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Thursday, May 23, 2024

IJF Olympic portrait: Shinji Hosokawa


Shinji Hosokawa won Olympic gold 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1985 the world championships in Seoul. He was coach of Tadahiro Nomura at Tenri University and Shohei Ono and Joshiro Maruyama. Hosokawa is now a member of the IJF Education and Coaching Commission member. Hosokawa is a true tomoe-nage expert. Because of his short stature many players like to try uchimata on him. He developed a knack for uchimata-sukashi because of this.Prior to the 1980 Olympic Games there were far fewer weight categories. In 1976 there were 5 categories and for men only: -63kg, -70kg, -80kg, -93kg and over 93kg. In 1980, at the Moscow Olympics, the -60kg division was introduced for the first time and Thierry Rey of France won the category, becoming one of the 135 Olympic judo champions.”I wanted to be a PE or judo teacher. It was my goal when I was young. After the medal I knew I had to pay close attention to my words and speech and how I behaved in public. It became another way I continued to do my best, regardless of my job or position. People are weak and lazy though, searching for the easiest path and I fought a lot with myself. I would always think, ‘today I can take a break or maybe I should do my best.’ I had this dilemma every day. Everyone has this, which way is best?“Kato sensei said I could be Olympic champion once that category existed. The new -60kg category was made and my weight was 57-58kg. He said the category was made specially for me; I remember it very well. He said, ‘Today make the effort. Really you have a big chance.’ And then I did. I believe that’s why I became Olympic champion. I did my best in everything every day.”But I remember my former sensei and his simple words, ‘Just only today, do your best.’ Of course this really had to be every day, but one at a time.”Hosokawa: “I started judo at the age of 12, which was late! I learned a lot quite quickly and moved to Tenri and lived in the dorm from 15. Gradually the training became more and more tough through high school. I remember Kato sensei, the head coach, saying that I am so small, so short that it must be hard to practise every day with heavy guys. It was not a choice, it was just the way it was. He also said that no matter how hard it is, ‘Today you do your best. Just today, make effort. Next day do the same. Next day again the same thing. At the weekend you can take a break.’ In the Tenri system we practised 7 days a week but at the weekend we had an afternoon break. Kato sensei always said the same, ‘Next week try hard to do your best. Every day and every week, do your best.’ I say every morning, even now, that when I wake up I must do my best.”

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