Judo and Juitsu are popular classes at AWC


Jujitsu and Judo, two venerable Japanese martial arts that specialize in throws and holds offer the student many levels of benefits from self-defense to raised consciousness.

Tradition and discipline are essential aspects of Jujitsu and Judo. A traditional teacher, Joseph Murek Jr. teaches the two related martial arts for Arizona Western College.

Murek, a 5th degree Black Belt (Go Dan) is a retired Marine who learned Judo while stationed in Japan from 1972 to 1975. His first exposure to Judo was during college. His true understanding of the sport as a way of life was instilled during his lessons in Japan.

He taught Judo for the Marine Corp when he returned to the United States. In 1980 he put together a judo team that represented the Air Station in the West Coast Regional All Marine Judo Championship. In 1980 he was assistant coach for the United States Olympic team under Paul Mariyama. Murek is also a Licensed National Judo Referee.

Murek has taught Judo for AWC for the last fourteen years. Spring semester 2014, Murek is once again teaching Judo (PER 145-500) and also a Jujitsu class (PER 099-502). Jujitsu is the martial art created by the traditional Samurai. It was created on the battlefield for up-close fighting. It encompasses strikes, kicks, throws, joint locks and strangulation holds and sometimes short weapons. Judo, a more practical martial art was created for self-defense. Judo utilizes ground-fighting technics that emphasize throwing. These two styles are complementary and technics from one style are often incorporated by practioners of the other style.

One of Murek's students, Josh Bennett, recently was awarded his first-degree black belt. Another student, eleven year old, Maria Soto-Perez, a 6th grade student at Mesquite Elementary School won 1st place in the Judo Winter Nationals in San Diego. Maria stated that she "feels like she is much safer because now she can defend herself."

Murek's classes meet the requirement for Physical Fitness for the degree-seeking student but are open to the community at large. These martial art styles offer physical fitness, self-defense, build confidence, teach self-defense, instill values of respect and build character.

Murek is devoted to practicing and teaching his Martial Arts. He and his students state that practicing Judo and Jujitsu encompass all areas of their life. The traditions, the history, the physical benefits and friendships they share with other Martial Artists add a valuable dimension to their lives.


If Judo makes the man then Josh Bennett is the man. He was promoted to Shodan (first degree black belt) rank in the martial art style of Judo on November 7, 2013.

Bennett studied Judo at AWC under sensei, Joseph Murek for five years. Bennett had previously studied Taekwondo. During his years as a judo student he has competed in various tournaments and won four state gold medals, one silver medal and three bronze medals at various statewide competitions in light heavy weight and heavyweight categories. He received his last promotion during a batsugan tournament. A Judo student participates in a batsugan tournament in order to achieve promotion through competitive competition.

Bennett stated that Judo was the complete opposite from Taekwondo where striking was the key. Judo is a self-defense style that does not utilize striking. "I also took an affinity for the underlying philosophy that was the backbone of the art." Bennett continued to state that the "mutual benefit and welfare, and the harmonious development and eventual perfection of the human character were principles passed down from Judo creator Jigoro Kano." Bennett stated that "Judo is something I can fall back on, with Judo everything to going to be the structure. It's the foundation of my life."

Bennett graduated from Arizona Western College and is transferring to NAU Flagstaff to major in nursing. He has been invited to teach Judo in Flagstaff at a local Judo club. He intends to continue his full participation in the sport.

Photo by Joshua Luna

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