Damian Hosokawa of Roots BJJ & Fitness

By Joshua Rozenboom

Damian Hosokawa of Roots BJJ & Fitness likely has more mat time than many brown or black belts: he has been training for eleven years, and he’s only 16 years old. Damian Hosokawa is a blue belt out of Roots BJJ in Mesa; his instructor, Gerson Atoigue, also happens to be his father. Damian himself is the product of a Jiu Jitsu household; his mother Nana Hosokawa is a brown belt who was dominant in local competition for many years. “Growing up in a high-level Jiu Jitsu family was amazing,” Damian says.  “I got to meet a lot of high-level black belts that I never thought I’d be able to train with. Not only did I get to learn more techniques earlier than some other kids, I got to train a lot more.” It’s not just the passers-by who Damian remembers, though. “It was amazing as a kid to be able to learn more advanced techniques, but I feel like it’s even better now because my dad is still my best roll, and helps me every day.”

Damian is a seasoned competitor. He started competing early on in his career, winning kid’s Pan Ams twice and even winning AZ State MVP in 2011. “Competing for me was always one of my favorite things to do because I’m a competitive person.”  In addition to Jiu Jitsu, Damian found another competitive outlet in wrestling. “Trying to balance wrestling and Jiu Jitsu was very difficult. It would set me back in one sport to try and succeed in the other. Even though wrestling taught me a lot of valuable lessons, I had to make the decision this year to quit wrestling and focus 100% on Jiu Jitsu to achieve the goals I’ve had since I was a little kid.” The decision to come back to Jiu Jitsu wasn’t too difficult. Hosokawa notes that trying other sports “set me back a little bit when I came back to competition at the end of my green belt.” His passion for Jiu Jitsu was re-ignited, however, and he has been training non-stop. He was awarded his blue belt by his father last year and picked up the pace: “My first year at blue belt was a blast, winning 3 of the 5 tournaments I competed in. I even made my pro debut on the Fight 2 Win stage and won!”

Damian is one of an ever-evolving group of Jiu Jitsu athletes who are getting better faster, and the future looks bright for these young competitors: “Today’s level of Jiu Jitsu is amazing and has evolved so much over the last decade. Today’s purple belts are like black belts, and it’s crazy to see everyone’s game transform over time.” He hasn’t lost sight of how they got here, though. “Even though our generation is the future, we can never forget who brought us to this level.”

Having started out competing at such a young age, Damian felt like his early competitions were more about going to have fun and see his friends. “But the older I got, the more I realized that it’s actually serious. I was around 15 when I realized it,” he says, “towards the end of my green belt. At that time I realized to accomplish my goals, I needed to take things more seriously.” By that time he had already put in years of time on the mat, which makes his advice to kids starting out worthwhile: “Just have fun, and make sure to train consistently! The biggest thing I see in a kid’s progress is consistency and making sure they train hard. With those two things, anyone can become a champion.”

Damian Hosokawa has spent almost his entire life on the mat. He has competed at just about every level, competed well in two different grappling sports, and has evolved to join his peers as the next generation of highly skilled Jiu Jitsu athletes. Keep an eye out for Damian as he enters the 2019 competition season!