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U.S. Olympic judo coach leads seminar with local instructors

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By Kristen Snyder

Trimble Banner Intern

“Its not every day you get a two-time Olympian in Trimble County,” judo instructor Jessie Crawford said.

Patrick Burris is not only a two-time Olympian, he also is a seven-time national champion and the current coach of the U.S. Olympic judo team. He visited Trimble County on Saturday, June 12, to meet with members of the Trimble County Judo Club.

Deborah Crawford, who has been a judo instructor since around 1983, said Burris came because he heard about how the sport has affected the lives of children who participate in the local club.

“We’ve had students with autism or behavioral problems, and he’s heard about how judo has helped them improve,” she said. “Parents have written letters.”

Crawford said some students who participate have academic problems, while others have problems with body coordination. During judo class, she said, she deliberately pairs students with different levels of ability so they can share their strengths and help each other improve their weaknesses.

This structure helps everyone feel important, because if one student doesn’t show up for class, then they’re letting their partner down, Crawford said.

Crawford has nearly 50 students enrolled in Trimble County Judo Club.

As the head of judo coaches’ certification, Burris also visited Trimble to teach the local instructors a thing or two.

“Every year for instructor certification, we have to have continued education of sports techniques and rule changes,” Crawford said. “We also must have legal training, first aid, CPR, and [must] pass a federal, international background check in order to be certified.”

Burris said judo is No. 1 of all martial arts practiced in the world, and the second most-practiced sport worldwide.

In addition to athleticism, judo teaches lifestyle values, he said. And, it teaches young people that, through hard work, anything is possible.

He said Crawford is very well-respected sensei [the Japanese word for “teacher”] in U.S. judo circles.

“I’m honored to be here and sensei Crawford is doing a great job,” Burris said. “We’re honored to support her in any way.”