By Shane Lynch
The sport of Judo is one of the most rapidly growing martial arts in the world. Its origins are comprised in Asia but the sport itself is also rapidly growing throughout the continent of Europe. Judo has its origins in Japan, as it was a test of mental, physical and moral skills. Judo’s rich history began as a form of Japanese jiujutsu, which the ancient Samurai practiced meticulously and began to continually improve and then crafted the sport to suit their combatable needs.
The main goal of a judoka in a competition is to take an opponent down by using his energy against them. A judo practitioner (Judoka) will obtain a superior position on the ground or subdue an opponent by employing a submission hold. The original Samurai used throws and joint locks as a means of defending themselves against enemies who had armour and artillery which was advanced for the time.
The NUI Galway Judo club was founded in 1965. It is the oldest and most successful martial arts club in the college, with over 20 Intervarsity team titles won, as well as multiple individual awards obtained. NUI Galway are the current reigning men’s team champions, winning back the title in style in Coleraine, County Derry.
Training is taken by coach Colm O’Riordan, a man who is renowned throughout the Irish Judo Association as one of the most dedicated coaches in the sport. Coach O’Riordan is arguably the main reason why the club continues to thrive and, not only compete at such a high level, but consistently win as both individuals and teams. There is strength and conditioning training, which helps build up endurance and equip bodies for the physical onslaught of training. Training itself covers all aspects of the body in terms of a workout and allows you to get fit for competing, as well as for personal gain. Training concludes with a sauna and pool session to allow maximum recovery for all muscle groups.
NUI Galway are hosting the Intervarsities for this college year in February. The Intervarsities are the highlight of the Judo calendar, where all of the club’s hard work throughout the year pays off. It brings universities together in the form of competition, with multiple categories of competition taking place throughout the day. The clubs also get to meet and socialise with each other, with an awards ceremony and a meal taking place in a local hotel.
Speaking to the current captain of the Judo club, Evie Murphy, she puts a major emphasis on how the club helps with the construction of self-confidence, whilst, at the same time, building up a mentality of socialising whilst learning. Evie also talks about how it’s a martial art which includes everybody of every background, including both genders, who are equally represented in competitions. The martial art itself is not only a great way to get to know people, but it is an excellent form of self-defence.
The club has a diverse collection of members, from beginners to experienced black belts, while multiple nationalities are represented throughout the club. The differing backgrounds and experience help with everyone’s overall knowledge of the sport. As well as this, multiple past students help out with training and are a great source of knowledge for the current crop of Judokas.
The club also promotes the idea of togetherness and unity within the club. The members look out for each other and are constantly helping each other in training and learning off of each other. The club itself, however, is not strictly built around the sport itself. The club organises multiple trips and recreational activities, such as surfing trips in Lahinch, hiking trips to Croagh Patrick, as well as social nights out and poker themed nights. The club is also active on both Facebook and Instagram. The members of the club always insist that the togetherness of the group has helped with the major success of the club. To quote the founder of Judo, Dr. Jigoro Kano, “The harmonious development and eventual perfection of human character” is ultimately what the sport promotes on both a domestic and international level.