Clinics Introduce Judo To Vets In Chicago and San Diego

By Ernest Pund | Sept. 25, 2013, 10:28 a.m. (ET)

Military veterans were joined by Paralympic athletes at a USA Judo clinic held at Menomonee Judo in Chicago Saturday, the latest in a series of these training camps designed to introduce judo to wounded warriors and visually impaired athletes.

Among those working with the veterans and other athletes in Chicago were U.S. Paralympic Bronze medalist Dartanyon Crockett and Eddie Liddie, USA Judo’s Director of High Performance.

“I had so much fun trying Judo for the first time,” said Army Veteran Octavia Mitchell. “I want to thank the organizations that made this opportunity possible. I'll definitely be doing Judo again soon."

" It was a great day at the dojo. Anytime you can get such a diverse group of participants working and learning together, that's what it's all about," said Brett Wolf, head instructor of the Menomonee Judo Club - Paralympic National Training Site.

"Dartanyon and Sensei Ed did a wonderful job of running the workshop. I learned a lot of things that I'm going to work on and implement the next time that I compete,” said Howard Wilson, Marine and member of the 2013 ParaPan American Team member.

The program in Chicago followed a week of clinics at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, where more than 150 U.S. military veterans from across the country stepped on the mats for classes led by Paralympic Silver Medalist Myles Porter and local coaches from San Diego. The judo clinics were part of the 6th annual National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic held at the OTC.

“Working with this military group is a great and humbling honor,” said Porter. Some of the veterans he trained had combat spinal injuries. Others had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and visual impairments. “Not only do I get to meet the men and women who sacrificed for this amazing country, I also get to help spread the sport and make it better.”

The multi-sport clinic includes sailing, surfing, track and field, cycling in addition to judo, all of it geared toward introducing injured veterans to the possibilities available in these sports.