For 3rd degree black belt Roger Crocker, 65, of Tampa, Fl., age is not a factor in the world of competitive judo. Instead, judo is his own personal ‘fountain of youth.’
Crocker has practiced judo since 1975 and credits the sport for his good health. “I think over the years judo has kept me young and happy,” says Crocker. “Judo doesn’t limit you. In fact, it is a sport you can do at 90 or even 100, as long as you are capable.”
Crocker will join over 800 international competitors November 8 – 11 at USA Judo’s Grand Masters World Championship at the Doral Resort & Spa in Miami. There he will spar with competitors from around the world, and employ the techniques – armbars, ippons, throws – he has perfected over the last 40 years.
Crocker, 66k, who this year alone took 1st place at the U.S. Open as well as the Senior Nationals in his weight category and age group, doesn’t mince words: “At the Grand Masters I want to take 1st place in my age group and weight division.” To prepare for the Masters, Crocker has trained for the past few months, three to four days a week at Sasaki Judo in Tampa, Fla.
This unique international event will feature fighters over the age of 30, with some, such as Crocker, well past 50 and 60 years of age. But, don’t be fooled. These athletes are lifelong dedicated judokas who are in top form, and eager to face old rivals with moves they’ve sharpened over the years.
“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.”