The rookie days, one could call it, were over. Junior Satoshi Ueda would now compete in a different group, an older group, a more experienced group. Going into his first match in the 13-17-year-old range at the 2016 USJF Jr. Nationals in Los Angeles, Ueda was eager to win, despite the heightened competition, and that’s just what he did.
When he was in the second grade, Ueda was introduced to the sport of judo, a form of martial arts that involves throwing or taking down an opponent. He says he was influenced by his father, who was also a judo player in Japan.
Ueda first started training in Palo Alto, but after realizing that he wasn’t getting proper practice, he decided to start training at the Cupertino Judo Club. He also spends several hours a week at a center in San Jose where he can practice with a variety of players.
In 2012, Ueda won states for the first time, and since nationals in Washington a few months after, he has placed either first or second place at states.
“I was pretty happy [winning nationals],” Ueda said. “I’ve been going to nationals and not doing well, so I really wanted to win.”
He has also participated in competitions in states like Hawaii and in Texas, where he won the Junior Olympics.
Today, Ueda is among the top players in the nation for his age range and weight group, competing in state and national competitions and tournaments.
Watch the video below to learn more about Ueda.
Sophomore Dan Sachs has practiced judo at the Cupertino Judo Club since 2009. His parents encouraged him to play a sport, but after trying soccer for two years, Sachs decided that he didn’t want to continue. His parents also wanted him to pick up a sport that would have minimal injuries like judo, which Ueda explains is cleaner than other sports.
In the summer of 2017, Sachs competed in the 20th Maccabiah Games, an international competition in Israel, and placed fourth overall. Through the competition, Sachs enjoyed meeting people from all over the world
For Sachs, judo has taught him more than just martial arts moves. It has also taught him to persevere and respect others.
“Judo has been the place I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears over the past decade, and I don’t regret a second of it.”