USA Judo Scholastics Press release

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Judo youth national championships to be held in Grand Rapids

Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 2:12 PM

By Steve Kaminski | The Grand Rapids Press

Corrine Shigemoto explained that people unfamiliar with judo often confuse it with other forms of martial arts.

“It is a lot different from what people realize,” said Shigemoto, director of memberships and events services for USA Judo, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. “There are no kicks or punches. There are throws, takedowns and groundwork, similar to what we see in wrestling.”

Local martial arts enthusiasts soon will have the opportunity to see the sport up close.

West Michigan Sports Commission officials announced Wednesday the 2011 USA Judo Youth and Scholastic U.S. National Championships is coming to Grand Rapids on April 2-3. More than 400 of the top U.S. amateur athletes, ranging in age from 5-28, will square off at DeVos Place.

The sports commission already has brought the national Golden Gloves and table tennis tournaments to Grand Rapids in recent years, which helped open the door for the judo championships.

“All these governing bodies talk to each other, and it does help to have hosted other successful events when we knock on these other governing bodies’ doors,” said Eric Engelbarts II, the sports commission’s events manager. “This should be a great event, too.

“The highest amateur athletes in the country for that age division will be competing here. This is their national championship, it’s what everyone strives to make. We expect to have local athletes competing in the tournament, too. The tournament also serves as a qualifier for the (Cadet World Championships), which will be held in the Ukraine in August.”

The national championships took place in Spokane, Wash., a year ago, and York, Pa., in 2009. Grand Rapids hosted USA Judo’s President’s Cup tournament last summer, so Grand Rapids was on the organization’s radar when it came time to select a site for its national event.

“It’s a great location, with great hotels. It’s a great venue,” Shigemoto said. “It’s relatively easy to get into it. We also have a huge membership based in the area.”

Tickets are $12 per person and will be available at DeVos Place during the tournament. Children 9-12 are $8 daily or $14 for two days. Adult two-day passes will be available for $20.

Doors open at 8 a.m., followed by competition at 9 a.m. both days.

Click here for the full press release: 2011 Scholastics USA Judo Press Release

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