Musashi Mix Inq

Palliativity 228: Return of the Legend

Posted on April 17, 2014

fight face

Aside from creating art, one of the biggest parts of my life has always been judo. I started at the age of 5 at Menomonee Club under the teaching of my great-uncle and world renowned sensei Henry “Hank” Okamura. Uncle Henry and his friends brought judo from the West Coast to Chicago via the Japanese American Internment during WWII. He recognized in me early on the potential of becoming a champion. I was indeed a very successful junior competitor, taking multiple national titles and fighting all over the country.

All of this success came to a halt in 1997 after my shoulder was dislocated in an international tournament at the age of 12. I wouldn’t have the corrective surgery until a year later. It was after the rehab from this injury when my chronic neck pain began and would continue to get worse over time, remaining undiagnosed until late 2012. Throughout this period of my life, I continued to teach regularly and compete on and off despite the pain.

The video below from 2007 at age 23, experiencing constant severe neck pain and weighing in at 266 lbs, I participated in what I thought would be my final judo match ever:

Thankfully over the past year and a half, everything changed.

Last Saturday, seven years later, over 60 lbs lighter and pain free, I realized a dream I never thought possible:

After taking Silver at the Illinois State Championships, I can’t wait til my next fight. It’s good to be back.



Filed under: Blog, Pain, RFA Leave a comment

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