Guest instructor, Olympian Flavio Canto, from Brazil
Dr. AnnMaria Rousey De Mars teaches matwork
The Rousey Sisters

Why judo?

Gompers Judo was founded by former UFC World Champion and current WWE professional wrestler, Ronda Rousey, when her sister Jennifer was student teaching in the Social Studies department. For the best prop ever for learning about the concept of budo in Japan, she brought her younger sister and Olympic medalist in judo. The sisters discussed the lack of after school options at Gompers, particularly for physical activity, inclusive for all students, not just the most gifted, and including both boys and girls. The idea for Gompers Judo was born.

Ronda taught the first two years and, once her mixed martial arts and movie career did not allow for time to continue volunteering, the class was taken over by her mother and world judo champion, Dr. AnnMaria Rousey De Mars. With assistance from two Los Angeles Unified School District staff members, history/ Spanish teacher Jose Gonzalez and paraprofessional Jimmy Sanchez, the class is able to maintain student teacher ratio of 6:1 .

Strong but Not Mean

Dr. De Mars explains why she believes judo is so valuable for middle school students.

When my youngest child was in sixth grade, the principal said, “Julia is the kind of kid you want to develop. She is strong but not mean.” When that same child decided to try out for the city soccer team at age 11, much older than most kids start soccer, she admitted, “I know I don’t have the skills that some of these other girls do, but I’m not afraid of anybody.” When Ronda was in middle school, a counselor remarked, “Your daughter walks into every room like she has a right to be there.” Our focus is not on building championships but confidence and character. That’s what we want to build at Gompers Judo.

– Dr. Annmaria De Mars

Our Program: The 30-second Elevator Pitch

Our program is open only to current and former students at Gompers Middle School. It is not open to the public. Students who begin at Gompers can continue in the judo program after they graduate or transfer to another school. All funding is from private donations and through support of the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation. In previous years, practice was twice per week. Currently, we aim for six days of practice each month – every Wednesday and one team event per month. We’d love to do more, but all our instructors are volunteers with full-time jobs and this is the most we can carve out of our month right now.

To participate in the program, students are required to maintain a minimum GPA, regularly attend school and judo practice and avoid disciplinary issues at school. To insure individual attention, class size is limited to no more than 20 students.