Iowa State martial arts club looks to compete for World University Games spots

After kicking out the legs of senior in aerospace engineerig Jaroslaw Jozwik, Cameron Baxter slams his upper body to the floor, sending the future engineer’s legs to the sky. Days ahead of a conference, the team trains tirelessly in preparation. The Iowa State Judo Club will be competing in the 2018 National Collegiate Judo Association Championships Sunday, Mar. 11 in Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

Mattais Gordon

On Sunday, March 11, the Iowa State martial arts club will host and participate in the 2018 National Collegiate Judo Association Championships at Lied Recreation Center.

This competition features judo players, or judokas, from all around the United States. The competition is split up into four separate divisions that the judokas can compete in.

First, there is the novice division. This is for competitors who hold anywhere from a white belt being the lower level, to a green belt being the higher.

One of the competitors from the Iowa State Judo team competing in the novice division is Cody Fredricks. Fredricks is a senior who has been in the club for two and a half years. However, this will be his first time competing in nationals for the club’s competition team.

“I’m excited to compete,” Fredricks said. “But it’s also a little nerve-racking.

“Trying to get your body to an optimal level beforehand is important. Also working up a nice sweat before really helps to kind of get some of that stress gone.”

The second division is the standard division. This is the division for competitors who have a brown belt or black belt. The winner of the tournament in each weight bracket will get the chance to advance to the World University Games.

Amelia Knuth, a senior majoring in criminal justice, will be competing in the standard division for the judo team. This is her third year in the club and it will be her third Nationals appearance.

Knuth’s first year at Nationals in the novice division, she won gold as a sophomore. In her second nationals appearance, her junior year, she competed in the standard division, winning bronze.

This year Knuth is hoping to win the gold again to compete in the World University Games in Naples, Italy.

“It would be an honor,” Knuth said about the possibility of competing in the World University Games. “I would be super excited to not only support the United States but also to support Iowa State University because not many people get to do that.”

The third division the tournament has to offer is the kata division. The kata division is for a group of competitors to perform various forms and techniques combined. These performances are judged based on technique and form.

Finally, there is the graduate student/non-traditional division. This division was added to the national event just this year. This division is for any student who is either in graduate school, a non-traditional student, or is a part-time student. This allows students who may not have been able to compete in previous years take part in nationals.

As the National Judo Championships draw closer, the more excited the team is becoming. It’s not only for their own matches, but for their fellow teammates’ matches as well.

The team treats each other and views each other as family. The family atmosphere can be felt as soon as you walk into practice and watch the team interact.

“I’ve learned so much from them,” Courtney Du Bois said. “Everyone is super helpful, not just in judo but our personal lives too. They’re there to help you with literally everything.”

Du Bois, a sophomore on the team, has been a part of the club for just a couple of months. She attributes a lot of her success so far to her teammates.

“I’m really excited,” Du Bois said when asked about watching her teammates on Sunday. “I know they’re super excited and ready to win, and I’m ready to see them win.”

This type of confidence is needed to succeed in Judo. Not just for your teammates but yourself as well. When these three competitors reflect back on what they have learned the most from Judo, it is confidence.

“[Judo] has boosted my confidence a lot and it makes you go for it a lot more,” Fredricks said.

Fredricks wasn’t the only team member to have a similar thought. In fact, all of them felt confidence has been a key contributor to their success.

“Before I started this, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself, but now it’s made me more confident,” Du Bois said.

Knuth, Du Bois, Fredricks, and the rest of the team, look to bring that confidence and go for it all at this Sunday’s national tournament.

“When you get an opportunity you have to go for it and commit everything to the decisions that you make,” Knuth said.