Throwing your opponents around the gym

By Sgt. Ann Venturato

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — For those looking to be thrown around the mat, Judo classes are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the LSA Anaconda gym.

"Judo means gentle way," said Pfc. Matthew Baeza, 84th Engineer Battalion, Judo instructor, "Gentle way not meaning I'm not going to harm you, but to mean minimal effort on your part to defeat your opponent."

The students do a series of warm up and stretching exercises before Baeza starts instructing them on the various break falls and takedown techniques.

"Judo is all hands on. It is all about technique," Baeza said. "Technique will always win over strength. It is all a matter of honing positions."

The class is taught in a step-by-step manner giving the students time to master new techniques. The basic movements learned in one class will be built upon during the next class.

"Judo is a real traditional, respectful sport," Baeza said. "I try to keep it as traditional as possible here."

Classes were scheduled to give a multitude of Soldiers a chance to attend. The Judo classes allow Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Jaime Perez to get a workout before going to work.

"The whole thing is just enjoyable. I am learning new techniques on how to grab and throw opponents," Perez said, 1st Battalion, 185th Armor.

Perez, who has been to three Judo classes so far, said this was the first martial arts he has tried.

"I always wanted to do Judo when I was younger." Perez said. "By the time I get out of here, I will know something."

Like many martial arts, Judo takes time and dedication to perfect as a skill. Skills include the break fall, a technique used to safely fall without causing serious injury to yourself.

"In Judo you are going to hit the ground a lot which is why break falls are used," Baeza said.

"I was sore after the first night after all the break falls," Perez said. Since students do not have access to Gi's, the traditional martial arts outfit, they wear their desert camouflage uniform jackets over their physical training uniform. Soldiers can use this experience as a fun way to relieve stress.

"A lot of people have stressful days and this gives them a positive manner to deal with the stress," Baeza said.

Besides helping to relieve stress, the class provides Soldiers with skills they can use outside the wire.

"Judo allows them to have more self-confidence because they know how to defend themselves," Baeza said.

So if you are looking for a sport that lets you throw your opponents around, stop by the gym for a few lessons in the fundamentals of Judo.

Editor's Note: Sgt. Venturato is a member of the 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office at LSA Anaconda, Balad, Iraq.


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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Judo students practice forward break falls across the mat in the aerobics room at the gym here.

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Pfc. Matthew Baeza, 84th Engineer Battalion and judo instructor at the LSA Anaconda gym, instructs Staff Sgt. Jaime Perez, 1st Battalion, 185th Armor, on the proper hand placement for a forward break fall.