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Community Highlights: Meet Rieko Sasaki of Sasaki Judo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rieko Sasaki

Rieko, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born in Okayama, Japan to a family with a long history in Judo. My great grandfather started his own Judo dojo and eventually I also started to do Judo. I started practicing Judo when I was four years old and I have not stopped since. I competed heavily in Japan throughout my school years and eventually joined the Okayama police force. When I decided to try something new, I became a P.E. instructor at middle school and taught an after school Judo program. I became an English teacher and to further my experiences, I decided to move to Canada for a year and taught Judo there. There, I recieved an invitation to teach at a charter school in Florida, and moved to Pembroke Pines after my time in Canada. In Florida I met my now husband, Shinjiro, who is also from Japan. After we married, I joined his dojo, Sasaki Judo. Eventually we moved the dojo to Casselberry, Florida where we have been since 2016. I won the 2016 and 2018 Judo World Veterans competitions, and continue to teach students at Sasaki Judo. I just gave birth to my second son and I’m excited to go back to the mat.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Moving to another country was a very difficult decision and learning English on the way was probably the greatest struggle. Even though I had experience speaking and teaching English, it was still different having to use it every day and dealing with complicated things such as getting a work visa and health insurance for example. While living in a different country has its struggles, I have found more value in the frendships I have made here in the US. The social culture of the US feels more open minded for me and it is celebrated more in the US to have friends of different backgrounds and ages. In Japan, I sometimes felt like this wasn’t always the case, so the more relaxed nature of the US has been very appealing to me.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Sasaki Judo is the only Japanese-owned judo dojo in Florida. Judo is a partner sport that involves throwing, safely falling, and grappling. It teaches the body and mind discipline with a great focus on technique. Using the proper judo technique, someone can throw another person twice their size with great ease. Something we are really proud of at Sasaki Judo, is that all of our instructors and students come from different backgrounds. Our kids class instructor is a former international competitor from Hungary, and another instructor is from Brazil. Our students range from age 3 to 60+ and come from all over the world such as Venezuela, Japan, Cuba, and Spain. In the past we have had guest instructors from Japan and Korea who are Olympic and International champions. Our students come to compete, some come to learn self-defense, and others come simply to maintain a healthy lifestyle and train in judo for fun.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
When I was 10 years old, I visited the US with my dad. We traveled for two weeks and went to Hawaii. Everything seemed so big and different to me. It made me want to visit the US again. Now I live in the US and I have gone to Hawaii a handful of times and it is one of my favorite places to visit.


  • Drop-in: $20
  • Private Lesson or Monthly Membership: $100
  • Kids Class Monthly Membership: $100

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Yogo photo by Jim Uhing

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1 Comment


    December 17, 2020 at 7:06 am


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