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Training Update

21 Mar shonakamori 2 Comments »

Sorry for the super boring blog title, but to be honest, I thought it was rather fitting :) Sadly, as most of us gymnast know very well, training can be very boring and very very  mundane. For the most part, workout consists of doing the same skills (or routines) over and over again – simply said, “repetition.”  If someone with zero gym experience were to walk into a gym, they might be impressed for about 10 minutes but will most likely get bored soon after because we are always doing the same thing.  In fact, I’ve gotten asked why before.  Well, there’s really only one answer to this – we do it so that we could hit our routines when it counts!

Anyway, training has been going well.  We now only have about 3 months left until USAs and Olympic Trials and this is literally the final stretch.  I am now just getting back into routine mode after giving myself some time to recover and build some of my consistency in a few of my skills.  This is when I get back to the grind!

Tomorrow I leave for another camp with the National Team.  Will be in good ‘ol Colorado Springs for a few days.  It’ll be a great opportunity to see the rest of the guys and rekindle the fire.  Not to mention, although it is tough, it’s always good to train in high altitude.  I’ll return from camp on Saturday night.  On Sunday I’ll be judging the boys’ State Championships all day!

Check out a video of a recent ring routine.  Not quite there but working towards it!

Tsunami/Earthquake Memorial Event

16 Mar shonakamori No Comments »

March 11th marked the one year anniversary for the tsunami/earthquake event that shook Japan and destroyed a major area in the northern part of the country.  As soon as I heard the news last year, I tried to think of things that I could do to help. Naturally, the first people I thought of were the people in the gymnastics community.  In a matter of weeks, I was able to raise a significant amount of money, which I sent off to the Japan Red Cross on behalf of Region 1 and NorCal Gymnastics.  Thanks so much for that!

A few days ago, I was invited to a memorial event in San Francisco to give thanks to all the people that donated and to update us with some news about the situation in Japan.  The event was held at the Presidio, which was significant because the US-Japan Security treaty was signed at the same place in the  60s.  The treaty was signed to create further ties and cooperation between the two countries so it was fitting that such an event could take place at the same site.

The event included a special video created by the Japanese people that were affected by the incident.  Speeches were also made by the Consul General and important members of the Japanese-American community.  It ended with a nice performance by a violinist and a koto player, as well as exhibitions that allowed us to gain information about the current situation out there.

The event at the Presidio in SF.

During the event, I even met an Olympic legend.  Kristi Yamaguchi was there as she also did a lot to raise awareness and bring in relief funds!  Had a nice little conversation with her and am hoping that we could work together in the future to help out as the road to recovery continues!  Thank you again to all the donated!

Me and Kristi after the event.

State Qualifiers Weekend

13 Mar shonakamori No Comments »

Just got back from a weekend of judging in San Luis Obispo.  Although it was quite a trek down (3.5 hours), it was exciting since it was my first time to go down to SLO.  I have to give a lot of respect for all the parents down there that come up to the Bay Area for all the meets during the season.  This goes for all the parents north of all the major gyms and inland.  It’s a huge commitment and I hope the kids can understand how much work it is to be a gym parent.

Anyway, the weekend went well.  The purpose of this meet was to give the kids another shot at qualifying for the State Championships.  The other option was to get a qualifying score twice during the course of the regular season, but for those that couldn’t get the score, this was another opportunity to make it in.  The kids will have a weekend off and then it’s States the following weekend.

Aside from the meet, I was able to play the tourist.  I walked around downtown for a bit and one of my coach friends took me out on a little tour of Pismo Beach.  It’s definitely got a Santa Cruz vibe to it.  Overall had a great time out there and even had one of the best clam chowders ever!  Pics below:

Splash Cafe - Went early but was already really crowded. Apparently it's a super popular spot down in Pismo.

Ridiculously good clam chowder in bread bowl! From what I heard Pismo is the "Clam Capital of the World!"

Cloudy day but still beautiful. Bet it's super nice in the summer!

Fun Times with Keen and Backpacker!

08 Mar shonakamori 4 Comments »

I had a pretty awesome opportunity today.  I did a short commercial shoot for Keen Footwear and Backpacker Magazine!  Keen is known for making outdoorsy shoes and Backpacker magazine gives you the latest information and advice on outdoor activities and hiking.  I won’t disclose much about what the commercial is about (it’ll be a surprise for when it gets finished) but I’ll say that it definitely involved some gymnastics!  We shot at a park in San Francisco.  I only did handstands so the shoot didn’t involve anything too difficult but I’ll admit that it was a bit scary given how high the bars were.  They were probably at least 10 feet off the ground and only dirt underneath.  Luckily I got more comfortable as I did more.

Pics are below from the shoot:

Pressing up to the handstand.

Yes, the bars were pretty darn high! Kinda dangerous come to think of it...

Handstand shot with cool effects!

Not only was it a fun gig but I even got a new pair of shoes!  Thanks Keen!

Lovin' the new kicks. Better start being more outdoorsy!

Champions Invite

07 Mar shonakamori No Comments »

Over the weekend, our home gym hosted the annual Champions Invite.  I was the pommel horse judge and it turned out to be a very successful weekend in all aspects. Meet ran smoothly and no injuries!  Great jobs to all the boys that competed and huge thanks to all the families that helped run the meet.  It was a blast!

Champions Invite!

This weekend, I’m off to San Luis Obispo to judge the second qualifiers to the State Championships for the compulsory boys.  It’ll be a long drive (over 3 hours) but it’ll give me an opportunity to clear my mind a bit.  Actually kind of excited for it because I’ve never been down there before.  Heard it’s a nice college town.  For those of you that have been down there, feel free to give me some suggestions on where to visit or to eat!

Loooong drive south!

Land of the Bears!

06 Mar shonakamori 2 Comments »

The other day I traveled far and wide, and across large bodies of waters to get to the Land of the Bears!  Ok, all kidding aside – reality was I only drove about 30 miles and over the Bay Bridge to train at Cal (UC Berkeley).

Front entrance of Cal gym. For those of you that have never been, it's all the way up on top of a hill!

I had a great workout with the college guys and it’s always fun to train in a different environment every once in a while.  Turns out, our national team director was visiting so it was a great opportunity to get some feedback from him as well.  The Cal guys are looking strong!  Stanford and Cal have been back and forth during the regular season so it’ll be interesting to see which team pulls ahead for the NCAA Championships.

Men's side of the Cal gym.

The guys stretching before training.

Although I went to school at Stanford, I feel closely connected to Cal in many ways. For one, I grew up right around the corner, and two, my dad used to be the head coach for the boys gymnastics team .  That said, although I will always be a Cardinal, I still support the Golden Bears!

Thanks to the Cal team for having me in the other day.  Good luck for the rest of the season!

A Year of Rebuilding…

28 Feb shonakamori No Comments »

2011 was a year of many ups and downs for Japan, but the one that really sticks in our minds is the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Northern Japan in the spring of last year.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since the event.  The situation is much better now but I know that in a lot of the northern areas, people are still working hard to rebuild.  The other day, I received an invitation from the Consul General of Japan for a gathering in San Francisco to remember those who were affected by the event.

Invitation for the Memorial Event.

I’ll be attending the gathering on behalf of everyone from the NorCal and Region 1 gymnastics communities that helped donate.  At this time, I wanted to say another thank you to everyone that put in money and helped support the cause!

Spartan Open Once Again!

22 Feb shonakamori No Comments »

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to judge the Spartan Open!  It was exciting for me for several reasons.  For one, this was a meet that I used to compete at when I was younger.  I think the last time I competed at that meet was when I was like 10 or 11.  I remember cranking for my high bar dismount and peeling right off…my dad (my coach then) was totally angry at me.  Luckily, that was just about the only bad memory I have of the meet.  Oh wait…I also remember messing up my floor pattern, and again, my dad was upset at me for that.  Other memories are a little more fond though!

But the more exciting thing about Spartan Open was that they haven’t had a men’s meet at San Jose State since 1996!  Hence, to see men’s equipment in that gym made me feel super nostalgic!

Judging the Spartan Open!

I can’t believe it’s been that long since San Jose State dropped their program.  Really sad to think that there are only two colleges left with gymnastics programs on the west side of the Rockies (just Stanford and Cal).  At least until the mid 90s, there were schools like UCSB, San Jose State, and New Mexico with gym programs. It’s really interesting for me to hear from older coaches about what it was like back in the day.  Almost every major college had a gymnastics program.  How much cooler will it be at conference and national championships with that many teams?

Word on the street though is some people are trying to get together to bring back the San Jose team, at least at the club level.  I know it’s easier said than done but if that happens, that would be awesome!

Week with the Japanese Team!

20 Feb shonakamori No Comments »

With the Japanese team in the gym last week, I’ve gotta say that it was extra motivating and fun during training!  It was especially nice to be able to get some feedback from my old coach, Mutsumi!  He’s an extremely technical coach and it’s always nice to get his perspective on how to execute different skills.

After a week of training at Stanford, the Japanese guys joined in for a tri-meet against Cal and Stanford.  Although there were a few mistakes from each team, the Japanese team ended up taking the win!  Pretty impressive considering they only brought seven athletes!  In college, you can compete up to 15 athletes and put up 6 of your best guys on each event with the top four scores counting.  Since the Japanese team only brought 7 guys, that meant they were only able to rest one guy per event.  Either way, it was an exciting night and I hope they had a great experience being able to compete in front of American crowds.  I know from experience that Japanese meets could be very quiet.  However, college meets in the US, are the exact opposite…super rowdy!

Before the meet: Stanford-Cal-Japan

Me and the Japanese Team after the meet!

Luckily, this time around, we were able to finish the week off without any major accidents or illnesses.  Like I said in the last post, there was a guy last year that had to be taken to the ER. Nothing like that this year.

The team left early this morning so they should be back in Japan by now.  Good luck to them in the training and future competitions!  Also, thanks to Mutsumi for the super sweet backpack (picture below)!

Cool Mizuno backpack with the Japanese flag!

Japanese Team Arrives!

15 Feb shonakamori No Comments »

Well, it’s time for the annual meet against the Japanese team (for Stanford).  And again, they’ve brought over a group of very talented under-21 gymnasts!  I’ll be helping them throughout the week with translating and getting them situated.  Last year there was a slight incident with one of the team members, and we had to make a quick trip to the emergency room (luckily he ended up being ok).  Hopefully things will be much better this time ::knock on wood::!!!

Super excited to see my old coach, Mutsumi Harada, again.  Mutsumi was a 2000 Olympian for the Japanese team, and he actually helped coach the Stanford team when I was a sophomore so he has some ties to the program here.

The Japanese Team during Morning Training

Stanford will take on Cal and the U-21 Japanese team on Saturday @ 7pm.  It’ll be an exciting meet.  Hope many of you will be able to make it out!