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Travel Diary

Daniela Gomez, Judoka

Sanix Trip 2010 Observer

Even though I was not part of the U.S Sanix Team (I am sixteen), I was lucky enough to be able to accompany my sister to Japan. I think the Sanix Trip was a great experience for my sister and I, and our Judo got a lot better because of it.

On the first day we arrived in Fukuoka. Brandon and his Dad arrived later that day, but the rest of the team was delayed because of the weather. The first day was basically a day for travel and people arrived when they could. The Global Arena was so thoughtful, efficient and hospitable. We arrived from the airport they were ready with lunch and dinner.

On the second day, Thursday, which was the first day of actual practice, we had an easy morning workout. The reason for this was that many people had not arrived for our U.S.A team yet. That afternoon practice was a different story. The high school students from Tokie dio #5 led the warm up, and they did a good job. Their warm up was hard and had to do a lot with coordination, like walking on your hands then tucking into a summersault. After the warm-up we did a lot of uchi komi, and by a lot I mean sets of a hundred. Then we had a ten minute break which was more like 5 minutes. And then the boys and girls were separated, and we did tachi waza randori and then newaza randori. It was interesting to work with all the people from different countries, and they were all very good.

The third day, Friday, for the first class the Tokie dio #5 students led the warm up again. For the main part of the class we worked on techniques. Some of the Tokie dio students showed their favorite techniques, and you could tell how much higher their level of Judo was. Then one person from each foreign team showed their favorite technique. We then practiced the techniques just shown, and then we were allowed to ask the people who showed them questions. Most of the foreign students could probably be national champions in the U.S. That afternoon practice was hard like the second day practice, but this time a new sensei came in and led most of the warm up. He also showed us a lot of techniques which were basics for the Japanese, but I think some people would have trouble doing them in the U.S. Also, later on the most recent all Japan winner came, and he showed us some of his favorite techniques. These were basic techniques like osoto gari and morote seionage. It really helped to see how he did them and to practice them.

On the fourth day, Saturday, we had a team workout in a smaller dojo. This was just an individual team work out. As I watched I noticed that all the teams had a different routine to get ready for the competition, which was interesting. Later that afternoon everyone met in the big gym. Mr. Yasuhiro Yamashita came and gave a speech about his life and judo. It was a transcending experience to hear about Mr. Yasuhiro Yamashita’s life. His speech also inspired me to work harder not just in Judo but in everything I do.

The fifth day, Sunday, was The Sanix 2010 Tournament. It was really fun for me to get to watch this level of Judo. The U.S team ended up getting eliminated in the first round, and everyone then came up and watched the rest of the tournament from the sidelines. It was surprising to see the size of most of the Japanese players. Sometimes it was hard to believe that they were only twelve to fourteen years old.

On the sixth day, Monday, there were practice matches. This is when they separated the boys and girls and put them into teams and had them fight almost non-stop. It’s a great experience to get to fight people of different sizes and skills, and, to just fight and not have to worry about winning as much as learning. That afternoon we went to Aya Town in Miyazaki. When we got there there was a big feast waiting for us, and we got to socialize with all the other teams. It was really fun even with the language barriers. After everyone had eaten, each team presented a poster about their country and sang a song that represented something from their country. Then we went to the hotel. In the morning of the next day, Tuesday, there were more practice matches, randori and then a technical workshop with some famous Japanese players. That afternoon, on the way back to Fukuoka, we stopped by a mall and got to spend some time there and buy souvenirs.

The next day we all said our goodbyes and left for the airport. I think that going on this trip was a once in a life time experience, and I really enjoyed it. I know my sister has gotten a lot better at Judo and so have I. I also learned that judo is not just a sport but a way of life. This program is a great opportunity for people to learn Judo and Japanese culture. Thank you so much USJF; Konan Yudanshakai; Mr. Neil Simon; Sensei Saito, Noboro; Global Arena and everyone else that gave me and my sister the opportunity to go!!!