The tour began with CJ Judo and ended at Shimeru Judo and Jiu Jitsu Club. Both dojo’s mats were filled with judo enthusiasts captivated by Flavio’s story of impacting more than 20,000 lives through his Instituto Reação. They were awed by his prolific technical knowledge of the game. All walked away inspired and more passionate about the sport than ever.
Judo was also introduced to new potential judoka beyond the tatami. During his week in the Golden State, Flavio visited Payne Elementary School and Samuel Gompers Middle School where he amazed students and teachers alike. Children were not only inspired by his achievements and message of paying it forward, but also participated in a unique interactive judo experience derived from Canto’s values-based curriculum. Assembly rooms boiled with excitement as students enjoyed randori and even throw a real-life Olympic medallist!
Canto also spent two hours spreading his playful brand of judo to the Samuel Gompers Judo Programme, teaching his institute's mantra: good in tachi-waza, good in ne-waza and good in transition. Later he dazzled dozens of young judoka with surprise visits to Orange County Judo Training Center and Senshi Judo, where he chatted with parents, students and instructors.
“Thank you so much for arranging this,” said Dr AnnMaria De Mars, world judo champion and head instructor of Gompers Judo Programme. “I don’t think you know how much it means.”
Despite a full slate promoting judo at schools and dojos, converting scores of new young fans throughout the state, Canto made time to enjoy his passion for surfing. Upon landing in San Francisco, he immediately set out on a kitesurfing adventure under the Golden Gate Bridge. The next morning, he shared waves in Santa Cruz with USA’s legendary judo world champion Mike Swain and former Israel Judo Team member Eitan Gelber.
On the SoCal leg of his trip, Canto visited Huntington Beach, popularly called Surf City USA, with the Judo Stories team. He checked out the Surfing Walk of Fame where his friend, 11 times surfing world champion Kelly Slater, is immortalised. Slater visited Instituto Reação in 2013.
“We always knew Flavio Canto would be an outstanding athlete to inaugurate the IJF Judo Stories Tour,” said Chuck Jefferson, “but we had no idea how much he would exceed our already high expectations.”
“We look forward to sharing more about the tour in the coming days and weeks,” Jefferson continued. “On behalf of myself, Patrick Dooley of Shimeru and the Judo Stories team, we want to express our gratitude to the IJF for partnering with us on this project. This partnership succeeded in spreading judo throughout California this week and we’re well positioned to build even greater opportunities to expand the reach of our sport as we move closer to LA2028.”