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Davis

Davis, California

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Judo team throws down the competition

As this progressively warm spring weather seeps into a baking summer, students are finding many new outings and hobbies to keep themselves cool and entertained. While many lounge at the Rec Pool, some frequent the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) instead — but not in preparation for a shirtless Houseboats. The UC Davis Club Judo Team grapples with achieving other aims, practicing during these hot months to constantly build their stamina, coordination and strength in preparation for local tournaments and, ideally, win National Collegiate Judo Championships.

Judo is a form of Japanese martial art. Opponents start by standing up and the goal is for one person to throw the other to the floor — getting them on their back which signals a win. If an opponent is on the ground and not on their back, one must grapple, choke, arm bar or pin them for more than 20 seconds in order to get the opponent on his or her back.

During competitions, if there is mere grappling and nothing else, referees will determine when it is time to pull both opponents back.

“It’s not for the weak at heart,” said Victoria Marcus, first-year international relations and economics double major. “It’s a sport where you have to keep trying in order to get good.”

Marcus saw the judo class one day while visiting the ARC, tried it out, and has been attending ever since. She has been doing martial arts since she was 9 years old, and is now a second-degree black belt, having earned a double degree in Shotokan karate. Marcus became involved with judo because she wanted to polish her skills like she has done with karate and jujitsu.

“I knew the basic throws and hold downs, but the actual competitive part, I hadn’t been doing,” Marcus said. “Attending the ARC sessions and eventually becoming a part of the team has helped a lot with that.”

No prior experience with judo is required when joining the UC Davis Judo Team. There’s also no trying out. Like Marcus, interested individuals first attend the judo classes offered at the ARC. If they like it, then they buy a gi (a uniform) and a white belt. Individuals must continue to practice before participating in tournaments.

New members practice with more advanced members, which expedites the learning process, according to the team’s philosophy. However, this causes obvious challenges for new members. Tatiana Gegan, sophomore communication major, said she couldn’t hang.

“I attended one of the judo classes at the ARC having learned about and gained interest in the art in a Japanese studies class I took last winter,” Gegan said. “While it was fun, I learned it was much harder than expected. I didn’t expect to be in action against people who had been practicing the art for years. It just wasn’t for me, but don’t make me mad, because I did learn a few moves.”

Judo competitions are categorized by weight, measured in kilograms, and gender. In mid-March, the team attended collegiate nationals in San Jose. There are two divisions in the competition, Novist and Champion. The women’s Novist division landed second place in the tournament.

Marcus said this could only have been achieved through their hard work and dedication.

It is such loyalty that Anthony Batarse, junior neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, believes has awarded him the position of judo team president this quarter. Batarse’s experience with judo dates back to junior college where he first learned the art in San Francisco. He has been affiliated with the UC Davis judo team since his first winter quarter.

“I bumped into an old friend who invited
 me to practice judo with him and the UC Davis judo team,” Batarse said. “During this practice my passion for judo was revived.”

As president, Batarse focuses on structure.

“I feel that it is my responsibility to maintain the structure which is responsible for the collegiate and national standing of the UC Davis judo team in both men’s and women’s divisions,” Batarse said. “With the inspiration from our sensei and the determination of the judo team, I intend to continue our success through hard work.”

The judo team practices at the ARC from 8 to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 8 to 10 a.m on Saturdays.

ISAIAH SHELTON can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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