Sensei Jim Haferman


When did you start practicing Judo?

I started practicing Judo at the Stevens Point YMCA the fall of 1974.

 What got you interested in doing Judo in the first place?

 There was an incident at our office in April of 1974 at the same time my wife was in the hospital with the birth of our son.  She decided I needed a martial art and that summer called the YMCA.  Judo classes were starting that fall so she signed me up.  Neither of us had any clue about any of the martial arts, especially Judo. 

Who was your first Sensei?  Were there any other significant teachers for you?

 My first Sensei was Edward Happ.  He taught until sometime in 1978 when he moved because of a job transfer.  Classes were then taught by Bob Glief and Then by Tom Guston and Jim Weidner from about 1981 to the present.

When did you reach Black Belt?

 October 9,1995   

How has Judo affected your life outside the Dojo?

 Judo sneaks up on you.  Initially it is just a sport and an evening class.  I realized as time went by Judo affected my life both in and out of the Dojo.

Friendships both in and out of the Stevens Point area, the pleasure of seeing students continue and progress in Judo, and a feeling of confidence in situations that would have been troubling without the training are just a few out of many examples.

What are some of the most important lessons Judo has taught you?

 Lesson one is the importance of teachers.  I was surprised and pleased to experience the impact I and others have had on young children over the years.  The smiles of pleasure when they meet you outside of class and the way they tell their friends and family that I am their Judo instructor is priceless.

Lesson two is the relationship between effort and results.

If any, what other martial art(s) have you studied?  How far did you progress in it/them?

 I have not formally participated in any other martial arts.

What are some of your proudest achievements in Judo (Tournament victories, awards received, rank received or other?)

 Probably my proudest moment was the award of my first degree black belt.  Similar moments are when I see former students teaching or active in competition or judging.

What made you stick with Judo for all these years?

 First, and most important, I was having fun.  Judo was exercise, I got to associate with a lot of really great people, and also learned self defense (no I have never had to use it).

What was your path to black belt like?

 Long.  I started Judo when I was in my thirties.  I, with the demands of a new career and family could only devote a limited amount of time to Judo.  I competed for about a decade and then decided that competing with people twenty years younger was getting too difficult.  I then turned to the Kata and because some knowledge of the kata’s is a requirement for promotion, started working harder on advancement.

What advice would you give to a brand new white belt on what it takes to achieve a black belt?

 First, don’t focus on the black belt rank, but focus on your first belt, having a good time, and then the next belt.  Promotion then becomes a habit and eventually the black belt takes care of it self.  The focus on a good time is essential as Judo like any life time sport will only hold your attention if you are having fun.

What was the transition from student to teacher like for your?

 First of all we are all students.  Judo is not easy and I learn something new from each class.  Little insights suddenly become apparent.  Officially after I became a brown belt, Ken Camlek and I became the designated instructors of the juniors at the YMCA for several years.  Ken Camlek is a natural teacher and I learned a lot teaching with him.  I suspect the hardest part of the transition was learning there was work before and after class.  Teaching requires more than the ability to perform the technique.  The instructor must be able to simplify the technique and break it down into separate and understandable parts.  Formal or informal lesson plans are also a necessity. 

How long have you been teaching Judo?

 The junior classes taught by Ken Camlek and me began in the 1980’s.

Where have you taught Judo besides the YMCA and UWSP?

 The Nelson Center in Amherst June July and August 1993 to 1996.  We also taught Judo at Pacelli High School in 1980.

Where are some of the places you have taught Judo clinics?

 I have not taught any clinics.

What is your current rank in Judo and when did you receive it?

 Nidan (second degree) which was awarded November 3, 2004.

What are your goals in Judo?

I want to continue participating and teaching as long as I am physically able.