I became a student of judo at the age of 6 and trained until I was 18 as a member of the Sacramento Judo Club. At age 18, I moved away from Sacramento and attended Stanford University. Here, I earned an engineering degree as well as a partial scholarship for wrestling after joining the team as a walk-on. After graduation, I moved to Northern Ireland where I volunteered for one year at a Center for Peace and Reconciliation working with groups of all ages to help resolve issues and tensions from the Northern Irish Civil War. I then lived in New Zealand for over two years where I worked for the Department of Social Welfare. I assisted indigenous mediators in conducting restorative justice conferences between young offenders and their victims. In 2006, I returned to the US and now work for a commercial bank in San Francisco lending to technology companies and venture capital firms.
Lessons from Judo
From my time as a judoka, I’ve come to see life as a progression of lessons and challenges. Each round is a unique problem to be solved that helps you to improve yourself and prepare for what is to come. In a tournament as in life, as you make your way through the rounds, each challenge builds and prepares you for the next stage.
One approach that I took from judo that has helped me to solve problems in life is the concept Kuzushi, Tsukuri, and Kake. Every technique involves first upsetting your opponent’s balance (Kuzushi), properly positioning oneself to apply the technique (Tsukuri), and the actual execution of the technique (Kake). Without one of these elements, the technique cannot be executed in the most efficient way. Similarly, for every problem, one must create the proper conditions for understanding and addressing it (Kuzushi), determine an optimal solution (Tsukuri), and execute the solution (Kake). This approach has fostered a mentality in me that I can find a beneficial solution to a problem regardless of the difficulty of the problem. It has guided me through personal challenges, issues with demanding people, and in helping others to overcome their own hardships.
I also firmly believe that “Maximum Efficiency” and “Mutual Benefit” still influence many decisions I make to this day. The simplest solutions are often the most sound. Sometimes solving a problem is not about the problem itself but finding ways to change the environment that creates the problem. When faced with adversity, it is important to look at the situation that gives rise to the problem, possible solutions to the problem, and ways that can benefit everyone involved.
Since receiving an Athlete Scholar of the Year award in 1995, I have had many successful and unique opportunities. In life, every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow in order to be better prepared to accept the next challenge. By continuously stretching oneself, we create conditions for growth and self-improvement. Judo was one of the first of these steps in my life, and it has provided me with a mentality to face these challenges and calmly and efficiently find a way through. This is something that will always remain a part of my life.