A&M International Judo Team Ranked Third in State

Students are doing more than hitting the books at Texas A&M International University. Some students are hitting the mats and learning about hard work, concentration and competition through the study of Judo, a Japanese martial art derived from Jujitsu. Three times a week, a group of ten to 12 students meet to practice this martial art.

Mike Soto, president of the A&M International Judo Club, explained that the club works hard and has excellent leadership.

"We owe our club's success to our coach. We are under the direction of Keith Warzecha, a third degree black belt and former national and international competitor. We are so lucky to have him teaching us here in Laredo. He's an excellent coach; I'm sure the whole club would agree," said Soto.

Their hard work has paid off, explained Soto.

"This past weekend, four team members competed in the Houston Open Judo Tournament. All four won medals: a Gold, two Silvers and a Bronze. We've won a total of 56 medals in 17 tournaments in the past three years. We're currently ranked 3rd in the state, and we'll defend our title at the Texas State Collegiate Championships to be held at the University of Texas in March of next year," said Soto.

Two weeks ago, at the Go Shibata Memorial Judo Tournament in College Station, the club placed third overall, against over 200 competitors from the Southwestern U.S. The team missed second place by only one point, Soto said. In addition, individual team members captured two Gold, one Silver and three Bronze medals at the tournament. This year, the club plans to attend tournaments in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Mexico.

The sport was created in 1882 in Japan and became an Olympic Sport in 1964. It is more than just a martial art, according to Soto. It is a way of life, which can help club members go further and accomplish their dreams.

"There are two main components that make up the philosophy of Judo: "Maximum Efficiency Through Minimum Effort" and "Mutual Welfare and Benefit." These principles are traditionally to be followed not only on the mat, but in everyday life as well. We all look out for each other. We form a family bond. Plus, practicing and competing in Judo provides an intense workout and can provide a calming philosophy for everyday life. Moreover, there are many educational benefits from a team-oriented martial art. For example, our students have commented that Judo helps them focus on their studies and remain goal-oriented," said Soto.

For more information about the A&M International Judo Club, please contact Mike Soto at kird_monkey@yahoo.com.

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