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December 22 – 29, 2012

Fukuoka, Japan

Team Members

Pictures from the trip


Head Coach: Larry Tsutsui – Fresno, CA
Asst. Coach: Alan Honda – Torrance, CA
Capt. Athlete: Myles Honda – Torrance, CA
Athlete: Eric Kalajyan – Burbank, CA; Kenji Litke – Fresno, CA; Angel Tamayo – Fresno, CA; Takashi Tsutsui – Fresno, CA


Head Coach: Robert Oishi – Torrance, CA
Asst. Coach: Martha Tsutsui – Fresno, CA
Capt. Athlete: Torie Oishi – Torrance, CA
Athlete: Yuri Tateda – Culver City, CA; Misato Sanoval – Bothell, WA

In December, 2012, I was given the opportunity to go as a coach to the Sanix International Junior competition in Fukuoka, Japan. The US team competed really well. The boys and girls team both won their first matches against the Japanese teams. This was the first time the U.S. teams had done this.

Besides just competing, we all learned a lot about the Japanese culture. The Japanese competitors have a tremendous amount of respect and trust for their coaches and senseis. The commitment and focus the Japanese coaches and senseis have for ALL their players was also prevalent. The way the Japanese players warm up is orderly and very time efficient. There was a clear chain of command. They are very disciplined and enthusiastic about their Judo. The refereeing was very impressive as well. They also are all very efficient. There were hardly any mattes, no conferences and interruptions throughout the matches allowing the players to just fight. I have witnessed this at a few clubs in the US and my hats off to those that try to preserve the level of discipline and respect that makes Judo the great sport that it is.

Taking my first stroll on the Sanix complex was an experience in itself. Whenever a group of Japanese competitors passed by me they would all individually stop, bow politely, and greet me. I was extremely impressed at the degree of respect they have been instilled in them for adults and their senseis. This occurred throughout the entire stay. Even the other senseis would bow and say greetings to each other as they passed one another on the paths.

This was a tremendous experience for me. The selected US kids who went are all great kids and the coaches are very dedicated. The players returned home not only as better Judo players but as more mature individuals as well. The kids learned to stay together as a group and look after each other. They learned to eat, train, and play as a team.

As a special mention, without Saito sensei being our leader, head coach, tour guide, interpreter, etc. this trip would not have been as pleasurable as it was. I believe we learned a lot about the culture of the Japanese people and how much more we can improve our judo in the U.S.

Finally, I would like to thank the Sanix Corporation, Sanix Sports Foundation and Global arena very much for hosting this great event. It is nice to know this event will be continuing into the future to help youth throughout the world, especially our kids in the U.S. Also, thank you very much for the funding from Konan Yudanshakai through USJF. This made it easier for our athletes to experience this great event. The funding helped pay for the cost of the accommodations during the international camp and also defer the cost of the athlete’s airfare.

Rob Oishi
2012 Sanix USA Girls’ Team Head Coach

Myles Honda wrote;

This year the 10th Memorial Sanix International Youth Judo Team Tournament in Fukuoka, Japan was amazing. My experience and time there was exciting and eye opening. The practices and tournament showed me not only that I still have a long way to go with my techniques but my speed and movement was up to par with some of the Japanese teams. My team wasn’t the best out of all the teams but to me we still did great. Everyone tried their hardest, hurt or not. My whole team making it to the second match made the whole trip worth it because the year (2007) my older brother went they got shut out the first match, so now I have bragging rights. Even in the goodwill matches we did well. Everyone was sore and beat up from the tournament the day before but everyone still won at least two or more matches. It was definitely a great trip, and I hope one day I can go back and coach a team as good as ours.

The dorms and meals were okay. Dorming with people my own age was awesome but at the same time the lack of parental supervision made everyone a little more difficult to manage, and me being the smallest person there and as team captain, made it just that much more challenging. The only thing I liked about the meals was the amount of rice we got and that each meal was filling enough to get me through the day. Having the other countries around us was fun, we saw a lot of different people and their cultures, an experience very few get especially at my age.

The turn out of the whole tournament was great. A total of 71 male teams pre-registered, 5 per team. This year Sanix included a female division and 35 teams pre-registered, 3 per team. In the male division 5 counties registered: TPE, HKG, RUS, SRI and USA. Registered countries for the female teams were: TPE, HKG, NED and USA. The organization was better than anything we have over here in America. A tournament of this scale and size would have taken all day for us. Sanix technical staff started the Opening Ceremony at 9 am and Closing Ceremony at 4 pm.

I liked the location and setting the most, the air was much cleaner than Los Angeles air which made it much easier to breathe and the facility had a great hiking trail which was also really nice. The cold weather made everything much nicer, since I like cold weather. I’m really going to miss everything over there. I wish I could’ve stayed longer more than anything. All the people, all the things we did, all of the experiences, and all of the new people I met. Over all this is one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. A big thanks goes out to Konan/USJF, Sensei Imamura (Fresno Judo Club), Sensei Saito (Saito Dojo), the coaches, and my judo club (South Bay Judo) for helping with the costs and expenses of everything, and to everyone who made this trip so memorable.

Myles Honda

Torie Oishi wrote;

My trip to Fukuoka, Japan was an amazing experience. This was my first time to Japan. The entire sports complex was really interesting, with many sports going on, not just judo. The competition was very tough, with many great competitors from Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Russia, and the United States of America. Overall, Japan dominated. There were 37 girl teams and 71 boy teams, mainly from Japan.

The first couple days were really rough for me. I got the stomach flu and stayed in bed most of the time. I missed the first day of the training camp, but I sat on the side and still learned a lot. The second and last day of the camp, I was still very weak, but I attended the camp and got to work out with the foreign kids. They definitely are very strong. I also got to learn from Japan’s 2012 Olympic 100KG silver medalist, Mika Sugimoto. I thought that was very cool to meet her and a take a picture with her.

After the training camp, we had a tournament with single elimination. The boys and the girls team both won the first round and both lost in the second round. We were all happy to win our first round. I tied my first match and lost my second match. The next day we had practice matches. The girls team was put in the lowest division, but the girls were still very tough. We had ten matches, I won 2 of them, tied a couple, and lost many of them. 9 out of the 10 teams we fought were from Japan and the other team was from Hong Kong.

Besides Judo, we had an opportunity to shop, sight see, and learn culture. We visited the Nagasaki museum and the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. We also went shopping in a couple of different places. I enjoyed the sightseeing and thought it was very interesting.

Overall, I had an awesome time and would love to go again if I can. Although, I was away from home for 9 days and missed Christmas, I am so happy I went on this trip.

Torie Oishi

Yuri Tateda wrote:

From the 8 days trip to Japan, I learned many things that will take me years in US. On the first two days at the complex, we had two days of judo camp. They were both 8 hours and 30 minutes which was very intense for us, USA team. Most of the training was uchikomi and randori, but I learned a lot of things such as gripping, the correct way of going into techniques, and the way that Japanese judokas fought. In the training, I got to experiment many things on Japanese people, if they work or not, even though I got beaten up most of the time. Finally the tournament, our team won the first match and lost the second match, but I was proud that I beat the first Japanese team. At the practice match the next day, we went against 10 teams. I got wiped out most of the time but, I got to beat some girls from what I learned from all the training and the coaching from Saito Sensei. Even though I lost most of my matches, I felt very happy because I learned many different things that will connect to my judo future.
Judo wasn’t the only thing that I learned in this trip. I learned the manners to upper level people that we tend to forget in America and etiquettes. At the cafeteria they expected us to clean our own table and dishes. In our dorm, they expected us to clean our room before we left. We had many troubles at first but we all changed at least a little from these experiences.
I want to say thank you to everyone who supported me and gave me this wonderful opportunity and experience.
Yuri Tateda 12/30/12

Eric Kalajyan wrote:

What an experience! Traveling to Japan was one thing, but practicing and competing against well experienced athletes from around the world was quite another.

On this trip, I gained a lot; I improved my Judo, learned a lot about myself and gained life experiences I wouldn’t have had I not made this trip. I also learned that if people truly want to communicate, language is not a huge barrier. The athletes invited to Sanix came from many parts of the world yet meshed like family with one common factor – Judo.

During the practices I was introduced to grips  I hadn’t seen and was taught how to defend against those same grips. I was also introduced to different ways of doing techniques by experienced and highly regarded athletes. On the days of the tournaments I had the time of my life and fell in love with the way these kids had intensity and heart for the sport. Every person on the mat gave one hundred percent! I was excited to compete and train with such a diverse group of judokas. Every athlete seemed to bring a little bit of their culture on the tatami and help give each match a different feel. I had a spectacular time on this trip and can hardly wait to return to Japan.

Words can’t express how thankful I am for this opportunity. Thank you Sensei Tsutsui, Sensei Saito, Sensei Oishi, Sensei Honda and Sensei Shepherd for your confidence in me; I hope I approached your expectations. Representing the United States of America was enormous honor and I look forward to the next challenge.

Very best regards,
Eric Kalajyan

January 1, 2013 from Marcus, Michelle and Misato Sandoval by e-mail.

Good Evening,

I wanted to once again thank you all so very much for giving Misato the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the team representing the United Stated in Sanix Judo Tournament.   A special thanks to all the Senseis for believing in Misato to be a contributing partner of the team. She had an amazing time getting to know everyone and being able to experience a solid training camp in a “world atmosphere” of competition and friendship.  I am sure she learned so much while she was over in Japan, both on and off the mat. It is such a privilege to be a part of such a great group of people.  We want to wish you all a blessed and prosperous New Year and look forward to seeing you in the next national competition.  Please pass on our gratitude to Sensei Martha Tsutsui as well.

Marcus, Michelle and Misato Sandoval

from Misato Sandoval

The Sanix Tournament, 2012 in Fukuoka, Japan was a once in a lifetime experience. The time I had at Global Arena was amazing and I hope to be invited again. The training days were vigorous but I really felt like I was helping myself grow as a judoka when I was training. Even the team members of the other countries were not afraid to chuck me around a few times while we were on the mat but they were very kind to our team off the mat.I think that the tournament was pretty well thought-out, and I liked the style in which it was organized. I also really enjoyed the visit from the Olympian, Sensei Sugimoto was really helpful to me and I think that my/harai/ will profit from her tips. Yet, even though the food served at Global Arena was not completely authentic Japanese food, I think that it was a decent meal for the day and it gave me enough energy to get through the judo practices. I really liked the atmosphere of Global Arena too, the Bakery, General Store, /Onsen /and the festivities that were going on since it was Christmas time was really welcoming and I wasn’t homesick practically at all during the whole trip. Thank you very much for this amazing opportunity.

Misato Sandoval