The unique Olympic sport of judo truly puts the “art” in martial art. The word “judo” is referred to as “gentle way” in the Japanese language. Participants of judo are able to face opponents of any size by using their opponent’s mass and momentum to throw them. Unlike martial arts such as karate and krav maga which use striking, judo utilizes throws, pins, and submissions to overcome their opponent. In matches, participants begin on their feet and ultimately throw or get thrown to the mats.
“Rather than confrontative tactics, [we teach] defensive and escape tactics,” says Steve DeRaedt, OU’s Judo Club instructor and sensei. Steve has been practicing judo for 40 years and holds a fifth degree black belt. He’s been with the club since its beginning and is president of the Konan Judo Association.
Similarly to other martial arts, judo has a ranking system. There are six beginner belt levels you must obtain before working on the ten degrees of black belt. In the United States, there is only one tenth degree black belt. Sensei Keiko Fukuda was 98 when she became the first woman to ever receive a tenth degree black belt in judo. She is one of four living people in the world with this ranking and was a student of the founder of judo.
Judo was developed in Japan by educator, Jigoro Kano. In 1882, he opened the Kodokan, the worldwide headquarters of the judo community, to teach and expand the art of judo. Since then, Judo has spread all over the world, including OU’s campus.
Judo club has been practicing at OU for ten years. Multiple times a week they meet to prepare for upcoming competitions against other schools in the region. Currently, they are practicing for the Konan State Championships in February at Michigan State University. They are also practicing for the Konan Rank Evaluation in January, a competition based on belt rank rather than weight class.
Joining Judo Club is a great way to stay in shape, build self-defensive skills, and meet new people. Beginners are always welcome. The club meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. For details, contact the club’s president, Ravi Tadi, at firstname.lastname@example.org.