… Hayward Nishioka stands quietly on one side of the room, looking for signs of a transformation he has seen in scores of judo students at LACC. Most had almost no physical education leading up to college, he says, speculating that if they had known what his judo course entailed, they would have quit. Now, midway through the semester, he sees grit.
“By the time they get out of here, they’ll be different people,” says Mr. Nishioka, a professor emeritus of physical education at LACC. “Just this type of movement says to them: ‘I can move, I can roll. I can also go against somebody. These people are trying really hard to try to beat me up, but I am able to survive this.’ ”
Decades ago, Mr. Nishioka used judo in his own bid to survive. It was an escape route from a rough East LA neighborhood, to travel the world as an international judo champion. After his competitive career was over, he spent 40 years here at LACC—eight years as chair of the physical-education department—helping students with backgrounds much like his own discover the vitality of their bodies, the connection of that body to the mind, and the new confidence, character, and life lessons that might come from a little soreness and sweat. <Read more.>