The family that throws together grows together is an apt description of the Takemori family of Alexandria, Va. But instead of hurling baseballs or javelins, the Takemoris try to throw each other.
Jim Takemori, who for 25 years has run a judo club in Alexandria, is coach of the women's judo team at the National Sports Festival here, and two of his four daughters, Robin and Teri, both national amateur title holders, are members of the team.
Two other daughters, Miki and Chrissy, have held national titles in their age and weight classifications, and a customary leisure practice in the Takemori family is for the four daughters to suit up in pajama-type judo robes and fling each other about on the mats at their father's judo club.
"Everyone in women's judo knows us. We're the Takemori sisters," said Robin, 21, a student at George Mason University. "Everyone knows our father, so they expect us to be good."
A Japanese-American, Jim Takemori began his judo career in Fresno, Calif., at the age of 11. Interned briefly during World War II, he later fought in Europe with the famed 442nd Division, made up solely of Japanese-American, and came to Washington shortly after the war.
He became a full-time judo instructo in the mid-1950s, and he ran summer judo camps at Virginia Beach. As his daughters grew, they became interested in the sport.
"I told them if they were going to do it they would have to work at it, not just fool around," said Takemori. "I wanted good judo. I didn't want judo where they just fell on their faces."
Said Teri, 20, a student at Northern Virginia Community College's Alexandria campus, "He expects us to work real hard. He's a real technician of the sport."
Developed in Japan toward the endo the last century by a man named Jigoro Kano, judo made its way to the West Coast of the U.S. with Japanese immigrants in the years before World War II, then moved eastward across the country in the postwar years.
"Kano took all of the martial arts popular in Japan at the time and combined them into the sport of judo," said Takemori.
"Before he did that, innocent people were getting hurt by the people who wanted to practice their skills in martial arts and were waylaying strangers."
Ranging in age from 17-year-old Chrissy, who just graduated from T.C. Williams High School, to 23-year-old Miki, who had to miss the sports festival to attend her graduation from the Baltimore campus of the University of Maryland, the four Takemori daughters are all approximately the same weight -- 114 to 123 -- and they occasionally compete against each other in tournaments.
"It's a friendly thing. It can go either way. They are all evenly matched and they share the same clothes," said Takemori.
For example, he noted, "at the Eastern collegiate tournament this year Robin and Miki fought and Miki won. At the national collegiate tournament, Teri defeated Robin. At the senior national tournament, Robin beat Miki.
"They work out together all the time," said Takemori. For his daughters, judo is a year-round sport. They compete in 12 to 15 tounaments a year across the continental United States and in Hawaii.
"We never get a break. We practice all year round," said Teri.
Said Jim Takemori, "There are so many things in judo, but the main thing is balance at all times. The idea is to get your opponent off balance." t