The Asahi Kasei Judo Team Holds Workshops That Convey World-Class Spirit and Techniques to Future Generations

March 13, 2024

Asahi Kasei is known for judo, as our Judo Team has produced many top-class athletes who have won numerous medals at prestigious international competitions. Our coaching staff are also judoka (judo practitioners) who have excelled on the global stage. For example, the Head Coach of our Judo Team is Kenzo Nakamura. In addition to training to compete, the Judo Team also holds Asahi Kasei Judo Workshops for children around Japan and overseas. What drives Asahi Kasei and the world-class judoka to engage in this activity? To see their passion, we look at a judo workshop held in Kurashiki City, Okayama, Japan, home to the Mizushima Works, one of our major manufacturing sites.

Contributing to the judo world and local communities

Judo, an official Olympic sport, originated in Japan based on the ancient Japanese martial art of jiu-jitsu. It is practiced worldwide, with over 200 countries and regions currently affiliated with the International Judo Federation. Among them, Japan has long been a leader, serving as an international model and powerhouse. However, in recent years, the number of judoka in Japan has been decreasing, leading to a sense of crisis in the judo world.

To overcome this situation, our Judo Team holds Asahi Kasei Judo Workshops, centered on our managers and coaches who are leaders of the Japanese judo world. Head Coach Kenzo Nakamura reflects, “As our judo team has produced numerous world-class athletes, we have long wished to revitalize the Japanese judo world, which has seen a decline in the number of practitioners. In my role as Head Coach, I have sought not only to instruct and support active athletes but also to collaborate with retired members and coaches to contribute to the judo world and local communities. To fulfill both of these aspirations, we had discussions within our team and decided to offer Asahi Kasei Judo Workshops for children residing in areas where our company’s manufacturing sites are located.”

  • Kenzo Nakamura, Head Coach of the Asahi Kasei Judo Team

Sharing the charm and spirit of judo with the younger generation

While judo may be associated with rigorous training, Asahi Kasei Judo Workshops are full of children’s smiles. This is because the way our instructors teach them is different from how they train top athletes. “At our workshops, we prioritize sharing the charm of judo in an enjoyable manner. This includes teaching the basic movements in a playful atmosphere and demonstrating powerful, world-class throwing techniques right in front of participants. Judo, being a sport that requires interaction with others, instills qualities such as gratitude toward others and the ability to read what an opponent is thinking. These skills are also applicable in everyday life. We hope that the children who attend our workshops not only improve their physical strength, techniques, and competitive edge, but also develop mentally by embracing this judo spirit. We would like to see them continuing their judo journey and advancing to the global stage. Our ultimate goal is to spread the charm of judo, increase the number of practitioners, and revitalize the judo world.”

The Japanese sports world often emphasizes a balance between spirit, technique, and physical strength, and this concept is said to originate from judo. Balancing these three factors is considered to be essential. At the end of the workshop, Kenzo Nakamura reminded the children to always be grateful toward their parents for supporting them to practice judo, and the children nodded in acknowledgement. They seem to have truly learned the judo spirit of thoughtfulness and gratitude toward others.

  • Kenzo Nakamura directly instructing children
  • His two brothers Yoshio and Yukimasa also took part
  • Experiencing judo with easy and fun movements
  • Answering children’s questions to share the charm of judo

Demonstrating top-notch techniques up close to motivate children

Asahi Kasei Judo Workshops do not teach high-level techniques or special strategies. But children can see instructors demonstrate world-class techniques up close, which is a valuable experience and very motivating for them. One of the children who attended the workshop along with her father said, “I learned a lot today by watching the amazing instructors perform techniques right in front of me. World-class athletes are definitely on another level! Now I want to practice my favorite techniques, shoulder throw and small outer reap, to throw taller opponents.” The father added, “I am very happy today because there are few opportunities in Okayama to receive direct instruction from athletes who have excelled on the global stage. I hope my daughter embraces what she learned today and continues to enjoy judo for many years.”

This was the first time for an Asahi Kasei Judo Workshop to be held in Okayama. The event materialized thanks to Tatsuru Suzuki, General Manager of General Affairs of the Mizushima Works, who personally made a request to the Judo Team. “The Mizushima Works has consciously been working to make unique contributions to the community, ranging from supporting sports activities for local junior high school students to giving lectures at schools to share the importance of environmental conservation and the enjoyable aspects of chemistry. This event focused on judo, which Asahi Kasei is proud of. I was particularly impressed by how proactive the children were. It would be great if they could learn a valuable life lesson from it.”

  • A father and daughter who found the workshop to be valuable
  • Tatsuru Suzuki, General Manager of General Affairs of the Mizushima Works

Expanding overseas

The workshops are not limited to Japan. Asahi Kasei Judo Workshops have also been held in Dusseldorf, Germany, since 2017, and the sixth one was held in 2023. Asahi Kasei Europe GmbH, the regional headquarters for our business in Europe, started it as a community fellowship activity.

At the 2023 workshop, Kenzo Nakamura, along with managers, coaches, and active athletes of the Asahi Kasei Judo Team, served as instructors. Approximately 120 participants, including local high schoolers and Japanese school students, attended the event, making it a huge success. The workshop has now become a popular annual event in Dusseldorf. While sharing the charm and spirit of judo with the world, the team will continue to focus on the development of future generations and community-oriented activities in the Asahi Kasei way, around the world.

  • Ryunosuke Haga (right), active member of our Judo Team, demonstrates a technique
  • Local children who attended the workshop in judo uniform

Our aspiration to create opportunities one by one through judo workshops

While daily training is important, having special experience and learning outside of the routine also adds to the enjoyment of the sport and motivates one to become stronger. We will continue to conduct Asahi Kasei Judo Workshops, where children can learn by seeing and experiencing world-class techniques in their hometowns, with the aim of becoming a catalyst for children to grow significantly while enjoying judo. It may be a long journey, but we believe that creating such opportunities one by one will lead to the further growth of children. At Asahi Kasei we are committed to contributing to society through sports, aspiring for a bright future for communities and children.

  • Note:Titles and contents are current as of the interview date.

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