Staten Island judo black belt returns from Japan with a story about improving the world
Jigoro Kano, the late founder of judo, has long emphasized his sport as being physical education, self defense and most importantly a tool to be able to help people improve themselves and the world.
The latter was never more evident for Staten Islander Joseph Cannizzo III, who recently traveled to Japan to conduct various judo clinics to pass on his knowledge of the sport to youngsters and make the world a better place.
Cannizzo, a Sensei at Staten Island Judo Jujitsu Dojo in Richmond, was chosen to head to the Far East as part of the United Nations Office on Sports and Development and Peace Youth Representative program.
“It was a pretty cool trip,” said the 32-year-old, a Kodokan Judo Black Belt. “There were lots of clinics and seminars. There was a language barrier, but judo-wise the technique is all the same so it worked out well. Plus, I did find someone who spoke a little English so I did have a translator.”
Cannizzo said he became affiliated with the United Nations soon after Hurricane Sandy.
“I got involved with the relief stuff and all and just wanted to give back,” said the New Springville resident, who taught judo in gym classes at Staten Island Tech last year.
And that’s what this trip was all about.
In attendance at the clinics were Japanese and American intermediate, high school and college students from Takanawa High School, Meiji University, Leeward Judo Club Hawaii, Chuo College and Pearl Harbor Judo and the International School of the Peninsula.
Helping to coordinate the event was Tenkai Miki, a Buddist Monk and Assistant Judo Instructor at the U.S. Embassy in Japan, said Cannizzo.
“We tried to keep the seminars educational and fun,” said Cannizzo. “Special time was given after workouts for students from around the world to form culturally diverse group discussions designed to build friendships and discuss culture.”
After the successful event, Cannizzo began discussions with Shigeyoshi Sakai, a Judoist dedicated to bringing to life an International Judo exchange program, which would allow high school and college judo students to travel using their judo skills and ability as a metric for charitable donations.
“Charities are not popular in Japan (so) a program like this has never been created,” explained Cannizzo. “This program has great potential to be used as a model for international youth community service which would raise money for disaster victims and help increase and world peace efforts.”
Cannizzo said students who raise the most money would be eligible for various educational rewards, which would include the ability to travel abroad to United States Judo schools, allowing students to share their experiences with community service and social responsibility.
When asked why the trip was such a big success, Cannizzo responded: “Judo makes it all work. I think it would have been more tricky if not for that. But (Japanese) see that we share the same mutual passion and love for the sport and that generally helps.”