Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 22
BY JASON BANANIA
Santa Maria’s Joseph Riloquio, 20, threw and slammed his way to earning the bronze in a judo tournament at the California State Games in San Diego.
“I had to get a medal. I knew I w≠as ready because I had been training with Edgar and Angel [Espinosa],” Riloquio said of two brothers he credited with preparing him for the competition.
Winning a medal was important for Riloquio in more ways than one. According to Riloquio, his dojo—CEM Judo in Nipomo—has a tradition of medaling at every tournament it’s entered, and every match fuels him to continue the unbroken streak.
The California State Games was the fifth tournament Riloquio competed in since he started practicing judo one year ago. Out of the five tournaments Riloquio has participated in, he’s placed in all of them except for his very first one.
Feeling down from the heavy disappointment weighing on his conscience, Riloquio saw his first tournament as a turning point. He became determined to make sure the only thing that would ever weigh him down again would be a medal around his neck.
He became serious about competing and knew that attending every practice would be vital to his success. He lifted weights and worked on his conditioning during the day and trained judo at night, constantly drilling techniques under the instruction of his sensei, Rob Rush.
Riloquio credits one technique in particular to his success in San Diego: a throw called Uchi Mata.
“Uchi Mata was a move that I never really liked, but we drilled it two weeks before the tournament,” Riloquio said. “During my first match, it was just there for me. I kept seeing it.”
Performing the throw helped Riloquio score important points and gave him the momentum to push through the tournament.
Riloquio found judo after high school when he began searching for an outlet that would provide him with the athletic competition he lived for. He experimented with many different martial arts, training in kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and MMA, but felt they didn’t fit him.
Around this time, his girlfriend was training judo and constantly told him how much fun she was having. He decided to give it a try.
“It was love at first sight,” Riloquio said. “It’s different from other martial arts I’ve tried. The atmosphere of this dojo was different from any of the other places. I loved how the better guys didn’t have big egos. Everyone wanted to help each other to get better.”
Riloquio also appreciated his sensei’s style: teaching his students to check their egos.
“It’s a humble sport,” he said. “Our coach doesn’t want us to get big heads, and I really like that aspect.”
Riloquio has another year left with CEM Judo and plans on achieving his black belt. Next year, he plans to transfer to UC Santa Cruz to major in history, with a goal of teaching and coaching at the high-school level. But he’s not done with judo, and by the looks of it, he’ll never be.
“I love judo,” he said. “It kind of came late in my life, but it will always be a part of me for the rest of my life. If my body doesn’t let me do it anymore, I’ll roll myself to the dojo in my wheelchair and watch.”
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