It takes both mental and physical strength and skill to outscore an opponent in a Judo tournament.

Joe McWatt, freshman exercise science major, has studied that art of Judo for 13 years, and has since then become a black belt and placed third at the State Collegiate tournament in February.

“I was homeschooled and wanted a sport that was all year round,” McWatt said. “There was a Judo class down the street. The first time I put on a gee, I fell in love with Judo.”

McWatt said he loves the rivalry and the camaraderie with the other teams he faces. McWatt said his coach and his teammates feel like family, and he owes a lot to them.

McWatt said to win a match you have to outscore the opponent or pin them where they have to tap out. McWatt said in Judo there are no pads, and  he has sustained injuries such as a strained neck and shoulder, a hyper-extended arm, and some bruised ribs.

McWatt said he was proud to represent Texas Wesleyan at the state collegiate tournament where he placed third. McWatt said he wanted to show everyone that a small school with no Judo club could do just as well as a big university.

McWatt said Judo takes commitment and practice. McWatt said he only takes time off from Judo for studying or if he is injured. McWatt said he wants to be the best in Judo that anyone has seen.

“Sometimes I lost because I wasn’t as good,” McWatt said. “A few times I lost because I goofed.”

McWatt said in May he will be competing the Seniors National tournament where he will face nationally ranked opponents form all over the country.

Ruben Marin, McWatt’s Judo coach, said he has known McWatt since he was nine. Martin said McWatt is committed to Judo and has learned so much from it.

“Joe is amazing when he is training,” Martin said. “He gives me 110 percent.”

Martin said when McWatt struggled through his teenage years, he controlled his emotions by doing Judo.  Martin said he can see the positive change in McWatt over the years due to Judo and more recently due to his friends at Texas Wesleyan.

“Now I can talk to Joe sitting down and have a nice conversation with Joe about different things he likes other than martial arts,” Martin said. “Before it was the sky was blue and no matter what anybody else said the sky is blue.”

Martin said McWatt teaches some Judo classes at his club and has become a good instructor.

“By me showing him kindness and by me showing how a black belt truly is and it’s not about beating people up, it’s about knowledge and about teaching people,” Martin said.

Jonathan Towne, who graduated in 2010 from Texas Wesleyan with a degree in political science prelaw, trained with McWatt at Judo for nearly 10 years.

“He’s always trying to beat me up,” Towne said. “It’s been his goal for years. Every time I see him he tries to win no matter if we’re on the mat or not.”

Towne said he told McWatt about the professors and the science department at Wesleyan and encouraged McWatt to attend Texas Wesleyan.

“I was going to college, and I was still doing Judo with him,” Towne said. “I just let him know about the school. I told him about my experiences and how much I enjoyed it.”

Towne said McWatt is motivated and dedicated to Judo and throughout the years he has seen McWatt evolve into a good man.

vaslaten@txwes.edu