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Dr. David Peden, at left, shakes hands with a judo opponent.
Written by Nathan Clendenin for UNC Health Care
CHAPEL HILL, NC — I'll be honest with you, before I started researching for this month's video, the extent of my knowledge of judo was from Austin Powers when he yells, "Judo Chop!" Probably the first thing I learned is that, unlike karate or other martial arts that are often seen in the movies, judo isn't much about hitting or kicking as it is about throwing each other and grappling on the ground. One of the more famous judo moves you might have seen is where the bad guy is pushing the good guy toward a cliff and the good guy sticks his foot in the other guy's stomach, falls to the ground and sends the bad guy flying over him, down the cliff.
When you think of someone steeped in the martial arts, you might not imagine a pediatrician in your head. Dr. David Peden, a clinical expert in immunology and leading researcher in the effects of pollutants on the human body, finds rest in practicing judo as the faculty advisor for the Carolina Judo Club.
Dr. David Peden, a pediatrician at UNC who also does extensive research with the EPA, studying the effects of pollution on the human body, is not what you might typically think of when you imagine a judoka (another word I learned, which means a person who practices judo). In fact, he told me a story about when he first moved to the area. He joined a tournament in Fayetteville, where he managed to defeat his first opponent, a U.S. Marine. He then overheard their coach yelling at the defeated Marine, and emphasizing to the others on the team, "Do you see that guy you lost to? He's a baby doctor! You're a United States Marine!" It goes without saying that the baby doctors didn't do so well the rest of the day ...