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Travel Diary

Gabriela Gomez, Judoka

At the 2010 Sanix Competition

    Wednesday — December 22, 2010

    When we first got to the airport I was sick of airport food and wanted to see where I was staying. My Dad, my sister and I gathered our bags and left the customs area. As soon as we left we met Toshi from The Global Arena. He came up to us holding a sign saying: “Gomez Family” and “U.S.A.” We talked for a little and then walked to his car. As we walked to his car I saw many billboards and cars, it was breathtaking.

    Once we were settled in Toshi’s car we talked about judo and some ways judo has helped us. The Global Arena was out in the country side, so the drive was about an hour. Everything was so green and there where so many mountains! Not like Michigan.

    Thursday — December 23, 2010

    Thursday morning we had our first morning class, well more like free practice. The night before my sister and I met Brandon and his Dad; Brandon is one of our other teammates. The practice was fun, but most of our team wasn’t there yet and neither was our coach, because they were held up by a big snow storm in Chicago. Daniela, Brandon and I stretched and did a short warm-up, and then we did some uchikomi.

    A few hours later the afternoon practice started, there was a warm-up and a little bit of newaza, but mostly randori! Lots, and lots of randori.

    When it was dinner time I was excited and curious about the food. For every meal there was always soup and rice. There was also this awesome invention where jam and butter were in the same container. All you had to do was crack the little plastic container and both butter and jam would come out!

    Friday — December 24, 2010

    The morning class wasn’t as hard, but I was still sweating. Some of the Tokie dio #5 students showed us there favorite techniques and then one person from each team showed there special technique. After about two and a half hours of a good practice it was time to stop. We ate lunch and hung out in our dorms.

    That afternoon we had a special guest who showed us some cool and fun warm-ups. Then another special guest, who was an All Japan Champion, showed us the techniques he was good at. And then he let us practice them. He showed us techniques like osoto-gari, morote-seoinage and uchimata.

    Saturday — December 25, 2010

    For our morning class we went to another smaller dojo. Mr. George Truong, our coach, gave us some tips for the tournament. That dojo wasn’t heated so we had to keep moving to keep warm. After practice we ate lunch and went to our dorms to relax a little.

    In the afternoon, in the big dojo a special guest came to give us a speech. His name was Mr. Yasuhiro Yamashita; we were so shocked and excited! Mr. Yamashita talked about his childhood and how he started judo, then he talked about how some places in the world can’t even afford judo gis for everyone in their dojo. He also talked about how he would like to spread the knowledge of judo to all those places. It was very moving.

    Sunday — December 26, 2010

    It’s the day of the competition and we’re all warmed up. We met up with the U.S.A boys at the big dojo which is where the tournament was being held. Our team was made of six players. I was surprised at how many people came; the bleachers were filled!! For the first round I was last and got to cheer all of my other teammates on! Unfortunately, we lost the first round and were eliminated but stayed and watched the rest. We cheered for our friends and had lunch in the bleachers. I won’t lie, I was nervous, but the tournament was actually fun! Not scary.

    The rest of the day was normal, and we had dinner and hung out with our new friends.

    Monday — December 27, 2010

    Today we have practice matches. What they do is they split one Judo competition area in half, so two fights can happen in a smaller space. You have three minutes to throw. This is also with a team, but they split all the players by gender this time.

    In the afternoon, all the foreign teams boarded three buses to go to Aya town, which is quite a way away. Once we got there, we put our stuff in our rooms and left for a party. It was so nice, and they had banners and tables of food ready for us! They even clapped and cheered for us as we walked in!

    After dinner we slept on futons in a traditional Japanese room. It was so nice there I didn’t want to leave.

    Tuesday — December 28, 2010

    Today is the end of our little trip to Aya town. But first we’re having some practice matches with the schools from around this area.

    All the visiting teams got on three buses and got ready to play some judo! We also had a traditional Japanese breakfast. It was great! Aya is a small town so the dojo wasn’t far. We all got off the buses and changed into our gis.

    Every team had its own place to cheer and sit. Just like the competition on Sunday we’re in teams.

    After the practice matches were over there was free rondori, lots of free randori! After that, four people from the All Japan team came and taught us their best/favorite technique. One was morote seoi nagi. The player liked to move around and throw with this technique. Another was a special ko-uchigari. In this ko-uchigari you turned your foot inward so that uke couldn’t lift his foot out of the way. Tio-toshi was another technique shown. It was the classic version but with lots of speed; it was perfect.

    Everyone had packed before leaving so we were ready to head back to Fukuoka. On our way back we stopped at a shopping mall; it was a lot like a mall in the U.S. The mall even had a McDonalds and a KFC! After buying some things and eating a snack we all went back to the buses. That day was so fun.

    Wednesday — December 29, 2010

    Today the Sanix International Youth Judo Camp sadly comes to an end. Mostly everyone, including myself, are leaving today, but some are staying a day or two longer.

    This trip has been life changing and if you love judo and a good time this is the place to be. Right when I left I knew I wanted to come back.