Monday, March 7, 2016

Ayaka Hamasaki on Judo, 2015 Interview

The following is a translation of an interview conducted in September of 2015.

Q: Your job, you work for a clinic. It is far away from the heart of the city.
Ayaka: Yes, that's right. It's a 20 minute walk from the station and it's two hours from here so its like a little excursion every time. (laughter)

Q: So a round trip is 4 hours...such a long trip, sounds rough.
Ayaka: In the beginning it was tough (laughter), but I've gotten used to it. Since it is far from the city, I can sit in the train, I'm also able to sit on my way back.

Q: How do you kill time on the train?
Ayaka: I'm usually pretty tired on the way back, so I sleep, I also play on my phone.

Q: The ring doctor for Pancrase also works at that clinic so they are familiar with martial arts.
Ayaka: I started working there last November, so a year has passed. I usually just think of training. When I have afternoon training, I'm able to take time off. Before I worked here, I worked a series of part-time jobs, if I wanted to fight abroad, it depended on whether or not I could take time off. Even if I could go, I wouldn't have money for the month. Now everything is a lot more stable.

Q: What kind of part time jobs?
Ayaka: I worked at a catering restaurant. I worked there for 5-6 years.

Q: You didn't know about women's mma before joining AACC?
Ayaka: An acquaintance of mine, Rina Tomita, introduced me to AACC, I didn't know anything about it.

Q: So you didn't know anything about Megumi Fujii at AACC?
Ayaka: I didn't know anything about Fujii-san. When I saw her body I was amazed that a woman could have a body like that.

Q: When you started going back and forth to the gym, was your goal to get involved in mma?
Ayaka: I went because I wasn't exercising enough and to reduce stress. (laughter) During that time, I was a sports instructor so I was weight training, but it didn't have mean anything. When I heard Tomita was doing mma, I got interested. I asked if there were women. I knew that men did it from TV.

Q: You weren't getting good exercise as a fitness instructor?
Ayaka: It wasn't enough. I would start to sweat and stuff, but I wasn't moving and using my body like I did in Judo.

Q: So you've been addicted to Judo since high school and its been a part of your life since, ever try any other sports?
Ayaka: No....Judo was heart-breaking. It was a lot of fun to win. But, it is extremely strict, Judo practice. If you don't have the right personality you won't be able to do it. I would get so angry while doing it, I can't really said that I had fun with Judo.

Q: Didn't you like Judo when you started?
Ayaka: One trigger was that my friends were doing it. I was pretty mischievous when I was in middle school. Like I stopped going to school for example, cute things like that.

Q: So you weren't acting out violently or anything? (laughter)
Ayaka: It wasn't like that (laughter). When I was in middle school, the teachers didn't want to look after me so they recommended that I start doing high school judo.

Q: I see. So it was Judo for rehabilitation?
Ayaka: That's right. I didn't really have a choice. When I was in high school, I lived in a dorm, so it wasn't like I could quit. It was an athletic school, so all the kids living in the dorms had to be involved with a school club, there were around 30-40 of us in the dorm.

Q: In the boys dorms, the 3 years are like gods and the 1st years are like slaves in the pecking order.
Ayaka: Ah, there wasn't anything like that. There wasn't really a pecking order, with the exception of Judo practice, it was enjoyable. With regards to Judo practice, all I can remember is how strict it was. There was morning training, then school, then evening practice....We weren't able to enjoy ourselves. We trained during summer vacation, we trained during Christmas break (laughter) I was depressed even during summer vacation.

Q: Since there were no classes in the summer, did you only train?
Ayaka: That's right, we trained two to three times a day.

Q: A lot of people in pro-wrestling and marital arts come from Judo, but a lot of them do seem to have a screw loose (laughter).
Ayaka; Ah, yes a lot of them are pretty amusing.

Q: There are a lot (laughter).
Ayaka: No, there aren't that many. There are a lot of normal people too. Just like me, I'm normal! (laughter) Since I started, I did Judo through high school with results, did it through college and even when I started working, until I was 23.

Q: Even though you didn't like it?
Ayaka: I didn't really like it a so much. But I didn't hate it, I think I wanted to do Judo on TV or something.

Q: So you had no interest? (laughter)
Ayaka: But, I am very thankful towards Judo. Judo transformed my life.

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