USA Judo is bringing another pinnacle international event to Miami, the Grand Masters World Championships for fighters over 30, some of them pushing 50, ready to open a can of “whoop” on some old rivals with floor-pounding throws, chokes and armbars.
More than 650 of these top ‘mature’ fighters from around the world, including nearly 80 from France, and more than 60 from Brazil and Russia each, are set to converge on the Doral Resort & Spa in Miami, Nov. 8 -11, for a shot at some old friends and the best in their game.
“Some of the younger ones at this tournament are close to their prime, but we’ve also got fighters who’ve been off the mats for a decade and they’re getting back in shape just for this event,” said Jose Rodriguez, CEO of the U.S. national governing body for the Olympic sport. “They just love judo, many of them were champions at one time and they want more!” “It is one thing to be in great shape when you’re 40 or 50 years old,” said Rodriguez. “But it’s an entirely different deal to be taking big falls on the mat and jumping up for more. Really, these men and women are amazing specimens.”
This is also a big event for USA judo. The Grand Masters World Championships is the most elite event in judo for athletes 30+. USA Judo held its third World Cup tournament earlier this year, also in Miami and sanctioned by the International Judo Federation. Soon the organization will host the IJF’s Cadet World Championships for teenagers, also tentatively slated for Miami.
Unlike judo in Europe and Asia where the sport is hugely popular, this martial art that relies on dramatic throws, chokes and armbars, is still relatively small but growing in the United States.
“It has been decades since international tournaments of this caliber have been on U.S. soil,” said Jose Rodriguez, CEO of the national governing body for the Olympic sport. “We did a fantastic job with the World Cup tournaments. We’re going to show the IJF that we can do it again with the World Masters and then the World Cadets. This is all about building the sport in this country, getting more high-profile events, creating an atmosphere that elevates the athletes that took us to new heights in London this summer.”
Kayla Harrison, 78 kg, won the nation’s first Olympic gold medal, on top of a bronze claimed just days before by her teammate Marti Malloy, 52 kg. The United States then took a silver and bronze medal at the Paralympic Games that followed in the same London venue.
Miami, Rodriguez said, is “an exotic destination that attracts lots of interest from around the world. The city is also in a state with some of the best judo in the nation with a number of top clubs.”
For more information, go to the 4th IJF Grand Masters World Judo Championships official website or visit usjudo.org