The Other Side of 50

After 25 years as an officer, it’s back to judo

By From page OSF6 | March 13, 2014

Gordon Makimoto

Gordon Makimoto founded the Judo club in 1996 that he is now the head instructor at. The club is is sponsored entirely by the Vacaville Police Activites League and volunteers. Makimoto is a fourth degree black belt and has sudied the art of Judo for over thirty years, being taught by his father at the age of eight. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic)

VACAVILLE — A retiree at 53, Gordon Makimoto is doing what he can to stay busy.

So far, it’s worked pretty well.

After 25 years as an officer with the Vacaville Police Department, Makimoto retired Dec. 31, 2012.

Since then, between family and judo, he’s maintained a busy schedule.

One constant in his life has been judo, which Makimoto said he’s been doing for more that 40 years.

Makimoto and his wife, who is a 20-year veteran of the Vacaville Police Department, run the Vacaville Police Activities League Judo Club.

“(We’ve) been with the judo club since 1996,” Makimoto said.

The couple is also raising their two grandchildren, so there’s always something going on, Makimoto said.

“My dad started me in it,” he said. “He was an alternate for the (1964) Olympics for the United States. He started me in judo when I was 8 or so and I’ve been practicing judo ever since.”

As the city started up its youth services programs and established the PAL in 1996, Makimoto helped start the club.

Now, he sees about 25 children at a time on average.

The club practices twice a week, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the McBride Senior Center in Vacaville.

“It’s just a part of my life, I’ve been doing it for so long. As a kid with the Sacramento Judo Club . . . instructors on the mat (were) all volunteers,” Makimoto said. “When they started the PAL here and asked me if I was interested in teaching judo, I said, ‘Yeah.’ It’s my chance to give something back to the judo community.”

It was also a way to keep active in judo.

“I wasn’t competing anymore, so I decided to pass it on to a new generation,” he said, adding that his competitive days ended in his mid-20s, when he began working as a police officer.

“When I started working, I took a break,” Makimoto said. “I don’t want to get hurt, and not be able to work.”

In the meantime, he continued working out at his dad’s club in Sacramento and at other clubs.

“I’m busy. We have our grandkids living with us and my son,” he said. “I’m doing volunteer work at the school, trying to get in some golf. We have a motor home we try to take out when we get the chance.”

But it’s the ability to do what he wants that he enjoys.

“A lot of people retire and try to get another job, but I had a job that I liked and don’t want another job,” Makimoto said.

Things have changed in Vacaville since he started working as a police officer in 1987.

“The amount the city has grown is just incredible,” he said. “I think (the population) was about 48,000 when I started. There’s been a lot of growth.”

Whole subdivisions of the city didn’t exist when Makimoto arrived in town.

“The community has always been a great supporter of the Police Department and the Fire Department, so that’s always something we’ve enjoyed here,” he said.

Things took a sour turn along with the economy the last few years, he said.

“It was disappointing the way that worked out,” Makimoto said. “I was making less money than five years earlier. Economically, it wasn’t viable to stay in making less money.”

So he retired and managed to stay just as busy.

Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.


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