USOEC Freestyle travels to Japan 2009


The Japanese men’s national team trains at the JISS where there are an amazing 8 full size mats Japan 2009

The U.S. Olympic Education Center freestyle team, a USA Wrestling resident athlete program, visited the Japan Institute of Sports Sciences and the National Training Center in Tokyo, Japan for a training camp Feb. 27, – March 6, 2009.

This marked the third year in a row Northern Michigan University and Marquette Senior High School students and coaches of the USOEC freestyle program trained in Japan. In 2007 and 2008, the USOEC freestyle team trained at Chukyo Women’s University (Nagoya, Japan) home of 2 Olympic Champions, 2 Olympic silver medalists, and 20 world champions.

This year, USOEC freestyle wrestlers Erin Golston, Alyssa Lampe, Emily Martin, Jenna Burkert, Schuyler Brown, Vonnie Carlson and USOEC freestyle coaches Shannyn J. Gillespie, Tony DeAnda trained with Japanese Olympic coach Shigeo Kinase and world champions from various high schools and universities located near the JISS and NTC in Tokyo, Japan.

Highlights of the trip included training with a variety of Japan’s best senior, university, junior, and cadet level female wrestlers; eating at several sushi bars and barbeques; walking the streets; sight seeing; and shopping in Akabane and Tokyo, Japan.

The wrestling was great due to the volume and level of wrestlers in attendance and the amount of matches each USOEC freestyle wrestler attained. All USOEC freestylers wrestled at least 12 bouts and some were able to amass 17 matches.

Some wrestlers of note who trained during the USOEC freestyle stay at the JISS and NTC were the Sakamoto sisters (Hitomi 6 x world champion and Makiko 2 x world bronze medalist), Shoko Yoshimura (5 x world champion), and Fuyuko Mimura (Jr. World Champion).

The Japanese 2009 World Cup coaches Kenji Fujikawa and Toshihiro Naritomi were also in attendance daily and took us out to eat several times during the USOEC freestyle stay.

Training notes that were taken and learned were as follows:

  • JISS houses 1 resident female freestyle wrestler (she is 14 years old) and is primarily for training camps only
  • JISS will train up to 10 high school resident athlete wrestlers in 2010
  • The judo room (Japan won 3 judo gold medals at Beijing Olympics) at the NTC is twice the size of the wrestling room
  • The NTC wrestling room holds 6 mats comfortably
  • The Japanese female wrestlers (ages 14-27) appear to have mastered set ups directly to takedowns
  • Japanese female wrestlers at NTC appear to cut less weight than USOEC freestylers
  • Most Japanese female wrestlers in college train on male teams
  • Respect and honor appear to be important for athletes, coaches, and visitors

The Japanese Olympic coach and World Cup coaches explained the USOEC freestyle wrestlers were strong physically and several Japanese wrestlers explained the USOEC wrestlers felt strong. This was interesting to note because strength can help in wrestling or in many sports and generally, sport specific skill mastery plus superior physical strength can equal success on many levels.

On this trip, the coaches and athletes treated the USOEC freestyle team with much respect and this appears to be a theme in Japan. Each time a Japanese wrestler trained with a USOEC freestyler, they immediately shook both of their opponents hands, bowed, and said thank-you. Japanese Olympic coach Shigeo Kinase made a special initiative to travel 4 hours to pick the USOEC freestyle team up from Nagoya airport. This was greatly appreciated after our plane was re-routed from Narita, Tokyo airport.

In fact, the USOEC freestyle team actually took the Bullet and Super Express ‘Japan Rail’ trains which travel in excess of 200 kilometers per hour. I must acknowledge Tadaaki Hatta who, once again, master minded this expedition. Tadaaki, Beijing Olympics coach for USA female wrestling, phoned the Japan Wrestling Federation after I explained to he our flights were off course. Tadaaki has been the sole person who has arranged the last 3 trips to Japan for the USOEC freestyle team. THANKS TADAAKI!!!

Other notes of interest:

  • Japan has approximately 600 Kindergarten through senior level female freestyle wrestlers
  • Average annual competitions for Japanese female wrestlers: senior level 5; junior level 5; cadet level 5-8
  • Hitomi Sakamoto (6 x time world champ) is a national team coach – 8 x time world champ & Olympic Champ as of 8.18.12
  • Shoko Yoshimura (5 x time world champ) is a national team coach
  • Japan has 7 national team coaches for women
  • Baseball and soccer are very popular pro sports in Japan
  • Judo and female wrestling are top Olympic sports in Japan

The USOEC freestyle team was invited back to Japan next year to train at the Japan Institute of Sports Sciences – National Training Center and has graciously accepted this invitation.

 Copyright © by Coach Shannyn, All rights reserved

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