In competition, Judo is a test of skill, and mental discipline, while avoiding injury. In Japanese it means "gentle way." It's simply a way of life for Tom Knox. "If you in here training 4 or 5 days a week to be good, it becomes a lifestyle."
He's been training since he was 4-years-old, and earned a black belt years ago. These days he teaches Judo and Jiujitsu at Elite MMA in Visalia.
"To the non-knowing person it probably looks like wrestling in clothing."
But they are worlds apart. Judo matches start with a bow, and then the opponents fight for a grip.
"Sometimes a guy can get lucky and a match ends in literally 5 seconds... I grab Mike and throw him flat on his back and the match is over."
If the fight goes to the ground, there are two more ways to win.
By pin: "As long as I have him pinned on the mat and he doesn't have control of my legs and it's one shoulder blade on the mat then it's a pin."
Or submission: "I grab him...Pull him here and he taps."
It sounds simple, but on a world stage there are years of technique involved.
"Most of the people you see on the Olympic level have been doing it their whole lives, starting as kids and gone on through college."
He says in other countries like Japan, Russia and Brazil, the government funds Judo programs, aiding it's development and increasing chances for gold.
"As far as on a world stage, we're not the best, we have a long way to go with our Judo program."
You can catch all the judo action beginning on July 28th. The tournament runs through August 3rd. You can catch all the Olympic action on NBC's Olympic website by clicking here.