The New York Athletic Club host's an international Judo tournament each year. I have been given the opportunity to interview the U.S. Women's team with the intent of getting a closer look into what it takes to compete and various other aspects of the sport.
Additionally I am working with the Women's Annex Foundation whose latest project inspires the young girls of Afghanistan to believe in, hope for and maybe become heroes themselves. Through a series of interviews I hope to establish what s superhero is and what they can mean for these young women. With these interviews I also hope to correlate the connection between the Afghanistan women who don’t have superheroes and the U.S. Judo team who may have very different type of hero’s.
Matthew: Can you briefly tell us about yourself and your background?
Hannah: I am currently training for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. I train at the Jason Morris Judo Center in Upstate New York. I am currently ranked #1 in the USA and #16 in the World in the under 63kg category division. I have been doing judo since I was 8 year old. I am 2x National Champion, 2x US Open Champion, and have multiple World Cup and Grand Prix Medals from around the world.
Matthew: What inspired you to pursue Judo as a martial art? Tell us about your sports and practice philosophy?
Hannah: I didn't know exactly what judo was, but my father wanted my younger brother to do judo. I didn't like being excluded so I went to go and watch, and when I went there the Coach threw a Gi on me and let me try a free class. I instantly fell in love with the sport. I liked the fact that I looked like a ninja. My father didn't approve because I was a girl participating in a "fighting sport". I still have the same love and passion for the sport 18 years later. I love the fact that there is always something to work on. This sport is really complex, once you think you master a technique, you realize that there is something else you need to work on! My personal philosophy that I take to the tatami is that even though I am competing against others around the world, I need to work on being better than yesterday. Everyday I need to work on a better version of me, and that will help me to succeed at a higher level.
Matthew: How do you see sports not only as a physical practice but an educational tool to empower women?
Hannah: Judo, is not only an amazing workout that makes you strong and look good. It also is good for your mind. Judo gives you the inner self confidence. That confidence that makes you look in the mirror and say, "I am not afraid of anything. Bring it on World." Judo can you be used as an educational tool to empower women because it is a great sport to learn how to take care of yourself when you are walking down the street. You may look small and dainty, but if you know how to defend yourself- nobody will ever expect that.