At the Rio Olympic Games, two Americans – Travis Stevens and Kayla Harrison – will walk home with medals in judo. Stevens adds a silver medal to his resume while Harrison, who became the first American judoka to earn a gold medal at the London Games in 2012, earned a consecutive gold medal.
The United States may earn more medals aggregately than other countries at the Summer Games, but it has historically not been strong performers in judo. Instead, nations like Russia, Cuba, France and Japan have dominated the sport across both genders and multiple weight classes.
Now, however, the tide might be turning, if perhaps just a little bit. Dave Camarillo – a decorated grappler, black belt in both judo and jiu-jitsu and MMA coach – observed the success of Harrison and Stevens in Brazil and believes their success is not accidental, but the product of more modern, adaptive thinking about grappling success. The Americans, he argues, are winning in judo not by trying to beat the judo world at its game, but thinking about what it means to be well-rounded, borrowing from jiu-jitsu and creating a winning style despite long odds against the American’s program’s chances of success.
Full audio and partial transcript is available below:
If someone asked you describe Travis Stevens’ style of judo and the way he wins matches, what would you say?
He’s kind of a brute, to be honest. He walks forward. He’s very strong on gripping. Especially at that weight category, a lot of those guys are like that. A lot of times when you see judo, the weight category kind of defines the style.
Just underneath his weight category is 73kg, which is what I competed at. Those guys are much faster, more dynamic and then the smaller you get, the faster [they are]. 81kg is ….View full article
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