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2007 Ron Hansen

A brief history of my Judo activities is as follows: 
Unbeknown to me the opportunity to become of a member of the Air National Guard during 
high school resulted in the introduction to the sport of Judo. While a student at St. Catherine's 
High School in Racine, Wisconsin I became a member of the Air National Guard based at Billy 
Mitchell Field in Milwaukee. This afforded me the opportunity to enter the United States Air Force 
immediately following high school graduation although I was only 17 years of age. Once 
completed basic training I was sent to Japan where I took advantage of the opportunity to begin 
Judo training. I was stationed in Ashiya which was an Air Force Base that was phasing out with 
the Japanese armed forces taking over the facility. Hence there was little work to do and I usually 
spent all my time at the local dojo. I was the only English speaking student and was extremely 
frustrated as there was no instruction other than being thrown repetitively without the benefit of 
the instructor providing correction so I could improve. I continued to learn however only through 
"baptism by fire". Competition occurred every weekend and sometimes during the week but it 
never seemed like today's tournaments as the area was one huge mat, with no defined area, with 
referees that seemed to just yank you around when they apparently thought you were out of the 
invisible competition area. A line up and respect to Buda started the tournament and no awards 
were given, however, names of the winning competitors were handwritten on a board. No one 
ever spoke English to me and at that time I spoke and understood very little Japanese so I was 
one scared young man. 
I received my Sho-dan in 1960 at a tournament in Fukuoka, Japan where several high 
ranks attended from the Kodokan. The certificate was of course in Japanese but with great 
interest I watched while one of the dignitaries wrote a separate certificate in English with a quill 
pen in the most perfect penmanship I had ever seen. The English was not perfect but the 
meaning was. It clearly gave the message that as a Sho-dan I was now a beginning student of 
Nippon Judo, nothing more, nothing less. 
I returned to the USA and Minocqua, Wisconsin and of course found no Judo. Shortly 
thereafter I moved to Racine again and became employed as a Police Officer. The only Judo that 
I could find was in Milwaukee and Chicago. 
I started teaching Judo in Racine and Judo became very popular. I coached three clubs, 
one at the Racine YMCA that was called the Kyu-Dojo, another at the Racine YWCA where only 
women practiced and a third at the University of Wisconsin Parkside in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I 
taught six days a week in an effort to bring strong Judo to Wisconsin and of course to rival the 
Milwaukee club. We had great success during those days and as I look back those were indeed 
some of the greatest days of my Judo career. I continued to work hard in those early years and 
eventually I became the President of the North Central Yudanshakai. I was successful in bringing 
many talented instructors to Wisconsin to present clinics. The most significant were Nishioka, 
Suh, Park, Chung, Shinohara and Nakamura to name a few. If only I would have had that talent 
of instruction during my formative years!