Wednesday, April 15, 2015

USNA Judo Club Trains With Wounded Warriors

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The Washington D.C. Veteran Affairs Medical Center hosted the U.S. Naval Academy Judo Club to meet and train with a group of wounded warriors April 10.

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

A group of four midshipmen trained with veterans and civilians with a range of disabilities who practice in an adaptive Judo program. Judo’s emphasis on technique and knowledge of the discipline creates a common ground where disabilities have very little impact on training and skill.

“It’s really interesting because everyone here has some form of a disability, which really shows how Judo is universal,” said Midn 2nd Class Sally Anderson, newly elected Judo Club president. “There is someone here who is blind, and she’s able to rely on her other senses to learn and perform at a really high level. She isn’t limited by being born blind. She’s able to feel and hear her way to figure out what she has to do. It’s really inspiring and amazing.”

The event was originally scheduled during March because of the Judo communities’ “Visit Another Dojo” month observation. Snow storms in March had the event cancelled, but the Judo Club officer representative knew how important it was for the midshipmen to able to have an experience working with veterans.

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

“It’s a great opportunity for the midshipmen to be able to give back, but they are getting so much from working with these veterans,” said Cmdr. Tom Tedesso. “They’re able to interact and hear the stories of these comrades-in-arms who have sacrificed and given so much for our country. I think it gives them a real appreciation for what they could possibly be called upon to do in the future.”

The participating veterans served in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, a time frame spanning nearly 60 years. Judo’s inherent adaptation style of practice helps veterans to relieve stress and allows the midshipman to train their minds to be flexible when faced with adversity.

“I feel like they are getting a better understanding of our experiences,” said Johnny Addison, U.S Navy Vietnam War veteran. “As I was an enlisted man, my first commander out of boot camp was a USNA graduate. As future leaders of the U.S Navy, they are going to be interacting with enlisted members as well as officers. I think the stories we are sharing can help give them some real insight into difficult situations.”

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

“It’s humbling hearing their experiences, and I feel honored to be able to be here with them,” said Anderson. “I’m able to share the common ground of Judo to communicate with someone who has received a Purple Heart. We have the opportunity to meet someone who has given so much and do something we all really enjoy. I feel fortunate in that way.”

USNA’s Judo Club will be participating in the 2015 National Judo Collegiate Association National Championships at West Point this weekend. For more Information about USNA’s Judo Club, please visit 

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