My Martial Arts Experience by Paul Musso
Posted on 28 March 2017
I started training Judo in the early 1980's in Brooklyn, NY. I was around 7-9 years old around the time. My father took me into the Kyushu Dojo down on Flatbush Ave. where Mr. & Mrs. Rusty Kanokogi held judo classes for juniors and adults. Growing up always watching Bruce Lee and the Kung fu movies on Saturday Afternoon (channel 11). I always wanted to get involved into the martial arts. I trained Judo for about 6-8 years at Kyushu and met a lot of good people. Sensei Kanokogi had very good adults to help him run the junior classes. Just to name a few people who helped Sensei were Parnell Legros (head coach of Starret Judo), Bruce Lee (Korean Judo Competitor), & Rusty Kanokogi herself. Sensei would even have famous Champion judo players come down to visit us and give lessons. A few times Yamashita from Japan came to visit. When I was a lot younger the kids in the class really did not appreciate or know who Yamashita was. As we got older and for those who remained to train & study sport judo, we think back and wish we can re-live those days again.
I stopped training judo when I got to be about 17-18 years old and wanted to get into something more offensive. I took up boxing at Gleasons gym for about 3 years and at the same time took a little Karate. I always thought that it was good to be well diverse in the martial arts.
During the Karate years I have had the privilege to meet a lot of high end martial arts instructors from the New York area. To name a few were Thomas Carroll LaPuppet, William Oliver, Peter Urban, Maynard Minor, Robert Sugar Crossen, Don Jaccobs, Randolph James, Professor V, Wally Jay, Sifu Allen Goldberg, & Alex Sternberg. Most of these martial artist I trained short term with, took seminars, or met them at Kinji San in Brooklyn. I was lucky to meet and conversant with a lot of New York's finest thanks to my old judo training partner, Douglas Lee. His father (Ken Lee) owned and operated the only martial arts supply store in Brooklyn. I bought my first Judo uniform at Kinji San in the early 1980's when I first started. Douglas and I both started out together at Kyushu and were good working out partners. I would always ask him on who's the best in Brooklyn and his answer would be I don't know. Realizing now he just sold martial arts equipment and had short conversations with these instructors.
One of my favorite times in Kinji San was when Danny Inosanto came to visit with Leung Ting and Wally Jay. Being that I was a huge Bruce Lee fan and knew that these guys had training relations with Bruce, I made it an effort to cut out of school and be at Kinji San once it opened up. As a mater of fact there is a picture on the Wall of fame in Kinji San of those 3 Masters from that Day. Their have been numerous times that I would hang out with Doug at his dad's store and famous martial artist from all over would come and visit. The great thing was that Kinji San always had a camera and I always was able to take pictures with a lot of these famous Martial art practioneers.
After I was done training boxing and karate I went back to doing Judo. Kyushu dojo was not opened at this time, so I went to check out Mr. Shina at Japan Judo and Karate at Bay parkway in Brooklyn. I heard a lot of good thing about Sensei Shina and met him at Kinji San a few times. I have been out of judo for over 4 years now and going on the mat at Shina's dojo was like a kid getting on a bicycle after 4 years of riding. Took a while, but most of the balance and technique came back. Sensei Shina attributes that to good upbringing at Kyushu from Sensei Kanokogi and being well diverse in various martial arts. Being at the time at SHina, I was able to work out with one of his top students, John Bassano. Sensei Shina & Bassano was good friends of Doug and his dad from Kinji San so I felt comfortable training there.
I never made black belt in Judo but reach Brown belt. I stopped training judo because of work issues but one day will want to go back on the mat to train and help coach younger kids.