365 Days of Judo

Seattle Dojo Members, Friends and Family:

Please join us tomorrow (Tuesday, August 3) evening to celebrate our one-year anniversary since we started our daily online training sessions. As always, we’ll meet at 7:00 pm to do our usual squats, pushups, and uchikomi, after which we’ll reminisce a bit about the last year and recognize the many people who have given hundreds of hours to keep our community connected and thriving, whatever the circumstances.

Even if you have been unable to attend regularly, please find time to drop in tomorrow, if possible:


When we started on August 3 of last year, our intention was to provide a short, casual workout to keep our members connected, to keep ourselves moving and thinking about judo until the pandemic blew over. Unsure of how long it would be until we would be able to return to the dojo, we set out without a road map, meeting daily for 20-30 minutes, and a bit longer for formal sessions on Mondays and Thursdays.

For many of us, it soon became a part of our regular routine. In our house, we are on autopilot to set up the computer and be ready for judo after dinner every night. No one can make it to every session, and some can only pop in now and again, but I’m proud to say that our virtual doors have been open every single night for the past year. Even on holidays ‒ Thanksgiving, Christmas, whenever ‒ there are always at least a few people to log in and at least share a few laughs over some jokes with their judo brothers and sisters.

I have been deeply moved by the enthusiasm of our members to keep this effort going. Our instructors have made it a priority to show up and share their judo knowledge and experience. Special thanks to Sensei Karen for being there from the beginning, and to Sensei Pepper, Sensei Sophal, Sensei Sam, Sensei Chanae, and Paul for your tireless commitment to this project. Our students have also stepped up and showed leadership beyond their years, often taking the reins and leading the workouts themselves. I won’t be able to list everyone, but I would especially like to recognize Diego, Jayden, Natalie, Owen, Mae, Erkhes, and Grayson and Owen for their remarkable dedication and ever positive attitudes.

Our daily sessions have led to a couple of other projects that have, in turn, proved durable over the months. In January, we began our weekly Japanese for Judoka class for people looking to learn some Japanese language, along with our Japanese Science Club for native/advanced speakers. These classes are small but are still going strong, and will continue as long as there is interest.

Separately, we took on a fun side project of learning to count and to say a few words in as many languages as possible during our regular sessions. Over the course of several months, one person stepped up each week to teach us their respective language. Thanks to these efforts, our regular attendees can now count in English, Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Tagalog, Polish, Hungarian, and Mandarin!

We have also begun taking to the outdoors with our Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training program. Once per week, we get up early and go running through the woods, doing pushups and uchikomi, and generally goofing off together over some delicious snacks at the park. This program continues to gain momentum as we look forward to Session 10 this weekend.

Now, our situation is different from when we started last year. As we make significant strides against the pandemic, people are able to have more and more in-person contact with their friends, leading to a somewhat diminished need for our online sessions. This is a good thing. The project has served its purpose. We are also inching closer and closer to reopening the dojo for in-person training in some limited capacity. Therefore, starting this week, we will cut our schedule back to two days a week (7:00 pm Mondays and Thursdays) of formal online workouts. We will keep the channel open on off-days for anyone who wants to continue to work out as we have thus far. We will also continue our Japanese classes on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, and our in-person outdoor training on the weekends.

The pandemic, and our response to it, are now a part of our dojo’s long history. I am grateful to all of you who have insisted on making the most of our situation, always finding the silver lining. Whether you have showed up one day or 365 days for these activities, or even just supported us in spirit, you have played a meaningful role in keeping our dojo alive and keeping our family together.

Thank you.

See you all tomorrow,


Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training, Week 7 (7/11/21)

For our second week at Discovery Park, we started along the same Loop Trail as last week, save for some minor departures along less-traveled branches of the main path. This time, however, we took the right path at the fork along the Hidden Valley Trail, and followed the path all the way to the beach and then the lighthouse at the point.

From there, we took the North Beach Trail all the way northeast until it turned landward, where we again left the path and scaled the bluff as we did last week.

We seemed to be getting a bit more banged up this week than usual, and Diego was quick to come to our aid with his medical kit to treat our wounds from nettles, bee stings, and minor spills on the trail.

After our regular workout in the field, we feasted on taiyaki and quiche from Miki and Kozue. We’re truly spoiled.

Sensei Karen promised to bring her volleyball net for next week’s session…

Click Here for Week 8

Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training, Week 6 (7/3/21)

With steadily increasing interest each week, this has proved to be a durable project, which I suspect we will continue even after we return to the dojo for regular practice.

For Week 6, we took the show on the road to Discovery Park. Starting at the North Parking Lot, we followed the meandering Loop Trail through the woods until it met the Hidden Valley Trail, which we then followed to the first fork, and back up the steep main road until it rejoined the Loop Trail again. From there, we descended the stairs down the bluff to the North Beach Trail, but instead of following the beaten path southwest to the lighthouse, we ventured northwest along the coast.

In stark contrast to the previous week, we were accompanied by an eerie but refreshing mist that kept us cool throughout our hike. It also got us a little lost as we searched for a well-hidden, unmarked path back up the bluff. After doubling back, we eventually found it, and carefully made our way back up, using ropes and roots to help us up the steep terrain.

The sight of the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center as we emerged from the woods and the fog felt a little like rejoining civilization after being lost in the wild. But our work had just begun ‒ now was time for judo practice, with pushups and uchikomi led by Arnold.

After practice, we goofed off for a bit while enjoying grapes and French toast from Kozue. Those who stuck around to the very end received a special treat, homemade ichigo daifuku from Miki! Most of us are no longer in this for the judo, the exercise, the camaraderie, or any of that ‒ we’re in it for the food.

Click Here for Week 7

Click Here for Week 7

Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training, Week 5 (6/26/21)

We took a week off so several of us could attend the Junior Olympics in North Carolina.

We came back to an inferno! Our fifth session was on the first day of the historic heat wave, and we picked a monster of a course for the occasion. Whoever’s in charge of picking these routes needs to be fired immediately.

Fortunately, we started early enough to avoid the worst of the heat that came later in the day. With another record turnout, this time we were off to Golden Gardens Park. It’s a little over two miles to the park, mostly on the flat Burke-Gilman Trail along the tracks. Once we arrived, we did a little running through the beachside groves, and then got down to business with our regular pushups and uchikomi on the beach.

After a break on the playground, enjoying homemade bread from Natalie and scones from Kozue, we set off again. Instead of taking the flat path we arrived on, we opted to take the hundreds of stairs through the forest and up to the top of the bluff. In my mind, I had envisioned us reenacting the Tenri University training videos where they sprint up and down the stairs with ease. In reality, we jogged about a quarter of the way up, and slowly suffered the rest of the way at a pace more suitable for people who haven’t seen the inside of a dojo for the last 15 months.

From the top of the bluff, it was a relatively easy two miles downhill back home, with a brief stop by Sunset Hill Park on the way. By the time we got back, the heat was upon us, and we spent some quality time in our homemade PVC sprinkler.

Click Here for Week 6

Click Here for Week 6

Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training, Week 3 (6/6/21)

We gained momentum in Week 3, with nine people showing up to run. I think it helped that we started an hour later at 8 AM. This was also the first session in which we had a Walking Team, a small group of people who join the effort at a more leisurely pace. Miki and Kozue kindly provided cookies and onigiri for the whole team after the workout.

We ran the same course to the Locks, again with some trekking through the woods, pushups, and lots of uchikomi. We also did some fun bobbing and weaving around the metal sculptures above the fish ladder.

There’s a section of our regular course that we call Heron Poop Run. High in the trees above the walkway are hundreds of nests, which are home to countless local herons. We have the strongest of incentives to run this particular 100-meter stretch at full tilt. Want to take it slow? Congratulations, now your hair is covered in heron poop.




Click Here for Week 4

Click Here for Week 4

Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training, Week 2 (5/29/21)

The following Saturday, Diego and Owen were ready to go again at 7 AM. Perhaps taking pity on us and our failed efforts to turn people out the previous week, Arnold and Al joined us for Week 2. The five of us ran mostly the same course as last time to and around the Locks, this time stepping it up with some additional uchikomi with bands. Uchikomi on the hill, uchikomi in the field, uchikomi in the forest.

The tiered hillside is great for ukemi practice as you sprint down, slip on the grass still wet with morning dew, and fall on your face.

Click here for Week 3

Click here for Week 3

Crack-of-Dawn Judo Training, Week 1 (5/22/21)

Who wants to get up and drive across town for torture training at 7 AM on a Saturday? As it turns out, only Diego. Owen didn’t have a choice, given that his commute is all of two flights of stairs. So the three of us set out for a run to the Chittenden Locks, a pleasant couple of blocks from our house. Once there, we made the newly reopened park our personal playground, running across the narrow walkways spanning the two locks, climbing stairs and scrambling up hills in the small patches of woods, and doing our obligatory 100 pushups that everyone from our online sessions has worked up to.

A short dash down the tracks back home, and we wrapped up our first session by a little after 8 AM.

Five-year-old Sean, disappointed that we hadn’t woken him up for the run, insisted that he was indeed up to it, so the two of us reran the 1.5 miles again, muddy woods and all.

Click here for Week 2

Click here for Week 2