Budo Sponsored Athlete: Rikako Yuasa Interview

Feb 22nd, 2012 by dane

Editor’s note: There was a few mistakes made in copy editing this video. English is not the first language of Rikako’s team and so it was quite difficult to makes things readable in English. I apologize for any inconvenience.

The women’s division is a growing segment in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but it’s already contentious. The growing pool of competition is already producing stars, and Budo Videos sponsored athlete Rikako Yuasa is a promising young prospect. The 2012 IBJJF European Open Champion in the purple belt division has strong takedowns and a tricky guard – which means I shall endeavor to avoid rolling with her at all costs. I’m serious Budo’ers, this is “lie about an injury and walk with a fake limp for a few weeks” worthy.

Tell us your history with Jiu Jitsu – when you started, how long you’ve been training, etc. What attracted you to Jiu Jitsu?

I stared training BJJ since I was 16 years old, so I’ve been training about 4 years. I took third place at the 2011 Worlds, I took first place in the Rickson Gracie Cup for 2010, 2011 and 2012, I won first place and MVP at the Dumau Tokyo Open in 2011, I won the JEWELS 14th RING Grappling  pro-match and I won the Tokyo International in 2010.

I was a competitive swimmer for a long time and I started Judo when my brother started training it in school and grappling at a wrestling school when I was 13 years old. I got interested in Jiu Jitsu when I watched Jiu Jitsu fighters on PRIDE, but even in Jiu Jitsu I liked training newaza (ground fighting).

I train Jiu Jitsu full time now.

You did very well in the European Championships this year, did you do anything differently in training? What helped you prepare?

After the 2011 Worlds last year was over, I stopped my other sports, including swimming, and increased quantity of training as much as possible. I’ve also been working on my takedowns for the past few years with Judo and I’ve been drilling a lot and doing a lot of position sparring.

Who was your toughest fight at the European Championships and why?

The second match in my division. She pulled guard at the very beginning and I stuffed it, but
because the first time that this happened, I was tense the whole match. I got the advantage first, but lost points when she swept me. I got a sweep in the last few seconds of the match, but I couldn’t
check the time so it was a close match. My opponent had a great guard, and it reminded me that I have to keep training.

Which technique or techniques worked the best for you? Have you trained them often? Why do you think these worked so well?

Armbars are my favorite technique because of my Judo background. It’s often available after the takedown, and it worked well for me when I didn’t know Jiu Jitsu techniques that well. I still love training take downs.

What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

My focus is winning the 2012 Worlds, but I’ll enter a few smaller competitions first and find things that I need to work on. I’ll keep working on strength and conditioning and my takedowns.
Go for some games first; and as for the weak point conquest, the physical condition management,

What are your competition plans for the future?

To be the 2012 World Champion, of course! I want to help make Jiu Jitsu more popular in both Japan and the world. I want to be a spokesperson and get more people involved in the sport.

Do you have anyone else you’d like to thank or mention?

I’d like to thank everyone that’s supported me: my teammates, coaches, friends, family and sponsors and all the great people I’ve encountered in Jiu Jitsu.

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