~Passion for Judo~   Judo-ka Isao Okano

~Passion for Judo~ Judo-ka Isao Okano


Isao Okano Height 5’6”, Weight 176lbs 1964, Tokyo Olympic Judo Middle Weight Gold Medalist. The following 1965, World Championships in Brazil, he won the middle weight division by all Ippon. In All Japan Open Weight Championships, Okano advanced to final three years in a row since 1967. Out of those, he won two Championships. Isao Okano was born in 1944 in Ryugasaki City,
Ibaragi Prefecture as the middle son of three bothers. Okano started Judo when he was a freshman
in Junior High School. He quickly grew his talents, and in High School, he took 3rd place at
Inter-High School National Championship. In 1961, he was a big contributor to win the Aikta Kokutai.
(Team National Prefecture Champion). The first technique Okano learned
was the right side Seoi-Nage, then he learned Kouchi-Gari By the end of junior high school,
he learned Sode-Tsurikomi-Goshi At Chuo University, Okano surprised everyone
with his amount of training He often spent over an hour just for Uchi-komi Okano did not compromise his training in anyway. Whether practice or competition,
he never lost his focus. He had laser sharp concentration. For a small person to win,
it is difficult to win only with one attack. Okano says, “One must apply combination techniques and when opponents try to counter,
go right into ones favorite techniques.” He believed to be an all-round player
with good standing and ground work. Okano developed one or two
new techniques every year. Okano’s favorite techniques
are right and left side Seoi-Nage The shapes and forms of the special weapon
was developed by countless Uchi-Komi. Especially, the one-man shadow Uchi-komi.
He imagined competition while at it. It was a time for him to
reflect and analyze his Judo. Doing Uchi-komi on a tree
gave him inspiration and energy. Always kept the same feet width, directions,
and body positions to create a consistent form. He aimed for 1,000 Uchi-Komi per day. At Ryugasaki High School,
he ran 90 steps x 15 every day for one year. He had leg power of track and field sprinter. Okano’s quick movement was built
from his many running sessions. Let’s watch his favorite techniques
from competition days. Right Seoi-Nage.
With the turn of the hip, he lifts and throws the opponent Left Ippon-Seoi
It worked well off the grip. Right Kouchi-Gari A right hand punch is effective,
and the reaping leg is open widely. Yoko-Guruma worked well for Okano
for the opponent with Uchi-Mata The Yoko-Guruma Okano used at
All Japan Championship is still talked about to this day. A transition from Seoi-Nage to
Kouchi-Gari He first steps with Seoi-Nage
fully committed then he switches.
A really speedy transition. Fighting Record October 10th 1964, Tokyo Olympics opened
at the National Stadium. 94 countries attended
and world paid attention to the Olympics Judo event was hosted at newly built
Nippon Budokan Japan challenged to win all four categories. The first day kicked off with
Takenaka’s victory in the light weight division. On the second day,
Isao Okano competed in the middle weight division.
The first day of the Judo event started
with Nakatani’s win for Japan The second day is going to start with
the hope Isao Okano of Japan. In the middle weight division, there are 25 competitors.
First, there is 3 men round-robin. Then the final tournament Okano’s first match is against Matos of Portugal.
Okano attacks with Kouchi-gari Okano seems relaxed,
and Seoi-Nage, his favorite! Ippon! It was only 44 seconds. The Semi-Final of the middle weight division
is now underway Okano’s opponent is Kim from South Korea. Kim actually trains at Tenri University of Japan. Okano thinks Kim is going to be
the toughest opponent. This is truly the final of the tournament. Okano attacks with Seoi-Nage and one more time.
Kim counters! but it’s out of bounds. It was close call for Okano,
but out of bounds. Kosoto-Gake. They are both attacking hard,
but no scored so far. Okano, Seoi.
Kim with foot-sweep Okano counters This counter scores Yuko,
and defeated Kim to advance to the final In the final Okano fought against
Hofmann of Germany. In the middle of the 50 mats competition area,
they bow in politely. Hofmann from the start steps in. Okano, Ippon-Seoi.
He turns all the way. How about score? The referee has not called anything yet. They didn’t give score,
but it looked close to Waza-Ari. Yes, it looked like a score. Hofmann on the offense now,
attacks Uchi-mata. It’s out of bounds.
Hofmann is really going all out Okano looked surprised
by the opponent screaming. Yet, he looks confident. One minute in.
Hofmann steps in but loses balance No sore.
Okano works on the ground. Okano attacks from the top.
Got a belt grip and looking for… Okano passes the guard He’s controlling arm and neck. Yoko-Shiho-Gatame It’s Osae-Komi Yoko-Shiho-Gatame Hofmann kicks his leg in an attempt Struggling. Right grip is deep and holding the belt. Left hand in between legs Hofmann grips the belt. 25 seconds past…
two more seconds left One second Ippon? Can’t hear the bell. Here is the bell! The bell! Okano! Yoko-Shiho-Gatame,
Yoko-Shiho-Gatame! Defeats Hofmann of Germany 1 minute and 40 seconds
into the match. Okano of Japan,
wins the middle weight division! “It’s a relief to win”
Smiling on the podium. Okano felt relief from the sense of
responsibility rather than joy of winning. Okano qualified for the All Japan Championship
in 1964 and 1966. However, he couldn’t be on the podium. With a renewed commitment,
his third attempt took place on April 29th, 1967 The event was hosted at Nippon Budokan Okano fought against Nishimura of Tokyo
in the round-robin portion of the tournament.
When you fight against large opponent,
any one attack could be threatening If you missed a beat,
you could be blown away. So the basic approach is
“attack before get thrown”. That’s my basic fighting strategy. “attack before get thrown” It was a beautiful
left Ippon-Seoi-Nage Okano won all
matches in round-robin to advance to the tournament
the following day. Okano faced Matsuzaka 5th dan from
Kinki in the semi final. The hard fought battle
pushed into overtime. Okano kept attacking with Seoi. 3 minutes in, Okano counters Matsuzaka’s
Uchimata into Sukui-Nage. Now being led, Matsuzaka
attempts to attack. Osoto-Gari by Matsuzaka Okano twist out of it. Matsuzaka trying to block Seoi-Nage
Okano switches and pushes From Yoko-Shiho, to Kuzure-Kami-Shiho. The upper-body is fully secured,
switched back to Yoko-Shiho Waza-ari, Awasete Ippon.
Okano defeated Matsuzaka to advance to the final. The final of 1967 was fought between
Isao Okano 5th-dan, and Nobuyuki Sato 4th-dan. Sato also advanced by Okuri-Eri-Jime
and Kouchi-Gari Ippons. In the semi-final, he defeated Koji Sato 5th-dan
with his favorite ground work. Sato attacks with Ouchi-Gari and Tai-Otoshi
Okano attacks with Seoi-Nage and Ko-Uchi-Gari One minute remains in the match Okano attacks left side Ippon-Seoi
Waza-ari The timing was impeccable. After the score, Sato aggressively attacked
without success. Okano won the first title of
the All Japan Championship. It was a great aggressive
fight with many attacks. Okano won all matches by Ippon except the final
and the match against the Olympic Gold Medalist Nakatani. He had superb standing, ground work, and transition. The following year in 1968,
the All Japan Championship The final was fought between
Takeshi Matsuzaka 5th-dan of Kinki, against Isao Okano
who competed for his second title. From the light footwork,
Okano attacks Seoi-Nage and Kouchi-Gari. Matsuzaka on the other hand
was known for his Uchi-Mata and counter.
The match is 8 minutes long.
It’s almost 5 minutes in. Okano trying to go into Newaza from Tomoe-Nage,
but Matsuzaka has strong defense. No points and there is 2 minutes left. Matsuzaka attacks right side Uchi-mata.
Okano flies through the air, and a point for Matsuzaka Okano who lost the lead attacks fiercely. Okano screams “Come on, Come on”
and attacks intensely. However, the time is up. Matsuzaka blocked
Okano’s attack to win the title for the first time. Okano could not defend his title. In 1969,the All Japan Judo Championship Okano, who aims for the second title,
wins his first match by Okuri-Eri-Jime Choke The second match against Kawabata 5th-dan from Kyushu,
Kouchi-Gari and Yoko-Guruma for Waza-Ari were such signature throws of Okano. In the semi-final against Murai 5th-dan from Tokyo,
Okano countered Osoto-Gari with Sukui-Nage and onto the final. The final match was against Yukio Maeda 5th-dan
of Tokyo Police Headquarter. Maeda defeated Minatoya, Anzai, Shinomaki,
Isamu Sonoda by decisions.
The match just started.
The smaller one is Okano, and the larger fighter is Maeda. They are both 5th-dan. The final match is 10 minutes long.
There is one overtime if it wasn’t decided. The overtime is 5 minutes long. Maeda says he dislikes fighters who move a lot. Kosoto-Gari! Kata-Guruma to get up. It shows the weight difference. Oh, Kosoto from the left. That’s his favorite. There was no pulling grip it has to end half way without the grip. Maeda on the left,
Okano on the right. Okano attacks Seoi and one more. It didn’t work. If Okano wins, that would be his second title. Okano, Seoi-Nage,
Kouchi-gari! Waza-Ari ! Okano swept the body left
behind the Seoi Okano scores Waza-Ari Okano fought well. He did really well. I’m really impressed.
With the little body he fights using his whole body
committing to every move. That’s what true Judo should look like. From Seoi-Nage to Harai-Goshi,
when the opponent swing back, he swept with Kouchi-Gari It was Waza-Ari, but the combination
and the transition was impeccable. Okano’s aggressive Judo has
great ground work and standing techniques, being the all-round player was
why he could become a Champion with his small body. Okano says he doesn’t think he could
become an All Japan Champion if he only trained within
the middle weight division. After winning the second title,
Okano announced his retirement. Okano says, “I believe Judo’s essence is in open weight category.” “Aside from winning and losing, being able to fight anyone on the mat is the attraction of Judo.” That’s the origin of Judo. I wish all Judo practitioners understood this basic, and aim to master Judo that small overcome large. I truly hope that Japanese Judo stays true to its origin forever. I would like to continue spreading this message.

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