YAMATO ZAHARIA multiple national, European, worldwide champion KEMPO – MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

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Yamato Zaharia
Yamato Zaharia

Yamato Zaharia
A life for sports and sports for a successful life.
Spartan training, will and power of moving on
„Like father, like son”… Amatto Zaharia and Yamato Zaharia, two champions, one purpose: to win!
„Sports has made me who I am today”

Foto by Bogdan Preda
Trends by Adina Buzatu
Watches by Helfer

British people say “like father, like son”, we say “it must be a diamond that cuts a diamond” or “the apple does not fall far from the tree”. It is not enough the closeness of the son to the father’s success, to become a champion, but a lot of will, a lot of work and personal sacrifices. The story of Yamato Zaharia shows which is the key to success in life and career, starting from the example of the father, but adding the person fight, the personal battle, the personal sacrifice, for each trophy, for each national, European or worldwide title. The worldwide champion, Yamato Zaharia, tells us about how the personal fight means a lot for a champion, and the wrong labeling and rumors hurt a lot, how he has got to the Fight 4 You Foreign Legion and also at Exatlon.

➤ Which is your first childhood memory?
Yamato Zaharia: Even though it has passed a lot of time since then, I have a lot of beautiful childhood memories. It was beautiful when I was walking with my father everywhere. This is what I have liked the most. To be always with him, everywhere. I remember that I have went to Japan, around six years old. It was something amazing. I think that it is the dream of any martial arts practitioner to go to the Land of Rising Sun, to see those amazing temples, to feel the energy and warmth of people from there and mostly, to have the chance of contacting a special nation, which has as basis of the culture, behavior the honor, education and respect. Another memory would be about when I had the first match. Again, at around six years, at Salonta. Then, I fought for the first time in a ring. I was there with my father and he asked me I wanted to fight. Initially, I said no, and after that I changed my mind and I accepted. I have many beautiful childhood memories and I am lucky and I have had this chance because many children do not have this privilege.

➤ When did you realize that you will have performances?
Yamato Zaharia: I don’t think that I have ever thought in my childhood about performances. I went with my father in all the gyms, at trainings. I wanted to spend a lot of time with him and that was how I got to have high performances. It was not something imposed by someone. It was natural, from the wish of staying all the time with my father, who was always the most important person for me. I wanted, that by everything I was doing, by my work and my results, to make my father proud of me. That gave me a lot of motivation, and extraordinary energy and power.

Spartan training, because this is how you can fight and have high performance

➤ Some say that the life of performance sportsman is a nightmare, that they do not have childhood, adolescence and then family life. However, you seem to be the opposite. What can you say about the balance between personal life and performance? How do you take care of both?
Yamato Zaharia: I had the chance to raise in a family with sportsmen, in an environment in which the sports is the basic religion. As my brothers, I had athletic qualities and very good motor skills since birth. After 20 years spend in the gym, on tatami, in the ring or in the cage, I want to continue to have performances, but also, I want to have fun, because during the last years I have considered sports and performances on the first place. All those who say that the life of the sportsmen is many times a nightmare is one hundred percent right. You want to have performances, you want to win, and many times you forget about yourself. You give up at having fun, holidays, you look around you and you feel how time passes, how everything pass by you and you have time only for trainings, because you know very well that, if you want achievements, you have to work a lot. When I am training for a very strong championship or for a very important match, I do not have time for anything else. I enter in a spartan training because this is how you can fight and have high performances. And, as me, all my colleagues who are like my brothers, part of my family, who I appreciate and respect a lot because I know very well what each of them is suffering for performance, are like this. And, to get back to the question. Yes, the life of a sportsman can bring a lot of happiness and achievements but only if you accept the nightmare which you have to suffer in order to obtain them. Should we talk about the inherent accidents in a such a tough sport, should we talk about surgeries, recovery periods?! The pages from the magazine would not be enough.

➤ It is also said that when the father is a star, the son grows somehow under his shadow. Did you feel this or, on the contrary, did your father inspire you and help you become better and better?
Yamato Zaharia: It is normal that when your father is an important personality in this elite world of martial arts, nationally and internationally, to feel somehow under his shadow. My father has a strong personality so he can dominate you no matter how strong you are. But, getting back to me. It is very clear that the world, generally, has a certain drive for gossip, criticism, for talking bad about the others. The simplest for those without education, value, full of personal frustrations is to blame the others for their personal failure. It is weird to hear how they talk behind your back, like you are guilty of something, “he is Yamato, the son of Amatto Zaharia”. Somehow, I grew up being considered “daddy’s little boy”. Many times, I heard those words behind my back, especially from persons with a precarious education and without any important results, even though I won many games before the limit, by KO or abandon. Noaptea minții… A lot later I understood that actually the target of those attacks was not me, but my father, whom, being incapable to confront personally, they tried to hit him by attacking their child, me. All those sayings, which hurt me for years and years, which left scars and which created a lot of sleepless nights, motivated me to train even more, to advance on the first level of the stage, mainly in the international competitions where the majority of referees were foreigners. At the beginning I was very mad on those who were talking and gossiping behind my back because it felt like an intrusiveness and, mostly, it felt unfair from them to do this. Then, I thanked them. Because due to their way of being, unfair on me, I ambitioned more and I got more motivated to build my own name. For that reason, I participated to other competitions with higher complexity, which had no connection with the Kempo Romanian Federation, like the Fight 4 You Foreign Legion, which I won, or Exatlon, where I was alone, at 10.000 km distance from home. No one could say that I won something because of my father. My father helped me and was always near me, in everything I wanted to do. But that huge work for each won medal was mine, personally. All the hits I gave or taken were mine, personally. All the accidents, surgeries which I had to suffer, hard recovery periods, were mine, personally. I, personally, suffered them and no one else. I borne each centimeter of sacrifice on my skin, no one worked for me. The most important thing was that my father supported me mentally. I was always inspired by him, mostly when I saw how many people admire and respect him. My father is a very strong and imposing man by his attitude. When I was a little guy I wanted to be like him. Now I work to exceed him and I am convinced, I know very well, that if I will exceed him, he will be very proud of me. But is not easy. It is not easy at all.

➤ When did you have the biggest satisfaction from the career? Is it the biggest satisfaction from your personal life too?
Yamato Zaharia: I have the biggest satisfactions when I go to a competition and my brothers compete there. It is a very beautiful feeling to see them fight, and when I can, I sit in their corner and give them indications. These are the most important moments. When I am with my family.

➤ Is there anything you have wanted to do and time has not allowed you to do it, due to the training schedule? Do you regret it?
Yamato Zaharia: I always did what I wanted to do and I did not have any problems with the training schedule, I always managed my time. I regret nothing from what I have done or have not done. If I would think about regrets, I would not have time to train and, why not, have fun.

➤ If you would go back in time, would you choose a childhood without the training for sports performances? Why?
Yamato Zaharia: I do not think about going back in time and change something or give up sports, due to many reasons. One of them would be that I have began to practice sports because I have wanted, without being obliged by someone, and the second one would be that by sports, by my personal work, I have succeeded in doing something and have a name. Sports has made me who I am today. I am convinced that I could have results in any other field because I am an ambitious and competitional person, but I would not change my past for anything.

➤ Did you have difficult moments in which you have thought that you cannot go further? What are those and how did you outreach them?
Yamato Zaharia: Many times, I have felt the need to abandon and not practice a sport because it is not easy. For example, in 2007, at the Kempo World Championship of Portugal, in the finals against a sportsman from Hungary, it was taken a wrong decision, and I lost the world gold medal. Subsequently, the video evidence proved that I won, but the decision remained unchanged. I was very sad and I said that I gave up to sport and that I did not want to participate to competitions anymore. The help came from my father, who was always with me, and talked to me, and advised me and time I got back to the gym after an absence of one year. Now, after so many years in sport, I can say that I have realized that all these tests which I have had to pass, have led to my training, improvement and education, as fighter, as HUMAN BEING.

➤ Which is the following “redoubt” you want to conquer and how important is it for the future of your career?
Yamato Zaharia: I want to be more with my family, to be healthy and to go to a lot of competitions together. During the next period I will participate to many international competitions, in Antalya, Las Vegas, Japan, Kazakhstan, then may I will participate, why not, to other TV shows or programs too.

„To be the best, you have to train with the best ones!”

➤ How much do you need to work to achieve the following objectives?
Yamato Zaharia: I have to work a lot for the following objectives because, due to the hard conditions from Exatlon, especially due to the insufficient alimentation, my body has become very week and I have returned with two herniated disc. For this reason, I have to recover everything I have lost during the months I have been in the Dominican Republic. I know that I have the necessary will and ambition. My friend, Jorge Masvidal, UFC fighter, who has the faster KO from the history of this circuit, has invited me to Miami to the famous MMA academy, American Top Team, to train there with him and other UFC fights. We have met in the Dominican Republic, at Exatlon, and we have remained friends. Sports units people, fates. I cannot wait to be fully recovered, to be able to train at this famous institution. To be the best, you have to train with the best! And this is what I want.

Big past, big future…

➤ What long-term future plans do you have? Do you see yourself at the management of the Kempo Romanian Federation, at some point?
Yamato Zaharia: I lot of people ask me if in the future I would like to takeover the management of the Kempo Romanian Federation from my father. It is normal to want it, as many others. The problem is that it is not simple, if I want … but if I deserve it. Because if you want to be leader of one of the most important federation of Romania, you have to first of all deserve it. So, to have the honor of such a position, I have to deserve it. And for this, I have to work a lot, to learn a lot, to get involved more. In one word, I have to prove to deserve that I belong there. The most important and the hardest thing is to gain the respect of the others. Because without the respect of the others, of my colleagues, from this tough world of the fighting sports, a position means nothing. Respect is everything.

And… advice from a real champion…

„When a child falls, he learns the most important life lesson: that of getting up!”

➤ What advice would you give to the parents who hesitate in taking a decision concerning an eventual career in the performance sports of their children?
Yamato Zaharia: I recommend the parents to take their children to any sports, to prevent obesity and health problems. Their trust and self-esteem will increase, it will help them to communicate in a society, it will help them develop harmoniously. I have been saying this for a while. Parents protect their children excessively, they do not let them play, run in the park, play football, hopscotch, etc. Even the parents should be educated. Parents should understand that when a child falls, he actually learns the most important life lesson: that of getting up!

➤ Do you think that the children who have champions in their family have chances to have performances? Or can they have models as landmarks?
Yamato Zaharia: All children from families with champions can have performances because they have the best examples, the best models, right in front of them. It is however difficult to face the situation of mental point of view because they will always be compared with their parents. If they succeed in outreaching this obstacle, this emotional disability, they have all the chances to success because, many times, they are born with very good motor skills.

➤ Does someone need a model to have performances? Or it matters only what each of them want to achieve?
Yamato Zaharia: It is very well to have a model. It helps you and it motivates you. But, if you do not really want to do a certain thing, if you will be forced in a direction or another, the performance will be a low one, whether of the notoriety of your model. Your model cannot train instead of you. He cannot compete and cannot fight instead of you. He can only show you what you can do, what you can obtain. As for the rest, everything is related to your will and ambition. How strong you are in establishing higher and higher objectives and exceeding them. Finally … everything is up to you!