Roseville teen to take her judo to Japan

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 5, 2016

 Roseville’s Grace Magee, 13, has been tapped to help represent the U.S. at an international judo competition in Japan this coming December. She has been practicing the martial art since she was 6.

Roseville’s Grace Magee, 13, has been tapped to help represent the U.S. at an international judo competition in Japan this coming December. She has been practicing the martial art since she was 6.

Photo by Edward Osinski

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ROSEVILLE — Roseville Middle School student Grace Magee has been practicing judo for years, and now she has been tapped to be part of an American team at an international competition in Japan.

Magee, 13, has been chosen by the U.S. Judo Federation to be part of the female youth judo team at the Sanix Judo Championship Tournament in Fukuoka, Japan, this December. This will be her first international competition since she started judo at the age of 6, when she took up the sport to be more like her older sister.

“My sister (Rayeanne) started doing it when she was younger, and I was always sitting there watching on the sidelines,” Magee said. “My dad was like, ‘Hey, you should just try out one day,’ so I tried it, and I guess I got into judo.”

Initially training at the Mount Clemens YMCA before it discontinued its judo program, she now trains out of the Birmingham YMCA, successfully earning her way up to a green belt rank.

Her father, Robert Magee, said that as a bigger, taller person than most her age — Magee currently stands 6 feet 1 inch tall— she typically gets matched against older students. He added that she now usually faces students who are as old as 20.

Magee added that her judo practice has really clicked for her in the past year and a half, as she found herself improving and thinking more creatively in competitions.

“At the Konan (Judo Association Championships) in East Lansing (earlier this year), that’s where she beat a 24-year-old,” Robert Magee said. “She was 12 at the time and just had a birthday last June.”

He explained that as a judo practitioner himself, he felt it was an ideal self-defense martial art for his daughters to practice, since it is based on using — and escaping — throws and holds.

Beyond learning self-defense skills, Magee said judo has helped boost her self-confidence and allows her to meet a variety of people from across the globe — something she is looking forward to doing at the tournament in Japan.

“I’m a very friendly person and outgoing,” Magee said. “(I’m excited) to see what other people are like and to see how different they are, and how different they dress, how they act in public.”

In addition to the Japanese, she said that there will be teams from Russia, Canada, Germany and several other countries at the tournament.

Magee said she and her family are selling candy bars to help raise funds for the trip, and her instructor has been drumming up support online.

Already, Magee has met some world-class judo practitioners, including U.S. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marti Malloy, and Cuban Olympic bronze medalist from 1992, 1996 and 2004 Amarilis Savon Carmenate.

Outside of judo, Magee plays the piano and three kinds of saxophone, and she participates on the Roseville Middle School girls basketball team and track team. Despite her busy schedule, she still makes it to her judo practices twice a week, and she is interested in going to more competitions.

“It’s just like a stress reliever,” Magee said. “At that moment, I cannot think of anything but that, so I can clear my mind.”

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