Brazil’s new judo headcoach is Yuko Fujii. She’s broken every barrier. 35 Year old black belt made history and not just in Brazil.
Fujii is one of the very few women in the world allowed to head any top level male sports team let alone judo.
In judo strong countries men coach usually both the male and the female national squad. In fact Japan’s team has a single woman – a nutritionist.
“Japan is more traditional and macho than Brazil. The men’s team doesn’t have a single woman — well just one, the nutritionist,” Fujii told AFP at Brazil’s national training center in Rio de Janeiro.
“Sensei Yuko has made quite a difference. With her as our sensei, our technical level has already improved,” said Ruan Isquierdo, a giant heavyweight member of the Brazilian team, calling his coach by the Japanese honorific roughly meaning “teacher.”
At 309 pounds (140 kg), Isquierdo literally towers over the diminutive Fujii, but for all his strength he says he’d take nothing for granted in a judo bout with his sensei hindustantimes reports.
“If I were too slow, she’d throw me, for sure,” he laughed. “She has very high skill levels.”
Rafaela Silva, who trained especially closely with Fujii, won gold at the Rio Olympics, Fujii’s star rose ever higher.
“It will help the men’s team at a time when it isn’t doing very well,” Silva said, watching Fujii run a class for half a dozen promising youngsters.
“People hope that since she worked with the women’s team she can bring the same to the men’s team. I think it will make a difference — and the guys will be able to learn a bit from the women.”
Her main goal: “For our athletes to do good judo and give everything,” she said.
“We’ll see in the future if I was a pioneer or not!”
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