Interview with Judo Olympian Jason Morris: A Career in Review

Jason Morris began his judo journey at the young age of eight, when he saw judoka flying through the air. He ultimately represented the United States five times at the Olympic Games, four times as a competitor and once as a coach. In 1999, Morris established his school in New York, where he continues to teach and coach. All images provided by Jason Morris.

Martial Arts of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Welcome and thank you for joining us, Morris Sensei!

Jason Morris: Thank you for having me.

MAYTT: You began judo in 1975 at the age of eight. What was it about judo that sparked your interest at such a young age? What was it about the art that continued to motivate you?

JM: I saw the guys flying through air and thought that was very cool.

MAYTT: How would you describe the training you experienced? How have you seen judo training change or evolve as you continued practicing?

JM: It’s pretty similar today as when I trained. A main difference in the rules is you cannot grab the legs in standing.

MAYTT: You represented America five times at the Olympic Games, four as a competitor and once as a coach. What was getting to the Olympics like for you? How did you approach your matches each time you returned to the Games?

JM: Each Game was a unique experience and set of circumstances as it’s four years apart each time, so I was negotiating deferent things each Game.

MAYTT: Interesting. When you coached for the 2008 Games, how did you utilize your previous experiences as a competitor to help Team USA prepare for their matches?

JM: My previous experience at the Games was very valuable to share with the players as to what to expect in many aspects.

Jason Morris throwing during the 1992 Olympics.

MAYTT: As a coach and former competitor, how important or influential do you feel the Olympics is for judo? Do you think the art could survive without being a part of this international event?

JM: For sure it could survive, as Judo is a life skill, but the fact that it is so strong in the Olympic movement is awesome for fans of the sport like myself.

MAYTT: Having experienced both being a competitor and a coach, which do you see as the more challenging one? How have both role roles been beneficial to you?

JM: Both roles have shaped me personally and I teach. Each is a challenge in its own context, as one isn’t harder than the other.

MAYTT: In both roles, winning is the focus. What, then, is the mindset for each role? Is it the same mindset or is it just different approaches?

JM: Winning is the ultimate prize, but development in many aspects to improve your game is the goal, depending on what event you’re attending.

MAYTT: When did you establish your school, Jason Morris Judo Center? What influenced your decision to open your own dojo?

JM: We started in 1999. My father, being self-employed, was the first influence to start my own dojo.

MAYTT: I see. In 2010, You were inducted into the United States Judo Federation Hall of Fame. What were your initial reactions and emotions when you were inducted? 

JM: Any time I am given accolades, I am honored.

MAYTT: To you, what is the most important aspect of judo? Would the art be the same if this aspect disappeared?

JM: Discipline and No.

MAYTT: Final question. What will you think judo will look like in the United States ten years from now? 

JM: Hopefully many more will be participating.

MAYTT: Thank you again for taking the time to talk with us!

JM: It was my pleasure to be here.


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