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Interview with USA Karate Athlete Sakura Kokumai

Growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sakura began training in the art of Karate at the young age of seven. By fourteen she qualified for the Junior National Team and has been on a whirlwind international journey to the top ever since! Her next mission is to be crowned a World Champion Medalist in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Performing like a master, Sakura is tracking a very successful string of competitions. Most recently, she come out victorious at the 2019 Pan American Games in August. Sakura defeated rival Maria Dimitrova of the Dominican Republic, of whom she had had lost to only months prior, in women’s kata. Securing this win against Dimitrova was a high point for Sakura who noted that it was especially significant to her to be able to come back from the previous fight stronger and faster and prove that she’s the number one in the Pan American area. 

As a BiPro ProTeam member, we’re obviously huge fans of Sakura and wanted to get her take on what drives her along her nutrition/fitness journey and insight on how we can all be just a little more like Sakura Kokumai, USA Karate Athlete. Check it out! 

 

What did your past/history with fitness & health look like?

Sakura: Before I used to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  

Wow, well that’s pretty amazing, does that still reflect your fitness approach today?

Sakura: Haha…no, definitely not, ever since I became a full-time athlete I started to focus on what nutrients and foods I was putting into my body — especially during competition and pre and post training. I started to pack healthy snacks on-the-go for travel to help ensure I was eating the right food to fuel me during competition. 

Do you have any specific goals that you’re trying to reach?

Sakura: My goal is to eat clean and healthy. Obviously it is a pretty simple goal but since I am traveling constantlyit has been a struggle to maintain. Being cognizant and deliberate about eating the right things, at the right time, regardless of what country I am in, takes discipline! I have been to almost 8 different countries this year and there are still four more international events left. Truly, I am almost never home. I spend most of my days in a hotel, in different countries, at the airport or in an airplane. 

I guess if you really wanted to carve it down, my most significant goal is to eat healthy as I travel regardless of my environment. 

What kinds of things do you practice to ensure you meet those goals?

Sakura: I travel with food more than I used to. Depending on what countries you are in, it’s difficult to just walk over to a grocery store to get what you need. This was something I had to learn but now I travel with food I can eat on the plane and also while I’m in a hotel. I also pack BiPro ELITE™ 100% Whey Protein Powder (this has become a must) for my post training supplements. BiPro also has also come in in handy for when I need something nutritious to help hold me over (as protein can help make you feel full) and cannot eat on the plane. As a note: Sakura prefers BiPro ELITE™ single serve protein packets to make them easy to pack!  

Very cool. You obviously have a million decisions to make regarding what you prioritize regarding your nutrition regimen and what products you decide to take. What are some of the drivers behind your food and supplement choices?

Sakura: Again, my focus here is fairly simple. I always aim to eat balanced meals and supplements that are safe.  

Regarding balanced meals, it’s really important for me to make this a priority. Although it can get difficult at times, I make sure I have the right food and supplements in my system. It makes a world’s difference with how I’m feeling, performing and recovering. And in terms of any supplements I take, I need to make sure they are all approved. One of the reason’s I choose BiPro ELITE is that their products are NSF Certified for Sport®, which means a trusted third party certifies that everything that is in the product is listed the label and that BiPro is free of banned substances.  

As an athlete, it’s important to make sure you are eating and competing clean. This is something I always double, triple check. 

We love that and couldn’t agree more that clean nutrition and living are exceptionally important! As we bring this to an end, are there any beliefs you have on mind & body that you'd like to leave as words of wisdom?

Sakura: The mind and body connection is very important to me. When I look back at my previous competitions, I realized that the more tuned in I was with my mind, the better my performance. 

I make sure I train my mind, just as much as I train my body. Teaching yourself to be mentally strong is not an easy task but I know it is one of the more important things I need to work on now. To those, who are looking to strengthen their body, whether it is for health or for athletics, make sure you are doing the same to your mind too. Feed your brain with positive thoughts, and just like you would feed your body with the right food and nutrition. 

Awesome, very true and we love that mentality. Live Elite, Train Elite! We are excited to see how the rest of your year goes – keep us poste



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