Why I do Judo

 Hi everyone. My name is Luke Hickey and I’m a second year Applied Psychology student from Tipp. Unlike the first entry in this series, my judo journey is still a relatively short tale, having only taken up the sport last September.

Growing up I tried loads of different team sports, but rugby was by far my favourite -mainly because it suited a big fat kid. So, from age 10-19, I dedicated considerable time to it, playing for my local club Cashel R.F.C. and then Rockwell College. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing rugby, but when I finished school I felt it was time for a change. I’d learned a lot from it: hard work, dedication, and teamwork, but at that stage I felt I needed to find a more individual challenge. Teams are great, but I wanted to try something where I couldn’t hide behind a team. This was around the same time Conor McGregor came onto the mainstream (I think I first heard of him three weeks before he signed with the UFC) so I thought I’d give MMA a shot and joined URA fight club in Cahir. I enjoyed all aspects of MMA, but it was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling that I really liked. When I came to UCC I was disappointed to find that there was no BJJ club, but I signed up for Judo as it seemed kind of similar (to be honest I didn’t have a clue what it was). This disappointment instantly vanished when I went to my first training. I was blown away by the skill and technique involved. I was instantly hooked, not because it was like Jiu Jitsu, but because it was different, the emphasis being on throws rather than ground work.

While I really enjoyed the sport the main reason I continued training was because of how welcoming and friendly everyone in UCC Judo club is. So over the next few months I slowly improved thanks to our fantastic coach David Holms and all the members who gave me tips and threw me unmercifully onto my back (you learn the most from your mistakes).

Then in February I entered my first competition -the Intervarsities- which was held here in UCC. I’ll never forget my first fight. It was in the team event and I came up against a black belt who must have weighed over 90kg. Long story short, he basically just lay on me and won by hold down. The day went on with mixed success until it came to the under 73kg category. Somehow I managed to win my fights and progress to the final, which was the quickest fight I’ve ever been in, I think he threw me for Ippon in less than seven seconds. I was still over the moon to get a medal in my first competition!

Unfortunately, over the summer I wasn’t able to train in judo as there wasn’t a club anywhere near where I live, so I was very rusty coming back in September. But now I’m training hard in preparation for the North West open which is in two weeks and then this seasons intervarsities in February.

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