Masashi Ebinuma, one of Japan’s greats, is known for his professional calmness, unshakeable focus and razor sharp technique. Three world titles, 2 Olympic medals, wins in Paris and Tokyo, he has done it all.
2013 world champion, Rio De Janeiro.
2014 world champion.
2014 world champion.
The uchi-mata at the 2014 world championships.

Since before Ebinuma’s 2020 retirement, he was already retraining, learning about the coaching process, and now he is a new member of the Japanese national coaching team, an assistant coach, working with the -60 kg and -66 kg men. He is also coaching for his company, Park24. He is coaching in Dushanbe at the penultimate grand slam of this Olympic cycle.

Coach Ebinuma in Dushanbe.

Following two years in the UK exploring coaching styles and learning English, Masashi Ebinuma is back on the World Judo Tour but now in the coaching chair guiding a new crop of Japanese future stars.

“While in the U.K. I learned about different cultures both within sport and more widely. That includes thinking about new approaches to athletes too because Japan and the U.K. are very different in their methods. In Japan we have a model built around the sensei and the respect culture, with some distance between judoka and coaches. In the UK and all over Europe the relationship seems much closer."

With Kondo (JPN) in Dushanbe.

"How performance analysis work is managed is one illustration of these differences. It’s a necessary part of the sport and in the U.K. coaches and athletes do this work together, discussing strategy and practising solutions, deciding how to improve. It is interesting for me to see these different ways; it’s not like this in Japan."

Performance analysis, coach and athlete.

"Now I am coaching for my company, Park24, a main sponsor of the Japanese team. I also an assistant coach for Japan until this summer’s Paris Olympics and after that I will speak with the head coach, Suzuki San, to see what my next experience might be. In the meantime I’m looking forward to working in the warm-up area with the team in Paris.

Park24 is a relatively new company, just ten years old, so I have no Sempai there but I have become Sempai for the younger ones. Uta and Hifumi Abe, Takato, Hashimoto, are all at Park24 and so the team is very strong.

In my last two years as a competitor while already learning to be a coach, I realised the need to change mentality. Instead of being selfish as an athlete I must give everything to the athletes when I am a coach. So I don’t have a personal goal as a coach except for the athletes to get good results.”

Masashi Ebinuma is enjoying the coaching challenge and remains open to learning all he can in his new role.

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