Sensei Tom Gustin


When did you start practicing Judo?



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

High school Wrestling with Father encouraging me to do Judo with him


Who was your first Sensei?

Sensei Ron Hansen. Where there any other significant teachers for you? Sensei Ed Happ was my main mentor and coach.


When did you reach Black Belt?



How has Judo affected your life outside the Dojo?

Judo is life outside the dojo. The same principles you learn in the dojo also apply in real life. Practice and perfect technique as you practice and perfect your work skills. This is how one advances in society and in the dojo.


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

Always have fun and never miss practice.


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

Shotokan Karate; Brown belt level. Aikido, and Tai Chi.


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

Support from my wife, Mary. In 1974, beating seven competitors in my division at UWM and winning “batsugan” to brown belt.


What made you stick with Judo for all of these years?

The challenge Judo has to offer. Learning the basics was easy. Yet, the intricate aspects of techniques continue to make me a student of Judo. I am still learning Judo after four decades.


What was your path to black belt like?

Competitive and aggressive. I couldn’t get enough of the skills. Sensei Happ made me work on two basic throws, De Ashi Barai and left Uchimata. May mat work was in place. He said that learning too many techniques would be harmful. Specializes on a few and be good at them. That is what I concentrated on and today thank him for his wisdom and training skills.


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

This sport is like a new job. It is difficult in the beginning but as you progress in the job or sport each technique or job assignment become easier, you become more efficient.


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

Gradual, Sensei Happ would allow high rank students demonstrate technique to class and assist him in teaching. Thinking back he was training me and others to be the third generation of Judo Teachers in Wisconsin.


How long have you been teaching Judo?

The day I went beyond white belt I started to teach new students.


Where have you taught Judo besides the YMCA and UWSP?

Only as guest coach when visiting other clubs.


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

Fond du lac, Racine, Milwaukee, West Bend, Wisconsin


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

Shichidan, July 5 2013, through the United States of America.


What are your goals in Judo?

I would like to continue to pass on my knowledge of Judo to the next generation of Judo Students. At a point in time Judo was competitive for me. Today I find the competitiveness is at a different level. Watching students learn Judo, then find the courage to enter their first tournament, go out and have fun and finally getting bit by that “competition bug” . This is what I want to see. This is my goal. This student of Judo will find the courage and when ready will be successful in the real world.