On July 2nd and 3rd, more than 1300 competitors convened in Irvine, California for the 2016 USJF / USJA Summer Judo National Championships.

The event brought together competitive judoka from past and present. Among them were former and aspiring Olympians, national champions, dedicated coaches, friends and family.

I had the honor of meeting many people throughout the weekend who shared their stories of success and setback, their thoughts on judo in California, and their parts in shaping the history of the martial art and sport.

Jerry Hays, United States Judo Federation Archivist, was instrumental in introducing me to individuals at the competition. Among those I interviewed was former NANKA Judo President Hayward Nishioka, 3x Olympian Celita Schutz, and Rhonda Rousey's judo and grappling coach Justin Flores.