Why I do Judo
Why do I do Judo? A question I ask myself many times and I never get a different answer than that this is the moment when I feel alive and that it has become my way of living.
I did sports from a very young age and for so long that I don’t even remember not doing it. I think of my oldest memories and the first ones that come to my mind are my parents taking me swimming and me climbing on anything I could get my hands on.
But all the sports I tried had something that wasn’t quite myself, something that made me feel that this is not me. With swimming I felt my brain was left aside, and not put to work. Then I went for karate but it was too soft for me (I was a bad little boy – I wanted to fight people, to be able to hit them, to be able to hurt them). Then I tried basketball and soccer, but it was still not enough physical contact and I also found out I’m not that much of a team player; I’d rather depend on myself than on other people. I did everything; in my school I was the best at athletics and gymnastics, but I also felt they were not for me (I would have liked to try gymnastics at a higher level, but I was around 10 years old and that’s too old).
So how do I get from all of that to judo?
It was an interesting sequence of events. I was playing soccer at that time (I was a goalkeeper) and my brother and cousin just started judo (both are younger than me – my father who did judo for a long time took them to the judo gym). I told you how I was, always getting into fights at school, and I was pretty strong for my age, so I said to my father: “Judo, what is that? I can beat anyone there.” I thought that judo wasn’t such a big deal. Then I got into an argument with the soccer coach and left the team, so I wasn’t doing anything to burn up the energy and started to get into even more trouble. When this started to happen my father told me: “At least give judo a try, come with me to one of the training sessions”, and I went.
In the middle of the training session I said something like this is stupid, I can go and fight any of them right now. My parents had already spoken to the coach beforehand, so the coach came to me and said: “If you wanna fight I will give you a gi and I’ll put you up against the weakest in the gym” (it was the toughest , because there shouldn’t be any chance to beat him). So I went in and he got me into a hold down. I struggled to get out until I couldn’t breathe anymore and after that I tapped. It felt like my bubble got burst and my world got shattered and I promised myself that I will get better and never get into that situation again. I told my father that I want to start training and he just smiled. With every training I felt more and more like I belonged there. I was feeling the throws, I was feeling the gi, I was feeling my opponents and the training sessions were awesome. I even remember the first time I tried the technique that was going to become my favorite (sode-tsuri-komi-goshi). From the first time I got it right and knew this was my technique, it didn’t matter how much I practiced it, it’s always there. When I got bored with one technique there were so many others to improve and try. The number of combinations was unbelievable. My body and my brain were finally working together.
The road I walked on wasn’t the most pleasant one. I got beat by a girl after my first couple of weeks in judo and I broke my collar bone somewhere between my second and third month. But instead of pushing me away, this made me want to work even harder. I beat the girl 2 or 3 weeks later and when I broke my collar bone the doctor said I had to wait 3 to 4 weeks before I did anything. In my in my third week I was already training again. I lost almost all the fights in my first competition (the fights were really tight and I was losing only on points, but this still counts as losing). All my friends asked me why I bother doing judo if I always lose and I always told them that I like it, but in my mind I was only thinking that I am going to win and show everyone that I can do this. My parents were next to me all the way, cheering for me and videotaping all my fights. After my first year and a half I was national champion and placed 7th at a world cup in Hungary. From there everything went uphill. This showed me know how to follow a goal and be patient and that the important people in your life always stick by you.
Judo is my way of life. Judo taught me how to live, how to approach situations and how to respect other people. Judo is not only a sport. Even when I stopped doing it, the ethics and principles were still there and helped me overcome all the problems that got in my way. Judo taught me to never give up, no matter how hard something is, no matter how bad the times may seem, no matter how much pain you feel – that is only in your head. Judo taught me that opportunities can sometimes reveal themselves, but you can also make them real by pushing and applying your force and knowledge in the appropriate direction. The dojo is the place where I can get every feeling of anger out of me. I go in dark and full of hate and I come out relieved and in peace. When I train everything stops, there are no more problems, there is no outside world – is only Judo and the people there.
Judo got me closer to my family; my father is a black belt and my brother is going for his black belt now. My brother and I were both fighting at international level, so it was very nice training together and my father was the best coach I ever had (how many of you can say that they broke their father’s finger while fighting?). Almost all the coaches forget that judo means “the gentle way”, and they forget the principles by only training the body and forgetting about the brain and soul. My father did not. He was my mentor, he was always there and taught me judo how it’s supposed to be taught: as an art. I did some other martial arts, and even though I think that every one of them has its strong parts, I found judo is my love. But I also think that diversity makes a good fighter, so never forget that all martial arts are at the same time better and weaker than all the other.
When I got into university, I stopped judo. I thought there would be too many things to deal with at the same time. Two years passed and I found myself in Ireland as an exchange student and with the chance to start everything from the beginning. When I saw that UCC had a judo club I said “Why not?”. My expectations were exceeded by how people accepted me and made me feel like I was part of the team from the start. I’m so grateful to them for reuniting me with judo. I found a team here – a team of people driven by friendship and the will to learn. They backed me up when I fought at the competition as if I was here from the start. The UCC judo club was the place that made Ireland feel like home for me. Without the help of the people here and their support I don’t know if I’d ever have fought in a competition again and now I am the All Ireland champion thanks to them. I felt proud representing the club, and I would do it again in no time. I will never forget this part of my life, the experiences that I had here and the people I met, because they are deeply written in my brain. UCC judo club made my Ireland experience an awesome one.
These reasons and many more make me do Judo. I hope that what I wrote here can inspire and open a new view for you. Trying to write an answer to this question was hard for me, because I have to limit to a few words when I can write a book on how judo makes me feel.
Don’t forget to apply Judo in real life, it will make everything easier.
“Mens sana in corpore sano.”
Bogdan Alexandru Dorin.