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Grand Master Phil Porter

In about 1970, I attended a Judo clinic taught by Phil Porter, who at the time was about 45 years old. He later became the president of the United States Judo Association and one of the very few judoka to ever attain the rank of judan (10th degree) in judo. I was about 24 years old and thought I was fit. As we performed the warm-up stretches, Porter, who was stocky and powerfully built, not thin and willowy, had us doing some flexibility exercises as he also performed them. As we sat on the floor, he had us pull a foot toward our abdomens, then toward our chests, then toward our chins, and then toward our ears. I did not get past the abdomen.

It was then and there that I decided that if a stocky guy who was 20 years older than me was able to do these things, then I also should be able to do them. I started daily morning stretches and have continued them ever since. Now, when leading stretching exercises, I tell students, if a short, stocky man who is old enough to be your father or grandfather can do this stretching exercise, then they should also be able to do it.

If I find myself slacking off on performing my daily stretches, I remember that class with Master Porter and it motivates me to keep at it. Master Porter went on to become O'Sensei, the highest ranking judoka in the United States.

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