Want to know what it takes to be Britain's Number 1 Judoka master? Well, one thing we know for sure is that Natalie Powell's got the winning combination. As she wins the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Gold medal on October 28th with her world-class performance, she makes British history as the first ever female judoka to top the charts with her newly earned title. The win not only made her the first ever woman judoka in British history, it has also moved her to the top of the world rankings for the 78kg weight class.
What is a Judoka?
A judoka is someone such as Natalie Powell who practices Judo, known both for being a martial art and a combat sport that has been taken all the way to the Olympics. Like most martial arts, it too has a rich history. Although derived from the term "the gentle way", it originated from the Japanese form of Jujutsu, the primary defense system implemented by the Samurai until the late 1800's.
One of the main characteristics that sets Judo apart from other martial arts forms is its use in using the adversary's force against them, stressing more of a defense tactic. Although strikes are sometimes used, they are kept out of the sports version. The goal of a judoka is to gain a superior position on the ground or in a standing submission hold.
One of my favorite quotes by a female judoka states, "I did not go into judo to benefit myself physically. I went into it for the knowledge, and for the fearful power which that knowledge gives."
You may ask what knowledge this woman speaks of. Well, thru the art of Judo, they obtain the ultimate in self defense and can send an attacker flying through the air without any difficulty or strainwith just a light touch to the knee, wrist or cheek, using his own force against him.
Judo for woman is not new to the world of fighting. The inventor of the sport Jigoro Kano, who created judo, was also the originator of female Judo. After marrying his wife in 1891, he personally trained her and his female servants who in turn taught other females who wanted to learn the art. His experiment was extremely successful, with the first female competitions taking place in Kodokan in 1925, leading us to the amazing female judo scene we have today that encompases Natalie Powell as well as many other women judokas.
Meet Natalie Powell
As the top Judoka in her weight class at the age of 27, Natalie Powell has reached heights few have reached. Her Judo peers describe her as "calm, cool and collected. A girl with a quiet strength".Through her hard work and commitment to mastering her art form, Natalie has broken records and made a great name for herself. Her training for the World Championships began after taking a couple of months off from her wins at the Olympics to recover and rest.She then visited Judo camps in Germany, Spain and Japan where she focused on developing her style and getting international exposure. Through the immense skill she has with her foot work, she won her semi final fight for the entry into the Championship in under 6 seconds.
In a throw-for-ten interview, we can get a little closer to Nataliel and find out some fun and personal facts on the woman who has brought fame to Britain. Behind the warrior, and all the training is just a normal girl with and favorite movie and karaoke song! Some of the highlight questions from her interview are:
Q. "What age did you start judo and what was your first club you fought in? "
A."I as 8, jand my first club I fought at was called the junior cup"
Q. "When did you get your first Dan?"
A."I was about 15 years old"
Q. "What was your best moment in Judo and your favorite medal?"
A." Winning the Master Silver"
Q. "What is your favorite movie?"
A."It was Titanic, but now it's definitelySpy with Melissa McCarthy"
Q. " What is your favorite animal?"
A."Definitely a bird"
Q. "Do you have a secret talent?"
A."I can juggle!"
Her upcoming goals? In an interview with BBC Wales she says that after 19 years of hard work, and finally achieving her dreams, she wants to stay at the top at least until the end of the year, and then move on to win the Europeans and Worlds in 2018. Her long term goals is to win the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She is not stopping anytime soon! She is now training harder than ever for her upcomingtournamentthat will be taking place in Japan and fine tuning some minor tweaks she believes could help keep her on the top.
It is believed you may see her name in history along with some other famous MMA Judokas such as the polish fighter, Pawel Nastula, 1995 and 1997 Judo World Champion and gold medalist of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga; Karo Parisyan,probably the most successful judo practitioner turned MMA fighter in the history of the sport; and Hidehiko Yoshida, Yoshida, and extremely popular MMA fighter and winner of the gold medal in judo at the 1992 Olympics Games.
Good luck, Natalie Powell! May your legacy create empowerment for all your female successors!