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27715 Jefferson Ave. Ste. 104 | Temecula, California | 951.699.8969


As a science, we teach correct biomechanics, the laws of physics as they apply to the sport, and focus on principles and concepts. As a sport, we teach correct posture and movement, help develop balance, coordination, strength, endurance, and physical and mental toughness. Acquiring these skills provides a foundation that later transfers to any other sport. In addition to the physical attributes, our founder Jigaro Kano created judo to develop the moral character of a person. As a philosophy, we follow Kano’s message by teaching discipline, self-respect, and respect for others. As students attain physical and mental toughness and all the other physical attributes, they increase their confidence. In the end, this is really what judo is all about and why so many people around the world are so enamored with it. You can be four years old or eighty. It is practiced in every corner of the globe. It is a science, a sport, a philosophy, a way of life.
Welcome to the community.


Better Together

In 2010, my husband and I decided to combine our knowledge, experience and passion, and open up SoCal Judo in beautiful Temecula, CA. With humble beginnings, we began teaching out of a garage and quickly grew into our current 1,742 sq ft facility. We have learned that working together has enabled us to compliment each other perfectly. By utilizing each of our strengths, we have created a wholesome family environment where both parent and child can learn in a positive environment while forming everlasting friendships.


My name is Israel Hernandez. I was born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba in 1970. I started judo at the age of 6 and by 17 years old, I was admitted into the Olympic program in Havana, Cuba. From 1987 to 1998 I competed for Cuba, earning countless international medals, including 2 Olympic bronze medals in 1992 and 1996. Upon retiring from competition in 1998, I accepted my first coaching position at the Olympic Training Center in Barcelona, Spain. I would later go on to coach various teams, including, the Puerto Rican national judo team, the Harlingen, Texas National Training Site team and finally the 2008 US Olympic judo team. From 2009-2011, I worked as a methodologist for Puerto Rico’s elite athlete program. and was the strength and conditioning and judo coach to MMA fighter Sokoudjou a.k.a The African Assassin.

I hold a Master’s degree in kinesiology and a Bachelor’s degree in psychological variables in the elite athlete. I am passionate about coach education in sport and believe today’s coaches must be educated in all aspects of training, including training methodology, strength and conditioning, sports psychology, nutrition and supplementation, injury prevention and recovery and recuperation.
1992 and 1996 Olympic Games bronze medalist
1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 World Championships Team Member
1990 Junior World silver medalist
Three time Pan American Games medalist
Assistant coach for the Cuban men’s 2000 Olympic Team
Head coach Puerto Rican national judo team 2000-2005
Head coach Harlingen national judo training site 2006-2008
Head coach US women’s Olympic judo team
Judo coach to MMA fighter Sokoudjou

(Formerly Valerie Gotay)

My name is Valerie Lafon Hernandez, formerly known as Valerie Gotay. I am a 5th degree black belt and 2x Olympian in the sport of judo and a purple belt in Brazilian jujitsu. I am also a mother of 3 and a certified NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine) personal trainer. I have been involved in sport my whole life. I started judo at the age of four. I was trained by my father, Gerald Lafon, who now runs Judo America San Diego. My first competition was at age six. I won my first of twelve junior national titles at age seven and by thirteen I was traveling the world with the US national judo team. By age fifteen I had won my first Senior national title and in 1992, at 18 years old, I made my first Olympic team. I then retired from competition and decided to focus on my studies. I attended Miramar College then transferred to San Diego State, where I majored in psychology. In 2004, twelve years later, I made a comeback and in 2008, I made my second Olympic team, just a few months shy of 35!

Upon returning from the 2008 Olympics, I decided to use my experience and knowledge to help others achieve their fitness goals by becoming a personal trainer. I got my first start as a trainer working at 24 Hr Fitness. In 2009, I began training people out of my home, where I felt I could better meet my clients needs. In 2010, Israel Hernandez and I decided to combine our knowledge, experience and passion, and open up SoCal Judo.
1992 and 2008 U.S. Olympian
1991, 2005 and 2007 U.S. World Championships Team Member
1990 U.S. Junior World Championships Team Member
1991 and 2007 Pan American Games silver medalist
Medaled 39 times in international competition, including 19 golds!
8-time senior national champion
12-time junior national champion
3-time U.S. Olympic Festival champion
“Outstanding Female Competitor”, 2005 Pan American Championships
“Fair Play” award, 2007 Pan American Championships
“Outstanding Female Competitor”, 2008 Pan American Championships
U.S. Olympic Committee “Female Athlete of the Year” for Judo in 1991


27715 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 104
Temecula, California
(951) 699-8969

Special Dates
Dec 3 - Promotion Night
Dec 17 - Annual Awards Banquet

Holiday Schedule
No classes Nov 24-25
No classes Dec 24-Jan 1

Womens Club
Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9:30am-11am

Lil Warriors 4-5pm
Intermediate class 5-6pm

Fundamentals class 5-6pm
Advanced class 6-7pm

Lil Warriors 4-5pm
Intermediate class 5-6pm

Fundamental class 5-6pm
Advanced class 6-7pm

Intermediate class 5-6pm
Advanced class 6-7pm

Judo Tournament Schedule

March 5 (Sat) - CHP Club Scrimmage, Claremont CA

March 19 (Sat) - Judo America SD

April 30 (Sat)- Socal Judo Tournament, Temecula CA

June 18 (Sat) - Sensei Gary Birthday Shiai, Goltz Judo,Claremont CA

July 17 (Sun) California State Games – Jesse Jones Memorial Tournament

Aug 7 (Sun) - Nikkei Games Judo Championships, Long Beach Pyramid, Long Beach CA

Sept 17 (Sat) – SoCal Judo

Oct 8 (Sat) – Dr Z Memorial Club Shiai, Goltz Judo

Oct 22 (Sat) - Judo America SD

Nov 13 (Sun) - Mojica Judo Tournament

Nov 19 (Sat) - SoCal Judo, Temecula

Dec 9 (Sat) – 2016 Winter USJF/USJA Nationals Judo Championships, Azusa



Member Resources
Nanka Judo

Kids Judo classes are designed specifically for children. We offer Lil’ Warriors, Fundamental, Intermediate, and Advanced level clasess.

Judo will improve your child’s balance, coordination, strength, physical and mental toughness, self-confidence, and discipline.

We have a unique way of teaching children judo. Here at SoCal Judo we focus on the fundamentals of judo before progressing to the technical elements (attacking techniques). The fundamental elements for are grips, movement, and posture. We do not believe in training children to be “little champions,” but in teaching them correct body bio-mechanics, clean technique and understanding the laws of physics as they apply to judo. We also stress moral and character development. Classes are a mixture of technique, free practice, physical fitness and combative games.

This class is for children ages 4 to 5. It meets twice a week and we encourage you to bring your child on a consistent basis. The objective of this class is to teach kids discipline, laterality, movement patterns, balance, basic tumbling, posture, judo grips and basic judo techniques. The class is taught using a wide variety of games. Expect your child to expend lots of energy!

All children (above 5 years) enrolling in our program MUST begin in the Fundamentals class. This class follows a curriculum developed by us and covers what we believe to be the fundamentals of judo. Once the child has graduated from this class, he/she will advance to the intermediate kids class.

We cannot stress enough the importance of building a solid foundation for your child. This class is usually a smaller class, allowing the coach to give your child much more attention. This system is tried and true. We have found that children who have had perfect attendance in the Fundamentals program have a 100% likelihood of continuing to practice judo and show a much greater skill retention rate, progress at a steady and faster rate and receive greater fulfillment and satisfaction out of practices.

If your child is in the intermediate class, he/she has graduated from the Fundamentals class. This class moves at a quicker pace.

It is mandatory that your child come to practice a minimum of 2 times per week, but it is preferable that they make all 3 sessions.

At this level, your child may be asked to compete a few times a year. Competition is an integral part of your child’s judo experience. Through competition, the student gets to test their skills and the coach gets to observe holes and weaknesses in your child’s game or character. Students will first begin competing in developmental/in-house tournaments, which serve as a stepping stone to full sanctioned events.

We stress that it is not our philosophy to pressure our kids or teach them to win at all costs. We do believe in teaching them to have a desire to win, to never give up and to apply the skills that they have been taught. Competition is a great character builder. As a child faces fears, unfamiliarities and learns to perform under pressure, he/she develops life skills that they will call upon during their childhood, adolescence and adult years.

If your child is in the advanced class, he/she has graduated from the Fundamental and Intermediate class. This class moves at the quickest pace, with higher expectations and more advanced skills taught.

At this level your child will be encouraged to compete 4-6 times a year at bigger and full sanctioned events.

Women's Club

In this class, Sensei Hernandez instructs her ladies much the same way other classes are taught; with an emphasis on correct body bio-mechanics, clean technique and an understanding of the laws of physics as they apply to judo. Led by and offered to just women, she strives to create a safe, cooperative, and yet challenging environment where women can face their fears, overcome limitations and gain confidence. Sensei Hernandez is passionate about women feeling empowered to not only be able to defend themselves, but also to become leaders and role models in their homes and communities. A healthy, natural lifestyle and an “I can do anything” attitude is encouraged.


A Word Or Two

Hudson Bales - Student
Retired Marine Corp GySgt.
Former SWAT operator
Riverside Sheriff’s Department Corporal

“ First of all judo does not replace your agencies defensive tactics policy. What judo does do is prepare the practitioner for a violent struggle. Practicing Judo toughens and conditions the mind and body in a safe and effective manner. If you can “randori”, (Practice Fight) for 30 minutes, non- stop, it shows you what happens in a fight -inoculating you to a real physical struggle and allowing you to think through to solve the problem at hand, under extreme duress. As Law Enforcement Officers we not only must win the fight, we must also be able to make good decisions during the fight. Practicing Judo facilitates this. While most fights go to the ground, they all start standing up. One of the primary components of Judo is being able to stay on your feet. Staying on your feet is vitally important for a Cop because you can protect and get to your weapons on your belt easier by staying on your feet. You develop this skill as a by-product of the training. Just gaining the ability to stay on your feet is priceless. The primary purpose of non-lethal force with law enforcement is to get your subject to comply. There is no better way to practice imposing your will on someone who is non-compliant. Judo teaches throws, pins and submissions. You learn to apply throws, various pins, strangles (Carotid Restraint) and arm-bars, as normal part of judo training. There are no secret finger holds or magical punches about Judo, just hard work (Very Hard Work). Having been a Marine for over 20 years and Deputy Sheriff for over 10 years, I have been in a few fights; practicing Judo has kept me prepared to win these engagements time and time again. The expectations of my profession are to be able to arrest and take into custody criminals, whether they want to be taken into custody or not. Judo gives me that ability.

Guy T. Galarza - Parent

“Great instruction for reasonable prices. My son has been with them since he was four and his confidence has gone up his fitness and his respect for others. The coaching staff is amazing.”

Heather Brock - Parent
“The coaches here are really wonderful. They know how to walk the fine line of teaching mental and physical toughness and keeping the kids hearts first. Love them.”

Jacqueline Davenport - Parent
“My kids love SoCal Judo!!! Coach Isreal is great!!”

Train With Olympians Free One Week Trial

As Olympians and individuals who have spent most of our lives immersed in judo, we believe judo is a discipline that has the capacity to be everything: a science, a sport, a philosophy.


We are excited to welcome you into the SoCal Judo Family.

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