A different perspective
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By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Kalani Takase
At 13, Anthony Kwon is a polished judoka.
The freshman at Maryknoll School has competed in an international tournament in Japan, placed in every United States Judo Federation Junior National since 2000, including one title, and this month won his first Junior Olympic crown. But even the first-degree brown belt knows he has room for improvement.
That's why every summer the Kane'ohe resident attends the International Summer Judo Camp at Hawai'i Tokai International College.
"It polishes my throws and makes them more useful," said Kwon, who will be attending his third consecutive camp. "You come out (of the camp) a lot better and your throws are advanced."
This year's camp, which is open to kids and adults of all ages, is Monday through Friday with morning and night sessions. The camp will include classroom lectures, practices and running.
The featured instructor is 1983 world champion Hidetoshi Nakanishi, who is coach of the Tokai University (Japan) men's team.
Kahala's Mindy Chow, 11, who participated in past camps, used her experiences as a springboard to capture five consecutive USJF titles, starting in 2001.
Dr. Greg Chow said his daughter has not lost a match in national competition. The Punahou School student attended last year's camp but won't be there next week because she is entering a tournament in Florida.
"It was really fun," Chow said of last year's camp. "I got to work out with a lot of new senseis and new people."
The campers aren't the only ones who rave about the camp.
"It's a very good thing," said George Tsubota, head instructor at Hodokan Judo Club in Manoa. "They have a lot of foreign instructors coming and they bring with them a different caliber (of judo)."
Chow, the head instructor at Hawai'i Tenri, said the chance to experience a different teaching style is good for judoka.
"It gives them an opportunity to learn new techniques and become exposed to new styles (of judo)," he said.
In last year's fourth edition of the camp, there were 140 athletes, according to assistant director Derrick Kerr. Because of the newly revised Department of Education calendar, Kerr said he expects around 100 to 120 for this year's camp.
"We're hoping that this camp will continue, and we're hoping to draw more international players and more from the U.S. Mainland side of judo," Kerr said. "We want to play a role to develop that as much as possible."
The tie with Hawai'i Tokai International College is a key factor in the camp's success.
"I think it has a great connection to one of the top judo universities in Japan, and that allows us to have some of the top judo players and coaches here," Chow said.
"They help us to further the judo program," Tsubota said. "The University (of Hawai'i) doesn't have that kind of program, so it's great that Tokai does this."
Members of the Tokai judo team participate in the Collegiate Nationals and other senior-level tournaments.
"The primary objective (of Tokai) is to spread the development of judo," Kerr said. "We know that Hawai'i has this great high school judo program, but after high school, many of the young people discontinue the sport. We want to make more opportunities available for them."
The week culminates with the annual Uemura Cup International Judo Championships next Sunday at Salt Lake District Park. Admission is free and the tournament is open to the public. Matches begin at 9:30 a.m.