Ancient Martial Arts in Modern Times – with Sophia KontosAug 25th, 2013 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Featured Articles, Student Showcase
We caught up with Bridgeway student Sophia Kontos to receive an education on the Olympic sport of Judo.
Sohpia Kontos never intended to be a homeschool student. And she never thought she would rocket to the Junior Olympic National Championships of Judo in only one year of time. Things are happening for Sohpia Kontos and her family, and they’re all good things.
The beginning of a good thing
Mom Renee decided to homeschool her youngest son Demetri when he struggled in the traditional school system. She took a chance on Bridgeway’s online program, with wonderful results for Demetri. At the time, her daughter Sophia, an 8th grade student, was becoming increasingly interested in the sport of Judo. When Sophia graduated from middle school, she decided she was interested in giving homeschooling a shot for her high school years. She never looked back.
“Our quality of life, and the quality of time that we spend together as a family has never been better.” ~Renee Kontos
The practice of Judo evolved from the fighting system of feudal Japan, and is a refinement of the ancient martial art of Jujutsu. Sophia practices her Judo about 3 hours a day, at least 5 days a week. And she wants to do more. Sophia has recently been traveling the country, participating in national competitions, learning, excelling, and growing as a person.
“Judo helps me be more independent as a person, more self aware, and more dedicated to my studies.” ~Sophia
Now she is ready to embark on an international bid with the help of her influential coaches, RJ and Aaron Cohen. Aaron was an Olympic alternate in Judo, and spent a good amount of time studying his discipline in Japan.
“My skill in Judo has increased so rapidly because of the flexibility of my schedule,” said Sophia. She hopes to one day have the opportunity to study in Japan like her coaches.
Out with the old
Mom Renee remembers the traditional school days, when Sophia would come home after school with piles of homework and extra study sheets. “It was like they couldn’t cram it in during the day, so they shuffled it home with the students. What kind of life is that for a kid?” Now, the Kontos family is happier than they’ve ever been. “When we travel, our classroom moves with us. We check out museums and cultures in new cities. The opportunities are amazing.”
“When I homeschool, the focus on learning is direct. I’m not in a classroom with 30 students – it’s one on one.” ~Sophia
Sophia has gotten the “oh, you’re homeschooled” stigma from other kids, but she says it is completely unfounded. With homeschooling, there is no pressure to fit in or follow the “rules.” She says she no longer has to be focused on all the little do’s and don’ts that are required of teens in the traditional school system. Socialization is even better for her now, as she is interacting with people from all over the globe – experiencing many cultures and languages.
“School pressure – what I called the mini-world – is gone now.” ~Sophia
Judo develops complete body control, fine balance, and fast reflexive action. Above all, it develops a sharp reacting mind well-coordinated with the same kind of body. According to Sophia, “In Judo, everyone is on common ground, and it’s very welcoming. Kids simply aren’t cold to one another. As long as you’re trying, you are respected. “
Sophia has participated in several tournaments and has received 1 gold medal and 3 silvers in her class. In addition, she has also placed bronze in the Junior Olympics and both gold and silver in the Junior Nationals.
Sometimes the grass is greener
The level of fortitude required to attain these triumphs would not have been achievable through traditional schooling institutions. Through the Bridgeway Academy program, Sophia has been offered the flexibility to extensively train daily. Sophia and her coaches have high hopes for her future as she continues to work hard every day. Sophia has several upcoming competitions in both Indianapolis and Albany, NY. She hopes to compete in the junior Olympics next year in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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