Mid-Pac's Terao in right state of mind when it comes to judo
by Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
Nothing can stop David Terao. At least, not in his mind.
Terao, a Mid-Pacific Institute junior and Pac-Five judo player, has had the same goal since the seventh grade.
"I've dreamed of winning states for judo four times and that's still my ultimate goal," said Terao, who won state titles at 108 pounds as a freshman and at 114 as a sophomore.
Terao, who again has moved up in weight class — this time to 121 — is sometimes his harshest critic, but always his own biggest believer.
"I feel like I'm strong in the mental aspect — no one is going to break me," said Terao, a decorated youth judoka from Liliha's Shobukan Judo Club. "Mentally, no one can take away what I believe. The physical part is all secondary: anybody can train to get stronger and faster, but the mental part, that needs to be developed."
Terao's development has mostly come at Shobukan, where he began the sport "around 10 years ago," he recalled.
"When I first started at Shobukan, I can remember my sensei, Lloyd Migita, not just focusing on the physical aspect of judo, but he put a lot of emphasis on the mental part," Terao said. "He'd tell us that judo is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental and that you need to think that you're going to win, otherwise you've already lost."
While Terao has taken Migita's words to heart, he has also put in much time on the mat to hone his skills. At times, he could be found training as many as seven days a week at Shobukan in preparation for national tournaments.
"Drills are all about getting your technique better and it's really important because when it comes down to it, if you can't execute, you're not going to win," said Terao, who won a wrestling state title at 120 pounds in February. "It's all about perfecting it in practice and doing as many drills as we can."
Despite all of his accolades, Terao has been the consummate team player, according to Pac-Five coach Jerome Fukuda.
"I would say that he's been a real asset to our team," Fukuda said. "He not only practices on his own, he also helps other kids get better. A lot of our brown and black belts show the younger kids techniques. David is willing to share and show his skills. Of course, not all of them can do what he does, but he is so skilled and so fast that he can pull it off."
There are still times that Fukuda says he's in awe of Terao's talents, the most recent instance coming at an Interscholastic League of Honolulu dual meet two weeks ago.
"He didn't play in our first weekend of matches, so that week at Saint Louis were his first matches of the season," Fukuda said. "In both matches, he swept the opponent in 15 to 20 seconds."
Terao suffered his first setback of the season Friday in a dual meet against Punahou. The Buffanblu's Jordan Ng, the defending 108-pound state champion, beat Terao in a 121-pound bout.
"I never want to lose, but it's much better to lose now than in states," Terao said. "I guess this (loss) is great because it will help me play even harder and smarter. I wouldn't necessarily call it a wake-up call, because I've been training really hard, but now I know what to work on, because I wasn't always training as smart as I could. This loss really made me see what I could do better."
Still, Terao took comfort in that Pac-Five beat Punahou, completing its first season sweep over the Buffanblu. The win put Pac-Five in sole possession of first place at 7-0 with three matches to play.
"I think we're handling it pretty well," Fukuda said. "I keep reminding them that any weekend we can get knocked off."
With numerous veteran club players, Pac-Five is arguably the best team in the state, but once again, won't have a chance at a state title. The Hawai'i High School Athletic Association does not allow Pac-Five, composed of several small private schools, to compete as a team. Instead the judoka must represent the school they attend at the state tournament.
"Sure, it would be nice to have a team championship, but I know what the circumstances are and I think the good part about it is that our players get a chance to compete and represent their schools," Fukuda said.
Terao pointed out that had the points accumulated by Pac-Five players counted at last year's state tournament, it would have beaten eventual-champion Punahou.
"Even though people won't be able to recognize us, it's still a nice feeling to know that," said Terao, who can join an elite group of three-time state champions this year.
The ILH regular season closes with Friday's dual meets at Kamehameha. Matches begin at 5:15 p.m.
The HHSAA Championships are May 8 at Stan Sheriff Center.