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Calvin Terada

Calvin Terada, Chair USJF Referee Development and Certification Subcommittee

Calvin Terada writes:

Without dojos being open for practice and tournaments being held in our community, I am sure that many of us feel a strange sense of uneasiness since judo has been a part of our entire lives for so long.

While there is uncertainty and challenges all around us, one silver lining is that I have been utilizing the extra time to work on updating policies and develop strategic planning for the USA Judo Referee Commission (RC). Each of you will see some of the work being produced by the RC very soon. I have been also doing a lot of thinking and planning for us (USJF RDCS), especially on next steps for judo referee development, but also on succession planning for the RDCS which has come to fruition.

With thanks to the departing members of USJF Referee Development and Certification Subcommittee

Four of our colleagues (Gary, Raymond, Hector, and David) have rotated themselves off the RDCS. The primary reasons for this change is because they have held the longest tenure serving on the RDCS and they are all on the RC now.


Following authorization by Sheldon Konno, Chair, Development Committee, USJF, and Mark Muranaka, President, USJF, the appointment of new members have been made to the Referee Development and Certification Subcommittee. It is with great honor to name Ryan Shimokawa, Diane Samia, Diba Mani, and Saro Balagezyan as our new RDCS members. Each of these four individuals is not only accomplished judo referee in the United States, but they bring a rich diversity of judo experience and personal work history that will augment the skills of the existing four members: Mark Hirota, Greg Moore, Diane Manganaro, and Calvert Kitaura. Further, the skills and experiences of all eight members will be critically important as the RDCS continues ongoing programs, but also prepares to launch new projects to prepare and develop judo referees in the future.

Mark HirotaGreg MooreDiane ManganaroCalvert Kitaura

In preparation for the immediate aftermath of coming out of this pandemic situation, it is quite clear to me that our national volunteer judo referee system will need to be rebuilt because many things will have changed. We will need a team that will be ready to confront these new challenges and they will need bring new skills, experience, and ideas on how to develop judo referees in this new world. Bringing in new talent, passion, and leaders is an important part of this subcommittee’s function. It is one of my responsibilities to assess and find our own replacements when the time comes.

The plan at this point is to start with these rotations so that I can get the new group moving toward the next stage of judo referee development. Once the new group has a clear direction, vision, and begin making progress, my plan is to pass the baton to the next leader so that they can take and continue on with the great work of this subcommittee.

New members for USJF Referee Development and Certification Subcommittee

To introduce the four new members

Ryan Shimokawa (IJF International Referee)

Ryan Shimokawa

Ryan, a High school educator for 10 years, currently teaches at President Theodore Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition to being a devoted teacher, Ryan has volunteered countless hours serving as Judo coach at Roosevelt and received the Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) Girls Coach of the Year for the Eastern Division in 2017. Passionate about sharing his judo knowledge, he splits his time serving as a coach for the past 15+ years and referee for 10+ years. Ryan recently passed his IJF “A” International referee examination in the Dominican Republic in 2019. Ryan has always been passionate towards passing on knowledge to improve his community.

Diane Samia (IJF Continental Referee)

Diane Samia

Diane has over 45 years of Judo experience which encompasses being a competitor, coach, referee, and marketing director. Diane holds the rank of Godan, is an assistant Sensei at Okubo Judo Club and she serves on the Daiheigen Board of Examiners for Vacaville Judo Club. She is an IJF “B” Continental referee and is active on the referee circuit. Business wise, she has over 10 years of assisting with corporate training by facilitating and creating: workshops, modules, and webinars using different platforms. Diane is honored to take on this new endeavor and is ready to assist with creating and implementing growth strategies and development of USJF referees.

Diba Mani (IJF Continental Referee)

Diba Mani

Diba Mani’s career as a judoka began in 2000 in Colorado, at one point training with 2004 Olympic Team Leader Buck Wessell and Japanese Olympic multi-medalist Noriko Narazaki. As a member of the founding cohort of Team FORCE, she also benefitted from training with U.S. Olympic coach Jimmy Pedro. Diba has experience teaching judo to children and novice adults, as well as implementing judo programs for special populations such as disadvantaged youth through the City of Boulder juvenile delinquency program and mentally and/or physically disabled children and adults. Diba is currently an International “B” Continental referee. Her mentorship focus is women in judo, especially as young referees – hence the significance of her role as Faculty Advisor and a volunteer coach for Gator Judo Club at the University of Florida (UF). Diba earned her Bachelors degrees in Integrative Physiology and Asian Studies, Masters in Integrative Physiology, and Doctorate with specialty in Neurophysiology, all from the University of Colorado Boulder. She is teaches and researches in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology in the College of Health and Performance at UF.

Saro Balagezyan (IJF Continental Referee)

Saro Balagezyan

Saribek (Saro) Balagezyan is a seasoned leader with experience in business solutions development using latest technologies in industries that vary from FinTech to Health Care, Pharma to Non-Profits, and Government to Start-Ups. He enjoys meeting the challenges of leading the change and transformation by coaching organizations and people to meet today’s demands of digital revolution. Saro proudly offers outstanding services and thought-leadership in developing efficiencies for Fortune 500 companies to deliver value in most optimal and competitive ways. As a certified professional in scaling Lean Enterprise Digital Transformations, Saro designs strategies and tactical solutions to lead cultural changes within companies and people. Such solutions allow for cost-effective implementations of products and services that help meet demands of the current markets. Following the principle of martial art Judo “Mutual Benefit and Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort”, Saro effectively helps people to find comprehensive solutions with most optimal use of resources, which is an imperative constraint in today’s business world. In his role as an International Judo Federation Continental Referee and Dojo Owner, Saro effectively combines the values of discipline, respect and loyalty with the professional excellence in his filed to deliver outstanding, impactful, and game changing results to his clients, students, and friends.