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Dear Sanix, Taisei, USJF and Sensei Saito,

Firstly, I would like to say a big “thank you” to the whole Sanix organization for giving me the opportunity to participate in an extraordinary trip to Japan. I had an amazing time traveling with my teammates and competing alongside them.

When we first arrived in Fukuoka, Japan, our group met up with rest of the US team and we then headed out on buses to the global arena. The following day they gave us a tour of the venue and the facilities. It was a little hard getting used to the time difference and we were really tired because we hadn’t had got a lot of sleep the night before. I was very excited but also quite nervous as this was the first overseas trip I had done without my parents. It gave me a great deal of confidence as I was responsible for taking care of myself, doing things like washing my clothes and keeping all my stuff together, as well as making sure I kept my parents up to date with what I had been doing, so they didn’t get worried about me. One of the main differences I found in the Japanese culture was the food. It was quite different to what we are familiar with in the US and it was interesting to try some new dishes.

On the first day, we trained I was very nervous, but once we got started my nerves went away and I started to relax and really enjoy the session. Unfortunately, near the end of training I got tripped and didn’t do the brake fall in time and I ended up hitting my head quite hard. I received a slight concussion and then had to sit out for a couple of days which was really disappointing.

During the trip, I found it hard to talk to the Japanese people because they didn’t understand what I was talking about and my Japanese is very limited. It was often fun though, trying to explain some of the things in English to them.

On the third day, we went shopping for Christmas. All the guys in our group bought ‘onesies’ and I got some clothes, jewelry, candy, and some other gifts for my family. During my free time at the arena I would either read, play card games or go wondering around the global arena. There was a bakery, a little store and a cafe. In our first tournament one of the girls won her fight and the other two girls lost, so we couldn’t go any further in the competition, but we still learnt a great deal and tried our best competing.

Once we had finished competing at the arena in Fukuoka, we travelled on an overnight cruise ship to Osaka. The best part of the journey was the food on board the ship. They had a chocolate fountain and other great tasting foods which was awesome.

When we arrived at the Taisei school in Ichinomiya, near Nagaya, we got to make rice cakes with the students and got to experience what their school was like. I made some great new Japanese friends and they showed us around the town and I got to try Takoyaki which was really delicious. The tournament at the school was a great experience and I managed to learn some new moves which I hadn’t been taught before that I can use. We also got to see a lot of the temples and tourist places.

During the tournaments, I talked a lot with my teammates and watched the fights. Our team lost most of the fights but we learnt and didn’t whine about it. My most memorable moment was when I got to the Taisei high/ middle school and compared pause seeing the inside and the food.

It was a fantastic and awe inspiring experience to be competing in Japan, the birthplace of Judo. The things I saw and the people I met will always remain with me and I will forever remember the special time I had during my trip. I hope you send more kids to Japan to enjoy and experience what I had.

Thanks again to everybody at Sanix, especially to Sensei Saito for giving me this opportunity, funding from USJF, and at last Ms. Debra Fergus & Tashiro family, their personal donations helped my airfare made possible to attend this events.

Nikita Harvey