John Bassano

John R Bassano

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John R Bassano

Proposed by Boris A. Muñoz, President of Hudson Yudanshakai

Inducted 2021.

His life

John Bassano has dedicated fifty years of his life to Judo. It was in his blood. He took to the sport in his early twenties. He trained as a young student, a fierce competitor, a counter technician and as a teacher well into his seventies. John never used the sport of Judo to gain any personal benefit and his visions for the sport were directed to his students. He loved Judo; it was his life.

As a youngster in his twenties, after serving in the United States Navy, he began to study and understand traditional Judo. He then became a New York City firefighter and continued his studies into his thirties when he earned Shodan, 1st degree black belt. John then opened his first Judo club. He competed in many Judo tournaments and won many awards. He continued his promotions and earned his Shichidan, 7th degree black belt, at the age of 70.

After living most of his teenage life in an orphanage at Mount Loretta, John joined the Navy at the age of 17. After the Navy, he served as a New York City firefighter for more than twenty years.

After living most of his teenage life in an orphanage at Mount Loretta, John joined the Navy at the age of 17. After the Navy, he served as a New York City firefighter/fire marshal for more than twenty years.

John playing judo in his thirties when he earned Shodan

John playing judo in his thirties when he earned Shodan

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John's favorite judo moves were counter techniques, especially tani-otoshi

John’s favorite judo moves were counter techniques, especially tani-otoshi

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John, pictured with his son, Jo, and Dr. Ashida, placed silver in the First New York State Judo Championship at the College of Staten Island 1983

John, pictured with his son, Joe, and Dr. Ashida, placed silver in the First New York State Judo Championship at the College of Staten Island 1983

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John took the bronze medal in the First World Police and Fire Games in 1985

John took the bronze medal in the First World Police and Fire Games in 1985

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John earned a gold medal in the Am–Can Challenge in 1990–1991

John earned a gold medal in the Am–Can Challenge in 1990–1991

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Japanese Judo great, Yasuhiro Yamashita, congratulates John Bassano, Sr. for earning a silver medal at the Fifth World Masters Judo Championship in 2003.

Japanese Judo great, Yasuhiro Yamashita, congratulates John Bassano, Sr. for earning a silver medal at the Fifth World Masters Judo Championship in 2003.

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John’s favorite times in Judo were when he was teaching. He loved being a sensei. Throughout his life, he taught because he wanted to strengthen the concepts of Judo. He offered inspiration to his students to see what they could become. He offered motivation to make his students work harder. He pushed his students to become better people, to believe in themselves and trust their skills. He made you see that losing was only a lesson to make you stronger and smarter. His teaching and traditions of Judo were outstanding. As a teacher, he taught traditional Judo and your rank was always earned and never given.

John with Sensei Shiina and Kasei Inove (2000 Summer Olympoc Gold medalist) as he received his Shichidan, 7th degree black belt, at the age of 70

John with Sensei Shiina and Kasei Inoue (2000 Summer Olympic Gold medalist) as he received his Shichidan, 7th degree black belt, at the age of 70

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John has taught Judo at many schools throughout the years, namely Richmond County, Hunterdon and New York Dojo Institute. All of his schools were non-profit. He said he didn’t want to make money from a sport he loved. He wanted someone he taught to love the sport with the same passion that he had. He always wished he could train someone to become a national champion or even an Olympian. All monies collected monthly went towards the school, i.e., rent, mats, utilities, tournament fees. His only goal was to keep the school open so he could continue to teach.

John opened Richmond County Judo in Tottenville, Staten Island

John opened Richmond County Judo in Tottenville, Staten Island

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Sensei Bassano with early members of the Richmond County Judo Club in Tottenville, Staten Island in the early 70s

Sensei Bassano with early members of the Richmond County Judo Club in Tottenville, Staten Island in the early 70s

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Early in 2009 NY Dojo was located at Longview Academy of Extreme Martial Arts at 2098 Clove Road, Staten Island. NY Dojo was led by Masters World Champion Sensei John Bassano.

Early in 2009 New York Dojo was located at Longview Academy of Extreme Martial Arts at 2098 Clove Road, Staten Island. NY Dojo was led by Masters World Champion Sensei John Bassano.

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Sensei Bassano with members of the New York Dojo, Staten Island, New York in 2014

Sensei Bassano with members of the New York Dojo, Staten Island, New York in 2014

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

John became a mentor to very many adults and children and he became a friend to many of them. To this day, students continue to keep in touch with him. They do not call him John, as they still respect him with the greeting of sensei. Besides giving his life to the sport of Judo, he was a father, grandfather, brother and uncle. He has three children who all trained under him and got to travel with their dad, sons John, Jr., 2nd degree black belt, Joseph, 3rd degree black belt and daughter, Christine, 2nd degree black belt. They travelled weekly to different Judo clubs and many different states. He also introduced Judo to his grandchildren, Joseph Jr., brown belt, Amanda, Katelyn, Julianna and John. Judo was a way of life for John and his family.

John enjoyed introducing the sport of judo to his children, sons John Jr and Joseph and daughter Christine at Richmond County Judo Club in the 1980s

John enjoyed introducing the sport of judo to his children, sons John Jr and Joseph and daughter Christine at Richmond County Judo Club in the 1980s

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Competitive Achievements

  • 2003 Silver Medalist World Masters Judo Championship in Tokyo, Japan
  • 1999 Gold Medalist World Masters Judo Championship
  • 1999 Silver Medalist Masters Liberty Bell
  • 1981-1991 Gold Medalist USJI National Masters Championship
  • 1990-1991 Gold Medalist Am-Can Challenge
  • 1990 Bronze Medalist World Police Fire Games
  • 1989 Gold Medalist World Police Fire Games
  • 1987 Gold Medalist World Police Fire Games
  • 1986 Gold Medalist NY State Police Olympics
  • 1986 Bronze Medalist Am-Can Challenge
  • 1984 Gold Medalist YMCA Nationals
  • 1984 Gold Medalist National Masters, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 1984 Bronze Medalist, Quebec Open
  • 1984 Gold Medalist NY State Police Olympics
  • 1984 Gold Medalist Eastern Regionals, Washington D.C
  • 1984 Gold Medalist National Masters, Florida
  • 1983 Silver Medalist Empire State Games
  • 1983 Gold Medalist, National Masters, California
  • 1982 Gold Medalist Empire State Games
  • 1982 Bronze Medalist Am-Can Challenge
  • 1981 Gold Medalist East Coast Championship

Member of the U.S. East Coast Team vs. Japan, China, West Germany, and Poland

Coaching Achievements

  • 2000–2001 Judo Coach NYC Empire State Games
  • 1992–1993 Judo Coach U.S. Olympic Training Center, Lake Placid, NY
  • Adjunct Judo Instructor – College of Staten Island

While competing himself, John was also the head instructor at various dojos in the New York – New Jersey area from the mid 1970’s. In 1997, he was asked to run NY Dojo Institute, one of the oldest dojos in the U.S.

During this time, he trained many international and national champions:

  • 2008 – Beijing Olympics – Joel Brutus (representing Haiti and flag bearer for his country) former student
  • 2007 – Pan American Games – Joel Brutus Bronze Medalist
  • 2006 – Pan American Judo Masters Championship – Sal Della Croce Gold Medalist
  • 2003 – Pan American Games – Joel Brutus Gold Medalist
  • 1999 – World Masters Judo Championship – Reynold Garcia Gold Medalist
  • 1981 – Jr. Pan American Championship – Willard Surko Gold Medalist
  • 1975 – Am-Can Judo Challenge – 4 students earned medals: Joe Bassano Gold Medal, Lisa Verona and Christine Bassano Silver Medals, and Willard Surko Bronze Medalist

There have been many more in the 40+ years that Sensei Bassano has coached.

Community

As stated before, Sensei Bassano began training in judo while serving his country in the U.S. Navy.  Then, in 1969, he began his career with the New York City Fire Department. It was due to his position with the FDNY that Sensei Bassano was able to teach the values he learned in judo to the next generations.  He always said “the discipline learned from judo made him a better person and he hoped to be able to share that with his students.”

He also used his training to become a National Advisor U.S. Police Defensive Tactics Assn. In 1997, he was an associate instructor at the FBI and the New York City Police Academy.

  • From 1986 – 1996 he was the Vice President of the Hudson Judo Association
  • From 1986 – 2000 Promotion Board Member Hudson Yudanshakai
  • From 2000 – 2005 Webmaster for Hudson Yudanshakai
From Hudson Yudanshakai

We wish to nominate Sensei John Bassano, 7th Dan, for inclusion in the USJF Hall of Fame in the competitor, coaching, and program administrator categories.

Sensei Bassano has devoted his adult life to competing, coaching, and promoting our Olympic sport, Judo. Sensei Bassano began practicing judo in the late 1950’s while stationed in France, serving in the US Navy. Upon his return to the U.S., he trained under Sensei Ito and Sensei Kanokogi in the 1960’s and then with Sensei Shiina in the 1970’s.

It was during this time that Sensei Bassano began competing at very high-level competitions, earning many titles. He also began teaching in the New York – New Jersey region, training many champions of his own. He has made many contributions to the growth of judo in the region and is a leader and role model for the many students who have trained under his guidance.

Boris Muñoz, President, Hudson Judo Yudanshakai

Sensei Bassano, who is also a retired NYC fireman, became part of a program initiated by Rusty Kanokogi to award scholarships to children who lost a family member in the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.

Sensei Bassano, who is also a retired NYC fireman, became part of a program initiated by Rusty Kanokogi to award scholarships to children who lost a family member in the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.

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