Japan may be no longer a superpower in judo, but coaches from that country are still in great demand. Every year, Japanese Judo Federation assigns scores of coaches to countries where judo is in a state of development.
Saki Hanata, a fourth degree dan in judo, arrived in India under this programme. He was roped in by the Kerala Judo Federation through the all-India Judo Federation.
Saki was in the City for 40 days, training students of the Ayyankali Memorial Sports School (AMSS) in Vellayani. The students of AMSS made a clean sweep of the medals at the State sub-junior judo championship in Karunagappally.
‘Plenty of talent’
“There is plenty of talent here. But they should be willing to work hard to excel in future. They will have to improve their fitness and technique. The emphasis is more on power here and that should change,” says Saki.
“He changed our concept of judo. He impressed upon us that judo is all about technique and power was only secondary,” said Sivanand, the judo coach of AMSS. “He tweaked the technique of players and gave more thrust on physical fitness. He advised us against weight training and wanted us to practice throwing techniques more,” Sivanand added.
He said he expected more medals from Japan in the judo competitions in the London Olympics. “We got only seven medals, including one gold. Look at Russia. They took home four gold medals. They dominated with their technique, power and agility. But I still feel the Japanese are more naturals compared to the Europeans.
The 30-year-old has begun to like Kerala and its people, whom he says are friendly. “The food tastes good, but it is spicy. Given a chance, I will be back next year,’’ he added.
Saki will be in Kerala till the mid-September and will conduct coaching classes in Thrissur and Ernakulam.