SMC Weekly Fitness: Joseph Schwartz

Some of the most physically fit athletes in the world are in the arena of martial arts. Sophomore Joseph Schwartz represents a relatively modern branch in the field called Sambo, meaning "self-defense without weapons." Sambo, originating in the USSR in the 1920s, combines martial arts and combat to produce a fighting style that utilizes the art of grappling. This growing sport is similar in comparison to jujitsu because of the emphasis on submissions, locks, and tap outs.

Schwartz himself is an assistant instructor at a dojo and possesses a strong commitment to the lifestyle of the sport, which is reflective in his fitness regimen. "I eat lots of vegetables, and really emphasize the greens in my diet," said Schwartz. "Our coach has us drink the Green Machine Naked Juice all the time." In addition, grilled and lightly sautéed chicken is an option for protein.

"If you eat a cheeseburger, you're going to feel it the next time you compete," he said. "Because of Sambo I have no desire to go back to the candy, chips or soda. I drink water more than anything."

Ever since he became interested in the sport at age fourteen, Schwartz has devoted much time and energy to maintaining his fitness through physical workouts as well.

"Being a Russian-inspired sport, the workout methods are very non-traditional in comparison to American weight lifting," he said. "The workout includes a lot of repetition with less weight, rubber band work, gymnastics, and rolling."

One of the most important tools for succeeding in a Sambo match is the effectiveness of the warm-up. The extensive preparation before the match includes circulating and stretching body parts including wrists, arms, shoulders, knees and ankles, all after a jog. But the body requires more than just a physical foundation for Sambo. "It includes a lot of mental preparation," said Schwartz.

He also stimulates his mental game with all kinds of music including rap and dubstep, but at times favors meditation as well. Schwartz recognizes the importance of good warm-up, but he understands that match success delves much deeper. "While warm-ups are essential, a match is truly determined by how hard and consistently you practiced leading up to it.

The payoff of Schwartz's training has played a major role in the improvement of his self-discipline, fit body and fit mind. But despite his progress, Schwartz knows he can work even harder to refine himself as a martial artist.

His proudest accomplishment so far has been qualifying and competing in the Sambo World Championship, which took place in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. "My inspiration comes from my coach Boris Brezhnez," said Schwartz. "He's taught me everything that I know, and he is a great role model."

Another individual in Schwartz's passion for Sambo is Fedor Emelianenko, a champion of the sport and Schwartz's favorite fighter. "He really represents Sambo to me," he said.

As the training that goes into practicing Sambo requires strict dedication, Schwartz proves that martial arts is truly more of a lifestyle than a sport.