Judo is the biggest commitment in Liam Yokoyama’s life.
And the Bonnells Bay 15-year-old’s prime focus right now is preparing to climb his biggest mountain yet in the martial arts sport, the under-17 cadet world titles in August at Kiev, in the Ukraine.
Yesterday Yokoyama jetted off to Japan to begin five weeks of training in a traditional judo dojo to prepare for the world titles where he will lead the 10-man Australian team.
Yokoyama, who trains at the Kido Mingara at Tuggerah, qualified for worlds after winning gold in the under 66-kilogram division at the Australian National Judo Championships at Joondalup, Western Australia from June 11 and 12.
The Morisset High School year 10 student is of Japanese and Aboriginal descent and has been a sensation in judo since having his first fight in March 2008.
He won his first 14 fights all by ippon, the judo equivalent of a knockout, to become the Australian under-13 50-kilogram champion.
But since then Yokoyama has taken his judo to another level through his constant pilgrimages to Japan.
This latest trip will be his fourth stint to the home of judo.
Yokoyama made his first trip to the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo in 2009 where he spent six months developing his skills.
‘‘It’s a lot more rigorous than training here,’’ Yokoyama told the Newcastle Herald before he flew to Japan.
‘‘It’s very intense and you have to put in 110 per cent or you’re not going to benefit.
‘‘You can’t really take it easy or cruise along because it’s like you’re getting pushed and pushed.
‘‘Being the only outsider it is kind of weird, but at the same time I have a bit of Japanese in me, so that helps.’’
Yokoyama previously tried taekwondo and rugby union, but found his calling in judo.
‘‘I like the pure contact,’’ he said. ‘‘I like the feel to it and it gets you disciplined. It’s a lot different to other martial arts and sports.
‘‘It’s more about using their disadvantage to your advantage.
‘‘If they have a strong upper body, but their feet can’t move as fast as you, you can use that to your advantage.’’
While the Japanese meaning of Yokoyama is ‘‘side mountain’’, he moves anything but sluggish across the mat.
‘‘I focus on a lot more on footwork than most people do,’’ he said.
‘‘Compared to people who go for the big, big throws, I go for more combinations.’’