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Hajime! A sneak peek into the country’s premiere preseason judo tournament

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Now that the UAAP season is over, the time has come for the numerous preseason tournaments like the FilOil Flying V Basketball Tournament, the Shakey’s V-League Tournament, and PSC Chairman Baseball Tournament to finally take center stage.

Joining the long list of preseason tournaments that showcase the best players from the NCAA, the UAAP, and the other leagues all over the archipelago, is the country’s premiere judo tournament simply known as Hajime!.

Humble Beginnings

Tracing to its inception to 1996, the Hajime! Judo Tournament was founded through the hard work of Coach Alexander Sulit along with the then one year old Ateneo Judo Association. Starting with less than 10 teams that were based in the National Capital Region during its fledgling year, the tournament has steadily grown throughout the years to reinvent itself and attract the attention of even more squads within and outside of NCR.

Since its foundation, the tournament has gone through multiple transformations as it continually improved itself not only through technology to deliver the a greater experience, but also as it moved from the then generic college covered courts to its current location in the historic Blue Eagle Gym.

Attracting a total of 28 teams ranging from the UAAP Judo rivals, DLSU, UP, UE and UST as well as teams that come from places a couple of thousand miles away like Davao, Hajime has grown to the point where it now sets the bar for other pre-season judo tournaments according to former Ateneo Men’s team captain Matt Jao.

Beyond the Philippines

While already enjoying a prestigious position in the Philippine judo scene, the annual tournament has transcended the boundaries of the country. It welcomed many notable judokas as well as Brazilian jiu-jitsu artists like Mike Fowler who entered the the Hajime tatami mats to deliver what Jao described as a superfight against the best Filipino Judoka, John Baylon.

 

Apart from inviting judokas from countries like the US, Venezuela and other fellow ASEAN countries, the tournament is now set to once again create another milestone as it welcomes its first foreign team through the presence of six Singaporean judokas joined by individual competitors from France and the home of the sport itself, Japan.

This event has a total of 283 competitors, one of the highest according to the officials of the tournament, who are ready to take on the mats this coming April 25 at the home of Ateneo’s famous sports program. It is difficult to overlook just how exciting the tournament has grown since its infancy. Slated to continually increase over the years with the regular participation of foreign and veteran judokas, national champions, and UAAP champions Hajime has grown not only to deliver an exciting experience to its spectators, but also to deliver a venue for the nations’ up-and-coming judokas to experience the international stage so close to home and to hone their skills for the future.

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