Colton Brown Judoka

Martial arts teaches more than techniques for fighting or sport, it expands the student's horizons and teaches lessons that apply to life beyond the mat. Colton Brown, from Piscataway, N.J. has traveled the world as a Judo competitor, and after an impressive career that has included the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, Brown announced his retirement as a Judo competitor from Tokyo. Thankfully, Brown shared his answers to the five questions that have been asked of members of the USA Judo Team. Read his answers below, and heed the wisdom of an apex competitor.

Do you have any pre-match rituals?

I prepare the same way for each match, despite the level of competition. I listen to music that calms me down, say a prayer, and focus on my breathing and staying present before I step onto the mat.

What is your favorite throw?

My favorite throw is Sasae. My father taught me this throw when I was 12 years old and I've had a ton of success with it. This throw compliments the rest of my judo, setting up a variety of other attacks I can score from. It's the throw I'm most known for in competition.

What is your favorite Newaza technique?

My favorite newaza technique is split the legs (a guard passing technique that Jimmy Pedro was famous for). This is a great technique because people often do sacrifice techniques where they fall to their back and this perfectly sets up this particular technique. If executed properly, it's fairly easy to finish in competition.

​​​To be in the Olympics is a stunning achievement all on its own. What practice or philosophy did you follow that brought you to this point?

I followed the philosophy that hard work works. I was taught from a very young age that in order to achieve great things, you need to have a great work ethic. I often watch people that have achieved what I desire to and try to learn as much as possible about their habits and work ethic.

What advice do you have for future Olympic hopefuls? 

The best piece of advice that I can give Olympic hopefuls is to fall in love with the process. A lot of people get caught up in chasing results and they forget to embrace the process. When I look back on my career and some of my greatest achievements, I don't really think about the results themselves, I think about the training and perseverance it took to accomplish the result. You will have so many memorable moments along the way. Don't forget to dream with your eyes open!

That a director of my city's opera company would call me seemed a little odd. There are probably some monkeys who know more about opera than I do. But the director was inviting me to lunch, so of course I went.

It turned out the company was producing a performance of Madame Butterfly, the Puccini opera that tells the story of a doomed love between a French military officer and a geisha in early 19th-century Japan. The opera has come under fire for its stereotyped, utterly fanciful depictions of Japanese culture. The local company was trying to anticipate such criticism, and the director asked me, since I serve on the board of some organizations related to Japanese culture, what I thought.
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