By Jill Miller
It takes a lot of effort to keep the Bowld Gym quiet. For the Judo Club, however, the effort was worth it, because club members had the opportunity to learn from an 8th-degree back belt.
On Oct. 2 and 4, J.W. Bode taught as a guest instructor. Bode is an 8th-degree black belt in judo and aikido.
Bode said he began learning martial arts in late 1977.
“I needed to do something that I could do to protect myself and my family,” Bode said. “I’m kind of proactive and with the judo and the aikido, there’s much less chance of hurting somebody if they come after you.”
His focus for practicing martial arts is defense, he said, and his motive is protection.
Bode focused on defensive tactics and said that he wants people to feel safe when going to dinner or to a movie.
“Judo is a sport, but I don’t practice it necessarily as a sport,” Bode said. “My outcome is to become self-sufficient.”
A retired law enforcement officer, Bode teaches private students in his spare time. During the summer, he toured Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. After his stop in Tennessee, he will wrap up his tour in Arkansas.
The club’s adviser, Mario Melendez, invited Bode to teach the club. Bode said he took the opportunity to work with Melendez to better himself.
“I think (Melendez) is probably one of the best young instructors in the country on anything,” Bode said. “He’s very impressive.”
The two met through the martial arts world, and despite their age difference, they formed a friendship because of their similar personalities, he said.
Melendez believes a guest perspective is important when teaching martial arts because instructor methods vary, he said. When a guest instructor is brought in, students get the opportunity to learn the skills in a different way.
“[It] give[s] them as many explanations as possible so that everybody understands what we’re doing,” Melendez said.
Stefan Rabenhorst, junior political science major and senior captain of one family group in the club, agrees that guest instructors enhance the experience.
“The best part of having guests like [Bode], as well as others that have graced our mats, is seeing the greater community of warriors that live among us, and seeing how everyday people in today’s society can be champions and guardians of virtue, integrity, and honor,” Rabenhorst said.
Bode challenged Rabenhorst to use the skills he has learned during his in Judo club to neutralize his attacker and come from a position of weakness, he said.
Melendez said he wanted club members to see that hard work pays off in the martial arts.
“I want [the club] to walk away going, ‘Holy cow, I want to stay in this so I can be as good as him,’” Melendez said.