My dear friend Sakura (Kimie Okada) retired from MMA a few weeks ago, after a 4-year career.
I first met Sakura at Keishukai, on her very first day! She brought with her many years of experience at Capoeira. I remember teaching her how to shrimp, that’s how fresh she was! We clicked and seemed to get along better than with the rest of the team, and spent a lot of time together. When I needed someone to help me train for my fights, she and I met hours before class and did drills and sparring together. I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t been for her help. I had no one else to do individualized drills and fight-prep with.
Then she decided she wanted to fight, and she turned pro! Unfortunately, she didn’t have the success we both hoped for. I wish she had started much earlier, but we still had precious memories together. She may not have won her fights, but she worked like an animal, bled, suffered, cried, and rejoiced at her own improvements. Here is a translation of her blog, of her announcement of her retirement:
I have an announcement for everyone.
Ever since last year I’ve been thinking and debating and smashing my head into the wall about something. Finally, I’ve come to a conclusion. From here on out, I’m stepping down from the ring of professional fighting. I won’t fight again.
For May and even June, I’ve received various fight offers from various organizations. For a simple fighter such as myself, I’m so honored. Honestly, I could probably have fought once more this year. I was considering retiring next year.
However, in order to fight professionally, a person needs to train seriously, give more than 100% effort and have high motivation. It’s no place to just mess around. I’m lacking in this motivation. One cause is that until now, MMA has been the center of my life and lifestyle, but since my last fight in March the priorities in my daily lifestyle have changed. Since I don’t have the motivation to keep MMA as the top priority in my life anymore, I don’t think I should fight.
In my March fight, I missed weight and stuff, and caused a lot of trouble for everybody. I lost the fight, but that itself was not the main reason for this decision. It’s true the loss was hard, but in order to fight, there’s a lot going on- a lot of strict discipline of life style, and a lot of suffering and other situations. Despite all that, I’ve made every effort and done my best day after day. I’ve worked hard together along side my family, co-workers, training partners, friends- we’ve all struggled with all our might.
Now it’s all over.
My training environment was the best ever. Looking back now, I kind of had a feeling that was possible this could be my last time in a ring.
As soon as my fight was over, I received an offer for another fight. At first I intended to accept it. Then I looked deep inside myself and reconsidered. I couldn’t find the motivation for it and realized that it was impossible.
I’m not sure what to say. It’s like I feel burned out.
Honestly speaking, I still have lingering regrets and things still left undone. But I really feel that if I can’t put my everything into this, I don’t have the right to get into the ring as a professional. I know this from the bottom of my heart. After worrying and thinking and worrying and thinking, I finally came to this conclusion.
From my amateur fights to my professional fights. I’ve had the honor of being able to compete against many fantastic fighters. Those were truly wonderful, happy days. I’ve even done one kick-boxing match against a fighter who has the potential of becoming a champion one day. I’ll treasure that memory.
I’d like to thank each of you individually who have cheered me on, supported me, and influenced me. Thank you so very very much! It seems like these four years went by like a flash. They were like a dream!
I remember the days when I thought that I wanted to fight in Cage Force but it’d be impossible for someone like me. Then it became reality and I debuted in Valkyrie. Then finally Pancrase allowed me the honor of fighting for them. I’m happy that my last fight was in Pancrase. I couldn’t believe that the kickboxing promotion J-Girls would let me fight, and that I could fight against a star fighter such as Oshima. It really happened!
When I started MMA I was into my 30s, and debuted as a pro at 36 years old. This year I’ll be 40 years old. They were good years and I felt really youthful. These four years were the best ever for me.
Now that I’m stepping down from the ring and cage, I wonder what I should be doing. It’s like a white, blank piece of paper. Last year I did the Ultra Marathon and ran 67 kilometers (42 miles) from my home to Enoshima Beach, so I think as a hobby I’ll run here and there to various places. I want me feet to carry me to many places over this earth. I think I’ll take a break from doing martial arts, but maybe I’ll do some BJJ or striking or pro wrestling as a hobby? Yeah, I’ll continue that.
Anyway, I want to cry out in a loud voice. I want to scream to those who inspired and supported me: “THANK YOU THANK YOU so much! For such happy four years!”
My title of pro fighter will disappear and will be replaced with “former fighter/shoe repair apprentice.” For a while I’m going to be helping my companion with a shoe-repair business, so while I’m training hard for that, I’ll think I’ll just enjoy being an amateur runner.
I really want to thank each and every one of you individually, and I should, but I’m writing this in a hurry so forgive me for announcing this on my blog. Thank you so much for your understanding, everyone, and for always supporting me. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.
total fights: 6 losses 1 draw
SHERDOG / Kimie “Sakura” Okada)
To everyone, with love - sakura