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The Lone Judoka

Judo, like many other sports, has restarted, as school activities slowly return to normal. Sadly, these efforts have not had a lot of progress—not a lot of students are rejoining sports this year. Judo resumed after spring break, but with only two members, both returning seniors. They are still giving their all with their limited membership, and have been holding practices despite the cancellation of competitions. 

Kaiser Judo used to revolve around preparing the Oahu Interscholastic League (OIA) tournaments, but now they are just focused on conditioning exercises and weight training. These practices contain a special regiment made by the coaches for the members’ weight class to work around the constraints of COVID-19. This year, compared to the number of members, there is a surplus of coaches. Four assistant coaches—Brent Zakahi, Jamison Yoshi, Patrick Kim, and Joseph Hajiro—are helping Neal Takamoto, the head Judo coach. In addition to the lack of new recruits, former Judo members moved on to track for this year because they want to participate in competitions. 

This season’s delay was disappointing for a lot of people, but some actually benefited from it. Jennifer Kimura –one of the seniors who returned for this season–was injured last year at a state wrestling tournament, and she used the extra time for recovery and physical therapy. This break time has also been beneficial for seniors who were worrying about exams. “It’s a lot more manageable because practice is only 3 times a week,” Kimura said. Nonetheless, she did not stop keeping up her strength, “I started working out and doing some different exercises and cardio conditioning with some of my wrestling teammates. I would also just go out as much as I could to run, walk or hike,” Kimura said. 

But the rest time ended up too prolonged, and as quarantine got longer, it became harder to keep going. “Working out alone isn’t as fun as working out with a friend or team,” Kimura said. Sports are mostly social activities, and without support from teammates, it can feel very different. “Even though I had all this time to focus on myself to work out alone, it wasn’t as beneficial compared to working out with the whole team and coaches because of my lack of self-motivation,” Kimura said. 

If you usually join but decided not to participate in sports this year, try not to slack on your personal training at home. Look forward to the next school year, when hopefully the teams will be full again and competitions will be held again. Like the Judo athletes, use this time to be ready for what comes next.

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