Tommie Little started Bushido USA about five years ago with hopes of sending local judo athletes to the Olympics. Bill Ward signed on to help the cause. Their program took a giant leap in March when two members fought to third places at the Liberty Bell Judo Classic in Philadelphia.
Little and Ward—who both volunteer their time at the Police Athletic League at 37th and Market streets in Wilmington—are certainly proud of that accomplishment, but they’re even prouder of another achievement: shaping youngsters into positive members of the community.
“Our goal is to change the culture of kids to: Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t cheat and you do what you say you’re going to do,” says Ward, 66. “We teach respect for others. Get rid of hate, anger and self-doubt.”
They do this by throwing their opponents to the floor. Well, sort of.
“‘Ju’ means gentle and ‘do’ means way,” explains Ward. “That’s what we’re teaching them—a gentle way of life. We’re teaching them how to subdue someone, but not hurt them. We’re teaching good life works, good karma. It feels good to do good.”
Little, an attorney, was a member of the first U.S. Marine Corps judo team and one of its first judo instructors. He won a national masters championship at age 51.
Ward, a lifelong businessman, says the reward of helping youth develop into solid citizens is unparalleled. “I’ve been in business all my life and I’ve never felt anywhere near as good on the biggest deals I got.” —D.O.