As the New Year continues, many individuals find themselves still looking for opportunities to try new things that offer self-improvement. Others are looking to find activities and hobbies to combat seasonal depression. If trying a contact sport while pushing your physical limits sounds fun, then consider checking out free drop-in Judo classes offered at the Recreational Center.
“The club holds three classes a week; Tuesday and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 12 to 2 p.m. We meet in the activities room in the Recreational Center on the first floor,” said Eli Larocque, the club’s president.
On average, class sizes range from six to nine people, but break-out sessions allow members to practice one-on-one, Laroque shared.
Larocque explained that classes are absolutely free to all members who have access to the Recreational Center, including daily pass patrons.
“We don’t charge for the class, so as long as you have already paid for access to the Rec. Center, you can come,” said Laroque.
Additionally, anyone who becomes a member of the Judo club will receive a reduced rate for membership at the center, only costing 23 dollars a month.
Laroque shares that Judo is a martial arts form that originated in Japan in 1882 by Jigaro Kano. In 1899, the first rules were established for a Judo competition. Judo’s first appearance at the Olympic games was in 1932, and officially introduced as an Olympic sport in 1964.
The club is not new, and was founded about five years ago.
“Marian, our instructor, and an associate of his would come to the Rec. Center to practice Judo. Some of the students noticed, and after a while, they approached the two,” said Laroque. “After talking to them, they started to practice with Marian and the club just sort of grew from that.”
Class currently has two instructors, Marian Kusz and Mark Tripp. Marian was born and raised in Poland, and moved to the US during his adult years, shared Laroque.
Marian has trained with Poland’s Olympic Judo coach, and has a black belt. Tripp, the other instructor, has a black belt in both Judo and Jujitsu, and has trained internationally.
In Judo, the standard uniform is called a Gi.
“This is the traditional white jacket and pants that you often see in martial arts dojos,” shared Laroque. “Due to the thick fabric, these allow us to practice without damaging clothes.”
If club members do not have their own, Gi’s can be provided at no cost.
“If someone shows up, we will check out the size, and within about a week, we will have a uniform for them so that they can jump into practice,” said Laroque.
Why attempt Judo?
“Judo is both a martial art and an Olympic sport. Where as many martial arts are striking arts (focusing on punches, kicks, jabs, etc.) Judo is a grappling art, and focuses on throwing the opponent and/or putting the opponent in joint locks or choke holds,” said Laroque. “One of the interesting things about Judo is that even though it’s a grappling art, you don’t actually have to be strong to practice it.”
In addition to Judo, the club also practices Jiu Jitsu. Laroque explains that this is a martial art form that focuses on ground fighting. The instructors are also able to personalize the class to a member’s interests
“Some people come to learn self-defense, so for them we focus on teaching them how to stop attackers. Some come for the sport, so we will teach them on different strategies to use during competition, work on conditioning, and let them know about upcoming tournaments,” said Laroque.
Any individuals interested in joining, or who have general inquiries, should contact Laroque at [email protected]