There is something to be said for getting your bearings, getting rid of the butterflies and finding your comfort zone.
It was a winning formula for Shudokan Judo Club’s Dean Miura, Lia Kobayakawa and Kayako Kobayashi.
Others prefer the more direct route and hit the mat running: call it the Demian Iida approach.
Sensei Michael Hayashi has been spurring judo interest in Hilo for almost 31 years since founding his club, but it wasn’t until late June that Shudokan competed at the USA Judo Jr. Olympics.
“I think was a great experience for everyone,” he said. “An eye-opener, a test to see where we stand.”
Bases on how they competed in Anaheim, Calif, some stand on pretty solid ground.
Miura, a Waiakea senior, and 8-year-olds Kobayakawa and Kobayashi claimed titles in the international division during the second day of competition.
“For many of our kids, the pressure got to them the first day, but they recovered, they were more confident,” Hayashi said.
Kobayakawa and Kobayashi, he said, were overwhelmed on Day 1, but they bounced back to avenge losses.
Miura is a two-time BIIF champion for the Warriors.
“He surprised me,” Hayashi said. “This is quite a tough competition, but Dean fought very well on the second day.”
As others adjusted to the big stage, Iida, 8, claimed a title in the national division, and his quick success didn’t surprise his coach.
“He won the state tournament last year,” Hayashi said. “Quite a competitor.”
On Day 2, Iida lost to the competitor he had beaten the day before, settling for second. Also earning international silver were Braeden Ah Chong and Isaac Ingall. Shaniah Ferreira took home bronze in each division and Kobayakawa doubled up as well. She, Caden Pasa and Aden Leyson secured third-place finishes in the national division.
Shudokan, which trains judoka from ages 5 through high school, has travelled to mainland competitions before, but it wasn’t until recently that the club became affiliated with USA Judo.
More than 800 competitors were on hand, including a member of Hilo Hongwanji.
“This is a top competition,” Hayashi said. “If you want to make the national team, you had to be there.
“My parents were very pleased. We’re looking forward to going back, but we don’t even know where it is next year yet.”