No Match For Wise: Three Time Judo State Championship Winner

Chanelle Camero, Online Editor

     Senior Mayu Wise has been doing judo for 14 years, winning the state title three years in a row in her freshman, sophomore and junior year. This year, she is unable to compete due to an injury but still remains active as a coach for the girls team at tournaments and for both girls and boys at practices.

    “Judo is just something that is part of my life now. I have to work hard for it, which keeps me busy and have something to do. Judo teaches me many life lessons and gave me connections to many different people and I was able to make lots of new friends. I love the sport itself, but also many other things like the lessons and friendships that comes with it,” said Wise.

    Wise first started judo when she was four years old. Her parents enrolled her in judo but she didn’t start enjoying it until she was in fifth grade. “I went to a new judo club in Japan where they had very good players. Their training was very intense and long. I enjoyed being able to work hard with other people and I really liked the senseis and other kids there,” said Wise.

    To help her prepare for competitions, Wise would train year round at her club. She trained at multiple clubs including Pearl City Hongwanji, Hawai’i Judo Academy and Sekimoto Dojo in Japan. When high school seasons came, she additionally trained at MHS. “I would practice five days a week by doing judo, running and weight lifting. I also go to Japan to train whenever I can to get better,” said Wise. “It is a lot of work. I would have to push myself to my limits every practice. I would have many good and bad practices. I would cry and suffer a lot, but I still enjoy doing judo and working hard.”

    On top of her training here in Hawai’i, Wise would also go to Japan to train. She trains at Sekimoto Dojo which is close to her house in Chiba prefecture. “Their intensity and the way they practice is very different. I would practice two times a day for about four hours some days. My judo becomes way better when I am there. Also, I enjoy talking and hanging out with the team as well,” said Wise. “I also practice at a high school who has an all girls judo team and another high school with an all boys judo team where my club is affiliated with. Those high schools are the best eight in the prefecture so they are very good as well.”

    Wise is currently a black belt in judo. She received her belt the summer after her freshman year in Japan. “I went to Japan every summer since I was little since my mom is from there and that’s my first language. That is also where I started judo, so I took it up there when I went for the summer again to visit my mom’s family and to train,” said Wise.

    During her junior year, some of her biggest challenges she faced were feeling confident in herself and cutting weight. Cutting weight is the practice of quick weight loss before a competition. “For the cutting weight, I had many people support me, like my teammates and coaches. So I was able to get through it. But also the motivation and drive to win my third state title was a huge thing,” said Wise. “My teammates, coaches, and my parents were the ones who believed in me so much so that’s how I overcome the challenge of not having confidence in myself. Also by training hard throughout the year and season especially.”

    Each year she trained hard and improved her movement, gripping and techniques for the competitions. The state competitions were held at the Stan Sheriff Center where she defended her state title. “It’s one of the best feelings ever. To hear my name after I win my match and later when I am called up to the podium for first place. It makes me so happy and thrilled to know that everything I went through paid off. It also makes me glad I did judo and thankful for my parents, the team and coaches who got me to where I am,” said Wise.

    After a knee injury, Wise couldn’t do judo or compete this year. Due to this, she started coaching so she could still help out the team as much as she could. “I tore my ACL so I took the surgery in February. I decided to take it now because I am still continuing judo in college and I didn’t want to risk injuring it more by competing this season,” said Wise. “Just doing daily things were very hard the first week or two after surgery. Other than that, not being able to do judo is a huge change for me.”

    Through coaching, Wise is able to learn a lot and gain skills from these experiences such as leadership and responsibility. Although she’s unable to participate, she helps her team as a coach rather than a team member. “It’s very fun. I learn new things that I can’t when I’m on the mat. It’s hard to coach knowing I could’ve still competed, but I’m glad I can still help the team,” said Wise. “I am able to see things from a different perspective because I am always on the mat. Also, I understand the small things that my coaches tell me all the time even more.”

    Wise plans to continue competing in college at San Jose State University as well as in national and international competitions.