You will not see a more courageous display of warrior spirit than Ken Hasegawa’s ONE Championship debut.
He will challenge for the ONE Middleweight World Title again on Sunday, 31 March, but this time he will compete in front of his home crowd in Tokyo, Japan at the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan.
With the backing of his countrymen and the warrior spirit that runs through his veins, he promises to battle to the bitter end once again.
“This is the Japanese fighting spirit,” he asserts.
“We fight with honor, discipline, and respect.”
Hasegawa got his first taste of martial arts when he followed his father’s footsteps into the world of judo as a teenager, and the grueling Olympic sport forged him into a tough competitor.
It is taxing physically and mentally, but the 32-year-old quickly thrived under those circumstances.
“I started judo when I was a freshman in high school. I fell in love with it immediately,” he recalls.
“It was fun to compete, one-on-one, me and the opponent. I like the fighting style.”
The former DEEP Openweight World Champion quickly earned his black belt through his aptitude on the mats, and made the all-Japan team in his college years.
Judo changed his life and showed him the wonders of martial arts, as well as their effectiveness for a healthy body and mind.
“The way I think changed. My life became much richer,” says Hasegawa, who is now a third-dan black belt.
“It enriched my life and made it fun. I can’t imagine life without it.”
Hasegawa found more than just a library of techniques – he found a way of life. It helped him tap into an element of his own culture that dates back thousands of years, but still has significance for today’s combatants.
“This is the bushido country,” he explains.
“[Japanese martial artists] have discipline. We practice seriously. We fight seriously. That’s our strong point.”
He has gained strength and learned to persevere through his years of studying combat, but he has also absorbed it from the culture around him.
In his first appearance in The Home Of Martial Arts, his never-say-die attitude earned him legions of new fans and his place in ONE history. But in Tokyo, he wants a positive result.
This time, he wants the pay-off to be World Championship gold.
The hometown hero will need every ounce of internal fortitude and every bit of skill he has gleaned over the years to usurp the dominant ONE World Champion, but he knows he can do it with the warrior spirit in his veins and the Japanese fans behind him.
“I’m excited to showcase my Bushido spirit in Tokyo,” he says.
“I get stronger after I get hurt, and I can still move forward aggressively after I get tired. My mind is strong.”