Dr. Hiroshi Takei, Yamagata Institute of Spine and Spinal Disorders, 5th Dan, Coach of Yamagata University Medical School Judo Club in Yamagata, Japan
I was a student of Mr. Lafon’s in San Diego from 1997 to 1999. Although I was 4th Dan given by the Kodokan with 30 years experiences in Japan at that time, I felt that the techniques and training methods he had been teaching were so innovative and effective in modern judo. He had analyzed internationally developing judo and taught us how to catch up to it. After returning to Japan, as a coach, I have tried to follow his style. However not many coaches in my area wanted to change the traditional way of teaching at the beginning of 21st century. In the traditional practice of judo in Japan, we spend a lot of time in uchikomi and randori, but not in situational drills. Unfortunately we are faced with a decline of Japanese judo in recent years. That fact has made Japanese coaches change their mind. Some coaches who belong to Yamagata City Judo Federation asked me to invite Mr. Lafon, my old teacher, to learn international judo methods of training and teaching. So we invited him to the 1st International Judo Clinic in Yamagata on December 8-9, 2012. More than 60 students and 10 coaches took part in the clinic. According to the level of each participant, he taught reasonable warm-ups, logical techniques, and innovative ways of teaching. All of the coaches who attended told me that it was the very first time to see such an evolutional way of teaching judo. They also want to learn from Mr. Lafon again in near future. I am convinced that the teaching methods and judo itself in Yamagata area will be changed by the coaches and the students who attended the clinic. One national top class player participated in the clinic. Mr. Lafon analyzed videos of her matches and gave her much advice. I hope she will get good results in some international tournaments in the near future as a representative of Japan thanks to Mr. Lafon.
John Granado, assistant instructor, Ozeki Judo in Las Vegas, Nevada
Thank you for sharing with us during the Las Vegas clinic. I ask you to teach me as a student just learning. I come from a Judo family and we are stuck in our old Judo ways. Please help me think outside the box. I want and wish you to challenge not just my mind, but my physical being. I am more than ready. It’s been calling me for some time now. I am 42 years old and need to change to better myself. Be my mentor because that is what I need to make me great. I’m reading the books and am learning a lot. Will tell you more in the future. Thank GOD you came along. It’s just what I needed.
Victor Palafox Sanchez, 5x Mexican National Champion, 5x Mexican University National Champion, 2x Pan American Team Member, Pan American Games Team Member, 5th at 2006 Pan American Judo Championships
Coach Gerald Lafon is one of the best Judo coaches that I have met. His training methods are dynamic, varied and effective, which makes judo easier. Recently, I participated in one of his clinics. In my opinion, I finally understood many Judo concepts that I couldn’t understand before. In addition, he has characteristics that distinguish him from other coaches. He inspires confidence and transmits energy when you are fighting. Great coach!
Ian Weithers, National Coach of Barbados Judo Association
Coach Lafon’s approach to the teaching and practice of judo is truly eclectic. While one may identify classical or traditional components within his methodology, his application of modern coaching theories is unique as he seeks to stimulate the minds of coaches and athletes alike toward a greater comprehension of their sport.
He essentially gets you to understand why you do, what to do, when to do and how to do…better.
This approach coupled with excellent technical demonstration also allows practitioners to create serendipitous environments where there is constant learning and dynamic development.
His approach is a winning approach.
D’Arcy Rahming, President of the Bahamas Judo Federation
Four years ago the Bahamas decided to rejuvenate its competitive Judo program. After extensive research and a few false starts we decided to invite Coach Lafon down for a seminar. We were pleasantly surprised at not only his depth of knowledge, but also his method of delivery. On his first visit he gave us tools to develop our defensive game. This had an immediate impact on making us competitive internationally.
Coach Lafon is a true enabler. In subsequent visits he worked with our national coaches encouraging us to think outside of the box, use our natural strengths and to think creatively. As a result we developed a fun program that has been great for retention while giving us the foundation for our elite program.
Coach Lafon insisted that we become students of the game. The results speak for themselves: within two years we had won over 22 medals in international tournaments as well as our first Pan American medal.
Michael L. Noriega, 6th dan, San Gabriel Dojo, 2004 USJF International Senior and Youth Male Athlete Coach of Year
I hope all coaches, instructors and referees will consider attending one of Mr. Lafon’s clinics. I have attended many coach’s clinics, since their inception in 1993 with the first National Coaches Conference at the Olympic Training Center. I found Mr. Lafon’s clinic to be enlightening in spite of his alternative methods of instruction that are contrary to traditional judo instruction.
Mr. Lafon’s approach challenges the “teacher” to shift his paradigm in order to find the innate talents and skills within each student. His method encourages each student to find his talents and develop his technique. Additionally, I find that his approach challenges each coach to think about his own teaching techniques and how we set goals for our students.
Presently our club is implementing several of his drills and teachings in an attempt to provide our students with the skills for success. It argues the point that just because we have done something the same way for years does not mean it is the only way. Given the advances of medicine and exercise physiology, sports and martial arts are integrating some of these technologies into new forms of instruction. It is, in my opinion, in the best interest of the sport to be on the cutting edge of these changes.
Dr. Witold F. Krajewski, 4th dan, Engineering Professor and Judo Coach, University of Iowa
I competed and coached judo for over 40 years in USA and Europe. Over this time I met scores of coaches and witnessed countless practice sessions. Based on this experience I can testify without exaggeration that Gerald Lafon is the most innovative, creative, and knowledgeable coach I ever met. His methods inspire, stimulate and promote an engaged approach to coaching and training Judo, emphasizing creative thinking, analysis and experimenting. He is a true “professor” of the sport.
John A. Huntley, Kodokan Judo 7th dan, Aberdeen Judo Academy, Kamloops, B.C. Canada www.aberdeenjudo.com
My first awareness of coach Lafon came through his training articles in judo publications and on various web sites. His methodology appeared to be along the same lines as mine, a blend of traditional Japanese and European teachings.
I invited coach Lafon to come to my Aberdeen Judo Academy in the spring of 2007 to conduct a weekend clinic, and the result was an excellent event! The enthusiasm and technical knowledge imparted by coach Lafon was very well received, and the material presented and practiced is being used on a regular basis in our judo dojo.