Today myself, Fitz and Bill were off with Mr Okada and Mr Masuchi to watch a 13 and 14 year old local area judo competition which is the area Ibaraki prefecture championships and the boys went off to Tokyo on the express train as they wanted to pick up some stuff from the Mizuno shop as we managed to get directions from one of the people reading our blog so many thanks for that.
We arrived at the venue, which was the Budokan at the Ibaraki University. It was a 6 mat venue and an amazing 800 players turned up for the championships. Remember this was only for 13 and 14 year olds. The event started at 9.45am and finished at 3.oopm. The whole event ran like clockwork and guess what? It was the kids that were running the scoreboards, and pool sheets with the assistance of the referees. First few fights out we noticed that there was a huge size difference in a couple of the contests, we then asked Mr Okada who explained that it was an open weight event, i.e. no weight divisions, you just had to fight whoever you were drawn against no weight categories), its no wonder these Japanese boys know how to defend. So out of 800 competitors only 16 trophies were to be given out, 4 for the male 13 year old group, 4 for the female 13 year old group, 4 for the male 14 year old group and 4 for the 14 year old female group. The category Mr Okada’s son was competing in (14 year old boys) had 238 competitors, that means in the local area they have 238 competitive 14-year-old players? This is amazing and an unbelievable example of how many people actually do judo in Japan. The judo on the day was outstanding and exactly what we have seen at Tsukuba – IPPON JUDO. Everyone tries to throw for Ippon, smaller players being thrown by bigger opponents just relaxed and took a nice breakfall and then just got back up to bow off. During the whole day there were NO injuries or medical called as the judo was that clean. There were hardly any players being coached matside by personal coaches until the semi final stages and no one arguing about referee decisions. The contests were 3 minutes duration for everyone and the clock doesn’t stop at Matte, it carries on, this meant no time wasting and there was also no golden score just a straight Hantei, I think this had a massive contribution to the tournament finishing so soon.
There was also a high grade competition in another dojo at the University for 1st and 2nd dans and 3rd and 4th dans, where some of the Tsukuba boys were fighting. If they win the whole competition they go up 1 dan – SIMPLE, if they lose “unlucky” come back again next time.
On mat 1 a Tsukuba player came 1st and on mat 2 – Tsukuba players came 1st and second so not a bad day after all, however the player on mat 1 had a little help from Mr Okada and Mr Masuchi, they were both corner judges, and we thought the Tsukuba player had lost however when it came to the referee’s decision in Hantei both of them put up red flags in support of their own player from tsukuba. We also found out later that the referee of the same match was the coach of the other player. We had to laugh as it really highlights the solidarity of the Tsukuba team and how they stick together whatever happens and it was amazing that even though the decision was harsh for the other boy he never even complained one little bit.
At one stage we got talking to a 65 year old referee who spoke good English, we asked him if there was somewhere to eat locally, he said yes and that he would show us where. We walked for about 5 minutes and he took us into a Chinese restaurant, where he began to order food and beer for us all and then continued to pay for it which was around £40. We said no we didn’t want him to pay for us just for him to show us where we could eat, he said no he was paying as he wanted to welcome us to Japan, this has been the attitude of everyone we have met on this trip.
I will post some photos when I get back to the UK from the event as I had to take them with my camera on my phone.
Yesterdays answer – it was Josh !