Twice a week, I hit the dōjō. I show up all starched up in my double-weave gi, wrapped up in my belt. I kick my shoes and socks off, bow, step onto the mat, and begin stretching. I radiate confidence and self-esteem. Despite being the least skilled participant there.
Perhaps where I participate in the sport of Jūdō is an anomaly. Perhaps every other training facility on this planet is full of idiots who have a need to prove themselves and break arms. That does not change the fact that my dōjō is bursting with a positive and constructive atmosphere. They taught me everything I needed to know, right from the beginning. Formalities, how to fall correctly, how to tie a belt, how to grip someone else’s gi. They teach me new things at a workable rate. New throws, pins, submissions, theory. I am surrounded by people better than I am who are more than happy to cut out time and allow me to repeat drills over on them to get timing and foot placement correct.
Jūdō is a cardiovascular sport. Strength is nice, but I get tossed around by people half my weight. The amount of cardiovascular fitness required to go from a sparring position, through the throw, onto the ground, and then begin ground-fighting astounds me. Those who can repeatedly go from standing to hitting the mat and rolling around on it garner large amounts of respect. Yet, they never look down upon unskilled participants like myself.
I love the sport.
If you every consider participating in Jūdō, get yourself a mouth-guard. If nothing else, it gives you something besides your tongue to bite when you are getting slapped to the mat again.