For more than 100 years (from 1916 for men and 1990 for women), the KINSHUKI High School Team National Championships has been an institution in Japan and one of the most prestigious competitions for high school students. In July of every year, the event is held in Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyushu and gathers together hundreds of participants. A few years ago, in 2017, 168 high schools for women and 322 for men participated in this mega event, but this is also the year when ABE Uta and SONE Akira competed together. The All Japan Judo Federation just released two videos of this special occasion.

Abe vs. Sone PART 1

In the past, many champions have participated in the KINSHUKI before going on to win world and Olympic titles; YAMASHITA Yasuhiro and INOUE Kosei are among them.

This may sound a little strange, that two world champions, who are competing in totally different weight categories, could meet, but due to the format of the event, this is possible. Actually the KINSHUKI High School Team National Championships is an open weight team event, with each team consisting of 5 judoka, based on a ‘winner stays on’ competition system. This means that when a judoka wins he/she will continue competing against the next judoka from the opposing team and when there is a draw they cancel each other out, moving onto the next teammates. It is therefore possible for one judoka to defeat the entire other team, if they win five contests in a row. HAGA Ryunosuke, 2015 World Champion, holds the record, by winning against 20 judoka in a row.

That explained, the most exciting moment of the 2017 competition was undeniably the match between ABE Uta and SONE Akira. Remembering this special contest, the All Japan Judo Federation just released two videos on their official YouTube channel. They are subtitled in 8 different languages (Japanese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Korean) and using the YouTube subtitle button, you will discover the dual commentary of ABE Uta and SONE Akira, with their own special comments. You will also discover the comments of SUGIMOTO Mika, head coach of KOMATSU Judo Club and silver medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

Abe vs. Sone PART 2

ABE Uta and SONE Akira, who are both qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games, are the same age and they were 17 years old in 2017. The champions have a strong friendship on and off the tatami. The final of the KINSHUKI was contested by SHUKUGAWA High school (ABE Uta) and NANCHIKU High school (SONE Akira) and Abe was the first to compete for her team, when Sone was the last for hers.

In the first video, you will see how ABE won her first four contests in a row, even though the team had already had 6 matches beforehand. The young woman had already fought 15 times before the final started and SONE 'only' 11 times. In the first bout, ABE faced KOGA Wakana (Junior World champion, silver at the Paris Grand Slam). After she defeated her, she won three more fights to face SONE. It was time for the much anticipated match between these stars. 

In the second part of the video, you will discover what happens next and you will also learn more about their state of mind when participating in the KINSHUKI tournament.

To discover more video content with a focus on Japanese judo, including dual commentary films with INOUE and SUZUKI, you can subscribe to the AJJF YouTube channel

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