February Member Highlight

February Member Highlight

Feb. 2020 Member Highlight with Isidora


Isidora is a brown belt who joined the Kano MA family since our opening in June of last year. Isidora has been an integral part of our community. For our first member highlight, we asked her a few questions about her experience on the mats so far.


How was your experience transitioning from doing Judo in California to doing it in NYC at Kano?

Within a few weeks of training at Kano, I felt that the knowledge I developed training in San Francisco was getting more refined with each class. Both Sensei Garry and Sensei Shintaro have a way of explaining techniques and strategies that will genuinely take your judo to another level, once internalized. At Kano, you can learn a technique, but you'll also learn variations to work with. That's really helped me learn how to play "my" judo as it works for me and my body.

I've also had the opportunity to truly focus on newaza (newaza Mondays!) and grip sequences, which I hadn't focused on as much in the past. There's still a lot I need to work on but I can feel my confidence on the mat has improved significantly since training at Kano.

My dojo in San Francisco was a little bit traditional - there was a lot of emphasis put on Reishiki (judo etiquette) and drilling fundamentals (most classes included 20+ minutes of uchikomi, and perfecting ukemi to ensure student safety during practice). In any given class, the students ranged from 7-75 year olds with experience levels across every rank, so the classes were always structured around learning and drilling traditional techniques, and there was less focus on competition style variations/strategy. My experience in California gave me a good foundation of judo to work with, and equipped me with the confidence and etiquette to feel comfortable visiting other dojos when I travelled. 


What have some of your highlights been while training here? Challenges?


  • The people at Kano are the best! I think it's a testament to the sport, as well as the school, but Kano members are all-around good people.

  • The instruction is NEXT LEVEL - if you haven't trained judo anywhere else, you won't have any other reference to compare to, but take my word for it.

  • The seminars and open mats are bar none some the highest caliber judo experiences you'll find in NYC.

  • Class options are 3x a day -- you can find a way to train as much as you want and make it fit to your schedule

  • Newaza Mondays - so you can be as effective on the ground as you are standing up

  • There's a shower at the gym (read: CLEAN! The dojo is clean, people are clean, you stay clean -- wins all around)


  • I won't sugarcoat it - it is challenging being a woman in a male-dominated space. There are days where I am the only woman on the mat. Nobody else may notice, but I certainly do. My ask to other members would be to be mindful of that and consider how intimidating it can feel for newer female members. Sometimes during rounds, I have to mentally accept the fact that I'm probably going to get beat up and for the most part I try not to let it beat me down, but I won't act like there aren't days where it does. Remember that randori is about applying technique, learning, and respect - adjust your tempo and force to the person you're working with (rank/gender/size/athletic background/age). Holding someone 80lbs lighter than you in side control isn't actually making either of us better. 

What are your goals for this year?

  • Compete again! 

  • Help others prepare for competition.

What advice would you give to new students joining?

  • Leave your ego at the door.

  • Have a growth mindset in the dojo - ask questions, be open to feedback, listen to your sensei, listen to your partners, assume and act with good intent.

  • There will be challenging days where it feels like you're not learning anything at all (sometimes it can feel that way for months), and then there will be breakthroughs where all of a sudden something clicks. I promise that the triumphs are worth the effort!

  • Bow to your partners; if you've come to train judo, respect the customs of judo.

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