's young bride was none other than Brig. Gen. John Colt Beaumont Elliott, who had served with Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander in the Pacific during the Second World War. Ashida's father-in-law would not speak to him or his daughter for many years, though later they became good and close friends, especially after the birth of Ashida's daughters Margaret and Janet were born. During this time Ashida taught Judo, including to US Military personnel associated with the Strategic Air Command in Nebraska. In 1956, Dr. Ashida helped found the Midwest Judo Association. After Ashida and his wife both finished their studies at the University of Nebraska, they moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Ashida took graduate coursework in Mathematics. As he had in Nebraska, Ashida started a Judo program at the Ann Arbor YMCA in 1964, and the club is still active today. In 1960 Ashida founded the Midwest Judo Yudanshakai. Since 1962, Dr. Ashida served on the Board of Governors of the United States Judo Federation (formerly the Judo Black Belt Federation), on the U.S. Olympic Judo Committee, on the Midwestern Judo Conference, and on the AAU National and International Judo Committee. Ashida eventually received academic teaching position offers from such prestigious schools as Harvard University and the University of California at Berkley, but Ashida settled on upstate New York where he became an associate professor of Psychology at the College at Brockport, State University of New York in 1970. Ashida was an active researcher in experimental psychology, particularly learning theory, including working on National Science Foundation grants. Ashida also used his Mathematics background and helped teach Statistics and specialty Mathematics courses. In 1971 Ashida served as the coach for the All American High School Judo championships tour of Japan and later coached the All American Senior Championships team at the 1971 World Championships in Germany. In 1973 Ashida was inducted in the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame as Judo Sensei of the year. In 1976 Dr. Ashida served as the Head Coach for the US Olympic Judo Team at the Montreal Olympics. Ashida was also a well-respected IJF-A Level referee, having served as a referee at many major international tournaments, and was in fact the only US referee to referee at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Ashida was also considered one of the foremost experts in Kodokan Judo Kata, and held USJI A-Certifications as a Kata Judge in the 7 kata for which the certification exists, and was a USJF Kata instructor as well. Dr. Asida served as president of New York State Judo inc. from 1984 through 1992, and he was active on many committees for both the USJI and USJF, including serving as Promotions Secretary. As former USA Judo President Ron Tripp said, "Dr. Ashida was an icon in judo and was a highly respected competitor during his career... He has positively influenced athletes, referees and administrators for decades and is one of the most respected leaders in American judo." Dr. Ashida continued to practice and teach Judo until his death in 2009.
Dr. Ashida earned his citizenship from the United States in 1961, and served on the faculty at SUNY Brockport, as both a professor and as an emeritus professor, from 1970-2003. In 1998 Ashida was honored by the government of Japan and was presented by Emperor Akihito the Order of the Sacred Treasure/Gold Rays with Rosette (Kun Yontou Zuihosho) in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the introduction and spread of judo and Japanese Culture in the United States. Dr. Ashida passed away with dignity on June 22, 2009, having been predeceased by his parents Giichiro and Yoshie Ashida, brothers Tadao and Masao, and his beloved wife Ellie. He was survived by his siblings in Japan, brother Takeo, and sisters Sadako, Yoshiko, Akiko, and Yasuko, and by daughters Janet Ashida Johnson, Margaret Ashida ( who untimely passed away in 2014), and by Janet Ashida Johnson's husband Don, and his grandson Alan Genji Ashida Johnson. Dr. Ashida led a remarkable life, and he influenced so many of his students and friends in such a positive way, in great part due to the example of the life he led. The author of this bio was greatly influenced by Dr. Ashida, and has tried to incorporate much of the spirit, and the teaching methods, of Dr. Ashida in his club Metro Orlando Judo Kai. We will always remember Dr. Ashida, and will always be indebted to him.
This biography was compiled using stories told to the author directly by Dr. Ashida, by Janet Ashida Johnson, and from the following sources:
Copyright © 1997, Blackbelt Communications, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Professor Luis Guardia 9th Dan
(1933 - 2018)
It is with great sadness that the international Judo family learned today about the passing away of Judo Legend Luis Guardia, at the age of 85 in his home city of Miami, USA. Mr. Luis Guardia was one of the founding members of the Pan American Judo Confederation in 1952 and on the occasion of the 65th anniversary gala of the International Judo Federation, last August in Budapest, he received from the IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer, a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1978, Luis Guardia left his home country Cuba and started his new life in Miami, Florida, where he was still based and where he kept developing judo. Starting the sport in Cuba in the 50's was very challenging, but Luis Guardia had many successes and was recognized for his knowledge as well as his incredible kindness. He helped to spread the judo values on the international scene and was deeply attached to the educational dimension of judo.
Mr. Guardia, who had already received the IJF Gold Medal and Diploma for his contribution in the development of Pan-American Judo, from IJF Head Sport Director Mr. Vladimir Barta in 2012, said on the occasion of the IJF Gala: “I am moved by receiving this award, on this special occasion for judo and the IJF, to be on stage and honoured is something very special and I can’t help but feel emotional.”
Everybody feels really emotional today as Mr. Guardia, who was a 9th dan, passed away. In July 2017, the IJF had the privilege to meet the great man in Miami for a special interview, which was part of the Judo Legends series.
*Excerpted from the IJF website. https://www.ijf.org/news/show/615
by Doug Clark
Kolychikine Judo Foundation in Miami, Professor Guardia was nonetheless still kind enough to act as an advisor and mentor to Metro Orlando Judo Kai & Old School Martial Arts since 2012, and he assisted us in so many ways with not only our curriculum, but also in how we should grow as a club. Like the late Dr. Ashida, Professor Guardia led by example, and we could ask for no better example than him. One of his kindest acts was to perform a Shodan promotion ceremony for one of our students, Natalie Nehme. It was a moment she, and her family, will never forget. A quick review of Professor Guardia's outstanding book "Origins of Pan-American Judo", will allow the reader to realize immediately what a giant Professor Guardia was, and of the incredible contributions he has made to Judo. To have been associated with Professor Guadia, even in a small capacity, was a great honor. We were so fortunate to be able to honestly say that Professor Guardia was our friend, and we hope that in the future we will do honor to his memory.Professor Luis Guardia was a man of incredible dignity, integrity, intelligence, and had a remarkable capacity for generosity. Though Professor Guardia's main Judo club was his beloved