The owner of West Florida Budokan, Lonnie Ross, said he was one of four U.S. citizens to take part in Camp Bosei, an international cultural exchange and judo instruction. According to Ross, the other three Americans to attend were Jerome Baldwin, out of NAS Pensacola, Douglas Clark from Metro Orlando Judo, and Michelle Simmons, an NAS Whiting Field flight student and nationally ranked judo player. While the camp was about improving participant's skill in judo, Ross said they also experienced other cultures while in the Toronto camp.

The owner of West Florida Budokan, Lonnie Ross, said he was one of four U.S. citizens to take part in Camp Bosei, an international cultural exchange and judo instruction. According to Ross, the other three Americans to attend were Jerome Baldwin, out of NAS Pensacola, Douglas Clark from Metro Orlando Judo, and Michelle Simmons, an NAS Whiting Field flight student and nationally ranked judo player. While the camp was about improving participant’s skill in judo, Ross said they also experienced other cultures while in the Toronto camp.

Ross said bosei is Japanese for dreams or aspirations. The Camp Bosei brochure said, “(In) spring of 1988, a friendship was started with a bow on the mat between Teruyoshi Yamaguchi and David Miller, both students of Tokai University judo program. They shared similar ideas and dreams about assisting the spread of peace and friendship through international judo exchanges. Camp Bosei represents the philosophy of Tokai University Bosei Gakujuku and Kodokan judo. As part of the celebration of their 80th anniversary of the founding of the Bosei Gakujuku, the Matsumae Judo Juku has selected to visit Toronto for a cultural and friendship exchange.

After Ross opened his Milton school in March of 2014, he said Simmons found him in May. Ross said she began studying judo in her teens in Virginia. By 2009, she was a national level competitor who won second in a national competition where the winner went on to Olympic trials. Ross said she took a break from judo while she was in the Coast Guard, but is now training again at his school. Ross said he was allowed to bring Simmons on his trip to Camp Bosei. During the camp, the visiting Japanese instructors and professors of judo and Canadian representatives decided on four awards: best friendship, best manner, big effort, and big achievement awards. Ross said she received the big achievement award, one he had no idea she would receive.

Ross said the camp didn’t involve any kind of tournament, “just an exchange of judo.” Ross said the camp ran from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. “We were always doing something.” The judo part of the camp, Ross said, involved two hours of practice and an hour-long lesson on the philosophy of judo. He said the first day of camp featured instruction by  Sensei Kashiwazaki, a professor from International Budo University, a two-time IJF World judo champion, and Tokai University alumnus.

The camp took place at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Toronto, Ross said, is the most multicultural city. One day camp participants toured a Jewish sector of Toronto, another day the Italian sector complete with authentic dishes.

Ross’ own background started with ten years in Pensacola where he worked at Whiting Field and started a dojo, the Northwest Florida Judo Club at the Big Green Drum aikido dojo. In 2005, Ross said he went to Japan to learn how to train Olympic-level judo players. He was there for nine years. “I was going to stay three,” he said. While in Japan, he said, “I was the assistant instructor at Nagasawa Budokan.” He said he was the third non-Japanese person to train there.

In Milton now, Ross said students who come to his dojo have the option to train for Olympic-level judo. He said, “I mainly use it for the development of kids for physical exertion.” Ross’ main interest is getting youth out of a sedentary lifestyle through judo. For more information, call 910-1336. His studio is located at 5719 Highway 90.