By  Liz Mendiola of Martial Arts Connector

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1. Who is the dojo’s founder and what prompted him/her to build the school? Is there any rich history behind its making?

– About Sinchijudokan

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The meaning of “Sinchijudokan” is “Warrior Center of the Judo”. Name formed from two voices: Kechua voice Sinchi (native language of Peru) that signifies “warrior”; and the Japanese voice judokan that signifies “center of study of the judo”

Sinchijudokan is an institute in St Luis, MO created for the purposes of promoting, teaching, researching and developing the Kodokan Judo, stimulating at the same time in men, women, and children a positive behavior and an adequate physical condition as a result of the study and efficient practice of Judo biomechanics.

– About my Judo experience:

I founded Sinchijudokan in 1996, in St Louis, Missouri, USA, and also started a branch of Sinchijudokan in the city of Lima Peru (2006) with the purpose of training high performance athletes, and to teach efficiency in biomechanic of traditional or Kodokan judo.

However, I began my career in Judo at the early age of 13. At the age of 17, I had already started my own free Judo school in Lima Peru South America (1964), and although I offered my basic practice sessions like a novice instructor, two students from that small group, would become national champions many years later.

I had the privilege of being formed in Judo by Japanese teachers. I learned from them (bushido) the style, the attitude, the technique, the discipline, respect for others, the order, the efficiency and the love to do each thing efficiently.

As everything in life, maturity is an important asset for all things to reach their proper development. I believe that there are experiences in life that are meant to be shared and transmitted, but at the appropriate time of their development, so that other people with better talents and ambitions may harness them with art and prowess. This was the motivating determination that pushed me to found my school.

I have unceasingly advised my students since then that modesty, perseverance, diligence, order, discipline, perfection, efficiency, self-control, self-evaluation, and patience are important tools in the task of studying and practicing Judo.

2. What forms of Japanese martial arts do you teach in your school? Can you please share with us the history behind them?

We teach Judo Kodokan or Traditional, Classic Judo, and Japanese Jujutsu, Sinchi Ryu. Just ahead, and with the guiding concern not to push aside the essences of Judo, let us name and comment on the five fundamental elements of Judo Philosophy, which should also be the manner in which it should be taught in schools and clubs to beginners, intermediates, as well as to advanced students; for competitive goals as much as for recreational ones.

Kodokan or Traditional Judo is a Gendai Budo discipline of Japanese origin. Dr. Jigoro Kano was a Jujitsu expert and researcher of this art, however, he wanted to develop a discipline that would transcend of being a street fighting.

The new discipline would be helpful not just for self-defense, but also for educational purposes and for the physical, mental and ethical training of the person who would practice it; as a result of his research Master Jigoro Kano created Judo in 1882.

With the passing of time, Judo has let go its roots and essences of Budo Art, as well as its etiquette, discipline, and spirituality that has characterized it since its origin. The modern Judo is different from how it was conceived by Master Kano.

The word “Judo” basically means “the path of smoothness and flexibility.” “Ju” is the smoothness in the sense of mechanical flexibility and “Do” is the way and the method, the form of action; but in the philosophical sense of one’s conduct in life.

The primary principle of the biomechanics of Judo is Kuzushi, the art and science of making the opponent lose his balance, with the purpose of efficiently using the imbalance through the processes of expansion and contraction of movements, in which Shintai or displacement, and Shizei or posture, play a large part in the success of the imbalance.

In the Judo discipline, the person utilizes the strength of the opponent: yielding, dodging, and applying his opponent’s own weight and strength to make him lose his equilibrium.

A good visualization of this is when in winter the branches of a tree are pushed down by the weight of the snow, they bend and the snow falls, but the flexible branches go back to their original position.

There are two principles that are basic and applicable in the daily live of any judoka or judoist:

1. SEIRYOKU or MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY that inspires that anything done in Judo and in life must be well done, for personal and for the other’s satisfaction. Applying the least effort, to obtain the highest efficiency.

2. JITA KYOEI or MUTUAL BENEFIT AND WELFARE, that inspires to perform a healthy Judo, with no tension and without challenges, having mutual satisfaction, progressing reciprocally and in harmony.

All martial arts are good and effective and demand long time of hard training and perseverance in order to gain dexterity and mastery. Undoubtedly, the different skills and attitudes of the individuals that practice them cause the difference in the results.

Judo promotes the emotional balance and the strengthening of the positive attitudes of the individual. It is a discipline that allows the building up of self-control, patience, discipline, diligence, respect, courtesy, self-confidence, self-esteem, friendship, etc. All of these factors contribute to the foundation needed for an individual to achieve success in life.

In the mental level, Judo helps to stimulate the concentration, the determination, and the decision taking, as well as the coordination and reflects. The judoka learns to know and apply his biomechanics in the study of the waza or techniques; he identifies and understands how the principles of the Physics – Mechanics are applied to Judo. By way of meditation (Zen), he learns how to relax, to restore, and control the inner harmony.

Judo is a discipline for all ages and sexes because it can be practiced at the proper pace of each individual’s need. In the physical aspect, Judo stimulates the cardiovascular and breathing functions, as well as the muscles, tone and nerves. It improves the speed, resistance, strength, flexibility, and agility that a healthy body at any age needs.

3. What are the principles and concepts that you uphold and try to instill in yogur students?

The pedagogic spirit and the didactic forms and methods were the light that shone on master Kano’s work throughout his life. He was a leader per excellence, as well as a promoter, and he impregnated and shared with his disciples this mysticism in Judo. This is how we find in his work 4 pedagogical policies that, we believe, frame for a pedagogy of Judo.

a) A Theoretic Body

Within the preparatory training of any discipline, there must be a developed body of knowledge, doctrine, study, research, and theoretical development, which is found in the methodology of Judo, with both artistic and scientific bases, as essential teaching elements to reach development and mastery in the discipline. Although in Dr. Kano’s times, even having a scientific composition, Judo was essentially described as having a pragmatic content.

b) An Ethical Spirit

Knowledge cannot be positive unless it is put to the service and benefit of the community, within a necessary structure of applicable ethical and deontological values, that may be experimented; and from which a way of life may be built, with personal satisfaction and at the service of others. These elements, of course are found in Bushido or Judo philosophy.

c) Physical Training

Judo discipline carries with itself a pedagogy that focuses several points of interest, through the efficient practice of one if its prime elements, which is physical culture.

Also, the concern for a training methodology and the efficiency of this Physical Culture, as an element for the education of the body, mind and health, for the improvement of the quality of life, without which Judo art and science would not have support for their biomechanical perfecting.

d) Transcendence of Pedagogy

The four above-mentioned suggestions belong to Judo’s pedagogy, and are fundamental in reaching maturity, beauty and perfection in Judo. However, modern Judo is lame, due to the lack of the first two elements, since it has only focused on the development of the physical aspect of the discipline, especially as a pragmatic and primary factor of competition.

The importance of scientific methodology in Judo is necessary because without it the transmission of knowledge and experiences will become disarticulate and pragmatic, more so today, lacking a standardized Judo theory by world consensus.

4. Why do you think it is important for people to learn martial arts?

In this time the Martial Arts respond to an urgent need as agents for human development; the Martial Arts visualized like a social system can be applied in order to incorporate social values in people, to deal with a better quality of life, to diminish the social violence, to have harmonious interrelationship with the family members and others, achieving in this way better citizens and a setter society.

One of the most noble and important purposes of life is the development of the human being; this could be reached through social sport and the martial arts. To live a life requires of certain standards; people must have comfort, opportunities, basic facilities that would allow them to develop integrally. It is necessary to take into account that the erosion and deficiency of moral values in a society or underdeveloped nation originates from a chaotic situation and it is a social and economic sign of a country going to an social anarchy situation.

A society without citizens united in moral values, spiritual values, patriotism, politeness, education, solidarity and social sensitivity is a society without capacity of socio-economic change, and far to reach someday a healthy development, with opportunities and justice for all.

5. What difficulties and obstacles have you encountered so far with regards to teaching martial arts and how did you overcome them?

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I think the problems that the martial arts face are (Sport Judo): lack of a genuine pedagogy, lack of good disciples, and lack of social objectives; there is much violence and commercialization of the martial arts disciplines.

The competitions are loaded with violence (Sport Judo), and some of the leaders stingy interest makes them fight for positions to obtain money and interests through the sport. I believe that we need capable teachers who would transmit to their students not just the techniques, but the social values; also we need leaders who are capable of managing the sport to be able to promote quality of life.

Quality of life and social co-existence are two inter-related states of life, which if associated harmonically, are the purposes of a healthy family and society. They are the foundation of the human rights to obtain better conditions of life, since the human being has the aptitude to offer quality of social co-existence like an answer to a demand of the surroundings. Under this thought, the teaching of the martial arts contributes to the process of formation, instruction and learning of the individual in the knowledge in order to make him useful, available, effective, and participating in the development of him community.

6. What advice and/or insights can you share with our readers who want to pursue their interest in the Japanese form of martial arts?

sinchijudokanI cannot give advice, only my modest opinions. I believe we must cultivate more humility, investigation, fellowship, honesty, peace, respect and values. In essence, the teachers and leaders of the martial arts must learn social values, and apply values in their students.

Why is the Social Sport important in the life of the society?.  The sport as such can be seen as a science, a social activity, a program of the government, an interest and political instrument, as leadership eagerness, as an intention of social development, or as a recreational activity.

Martial arts can be practiced for competitive or recreational purposes; without differences of age, or capacities, or economic levels. Socially speaking, the sport should be reached by all the population of a nation because it is a need for the human being and for the society. The practice of the sport fulfils expectations, and purposes in the development of a nation; then its diffusion, promotion, and massive acceptance, must have correlation with that social attribute of development.

I think winning medals and championships gives satisfactions, anxieties, even so relevant. However judo should allow to achieve social efficiency, peace and values of life, that is most important in the person and society.

The purpose of the Social-Sport Development is the physical, mental, moral and spiritual formation of the individual in order to make him an instrument useful and acceptable to the society, to forge him in the participation and the social and economic contribution with efficiency in the interaction of his surroundings.

7. Can you give a short biography of your instructor(s)?

SENSEI UCHIMATA copia 2Professor Nestor Figueroa is an American Peruvian martial artist, MBA and is in charge of the academic direction of the Sinchijudokan Institute. He is a native of Lima Peru, South America. He was a university professor for 10 years in the Business Administration field, a writer and publisher of several books, and professional of a number of enterprises in Lima Peru and USA.

Professor Nestor Figueroa has been involved with Judo for over 50 years, as student, competitor and instructor. At age 13, he started practicing Boxing in an amateur league, and then he started learning Kungfu and Jujitsu; soon after that he started studying Kodokan Judo.

At the present time Master Figueroa holds 7th Dan in Kodokan Judo and Godan Dan in Sinchi Ryu Jujutsu, and is well known for his knowledge and refined technique, as well as for his appreciated quality of teacher and researcher of the methodologies of teaching and training Judo.

In his long career as judoka, competitor, researcher, teacher, Nestor Figueroa has had as teachers Sensei (Shiozaki) Shinzo Murayama 3nd Dan, Sensei Yutaka Akatsuka 7th Dan, has trained under Sensei Yoshikatsu Inamine, Sensei Yoshinori Takeuchi 1962 world champion and Kenichi Yamanaka 1965 2nd world champion.  He was student of  Sensei Philip E. Porter 9th Dan, known as the father of the American Judo. Sensei Figueroa has trained in Kodokan Tokyo under Sensei Shiro Yamamoto 9th Dan, and Sensei Naoki Murata 8th Dan.

He attended the Budo Seminary at the International Budo University & Nippon Budokan, held in Katsuura, participating in training under Sensei Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki 7th Dan, two times world champion, and under Sensei Tadanori Koshino 6th Dan, world champion. And has participated in some Martial Arts events in Europe, Asia, Israel, USA. Inductee by USMA 2003 Hall of Fame as the most distinguished master of the year.

Sensei Figueroa is member of The Kokusai Budoin International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF), Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, United States Judo Association (USJA), United States Judo Federation (USJF), United States Martial Arts Association (USMA), GMAU International, United States Jujitsu Federation (USJJF).

Nestor Sensei has had many outstanding students in the USA and Peru. During his long career, Sensei achieved three promotions of black belts  in USA. In 2002, he was the coach for the infantile Peruvian national team in the Pan-American and the South American games. In 2005, Master Figueroa started a project to teach judo in the schools of the city of Arequipa, Chimbote, Trujillo, and SOS Aldea Lima, Peru; this continuous program is successful, and allows to improve the yield of talented children, teaching them also social values and social peace, sensitizing the violence in their community.

Master Figueroa has taught Taichi Chua as voluntary service in “Larco Herrera”, the Hospital of mental health in Lima, Peru. He has written and published books in several fields of the human activity, business, and social subjects, showing his social and Christian vocation, and his sensitivity for the less socially favored extracts. In 2012-2014 he was director of the Christian-social Radio program «Ways of Reflection» on Radio del Pacifico in Lima Peru. He has also written two books of Judo: “Pedagogy of Judo” and “Theory and System of Judo”.  Currently he is dedicated to the promotion of Judo (talent bank)  within children and young people through his project “Social Sport with Values for the Peace and Human Development”.