Club Sweeps State Judo Games

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Front Page - By STEVE MUR­RAY

Mililani Judo Club had plenty to cel­e­brate af­ter tak­ing home nine medals Dec. 6 at the Hawaii State Judo Cham­pi­onships.

The an­nual com­pe­ti­tion pit­ted the state’s best in 62 cat­e­gories of weight and age. Mililani placed 11 stu­dents into the com­pe­ti­tion and tal­lied three gold, three sil­ver and three bronze medals.

As­sis­tant coach San­ford Kaga said he wasn’t sur­prised by his stu­dents’ suc­cess.

“We have a tour­na­ment ev­ery month, and th­ese same kids have been plac­ing the whole time,” he said. “ So ( at) the state cham­pi­onships, it wasn’t a sur­prise.”

Their suc­cess is based on de­sire and the en­joy of train­ing, he said.

“ They like com­ing to prac­tice. What makes them suc­cess­ful is that if they want to do it, they will get bet­ter,” he said. “If they are forced to go they don’t try so hard.”

Keep­ing youths in­ter­est- ed in the repet­i­tive na­ture of train­ing is a chore for all in­struc­tors, re­gard­less of the dojo in which they train.

Kaga said head in­struc­tor Mark Mu­ranaka has done a good job keep­ing the chil­dren’s fo­cus by cre­at­ing games that in­cor­po­rate proper judo tech­niques — one of which is a ver­sion of “tag,” where throws or pins re­place sim­ple tags.

Mililani’s team is quite young and 70 per­cent fe­male. The youngest state medal­ist was 7-year-old David Lopes, who took third place. His sis­ter Tanya also took home a bronze medal. Se­nior medal­ist was Kalen Kobashigawa, who is all of 16 years old. Kalen took home a sil­ver.

Their youth is typ­i­cal, but the divi­sion be­tween boys and girls is not. Kaga said Mililani YMCA, where they prac­tice, at­tracts many more girls than boys, and that may be the rea­son for such a high turnout of young fe­males.

The club cur­rently trains about 45 stu­dents, with each class en­rolling about 35 stu­dents. The classes are bro­ken into two age groups, with the older kids help­ing the younger. Such an ar­range­ment, said Kaga, is ben­e­fi­cial to both as the young kids get more at­ten­tion and the older ones are forced to re­ally think about and un­der­stand the tech­niques. Mililani’s win­ners were: • Gold medal: Kelly Rivera, Nick Rivera and Robert Kutzen

• Sil­ver: Miki Kubo, Jamie Cam­bra and Kalen Kobashigawa

• Bronze: Tanya Lopes, David Lopes and Adrian Cruz.

Lind­sey Cam­bra and Pax­ton Ho­ri­uchi com­peted but did not medal.

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