Nina Cutro Kelly Olympics

This is the last in the "5 Questions" series and we end it with Olympic Judoka, Nina Cutro-Kelly. Not only is Cutro-Kelly an Olympian, but she is also a champion grappler in Sambo (2 times Super World Cup Sambo Champion), BJJ, and Wrestling.

With years of successful competition experience, attained from hard-fought battles on mats all over the world, Cutro-Kelly has much to teach any aspiring student of any art. Read on and learn from one of the best.


Do you have any pre-match rituals?

I always ice any injuries the night before I fight and take a cold shower in the am to wake up. I usually eat oatmeal or something bland for breakfast. Then I start drinking coffee about an hour before I warm up.


What is your favorite throw?

I like Yoko-wakare which is similar to a wrestling move I like a lot.

What is your favorite Newaza technique?

I like Hiza-gatame as an armbar.

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? 

Slow and steady wins the race, or rather, "lose some battles but win the war," I have always been willing to keep training, keep competing, and get up to fight another day. I also do not let my success or failure in Judo define me - I am more than my Judo career and while I love Judo, it is a game and a sport and doesn't represent my worth.

What advice do you have for future Olympic hopefuls?

You need to be doing Judo 5-6 days a week and you need to do significant strength and conditioning. You also NEED to train abroad, there isn't enough depth in American Judo to challenge people enough to make them internationally successful. Also, train to the style best for you and your body, don't seek to do cookie-cutter Judo. Weird moves win matches.

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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