From Japan to Texas to Virginia and now Cuba

Since my last blog a lot has happened!

Before leaving Japan I manged to catch a lung infection that has stayed with me from the 15th of March ’til now.  I had a severe cough that hindered me from working out for the first two weeks of being home.  The last thing I wanted after 2 months of hard training in Tokyo.  The sickness lasted longer than anticipated and only gave me one solid week of preparation for Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach.

My parents and I were scheduled to arrive in Virginia on Thursday April 10th around 12 in the afternoon.  Due to all the cancellations with American Airlines I arrived BY MYSELF at 3am.  Keep in mind I had to weigh in at 6am and I was fighting by 10am.  We were very angry to say the least but after a long day of fighting I ended up taking 2nd place, qualifying myself for the Olympic Trials being held June 13th to the 15th in Las Vegas.  

Granted, 2nd place is not what I wanted… I have to look at the big picture and that is the Olympic Trials.  I am in a good position going into the trials and even though I am not number one, I can say from experience, I do best under pressure.  I know this because I was number 5 going into the Olympic Trials in 2004 and I still made the team.  Knowing that there is someone in my division that has beaten me WILL ONLY benefit my training from now until the trials.  With every judo practice, run, and gym workout here on out I will be thinking about that match I lost in the finals for gold.  Yes I could come up with excuses and reasons for why I did not take first place at Nationals but that is not me.  I lost.  BUT Senior Nationals is not the ultimate goal.  Winning the Olympic Trials and making the 2008 Olympic Team is the ultimate goal.

I arrived from Virginia late last night and I am already planning my next trip.  I will be leaving next Monday for a 10 day training camp and tournament being held in Cuba.  Besides the Japanese, the Cubans are the best in the world. 

There are only 60 days remaining until I know whether or not I will be on the Beijing Olympic Team.  BELIEVE ME when I say I am going to give it everything I have left in order to make the 2008 team. 

I am always looking for donations being that this is an expensive sport with all the expenses that come with training and fighting all over the world.  If you would like to be one of my sponsors please contact me at

Thank you for your support,

Nikki Kubes

Sayonara Nippon

My journey has finally come to an end.

Poland did not go as planned but I learned a lot so I do not consider it a loss. I know exactly what I need to work on and I have a little over 3 weeks before my next competition to do so. Senior Nationals is going to be April 11th in Virginia.

Since Warsaw, I have been going nonstop. Judo has been relentless and I can honestly say I gave it my all! I am totally EXHAUSTED. As soon as I got back to Japan, that weekend Otoguro Sensei took me to the Olympic Training Center where they held the biggest camp I have ever been to. There were hundreds of women on the mat in a dojo the size of a soccer field and I was the only foreigner!

When I walked in I instantly felt the tingles that come before a big competition. Bordering the mat were all the top universities in Japan (Teikyo, Tokai, Nittaidai) with teams of 20-30 women who were stretching together and taping up. There is one entry way into this club and everyone who walks in is immediately sized up. You can imagine how I felt walking in solo! I had an instant rush of adrenaline! Time to fight! Otoguro picked out all of my rounds and made sure I went with the best. Everyone I fought with was either a World Champion, Olympian, about to go to the Olympics, or a highly ranked fighter. IT WAS AN ABSOLUTE BRAWL, but I loved it!

The next camp, that I completed as of today (YAY!), took place at Heisei International University. It was unbelievably hard and I know my body will be feeling the pain of it for the next week at least!! This camp consisted of 3 or 4 Universities, so considerably smaller then the one at the Olympic Training Center, but there were still a good amount of women. At least 70, no more then 100.

This camp was unbelievably intense. It was 3 days long with a practice in the morning and afternoon. I say intense because I have never fought so many rounds at a camp before. I fought 18, 5 minute rounds… an hour and a half of straight fighting! During the 10th round my whole body got goosebumps and my face felt like it was on fire AND during the 15th round my forearms and fingers started cramping so bad I had to take a few seconds from the match just so I could straighten my fingers back out. The 10am practice consisted of 30 rounds of newaza randori (ground work). After a certain point of exhaustion you stop thinking and you just DO. Your body goes into auto pilot. You become a machine. And that is exactly what I have been needing. I am not going to lie. There is nothing fun about working out this hard, but for me the feeling of pride I have in myself for finishing and finishing strong makes it ALL WORTH IT!!! There is no better feeling then being able to look in the mirror and be proud of what you see.

This whole experience has made me realize ‘IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING’, a slogan I have loved since I saw it on a billboard at the 2004 Olympics by Adidas. Attitude and mindset is everything. I have the best supporters in the world. I have my coach, my family, my friends, and the community… all backing me 100%. BUT when I am on the mat, it is just me out there. Which is why this trip to Japan is going to be so beneficial to my future in judo. Two months of extreme training, bouncing around different universities and fighting in packed camps without any teammates or English speaking friends to give me words of encouragement and help me get through the workout. It has taught me I CAN rely on myself to get me through a battle. That is a tool I will have for the rest of my life and I am very grateful to all the people who helped me get it🙂

I am going site seeing with Otoguro and his family tomorrow and then I’ll be going back to TEXAS Saturday at 12:05 pm!!! SO EXCITED!!! As much as I have loved Japan, the culture, and the people… THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!

As my dad would say…

I am a lean, mean, fighting machine!!!

The earlier part of last week I caught a nasty virus that made me lose quite a few pounds but I am happy to report I have gained it back where it was needed most. My muscles!

Exciting news!!! I leave for Poland on Thursday to fight at the Warsaw World Cup! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but it is a good nervous. I am anxious to get on the mat and see what 5 1/2, EXTREMELY INTENSE weeks in Japan has done for my judo🙂 I can see huge improvements at practice BUT I want to see it come tournament time! AND as long as I keep my head on straight (no second guessing myself, thinking too much, letting the nerves get to me) I KNOW I WILL! I have never been more prepared for any single tournament, including the Olympics, in my judo career. SO like I said, I am excited for Sunday!

Poland is going to be amazing for several reasons:

I get to see where my judo stacks up with the rest of the world

TOMMY will be flying into Warsaw to coach me!!! SOOOOOOOOOO happy about that one!!!! I have known Tommy since I was 7 years old and over the years he has become part of my family. To see him will be absolutely awesome!!!

And finally my cousin Shelly who lives in Italy and my friend Ivan who is studying abroad in Czech Republic, both will be coming to watch me compete!

All and all, no matter what happens… I am going to make the best out of this tournament!


My two new English speaking friends, Sachie and Julian, taking me out to dinner on my day off🙂

They decided on a Texas restaurant in Nippon! Very thoughtful!!!

And YES the restaurant ZEST did have a mechanical bull! I think I lasted 10 seconds! Yeehaw!

Japanese cowboys🙂

On the go!

I feel like I haven’t stopped working out since I woke up Monday morning! Otoguro has been keeping me extremely busy!

Last night we didn’t get home until midnight and today started at 5:45am! I started with a 30 minute bike ride and a two hour weight training program consisting of high clings, bench press, squats, lunges, back press, bent over rows, and the list goes on! The number of exercises I am doing is not out of the ordinary but what takes me so long is the amount of sets I have to complete. With the exercises I mentioned I will alternate between 5 and 6 sets while increasing weight accordingly.

For example, high clings I do a warmup set of 20 reps at a very light weight. Then my 6 sets begin. 60% of my max weight x 2sets. 70% x 2 sets. 80% x 2 sets. Then I am finished with the high clings! I have a chart that tells me how many reps to do for each percentage.

50% = 18 reps
60% = 15 reps
70% = 12 reps
80% ….

After I finished my workout I ate some rice bowls and waited for Otoguro to finish his work at the office. We left at 1:30 and went straight to Heisei International University for a 3pm judo practice. I prefer the afternoon practices to the evening ones. I get more sleep this way =) All in all it was a great day. No injuries just a tired body!

At the end of every practice, no matter which university I am training at I ALWAYS grab a couple bags of ice, put them on the body parts that hurt the most, and STRETCH!

Today as we were about to leave HIU one of the women I have been fighting with, Haruka, came up to me with a present! It wasn’t anything big, just a small bag with a pastry in it, BUT it made my entire week!!!! It made me smile so big! The Japanese aren’t big into hugs, but I gave her one anyways!!!

It is almost 10pm so I need to get some sleep for my run in the morning. Thank you to my friends and family who are keeping up with my progress on here🙂 I like reading your words of encouragement! They really do help!


Every day is a battle!

Yesterdays workout was a beast!

We started early with a bike ride and 2 hour weight training program. Mainly upper body exercises with a little bit of legs. I am so happy I brought my mp3 player with me! The music helps me get through those long workouts🙂 I have really been enjoying techno BUT surprisingly I am liking the classical music as well!

After that I bought some chicken on a stick and rice for lunch with some gyoza to go with it from 711. Gyoza is my favorite! Otoguro came and picked us up (I have two workout partners that have been living at Otoguros house with me for the past few days) and took us to Heisei International University. EXTREMELY tough judo club. Practice starts at 3 and finishes at 6! Very long practices. I fought 17, 5 minute rounds. By far the most I have ever fought in one practice. It was UNBELIEVABLY hard! BUT I survived🙂

I came down with something though after practice was over that made me sick and gave me a fever. I think I shook it off resting today so I will hit it hard again tomorrow. The schedule for tomorrow will be the same as yesterdays so I better get some rest🙂


Life in Japan!

I love Japan!!!

A visit to the mall🙂

The #3 judo club in all of Japan. Nittai University- this is where I have been doing most of my training

Costco is very popular!

Eating dinner with Otoguro Sensei and his family🙂

Teikyo High School Judo girls! This is where I have been doing my weight training.

Roppongi! It was raining and snowing the whole night but it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

Joe Marchal, Sachie, Joel and myself at a Japanese steak house in Roppongi!

This is why I am here

Judo has been tough! This week I went to, two new Universities which means more bodies to fight with! The first one we went to was up in the mountains. The elevation made it harder to breath and the women were very rough. I received many hits to the head, fingers in the eye, and slapped shins that have left my legs with a lot of pretty bruises. The second university the fighters were nicer but the practice was intense! After our warms ups and uchikomis (fit-ins), I fought 14 five minute rounds! The norm is 10 rounds so an extra 20 minutes of battling was a lot to handle. After that they did a throwing line and drills! Drills consisted of giving your partner a piggy back ride and running with her, frog jumps, and sit ups. Not just normal sit ups though. You have a partner who is standing up. You wrap your legs around your partners waist and lean back as far as you can trying to make the back of your head touch the mat and do sit ups in the air… VERY DIFFICULT! Especailly after all the fighting. I was pooped!

This week was extremely tiring, but in the words of Otoguro- it was only a “medium level” week! That makes me a little nervous being that the next two weeks, before I leave for Poland, are going to be “hard”! ALL I can do is smile at the pain… if I don’t stay positive it will get the best of me and I am not going to let that happen!!

Luckily I have been able to see and speak with Brigette, Tommy, and my mom and dad through a webcam. Being able to see them is making life in Japan a lot more enjoyable.

Last night I met up with Joe Marchal, Tommys good friend who lives in Japan and who helped us set this whole trip up. My new friend Sachie and I took the train to Roppongi where Joe was and had dinner at a Japanese steak house! It was great! It was great not only because of the good company and food, but the enviornment was out of this world!! I have never seen anything like it. There were so many big buildings, the lights were so bright and there were SOOOOOOOO many people.

It is 7:15 and I am going to bed!!! Practice bright and early and I want to be well rested!