Radical Recreation: Tommy Nguyen kicked off his college career by joining UAA Judo and Jiu Jitsu club

Nguyen fights for a grip with silver medal winning Olympian Travis Stevens during a joint judo and jiu jitsu clinic hosted by the UAA club on Feb. 18 and 19. Photo credit: Kathryn DuFresne

Not all hobbies begin at a young age. For Tommy Nguyen, psychology major and nursing pre-major, his began when he started his first year at UAA and attended Campus Kickoff. This is an event before the semester begins to welcome new and returning students with numerous booths showcasing student clubs and organizations, fun activities and entertainment. Nguyen stumbled upon the UAA Judo and Jiu Jitsu booth and became intrigued. He decided to join the club, and, now, Nguyen is a green belt who has competed in five tournaments.

“I passed by the judo table and then the sensei, Jacob Dempsey, described judo to me and from what I heard it’s similar to wrestling. When I actually got on the mat, I had a lot of fun and I decided to stick with it,” Nguyen said.

Three years later, Nguyen became the president of the UAA Judo and Jiu Jitsu club. The unlimited amount of progression and determination to acquire a black belt keeps Nguyen active in this martial art.

“I’m still interested because it I really like grappling-style martial arts,” Nguyen said. “I also want to continue to learn new moves, get better at moves that I’ve already learned before and increase my ranking and eventually reaching black belt.”

Judo and jiu jitsu teaches individuals the ability to defend themselves, while also being able to test themselves in competitions against others

“It can be used for practical self-defense and you can also compete in it as a sport. It relies mainly on throws, submissions and pins,” Nguyen said.

congratulations from UPD to UAA graduates

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Although judo and jiu jitsu can work out the mind, Nguyen favors the physical aspect of the martial art.

“My favorite part of judo and jiu jitsu is practicing moves, sparring and competing in tournaments,” Nguyen said. “Some difficulties would be learning complex moves and sometimes after many tries, you think you won’t perform the move successfully. You just have to keep practicing.”

Nguyen is attending school and working full-time. Even though he balances his busy schedule, Nguyen makes sure to dedicate time to attend practice and clear his mind.

“I work full-time as an RA and I’m a full-time student, but I set some time to go to judo and jiu jitsu practice because it is a great stress reliever,” Nguyen said.

Working through a busy schedule between school, work and judo and jiu jitsu practice, Nguyen has big plans for the future pertaining to his career.

“I hope to go through the nursing program and eventually graduate with a bachelor’s in nursing and psychology,” Nguyen said. “I also hope to get my master’s in nursing afterward and eventually become a nurse practitioner.”

Grappling, sparing and being challenging mentally and physically keeps Nguyen interested in judo and jiu jitsu. Starting with no experience in the martial art, the club walked him through and he eventually became the president of the club. Nguyen plans to continue and achieve his black belt and guide others who are participating in martial arts.