Judo brings masters to UK



By Rachel Sarnovsky

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Getting help from the masters can improve your performance in any sport. For the judo team, this concept became a reality.

Robert Burge has been doing judo for eight years.

“I was looking for something to do, some type of martial arts,” Burge said. “I saw the judo club practice by accident and the thing I liked about judo is that it’s authentic because these people were really fighting. There was this camaraderie between them, I couldn’t understand how they had just fought so vehemently against each other but they were such good friends.”

Judo is a sport that requires technique and physical strength alike. According to Burge, judo includes high-intensity workouts and helps the body develop harmoniously while adding agility.

For the past two summers, Japanese judo masters have come to Lexington and shared their knowledge with the team.

“A few weeks ago we had the Japanese Masters Judo Association, which is a traveling team of older men, visit us,” Burge said. “They came here for a clinic all the way from Japan. These guys were in their 70s and 80s and they were all healthy, very strong and could compete with college-aged athletes and they could win.”

President Alex Mohn also reminisced on the time spent with the judo masters.

“These guys are the absolute highest rank and they came here to give us demonstrations and teach us what they know,” Mohn said.

Burge described pre-arranged, choreographed techniques that are done to demonstrate the principles behind each technique as kata.

“Each person in this traveling team demonstrated their favorite technique to the group, and they also did the judo kata,” Burge said. “For example, there is one called Nage no Kata, which in Japanese means ‘the standing.’ He takes 15 of the 67 standing techniques and demonstrates those just to show what the principle is behind each one.”

Burge acknowledged the temperament the Japanese masters brought to Lexington.

“Their spirit and the fact that they would spend the time and money to come all the way here just to share judo with a small group of people, it was very generous,” Burge said.

Mohn recognized the impact judo had on his life.

“I love it. It’s a ton of fun and great exercise. It also made me realize I never want to get into a real fight,” he said.

Burge said judo taught him to be a better person.

“It does change your character, and that’s really the goal of judo,” Burge said. “It’s a philosophy that you can apply to your life, it’s not just a sport. It’s this idea of mutual welfare and benefit so that a judoka (one who practices judo) should be an individual who is ultimately useful to society. They should be healthy, intelligent, strong and have good character.”