Over a thousand judo-ka (judo practitioners) from around the state, the U.S. mainland, Canada, Tahiti, Singapore and Japan were in Hawai‘i during the July 4th weekend to participate in the Fifth Annual Grassroots Judo National Championships at the Blaisdell Arena.
The opening ceremonies were held July 4. All participating judo-ka and tournament officials gathered on the arena floor for the official “first bow,” kicking off the three-day Judo Junior Nationals Tournament.
This event is held annually throughout the U.S. — this year, Honolulu was chosen as host city for the tournament.
Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda was among the guests in attendance at the opening ceremonies, along with leaders of the local 50th State Judo Association, the United States Judo Association and the United States Judo Federation.
The 100th Battalion/442nd Reserve’s Color Guard opened the program. Ten veterans from the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were recognized and honored at the opening ceremonies.
For the first time in the tournament’s history, a “Go For Broke” award was presented to deserving judo-ka at the tournament, in honor of the 100th and the 442nd. Awards were presented to 102 judo-ka, each a champion in his or her respective weight division. The award recognized their “courage and tremendous fighting spirit to become a judo champion.” The award patch they each received was meant to be worn in recognition of the “Go for Broke” spirit of the World War II soldiers of the 100th and the 442nd and to help perpetuate their legacy with distinction as the judo-ka train and compete with valor.
Two groups of judo-ka participated from Japan — one from Hachijojima Island, located south of Tökyö, and a group from Aya in Miyazaki Prefecture.