All Summer One Sport: Judo

Debut in the Dojo

Judo was the only martial art form that I had seen in real life, prior to the start of my All Summer One Sport blog. Judo is like a mixture of wrestling and aikido. While I wasn’t particularly exceptional at either of those sports, I was praying they would provide me a solid foundation to get started in judo. When I first arrived at Hiro’s Judo Club, I didn’t think that I was in the right place. I was in a strip mall. Nonetheless, I walked in and was suddenly transported into another world.

I was immediately struck by the atmosphere. I felt a sense of tranquillity and strength, which subsequently calmed my nerves. Once I bowed in and entered the matted area to take some photos, I saw two elderly Senseis sitting perfectly still in the corner. On my way out of the matted area, they asked me if I was going to try a class. Hesitantly, I said yes.

Once I had changed into the judogi (the traditional uniform), I was ready for my big debut in the dojo. While the class started out simple, it quickly made a sharp turn. In the blink of an eye, people were lining up and throwing themselves down onto the mats. I didn’t know what was happening, so I followed them and when it was my turn, I walked onto the mat and threw myself down. I have never felt so awkward in my life. I clearly fell wrong as one of the Senseis came up to me and took me aside and patiently taught me the correct way to fall.

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The next hour was the most intense workout I have ever done! Under the careful eye of the Sensei, I learned how to fall without causing injury. The key to falling was to use my arm to break the fall. At first, this felt very awkward. I thought, “How is flailing my arm out and slamming it on the ground going to cause me less pain?” But, I kept my mind open and as the Sensei predicted, I was dropping like a fly in no time.

Now that I had got this skill under my (white) belt, I progressed by learning techniques to defeat my fellow Judoka (someone who practices judo). I felt the odds were stacked in my favour as I was paired with an elderly man. Turns out, the odds were not stacked in my favour as, I was suddenly thrust onto the ground frantically hitting the mat. The next 20 minutes were then spent teaching me how to replicate this move. It was like the Sensei knew that I needed a new party trick.

While I did not get to compete in a match, I did learn the three different ways that points can be earned in judo.

Ippon: This is worth 100 points. It is when a judoka throws another judoka on their back or maintains a pin for 25 seconds. It is like a knockout in boxing.

Waza-ari: This is worth 10 points. It is when a judoka throws another judoka partially on their back.

Yuko: This worth 1 point. It can be earned when the technique is almost a waza-ari.

The judoka with the most points at the end of the match wins. Any points earned in the Yuko class do not impact a judoka’s overall point balance, but will determine the winner if there is a tie. Matches last five minutes for men, and four minutes for women. This may seem short since other sports lasting for 60+ minutes. However, once you put on the judogi, I am sure you will reconsider (I was dying after 40 seconds).

This is definitely a sport I could see myself continuing after my internship. From the moment that I walked in, to when I hobbled out, I felt like I was part of a huge family. Even if this family would throw me (literally) around like a rag doll.


Check out some of my other recent All Summer One Sport adventures:

1) Sledge Hockey (Para Ice Hockey)

2) Pickleball

3) Flying Trapeze


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Walter Woodroffe-Brown