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Judo Blog: Judo and BJJ Competitor Has Stories to Tell

Gary GoltzJudoFebruary 17 | 2022

Book Author

Brian Herskowitz

Brian Herskowitz

a 5th Dan has studied Judo for over fifty-five years. A finalist in the 1980 Olympic Trials, he won the world veterans championships in 2016. Brian writes and produces feature films and television shows such as TOUR OF DUTY, HERCULES

, and BLOSSOM. During the industry slow-down, he wrote his first novel CONCEPTUS. The story involves Detective/Martial Artist Laura Drummond, who was attacked and left for dead as a young teen. Twenty-four years later, she is on the trail of a serial killer with an eerily familiar M.O. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.

At that time, you couldn’t make a living as a Judo competitor, and their lives moved into other areas. Steve became an accountant, an attorney, and a judge, eventually, he left judo behind.

Brian became an actor, writer, producer, and director. But unlike his older brother, Brian never stopped training, and in 2004 he began competing again. He fought as a master athlete, but also with the seniors. Now a 5th dan, he last fought in both 60 KG divisions in 2021 at the age of 63.

Competition motivates me to stay in shape. It gives me a concrete goal to aim for. He said.

A decade ago, Brian was in New York and visiting with judo legend Teimoc Johnston-Ono. Teimoc had started competing in Brazilian Jiujitsu. He explained that it was basically the same martial art as judo, but the rules focused on ground-work and submissions. Brian tried it and was hooked. Soon, he was competing in BJJ and teaching take-downs and throws to his BJJ counterparts.

Brian has won the World Championships and Pan American Championships in BJJ as a Brown Belt and recently won his first two international medals as a BJJ black belt, bringing home gold in the m7 light feather and bronze in the open division.

I was impressed by the number of competitors and spectators, and the organization of the competitions in BJJ. He said. The more I train in both, the more I truly believe that they truly are the same martial art. There is undeniable synergy there.

A few other well-known judokas have competed in both disciplines, most notably Travis Stevens, Brian Germain, David Loyst, Rhadi Ferguson, and the aforementioned Teimoc Johnston-Ono.

I think there’s a real opportunity for judo and BJJ to find common ground and improve the future for both sports. BJJ could benefit hugely from spending time learning traditional judo throws and there’s no question that judo could improve the ground fighting game.

There’s already a movement to combine the two martial arts. Kosen Judo’s rules are very similar to BJJ, and ‘freestyle judo’ has gone a long way to return balance to the standing versus ground game in the sport.

The history of jiujitsu developing into judo and judo becoming Brazilian Jiujitsu is a clear and tightly-woven fabric. Instead of seeing each other as competitors for legitimacy, it would be great to have the sports come together. Brian stated.

In the meantime, Brian continues to train in both, teach both in Los Angeles.

I moved to LA to pursue an acting career, and I had a little success, but in the mid-eighties, I needed to get a real job and something opened up in production on TOUR OF DUTY, the CBS show about the Viet Nam war.

Brian became the associate producer and eventually wrote for the show.

My very first script was about a kid who goes to Japan to study judo and gets involved with the Yakuza. It was good enough to land me an agent, but not quite good enough to get made.

But that started his long love affair with the written word.

I started teaching screenwriting for a private trade school, Writer’s Bootcamp, then I taught at UCLA Extensions. For the last 16 years, I’ve had a class with Boston University in Los Angeles, a post-grad program.

Brian never stopped pursuing his own writing and producing. He’s written or produced features, TV, Web series, stage plays, and even a podcast. He also wrote a textbook on screenwriting titled PROCESS TO PRODUCT.

Things came to a screeching halt in February of 2020 with the arrival of Covid-19. It quickly became clear that film and TV production was coming to a halt for the foreseeable future.

I was sitting around wondering what to do, and I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing a novel. He said. I’d just finished a screenplay that I really liked and I thought it might be cool to use that as an outline for a book.

And that’s exactly what he did. The result is CONCEPTUS, the story of a Columbus, Ohio Police Detective named Laura Drummond who was brutally attacked as a young teenage girl, left in a coma, and impregnated by her assailant. Now, twenty-four years later she’s on the trail of a serial killer whose M.O. is eerily similar to the assault that nearly took her life.

I really love Laura, she’s a bad-ass. An Iraq war veteran, and a martial artist in her own right. In the book, she teaches at a local dojo/gym, and her judo-jiujitsu-MMA skills come into play in a crucial scene.

The book has been well received on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online gathering sixteen 5-star reviews and counting. What’s the end goal?

I would love to see the book take off and get enough exposure to get some real interest in the screenplay. That would be amazing. Brian said.

He’s currently working on the second book in the Laura Drummond mystery series. He sees writing and martial arts as two compatible parts of his world.

A dream for me would be to find a way to promote judo through my filmmaking and writing. I would love to give back to the sport that has given me so much.

In the meantime, Brian continues to write, produce, teach, train, and compete.

I’m not sure how long I can keep up with the kids, but if you see someone going to fight someone in their twenties using a walker, that’s probably me. He joked.

You can find Brian’s books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online outlets, and you can learn more about what he’s up to at

Brian is a distinguished judoka

Judo tournament

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to, thanks.


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