“I used to suck at fighting and was no good at sports when I was a kid. I was this quiet boy who’d hide behind his older sister. But my dad, who was a judo practitioner, he encouraged me to learn kendo in elementary school. From there I moved on to judo, and eventually wrestling in high school and university. Now I’m a mixed martial artist and my main focus is Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Some say it’s a barbaric animalistic sport. Why would anyone subject themselves to this much pain? I want to change that thinking. Martial arts shouldn’t be about hurting other people. For me, it’s a form of communication. A way to test the techniques acquired during training, and to share knowledge. With Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it’s all about the technique. Even a regular guy can win against a much bigger dude, given the right set of technical skills and discipline. That’s why it’s become very popular with women and folks in their 40s and 50s here in Japan. Truth be told, in a way I kind of owe my life to this sport. A few years ago, I got very sick in the hospital and was told I might not make it. I guess my will to survive came from that fighting spirit developed in training all those years. So it’s a way of life for me. And giving up is not an option.”

Kensuke Nakamura is a professional MMA fighter and Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor. He also volunteers with other athletes to help kids develop mental fortitude and the right mindset in dealing with failures and setbacks in life. For more on his activities, visit: https://www.kensuke-nakamura.com/

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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