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West Jordan Journal

Local gym teaches judo to kids and adults of all abilities

Jun 23, 2021 03:13PM ● By Greg James

Sensei Abi Shino demonstrates the art of Judo at a recent competition. (Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Judo)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The word judo consists of two Japanese characters, ‘ju’ which means gentle and ‘do’, which means the way. Judo, therefore, means the way of gentleness.

Beyond learning self-defense and physical prowess, they learn how to control their feelings, emotions and impulses through a moral code.

“Judo is a grappling sport,” Rocky Mountain Judo Sensei Ken Barlow said. “I got into judo with my dad many years ago. I started when I was about six years old.”

Barlow is a fourth-degree blackbelt and has certifications in teaching vision-impaired athletes and teaches anyone that wants to participate. He has even had several autistic students.

Invented in 1882 by Jigoro Kano in Japan. He participated in jujutsu and did not find it practical. Judo’s most prominent feature is its competitive element. The objective being to throw or takedown an opponent.

“We can teach ages five up to 90. USA Judo has a vision-impaired program and I went through and got certified. We can teach by handclaps and use different rules. They learn to be like any other student,” Barlow said. “Some of our autistic students see how we learn and they accept contact. The families have been incredible. Our DoJo (the hall where martial arts are practiced) caters to families.”

Learning to protect yourself is one aspect of the judo class. The club also participates in competitions. May 15-16 many members of Rocky Mountain Judo traveled to Reno, Nevada to participate in the senior nationals. Nationals is considered the largest tournament in the United States. 

“There are five to eight competitions in the valley. Sometimes we travel into Idaho,” Barlow said. “Judo cannot be done alone. You have to count on somebody. We are here for each other or we would not be able to do this.”

Barlow has anywhere between 25-30 athletes participate in his weekly classes. His master Sensei is Chian-Liu Chen. He is 90 years old and still participates weekly in trainings.

“We always have time at the beginning of class for fitness. We learn how to fall, do exercises to improve our stamina, push-ups and all kinds of stuff,” Barlow said.

After fitness training, the class is divided up into age groups and skill levels. 

“I have a parent that her kids just started a few months ago. She had no idea what judo even was. The kids love it. We have people from all over the place that come and want to learn,” Barlow said.