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Judo Blog: Judo Meets Japanese Culture in the USA

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Here a recent article written by Nicolas Messner I wanted to share as my Black Belt Blog for this week.

Recently New-York City, USA, saw a special event, 'Sumo and Sushi', where judo met with Japanese culture and tradition. The event showcases recently retired highly ranked sumo athletes and immerses the participants in the culture and history of Japan.

It was run by former sumo Ozeki, Konishiki, who is the first non-Japanese-born sumo wrestler to reach Ozeki, the second highest rank. Throughout his legendary career, he won the top division championship three times and since his retirement he honors his American heritage by bringing Japanese culture to an American audience every year.

Nicole Stout is the #1 US athlete at -78kg and with the event coming to New York, Nicole's home state, she was invited for an exhibition match against a sumo player. Sumo players in Japan have shared a long history of cross-training and competing as evidenced recently by Shohei Ono training with top sumo player Yokozuna Terunofuji.

Nicole showcased judo to a crowd of over 500 people on 23rd June 2023 by taking on former top 5 professional sumo wrestler Somoyama. Inviting an American athlete, active on the IJF World Judo Tour, gave the audience a chance to see another part of Japanese culture, knowing that in 2028 judo will be an integral part of the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

The reaction to Nicole’s showcase of judo against a 360lb sumo player was met with overwhelming positivity. Many Americans in the crowd expressed their admiration for the beauty of judo and showed interest in the sport as a whole.

Many women commented joyously, seeing their gender represented in such a dominant way and continued to share their praise online by sharing videos and pictures of the uchi-mata Nicole performed, with captions such as ‘girl power.’

For Jason Morris, a former world and Olympic medalist in judo, “It was a dream come true! I am a very big fan of sumo and the opportunity to not only indulge in that interest but also act as an ambassador for judo, was something I was extremely grateful for.”

The audience, by being there, expressed an interest in learning about not only sumo but also Japanese culture and the culture surrounding martial arts. Nicole Stout being able to throw a sumo player more than twice her size showcased to an audience the effectiveness of judo and the symbiotic relationship that sumo and judo share.

During the event, Nicole had the chance to meet with Konishiki. After a quick, positive interaction and an exchange of sport hallmarked hoodies, Konishiki exuded excitement and he introduced Nicole as a professional judo player and held aloft the hoodie he had received bearing the logo of her dojo, “The Jason Morris Judo Center.” After the exhibition match, all the sumo players said, "Wow what a beautiful ippon that was!” Historically speaking, judo and sumo have a common cultural ground and it is obvious that this common language echoes within the American society that will host the LA 2028 Olympic Games and judo will be a key player for the success of the event.

Updates: Judogi control is an important part of the competition process, an integral part that guarantees fairness among all participants. The process is simple and accepted by all competitors. Before stepping on the tatami, whether to play a first round or a final of a world championships, your judogi must pass the filter of judogi control. Judo is a sport of values. It is also one of the only activities where your own outfit is not made for you but for your opponent, who by gripping it can try to throw you and vice versa. It is therefore essential that the judogi respects the standards and rules that allow everyone to express themselves without the length of a sleeve or the thickness of the fabric interfering with the result.

  • IJF Sport and Organization Rules (SOR) - 24.04.2023 - English Download

  • Discover in the video below, what exactly judogi control is. Hajime!

Calendar: August - 2023 5th Saturday - Beginner & Intermediate Tournament, Las Vegas, NV 6th Sunday - Nikkei Games Budo Tournament, Cypress, CA 19th Saturday - National AAU Judo Tournament, Brown Deer, WI 23rd Saturday - Veterans Judo Open, Myrtle Beach, SC September - 2023 17th Sunday - Nevada State Judo Championship, Las Vegas, NV 24th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA October - 2023 1st Sunday - Capitol Open Judo Championships, Sacramento, CA 22nd Sunday - Fresno Invitational Tournament, Fresno, CA 29th Sunday - Fight for a Cure Women's Tournament & Clinic, Riverside, CA 29th Sunday - Hanabi Halloween Classic, Albany, CA November - 2023 1st Wednesday to 3rd Friday - IJF World Veterans Championships, Abu Dhabi, UAE 5th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA 19th Sunday - Presidents Cup National Championships, Irving, TX December - 2023 8th Friday to 10th Sunday -Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA April - 2024 7th Sunday - Nanka Spring Tournament, Westminster, CA May - 2024 5th Sunday - Nanka West Coast Invitational, Westminster, CA June - 2024 28th Friday to 30th Sunday - USJF & USJA Summer Nationals, Tacoma. WA September - 2024 29th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA October - 2024 20th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA December - 2024 6th Friday to 8th Sunday -Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to, thanks.

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