Interview with Ronda Rousey
Congratulations on your recent Junior World Championship win. That is absolutely fantastic and you have a lot of people cheering for you. Thanks for joining us in this interview.
At what age did you begin judo and where have you been practicing?
RR: I started judo pretty late at age 11 in Los Angeles and my dojo at home is Venice Judo Club. I was lucky to be in the LA area where there are over 50 judo clubs and have had many dojos generous enough welcome me to train there. So though Venice is like my family I’ve been training at 3-4 different judo clubs a week since I was around 14.
Question: Who have been the big influences in your judo career? Teachers/Other fighters? And what was it about them that influenced you?
RR: My mom has been by far my biggest influence not just in judo but in guiding me to all the right steps in training and trying to make me grow into a good person along the way. Also Trace Nishiyama and Jim Perdro Sr. have put I don’t know how much time into helping me on trying to be the best in the world. Trace has always been big into not letting me forget what I really want and what my dream really is and not let it get sidetracked by other people’s expectations for me. And Big Jim and the rest of the Pedro’s have taken me in when they barely knew me they just wanted to see the US win in judo. And they’ve also influenced me in little stuff like remembering to make my bed and learning to do my own laundry which really took A LOT of work.
Question: Many people are unaware that your mother, Dr. AnnMaria, is World Champion. How does she guide you? Because of her experience, I’m sure she really knows what it takes to get to the top and I’m sure she can help you a great deal.
RR: Ever since I told my mom that I thought judo was really cool and wanted to quit swimming and do judo instead she had a plan for me. Not necessarily to be an Olympic champion like it is now but I couldn’t be more thankful for my mom and all she’s done. I mean I had a lot more opportunities from an early age to train in all the right places which seems almost unfair for the kids who don’t have a American’s first world judo champion in their house. Also it’s easy for some Americans to see the performance of our judokas internationally and feel like Americans are just not meant to win. But you know my MOM won the worlds so it’s not like it was impossible. And then there’s those hours of overtime she puts in to pay for all my judo trips when it’s so hard to get financial help. Also a lot of athletes coming up face difficult decisions and are never really sure if they’re doing the right things or training the right way or will be able to juggle school and friends and family and their sport. Mom has always been the person I’ve trusted with helping me make these decisions the most (even if she doesn’t think so).
Question: Have you always enjoyed the sport and were you chompin’ to get fighting or has this been a natural progression for you?
RR: I was so excited about judo when I first tried it, I’d been doing swimming for years and I remember days my mom or dad had to practically drag me to swimming. It was just back and forth back and forth over and over and some people really enjoy that and there were times were I did really enjoy it. But I was a competitive kid and didn’t win often and that was even more frustrating. But judo seemed so much more fun and creative and there wasn’t just one way to do it like there was just one way to do the butterfly or you got disqualified. And there have been times where I really didn’t want to go to judo but it was always me making myself go and not somebody else, and always every time after practice I’m happy I went. And when I won my first tournament I felt like superwoman, and it still feels like that till this day.
Question: You are a fantastic role model for children and youth and female judoka. What advice can you share… say 3 good points for helping kids along with their judo lessons, training, goals?
RR: The one major thing is pick a goal, and be honest about it. People might think it would be pretty cool to one day winning the Olympics, but if you’re not willing to maybe one day face the option of moving away from your family and friends to do all you can to get to the top of that podium then that’s not your goal. It could be just to be an Olympian, to win the Sr. Nationals, win the Jr. Nationals, Win a local tournament, or not care about results and just want to hang with your friends at judo, or maybe you just want to get your black belt. The point is your should always be honest with yourself about what YOU want and what YOUR dream is cause its your life and you’re not living it for anyone else.
Another thing is there are a lot of days that I think I suck more at judo than a naked mole rat does. I mean nothing works and it seems like the world hate me and I cry at practice and my coach yells at me and I lose an important tournament. But worst thing you could do ever ever is quit. There will always be bad days, or bad weeks, or bad months, (I’ve never quite had a bad year yet) but there’s so much to be gained from this sport and there is nothing to gain from quitting.
Another last thing is that winning doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. You could win everthing there is to win and still be a horrible person and have nothing. Really what matters more than winning is your family and friends and it’s really easy to lose sight of that if you are so focused on getting better and being the best. I’m not even a perfect example of following my own advice but I try anyways cause really that what it all comes down to is your family and friends will always be there for you, and whatever tournaments you win will most likely have a different winner that isn’t you the next year.
Question: How often do you practice? Can you share with us briefly your workout regimen?
RR: Well right now I’m in Boston which is different training than at home but they’re very similar. I the morning I have either lifting or conditioning which alternate days and at night I do judo, and in between the two I do schoolwork. And of course I try to go to as many camps and tournaments and clinics as I can. Even local tournaments because fighting in tournaments are just like training for the ones that really matter, and it has never at any point entered my mind that someone “wasn’t good enough” to fight me. In my opinion no matter who I’m fighting I can gain something.
Question: How do you fit in practice and homework at the same time?
RR: Well I’m not fighting at practice while trying to write an essay that would be too complicated. I have two workouts a day one in the morning one at night and during the days I do my schoolwork. Because of how much I travel I can’t go to regular high school so I take my classes from Laurel Springs School which offers correspondence courses that I can do anywhere which give me the freedom to travel and train anywhere at anytime.
Question: Tell us a bit about your Olympic experience….were you nervous? Intimidated? Exhilarated? Did you get to meet and hang with judoka from other countries? Anyone in particular that you were excited to meet—either judoka or other athletes?
RR: I was really excited about meeting Lance Armstrong but he didn’t end up going but I did get to meet Suzuki which was really cool cause I’d seen so many tapes of him fighting and stuff that at the opening ceremonies me and Nikki got to meet and take pictures with him. We saw him and we were both like “Suzuki!” and Nikki shrieked, “AHH!” and then he looked at us and went “AHH!” back. And then while walking through the village we saw him just playing catch and though that was so weird I would see one of the athletes I’d idolized since the past forever just hanging out and playing catch.
And yeah I was really excited and nervous but I got most of my nerves out of my system two weeks before. For some reason right when I hit that two week mark I am just an emotional wreck and by the time I get to the tournament that’s coming up I’m pretty much fine. Which is actually the opposite of everyone I know.
Question: What has been your most memorable fight to date?
RR: My most memorable fight would probably be the finals at junior worlds. And the reason why it’s so memorable to me is I do not remember it at all. I know it happened and I saw pictures but all I remember is being anxious before and happy after, and then a lot of chocolate eating after that. I haven’t even seen a video of it its like it never happened. But still it’s the one fight that stands out to me the most cause it was such a big deal and was over so quick.
Question: Do you get nervous before you fight? And what do you do to deal with your nervousness?
RR: I get the most nervous the two weeks before I fight. For some reason my nerve build up then and I’m a nervous wreck and nothing works at practice and I cry and everything. But When I get to the tournaments almost all my nerves are gone it’s like I used them all up. What I do to deal with being nervous is I talk about it to everybody especially my mom, it just seems like the more I talk about my nerves the more I understand them and it’s easier to get rid of them that way. If I know I trained my hardest and all the hard part is over and all I have to do is try my hardest, then there’s nothing to be nervous about because I’ve already done all I could.
Question: Are you superstitious and if so, can you share any of your superstitions with us with regard to judo?
RR: I used to be really superstitious but that ended in 2003. At the US Open that year I had my lucky everything with me, my mom’s medal from the world championships, lucky shorts lucky shirt, my weight was great I was actually under by like .9 kilos, the cute guy smiled at me I mean everything. But then I lost the finals and got my ear drained and it wasn’t too fun.
Then the very next week at the Rendez-Vous everything went wrong I had to cut, I was running late to the tournament, I had a cold, I was stinky, I forgot my right kind of bra I mean everything was bugging me. But then I won the tournament. So the only superstition I have is when I I’m in a car and it’s going through a tunnel and I hold my breath to wish to win a tournament I HAVE to hold the breath till the end of the tunnel or I get horrible nerves about the tournament. Also this isn’t a superstition but more of a Catholic thing but my Mom or Grandma lighting candles for me at church is a big deal too.
Question: Can you share with us your goals for the next year or 2?
RR: I want to win the World Championships this year and the Olympics in ’08. Other than that I just want to fight as much as I can and keep getting better. I am also really pulling for getting accepted in to Northeastern University.
Last Updated on Friday, 29 January 2010 15:12