USA Judo News Team Heads To Judo P...

Team Heads To Judo Powerhouse Cuba For Competition And Training

By Ernest Pund | April 03, 2013, 11:09 a.m. (ET)

USA Judo athletes in Cuba during the 2012 Training Camp.

It’s close, fun and offers some of the best judo on the planet.

Cuba. A USA Judo team of athletes led by coaches Jhonny Prado with Bert Becerra and Sauveur Soriano heads out this week for what is guaranteed to be another fantastic experience for ambitious judoka looking to tangle with some of the best fighters anywhere.

“They are top competitors there,” said Humberto “Bert” Becerra of Becerra Judo and Jujitsu in Garland, Texas. “And we’re going to go there and get some medals.”

The trip combines a competition with a training camp. One of the best things about going to Cuba is that it’s an easy trip, Becerra said. Getting to Cuba is a relatively short flight compared with traveling to other top judo countries in Europe or Asia, for example. The airport is just 20 minutes from the hotel, and the hotel is just a short ride to the national training center. “The bus picks us up and we are training in less than 15 minutes.”

Cuba also offers a terrific cultural experience for the athletes. The trips have become a semi-annual excursion and others are likely to follow.

Prado is head sensei at Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center in Coral Springs, FL. He was an assistant coach in charge of the training partners at the Olympic Games in London last year. Soriano is head sensei at Westchester Judo in Scarsdale, NY. Becerra’s club consistently produces some of the top competitors in the nation.

The team leaves Thursday this week. The roster of athletes on this trip:

Jhonny Prado, Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center, Coral Springs, FL

Jim Hrbek, Universal Judo, San Antonio, TX

Bert Becerra, Becerra Judo & Jujitsu Club, Garland, TX

Sauveur Soriano, Westchester Judo, Scarsdale, NY

Masami Hasewaga, Zenyu Judo Dojo, Kent, WA

Frank Koch (Parent) and Matthew Koch, Camal Judo, Woodland Park, NJ

Vincent Bartee Jr, Bushido Judo School, Franklinton, NC

Jon Sanfilippo, No Club, Slinger, WI

William Wright (Parent) and Elizabeth Wright, Barstow Judo Club, Hinkley, CA

Devin Sobay, Texoma Judo and Jujitsu, Wichita Falls, TX

Adonis Diaz, Budokan Judo Club, Hialeah, FL

Joe More (Parent) and Jacob More, Kodokan Judo, Cape Coral, FL

Caleb Wesley, Okuri Judo, Weatherford, TX