El Estoque

Workout Playlist: Music empowers wrestler senior Kenji Kadokura

Sharon Tung


Kenji 2

Senior Kenji Kadokura shows off his headphones in the student center on Nov. 24, 2015. He only bought the headphones for wrestling, and doesn’t wear them at school because he gets stares. Photo by Sharon Tung.

Senior Kenji Kadokura recalled looking nervously at his opponent from Utah. It was his first match in the 2015 Doc Buchanan Wrestling Invitational, one of the hardest wrestling tournaments in California. He wasn’t able to relax and get his head in the game as usual, because he forgot his bright pink Beats headphones. Without music to distract him, thoughts raced through Kadokura’s mind: What’s my opponent going to do? What’s he good at? Is he going to be super fast, or slow and strong?

“I kind of psyched myself out before the match even started, and ended up losing by three points that I probably should have won,” Kadokura said.

However, with his music, he was a lot more ready for his next match. Upset that he went all the way to Fresno only to lose on his first day, he decided to go wrestle in another tournament called the Apple Cider Classic the second day. This time, he remembered his headphones. Feeling properly prepared, he was able to channel all of his energy on the match. Kadokura made it to the finals, making it the first varsity tournament he won.

“I was a lot more pumped up that day. Maybe it was because I lost the day before, but then I think the music helped me not focus too much on the match,” Kadokura said. “Being relaxed helps me a lot because I move with more reaction instead of planning out every move so if something goes wrong, I don’t know what to do.”

For wrestling, Kadokura listens to rap or rock. He believes that he can’t listen to pop or electronic to warm up like for other sports, because he would feel “silly” and not “hardcore” enough before a match. Songs from his playlist include “Du hast” by Rammstein, a German heavy metal song he heard from his siblings, who also wrestled. He also listens to a lot of Eminem, for the rapper’s relatable lyrics.

“When I was wrestling in middle school, I was very not fit,” Kadokura said. “I was pretty fat. I think a lot of people, when they looked at me, they [thought] it’s going to be an easy match. ‘Cinderella man’ [by Eminem], is about taking full advantage of what you’re given and that you give it your best shot. It’s like ‘I’m gonna come at you with everything I have, and when I’m done, people are going to be talking about me.’ I like it because people always think ‘he doesn’t look that intimidating.’ That’s why my headphones are pink. I like looking [as] not intimidating as possible, then beating people.”

Although he listens to rap and upbeat music for wrestling, he personally prefers “oldies” from 60’s up to the 90’s and other fun songs.

“My coach got mad at me for playing Mulan [during practice],” Kadokura said, “because it’s not a pump-up song.”

Kadokura doesn’t only listen to music on his headphones; music is also a bonding experience for the team. Before matches, the varsity team hangs out in the wrestling room to warm up and listen to music on speakers. The room is soundproof, giving them the freedom to play whatever they want, however loud they want. They mostly listen to “pump-up” music and perform their own warm ups, but sometimes they sing along to fun songs such as “I’m gonna be (500 miles)” by The Proclaimers.

“It has a good atmosphere, and we just really feel like a team,” Kadokura said. “We’re really relaxed around each other and we can just mess around.”