On the occasion of the Grand Masters World Championship, in Miami, the IJF Head Sports Director, Vladimir Barta, awarded Luis Guardia Hanshi, with the IJF Gold Medal and Diploma, for his contribution in the development of Pan-American Judo.
From left the right: Andrei Bondor, Veterans Commission Director, Luis Guardia Hanshi, Vladimir Barta and Jose Rodriguez, USA Judo's Chief Executive Officer (©Brentwood Digital Photography)
Luis Guardia Hanshi is a living legend of judo in Pan-America. On the occasion of the last Grand Masters World Championships, held in Miami, in the name of the IJF President (Mr. Marius Vizer), Mr. Vladimir Barta awarded him with the IJF Gold Medal and Diploma for his outsanding contribution to the development of Judo in Pan-America.
Luis Guardia Hanshi is an eighth dan and 80-year-old Cuban American who has been dedicating his entire life to judo. “Judo arrived in Cuba in 1951 through Professor Andre Kolychkine,” explains Guardia. “I started with him, and that was 60 years ago.”
“Initially, Professor Kolychkine trained five judokas to begin the program: Heriberto García, Fernando Chu, Francisco Moc, Julio García and yours truly,” continues the Sensei. Thanks to them, judo spread throughout Cuba.
Guardia belongs to the fourth generation of judokas and is therefor a true living legend. “Jigoro Kano, the creator of judo, wanted it to be known in the world, and Kolychkine was able to make that dream come true in Cuba.”
At the time, America was the only region that did not have a judo organization. When the sport was introduced in Cuba, the Pan-American Confederation was created, and thus the International Judo Federation made it to the five continents. Guardia explains all of this and more in his book (The Origin of Pan-American Judo, Eagle Press).
“I have never stopped practicing judo,” he says. “I left Cuba for Spain in 1973 and worked there in the technical part of the Spanish Federation, and later trained the national team. I later came to the United States and did the same in Florida", where he is still based. "I help the U.S. Judo Federation in every way I can and work with the blind at their school.” Guardia also has tasks at the Kolychkine Judo Foundation of Miami in Southwest Miami-Dade. “The foundation was created by Kolychkine’s grandson in Miami, and there we try to keep his flame burning,” he concluds.
Source: Miami Herald PEDRO J. GONZALEZ
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This article has been originally published on the IJF website www.ijf.org