City College instructor takes 2nd in judo competition

Astronomy Department Chair Lancealot Kao, bottom, reacts as he's put into an armbar during practice at the Ocean campus Wellness Center, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Photo by Elisa Parrino/The Guardsman
Astronomy Department Chair Lancealot Kao, bottom, reacts as he’s put into an armbar during practice at the Ocean campus Wellness Center, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Photo by Elisa Parrino/The GuardsmanCity

By Ivan Huang

The Guardsman

From teaching students about extraterrestrial matters in a classroom to throwing his competitors on the mat so they can see the stars, City College’s Astronomy Department Chair Lancelot Kao covers it all.

Kao medaled in the 2014 Senior National Championships, held in Reno, Nev. on May 3-4 and took home a second place medal in the 73 kg weight class.

Competing in the Masters division which is in the 45-50 age group, Kao was trained and coached by City College Judo Instructor, Sensei Mitchell Palacio for this event.

Kao wasn’t confident that he would take home any medals coming into the tournament.

“I’m just being realistic,” Kao said in an interview with The Guardsman prior to the event. “I’ve practiced for two to three years and I’m competing in the Masters category. The people in the Master’s category have been competing in judo for many years. I’m not expecting to win any medals, but I’m doing it just for the experience.”

Kao put in a great effort to take home second place, but he believes the martial art contains many different values, which is more important than the results of the event.

“As a sport itself, (judo) has a very good philosophical tradition in training, which not only includes physical activities but also the outlook of philosophy,” Kao said. “The basic thing about judo is learning how to fall, and it’s very practical.”

Born in Hong Kong, Kao immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. Kao attended City College and then transferred to UC Berkeley for an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. He completed his doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago.

He joined the City College astronomy department in 1997.

Kao discovered his interest in judo three years ago when a few of his students introduced him to City College’s judo program, which is lead by Palacio.

“I didn’t think I wanted to do judo,” Kao said. “Some of my students really dragged me.”

Kao praised the vibe and atmosphere of City’s judo program and emphasized how beginner-friendly the program is.

“A few things I think are unique about this program is the people around the students,” Kao said. “It is different from other traditional martial arts places, where it’s like a macho type of thing. Here you really just learn the sport, not just the physical skills but you learn about the sport itself.”

Delon Wright story update:

As the deadline for entering the NBA Draft expired on April 27, former Rams basketball star Delon Wright decided to pass on entering this year’s NBA draft which is held on June 26.

Wright’s decision to stay at the University of Utah for the 2014-2015 season was made with his future career in the NBA in mind.

“I wanted to finish working on my game because I want to be ready to make an impact my first year (in the NBA),” Wright said.

Appeasing many of his critics by staying in school, Wright’s decision to stay will give him another shot at leading his team to the NCAA tournament and perhaps raise his draft stock for the 2015 draft. (Ivan Huang)

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