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Retiree teaches Marines judo
Posted on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 2:46 pm
by IDMA Editor

Since retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Henry Lermay's arrival at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, the on-base gym's blossoming martial arts program has been quite literally flipped on its head by his judo instruction.

U.S. Marine Corps photo of Henry Lermay, retired mastery gunnery sergeant and station judo instructor, demonstrates controlling techniques.

At 5 foot 8 inches and 73 years of age, Lermay may not be the most imposing man in a room, but get on his bad side and you're in for a world of hurt.

Lermay won three back-to-back Marine Corps judo championships from 1965 to 1967, back when the Corps still had a flourishing Judo program.

Judo, created in Japan in 1882, uses throws, grappling maneuvers, joint locking, chokes and strikes designed to immobilize an opponent and is mainly used for self-defense.

“It was something I really got into in Japan,” said Lermay. “It started when I went to Japan in 1958. I really liked the discipline; it even got me to re-enlist for six years.”

After leaving the Corps with 30 years of service and starting several judo clubs, Lermay began traveling the states visiting friends and locations, teaching Judo wherever he stopped.

“I love teaching judo to people,” said Lermay. “Especially Marines, because they always want to be the best and they always try their hardest to grasp the material.”

Lermay, a Yuma winter-visitor, began teaching judo in the station gym in September and plans to continue until he leaves in April.

“I really want the judo program to get back up and running in the Corps,” said Lermay. “I know that the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program has really taken hold, but I don't think Marines would mind having to learn two disciplines, and the Corps will benefit with better-disciplined Marines who are more capable in combat.”

Lermay's job will get easier starting in November when the station gym gets a fitness room makeover to incorporate more martial arts training for Marines.

“We're really pushing to get martial arts and combat fitness facilities for the Marines,” said Adrian Villalobos, Semper Fit director. “It's what the Marines want, and it's going to help them in the long run.”

After the move to the fitness room, Lermay expects his class size to double or triple.

“I'm probably going to go from a class of five to 10, to a class of 20 to 30,” said Lermay.

However, even with a larger class size, Lermay says individual drive is still key.

“I don't want people who aren't going to listen to what I'm trying to teach them in my class,” said Lermay. “Those kinds of people just make my and the rest of the class' job harder.”

Fortunately, Lermay already has students who want to be there and learn what he has to offer.

“This is a great opportunity for Marines,” said Staff Sgt. Wean Diaz, Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 airfield operations staff noncommissioned officer. “First off, we don't have to pay for it. Secondly, we get to learn a discipline that is one of the foundations for MCMAP, and judo is going to give Marines something to do in their free time.”

For Diaz, as with Lermay, judo is a driving force.

“My father was a 3rd degree black belt,” said Diaz. “I've always wanted to learn the art but never had the chance. Now that I've started, I'm never going to stop.”

In addition, while the classes continue, Lermay hopes to see even more Marines attend his classes.

“I just want Marines to have the opportunity to experience what judo has to offer them,” said Lermay. “As a sport, it's fun, exciting and relieves stress. As a way of life, it allows you to approach aspects of life in a different way.”

Desert Warrior is the on-base newspaper at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

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