UB’s Judo family
Judo club thrives in its seventh year
The wrestling room in Alumni Arena transforms on Sunday afternoons. Wrestling is replaced with the martial art of Judo and the coaches with two black belt senseis. There they teach the discipline to any UB student who desires to learn.
Though it sounds intense, the club is full of light hearted energy and a welcoming environment to all. Thanks to senseis Alan Goldstein and Bruce Histed the Judo club is an inexpensive martial arts lesson while also being a positive experience.
“We just want everyone to have a good time,” Histed said. “If you want to come in here looking to become the ultimate warrior, awesome we will help you… but say you are just doing it to stay in shape instead of going to the gym, you are just as welcomed to come.”
The culture of the Judo club accommodates all. Goldstein acts as the main teacher while Histead moves around the class helping students more one-on-one. The club accepts undergraduate students, graduate students and non-students of all ages. Histead spent the majority of the practice with new students who were still working on grasping the martial art.
Histed has been training in Judo for 45 years, getting his 1st degree black belt in 1983.
Today he is a third degree black belt looking be promoted to 4th degree. Histead still uses his original black belt from 1983 which has seen three decades of wear.
“I don’t even wash it! You don’t want to wash the mojo out of it,” Histed said. “You can’t fake being a black belt in Judo. The whole system for getting it is based on getting points through teaching and fighting other black belts.”
Judo itself has no strikes involved, instead it teaches technique on how to toss someone to the ground or, in the clubs case, mats. There is ground grappling and submissions as well, but much of the martial arts is based on grabbing someone’s uniform, or gi, in specific spots and giving them a hip toss. To Goldstein he feels his students gravitate towards the aspect they like the most.
At practice Goldstein can be seen tossing men half his age and twice his size like they are made of feathers.
“The whole sport is based on using weight displacement to further your owns means,” said club president Jesse Smith. “With the technique you can’t rush things so a big takeaway for most people is patience.”
Smith, a sophomore chemical engineering major enters his second year with the club but already sees it as one of the best things about his time at UB.
“I think when people see Judo themselves that's when they want to do it,” Goldstein said. “They don’t even realize that Judo also teaches you how to fall, the first thing we teach new students for their first classes is how to fall.”
Both Histed and Goldstein stress safety over all else. Histead has seen too many martial artists make their injuries worse by not taking the proper time off and stresses the importance of rest in the healing process. His philosophy is “he who takes a break fights another day.”
Though Judo remains the main focus, not every club member goes with the dream of becoming a black belt.
“It is a great way to stay in shape, lifting weights is always fun but if that gets a little boring there is always this,” Smith said.
The club is easy to join, simply attend a practice and let the teachers know you are interested. There is no cost; all the equipment is provided by the senseis.
They practice on wrestling mats which aren’t ideal for Judo but offer cushion for falls. The club uses the customary martial arts gis for all its students. The senseis bring gis that students can wear if they are unable to buy one or are hesitant about making the commitment to Judo. Histed recommends that his students get a gi if they are taking the club more seriously, which he says are usually $30.
“There really is no pressure in getting one,” Smith said. “But if Judo does become a regular thing for someone it is worth getting your own gi so you want to pursue it beyond practice.”
The club meets twice a week, on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday nights from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m in room 66 of Alumni Arena. In the seven years this iteration of the Judo club has been opened, there’s been over three hundred students who have attended.
“I have students come and go, some who leave UB and return for the club, some who stop by once a year; to me we are all apart of a Judo family,” Histed said.
Thomas Zafonte is a senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org