The Injury

“Gentle Way”

That’s what the meaning of  “Judo” is translated from its Japanese origins, although my experience has been anything but gentle. I first took a mixed martial arts class during a cold winter night with my friend when I was home during winter break from college. He had been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wanted to give MMA a try, so I went along with him. I only took one class, but it left 2 impressions on me:

1. I can’t kick to save my life

2. Throwing people is a lot of fun

Despite the fun, I have a history of knee pain so I decided MMA & Jiu Jitsu weren’t for me since there are techniques specifically designed to inflict pain on your opponent’s knee. So I stayed away from martial arts until my senior year at TCNJ (The College of New Jersey). Needing 1 more credit to graduate, I enrolled in a Judo class to satisfy that credit. Since Judo didn’t have any leg-submission techniques, it seemed like a great way to stay in shape. I enjoyed it so much that I joined a Judo club near the college after my class was over, and when I moved to Maryland after college I joined a Judo club there as well.

I was feeling confident about my training on the night of Tuesday, April 18, 2006 as I entered the dojo. I had been practicing Judo on & off for 3.5 years (shoulder & elbow injuries suffered in class forced me to take some time off) and a few weeks earlier I had successfully thrown an opponent that was almost twice my weight & scored an ippon (win). So when the time came to spar against a visiting black-belt judoka from Guatemala in class during randori (free-style sparring), I accepted the challenge, despite my rank being 3 belt colors below his. During our match, in what seemed like an instant, I was raised above his head & then flipped 360-degrees as I was slammed to the ground with all my body weight landing squarely on my big toe & the ball of my left foot. I tried to “walk it off”, but that was it for me.

Ironic how an activity I picked to stay in shape ended up doing more harm to my body than good.

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