• My thoughts on the DO

    Starting practice is one of the most precious moments. It can be very exciting and eventually leads to fabulous growth. Now is the very moment to decide if to go all the way through.

    When I started judo practice I decided, that I would have done it for the rest of my life and that my Master would have been a constant presence in my thoughts.

    Fundamental to the DO is one ingredient: COMMITMENT, indicating, that self-discipline and persistence must be kept regardless of how hard it is.

    Practice puts us under constant stress, but without it we would never be able to develop our personality.

    Commitment and self-discipline are precious as gold for those seeking the DO.

  • In the Sixties

    1960: Bruno Carmeni throwing his opponent with seoi nage

  • More than 40 years later!

    2007: Bruno Carmeni throwing his opponent with seoi nage

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Sayonara Geesink San, A Tribute to a Great Judoka and Great Friend with Oustanding Judo Techniques

Special Edition

My Friend Anton Geesink was born on 6th April 1934 in Utrecht (The Netherlands) and used to live in Anton Geesink Straat. In his hometown there is a monument showing him while he pins down Akio Kaminaga referring to the famous final at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which allowed him to conquer the Gold medal when judo was introduced for the first time at the Games.  

Nowadays such an event might not be worth of notice, but in those days he was the first Westerner to defeat a Japanese, which allowed him to be part of judo’s fantastic story, the great discipline founded by Jigoro Kano.

1964 Tokyo Olympics - Anton Geesink Judo Open Gold Medal

His career is full of records, one after the other and no one so far has done better than himself:

-3 times Dutch National Wrestling Champion;

-17 times Dutch National Judo Champion;

-21 times European Judo Champion;

-2 times Judo World Champion  (Paris 1961 and Rio de Janeiro 1965);

-1st Western Gold Medal at Judo Olympics (Tokyo 1964);

-1st Westerner to be promoted 10th Dan by the International Judo Federation;

-President of the Judo Education and Promotion Commission;

-Since 1987 Member of the International Olympic Committee;

-Head of Technical Delegates at the Olympic Games.

He has written several technical books among which the last one he published in 2000 in English and Japanese at Tokyo Kokushikan University: Based on Social Aspects and Biomechanical Principles, Divided in Two Parts. This book allowed him to get a university degree “Honoris Causa”.

I started by writing “My Friend Anton Geesink” as for more than 40 years I have been honored by his confidence and esteem.

Tenri (JAP) 1964 - Nicola Tempesta, Anton Geesink, Bruno Carmeni and Matsumoto after a Judo Training

Before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, thanks to the generosity of the Shozen Nakayama (9th dan), 2nd Shimbashira of the Tenrikyo, Anton Geesink, Nicola Tempesta and myself have been hosted by Tenri Judo in order to refine our preparation for the Games. We spent a few months there following the traditional trainings at the university, which was quite famous as it was considered the World and Olympic Champion forge. During those days the “Great Sensei” at the university was Yasuichi Matsumoto (9th dan), the first National Japanese Judo Champion (1948).

During our long stay at one of the Nakayama houses we received all attention given to honored guests. Anton was always very kind. He was charismatic, but nevertheless an outstanding friend and often very funny.   

One evening rather late we decided to go for a swim in the city swimming-pool. We were the usual three: the two giants Geesink-Tempesta and myself plus a fellow called Kleine, another Dutch man of about 60kg. Everybody went into the water, but myself as I never liked the beach nor swimming-pools.

Tenri (JAP) September 1964 - Tempesta, Matsumoto, Nomura and Geesink: How to Grow the Little Guys!

Once Nicola was under water, Anton rushed out and got hold of the clothe of his Italian fellow giant. Nicola being from Naples, therefore quite smart, realized what was happening, rushed out too and got hold of the clothe of the 60kg chap.

Anton had put on his pants, but was without shirt and Nicola had tried to put on Kleine’s pants leaving his but out.  

Imagine this strange scene in a hot evening in the city of Tenri (Japan), where in those days it was quite hard to see foreigners and even harder to see two giants (Geesink about 2m. and Nicola about 1,95m.), furthermore half naked, followed by a small Dutch man himself half naked and by myself: all locals looked at us quite astonished!

Another evening we were invited to have dinner with the reverends of the Tenrikyo, who wanted Anton and Nicola to sing songs of their countries. I was lucky, that they did not ask me as I really sing out of tune. The two funny giants were able to turn things around and had the reverends sing Japanese songs! That night everybody had a lot of fun seeing Anton drink directly from the pitcher as all the glasses were too small for him.

After the 1964 Games Anton entered into the legend of judo, thanks to his victory against a Japanese and today his judogi is in the museum next to the one of Jigoro Kano.

October 1964 - Japan/Rest of The World Saburo Matsushita, Anton Geesink, Bruno Carmeni, William Backhus

But this is not all, after the parties for the Tokyo Olympics were over, the Kodokan organizers selected athletes from different nations in order to hold several tournaments in the cities of Japan against the strongest Japanese athletes: “Japan vs, The Rest of The World”. 

Geesink accepted, even though he made enormous efforts at the Games, while the other medalists Nakatani, Okano, Inokuma and Kaminaga declined. I was selected as the only athlete representing Italy, while Nicola went back home with the National Team.

The tournaments took place in the cities of Sendai, Nagoya, Tenri and Fukuoka. The outstanding fact was, that we “foreigners” were always there, while the Japanese team changed in every city. Geesink was considered “untouchable” and was totally respected, but nevertheless this would not impede him to make jokes and get all Westerners involved. Thanks to my friendship and the esteem from the Dutch Champion I was spared.  

In our youth we have spent some very intense moments together, sometimes quite goliardic and during the years it was always a pleasure to meet again. But there was always mutual respect and esteem, which we continued to show also in more recent times.

During a Congress of the International Judo Federation, which took place in Birmingham in 1999, Anton donated me his last book. Shortly after that in 2000 I met him again at our Olympic Center of Castelfusano (Italy) during a technical meeting he held. Having heard, that he was going to wear his black belt, both Nicola and myself wore immediately ours and informed everybody else to do the same.

Rome 2000 - Anton Geesink, Bruno Carmeni, Nicola Tempesta: How to Grow the Little Guy Like in the Good Old Days!

Sayonara Geesink San, you will always remain a “Great Judoka with Outstanding Judo Techniques and a Great Friend”!


One Response

  1. We will all miss Sensei Geesink . I had the honor to meet him and talk to him for a while at the 1995 world judo championships held in Chiba Makuhari , Japan. What a true gentleman of the judo world.We will all miss him very much. He made us all proud of judo outside of Japan and showed us the way to win.Sensei Geesink mata ai masho! From the kodokwan judo club in Zambia and the Kruger judo family

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