By Neža Jelen Križovnik

  Judo… a sport that the second you think about, if you are not familiar with it, you might think of two people fighting. But judo is so much more. It is about work, preparation, effort, time and dedication. Judo was created as a physical, mental and moral pedagogy in Japan, in 1882, by Jigoro Kano. It is generally categorized as a modern martial art which later evolved into a combat and since 1964 judo is also an Olympic sport. In Japanese judo means “gentle way”.  A judo practitioner is called a judoka. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the objective is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke. I am interviewing two of our school’s best judo fighters to get a better perspective at this sport. So here are Nace Herkovič and Rok Pogorevc. When were you first introduced to judo, what or who inspired you to start training judo and how long have you been training? NACE: I have been training since I was 6 years old. When I started I was in the first grade of primary school. I have always been hyperactive, so my parents decided I should take up some sport. At first I trained both judo and athletics and then decided to stick only to judo. ROK:   I started training in the first grade of elementary school, because it seemed fun. I have been training for 11 years now. After all this time, is the passion still there? Can you imagine your life without judo and have you ever thought about quitting? NACE: Yes, I can say that the passion is still here, I cannot imagine a daily routine without judo. I have often thought about quitting, when I was tired or a few years ago, when I did not get the results I wanted. But then I started to train even harder. ROK: Yes, it’s even stronger than at the beginning. I really can’t imagine life without it, without judo I wouldn’t even know how to run. I have thought about quitting when I was younger, but that doesn’t happen anymore. What is your motivation in moments you think about quitting? NACE: Big motivators are my trainers, and good results are always a good motivation for training. ROK: I just think how good it feels to finish a hard training or win a challenging fight. How does your training look like, how many times a week do you train? NACE: I train almost every day, for two hours. When we go to different judo camps during the year we train twice a day for at least two hours. ROK: Trainings are usually 2 hours long. I train 9-10 times a week. What comes with training as part of a preparation for competition? NACE:  I have to watch my weight because we always fight in a certain weight category. Sometimes I even have to lose a couple of kilograms which I find very difficult. This means I sometimes have to sacrifice going out with my friends when they go for a pizza. I am often away on weekends, so I don’t have to see my non-judo friends as much as I would like. And I still find it difficult to co-ordinate school work with training and competitions. ROK:  For the competition you have to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. You also must watch how much and what kind of food you eat, because you have to be strong and healthy while maintaining the correct weight for your category. What is the best part of judo? On the other hand, what is the worst part, what you might not like about judo? NACE: The best part is obviously when I win a fight. Standing on a podium is a wonderful experience and a great feeling. Consequently, the worst part is losing a match, or getting an injury. Every sportsman fears injuries. ROK: For me the best part is the feeling of accomplishment after a training or competition. The only thing I don’t like about it is the lack of free time for other activities. What are you most exited or anxious about before a competition? NACE: Waiting for a fight is stressful, I am always anxious for a fight to begin and before that it is always exciting getting to know your opponents. ROK:  I’m both exited and anxious about fighting all the good competitors at the competition. What is your greatest accomplishment, the one that you are most proud of? NACE: There are three accomplishments I am proud of this year, I have become a national champion in my category, I won third place at Koroška open and also third place at International children’s games in Kaunas, Lithuania. ROK:  My greatest accomplishment is finding such an awesome and supportive club and friends. Who is your idol and what do you want to accomplish in this sport? NACE: I don’t have a specific idol, but I respect my trainers and many other judo fighters because it is a difficult sport and demands a lot of discipline and a strong will. I wish to train for many more years, I still have a long way to go. ROK: My idol is my trainer, I just want to be the best I can be.