Defeat Will Not Stop Them — High School Female Judo’s New Goal is to Become Stronger and Get the Gold Next Time! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Defeat Will Not Stop Them — High School Female Judo’s New Goal is to Become Stronger and Get the Gold Next Time!

Why I Lost at an International Tournament in which I Brought Rice and a Rice Cooker.

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The Women’s Judo European Open Warsaw was held in Poland in February. Among the eight Japanese competitors were two high school students.

They traveled to the tournament in their high school uniforms. We interviewed Ms. Ishibashi (right) and Ms. Hashiguchi, two hopefuls of women’s judo in Japan, about “Why I continue judo” and “My dream”!

It was my first time at an international convention… and it was a lot of fun!

But I was really surprised. I was completely different from the people I had fought before. I realized the difference in power, or rather, the difference in judo itself.

Mao Hashiguchi, an athlete in the 78-kilogram-plus weight class, told us, “I am very happy to be here.” She graduated from Saga Commercial High School and will be attending Tokai University in the spring.

“In the tournament, I lost in the semifinals. I played against a French player, but her size was completely different from mine. Moreover, the way they played the game, or rather, the things they did before the game, were completely different. Even the way to get up was different. They were shouting and singing. Even the way they bowed was different. I learned a lot about how the world works.”

Meanwhile, in the 63-kilogram weight class, Kurumi Ishioka was eliminated in the third round.

“I was so disappointed,” she said. “I cried. I didn’t even attend my high school graduation ceremony. I cried because I was so ashamed and sorry.”

She recalls. “I had to restrict my diet for a month prior to the competition in order to reduce my weight.” On the 14-hour flight from Narita to Warsaw via Helsinki, she did not eat a meal and instead chewed on a protein bar.

“I’m used to losing weight before a competition, so I’m fine.”

She says. but

“This is my second time at an international convention, and I was very nervous.  I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the venue. Judo is a battle of brains. It is not only about strength. It is about bargaining. I couldn’t do that. I felt like a failure for not being able to give it all I had.”

She analyzes this with a real sense of regret. Ishioka also graduated from Soshigakuen High School in Okayama Prefecture and entered the University of the Pacific Rim to continue judo.

“I started judo when I was three years old. Around junior high school, I realized that judo is not only about strength. In high school, I met Tetsuro Sano and began to receive instruction from him, and I realized how intense the real world is. I watched videos, studied, and learned how to put together a match. I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t show that this time, but I’m going to make the most of it in my activities from college!” (Ms. Ishioka)

Nowadays, there is a debate in the judo and sports world about participating in competitive tournaments from an early age. Questions about instructors and the environment are also being discussed.

“I, too, have been doing judo since I was three years old.” Have you always loved it? “hmmm. I don’t know. When I was in the first year of high school, I always wanted to quit. It’s too hard, let’s run away. But I wanted to be the best in Japan. I wanted to repay my mother by becoming the best in Japan. I was blessed with a good coach, and I was able to continue. Mr. Yasuhiro Inoue. I am grateful to him.”


They each express their gratitude to their “mentors”. There is no denying that there is one truth in their words.

“At Narita Airport on our way to Japan, we had too much luggage, so we had to repack our bags at the counter. I had to repack my baggage at the counter. I had rice to eat over there, a rice cooker, miso soup, ramen noodles, canned side dishes, and so on. The six bottles of wider that I had packed in my baggage were confiscated at the boarding gate,” Hashiguchi said.

“On my return trip, the scheduled Finland flight was canceled due to the war, so I returned home via Dubai, one day late,” said Ishioka.

After returning to Japan, they stayed four nights in a Tokyo hotel on their own accord. They then returned to their respective hometowns.

“After returning to Japan, I moved to a dormitory at the university and have been practicing ever since, and today is the entrance ceremony! I’ll do my best for a new start!”


“After the Paris Olympics, my goal is the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. But first, I will work on the opponent in front of me. I want to leave results at university,” said Ishioka.

“I will continue judo. But there is one more thing I want to do. …Dance. I stood on stage at the school festival and had a lot of fun. After I retire from judo, I want to be a dancer or a singer.”

For the two high school students, this experience was significant. It was a great experience not only for their judo, but also for their lives. Their faces were very, very bright. I wish them, and all judo girls, a bright future so that they can continue the sport to the fullest.

The Japanese team won three gold medals at this tournament.
The two said that waiting at the hotel was “fun”. When I point the camera at them, they do the V sign…V is a sign of victory. I hope they will play an active role in college too!

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