Loo unleashes her judo skills at myriad competitions

MIHS junior has competed at national and world events.

Jayne Loo said that she’s a pretty calm and collected person as she traverses her life path.

The Mercer Island High School junior maintains that demeanor even when she’s fighting an opponent on the judo mat during national and international contests. It’s an aggressive sport that requires heaps of mental and physical strength and Loo thrives on squaring off against others in the Japanese martial art.

“It’s important to not let your emotions kind of overtake you. I feel like I’m pretty good at that,” said Loo, 17, noting that some athletes get upset when they’re thrown to the mat. Loo understands that’s part of the judo terrain and learns from those situations and utilizes them to help elevate her skills.

Loo, who followed her brother, Derek, into the judo sphere about eight years ago, placed first in the junior female/under 48 kg division at the USA Judo Youth National Championships last month in Lubbock, Texas. Earlier in April, Loo notched third as part of Team USA at the Varadero Cadet Pan American Cup in Cuba. In September, Loo will compete in the Pan-American/Oceania Championships in Calgary, Canada.

Last year was a crucial one for Loo, who earned a bronze medal at the USA Judo Junior Olympic National and International Championships in San Jose, California, and competed at the World Judo Juniors Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

For about 20 hours a week, you can find Loo training at four different judo dojos: Budokan Judo Dojo-Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington in Seattle; Seattle Dojo; Ippon Judo Dojo in Lakewood; and Washington Judo Academy in Kirkland. She also mixes some Brazilian jiu-jitsu and weight and cardio training into that robust schedule.

Loo finds it beneficial to train at various dojos and spar with a multitude of athletes with diverse judo styles.

“Because I’ve put in so much work, it’s really rewarding to be able to get the results I want. Judo helps me regulate myself to make sure I stay disciplined and stay on it,” she said. “If I’m in the correct mindset, I know that I can beat the opponent.”

At school, Loo doesn’t discuss her niche sport much with her classmates, but some of them know she’s a stellar judo athlete.

“They’re always just like, ‘Oh, remind me not to challenge you to a fight’ or whatever, just like as a joke,” said Loo, who would like to take her athleticism beyond the mat and run a marathon someday.

The Reporter asked Loo a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life:

What’s your favorite restaurant on Mercer Island?


What’s a song that you like to play over and over again?

I like the song called “Calma.” It’s in Spanish. Actually before competitions, I like to play it. (The upbeat song is performed by Pedro Capó, Farruko.)

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

Probably by my dad: He says to always stay in this balance, especially for judo. But just in general, have this balanced mindset, so if you win, don’t be too happy and if you lose, don’t be too sad. So that you’re never at the extremes.

What’s a binge-worthy TV series that you would recommend?

“The Office.”

What super power would you like to have?

Super speed, because I feel like I don’t have enough time.