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Stanford senior Sandro Luna promotes nutrition among college students through Judo.

Meet the Stanford University student using Judo to promote health (Image via Sandro Luna)

Sandro Luna is currently a senior at Stanford University. After graduating high school as student body president and valedictorian, Luna had set high standards for his college career—and he did not disappoint.

During his time at Stanford, Luna has accomplished some extraordinary achievements. He was able to combine all of his passions of culture, science and nutrition through a documentary video centered on the sport of judo. Using judo as a framework of health and nutrition, Luna works to encourage other students to find a balance in their lives in order to be as healthy and happy as possible.

Path to Health

Luna’s dedication to nutrition came to be after struggling with an eating disorder at a young age, which he discusses in his new video. After overcoming this setback, he began to focus on weight lifting as his main form of physical activity. When discussing weight lifting, Luna remembers, “I appreciated the independent nature, and my physical health also helped with mental health: boosting confidence and pushing me to pursue my goals by maintaining a healthy body.”

From there, Luna expanded upon his interest in nutrition by discovering judo at Stanford. “I immediately found parallels between judo, weight lifting, physical and mental health and my studies in Human Biology,” Luna said when discussing why judo stood out to him.

Judo

Judo is a physical combat sport that also requires a great deal of mental discipline. The objective is to use techniques to lift your opponent and pin them to the ground.

While in the gym one day, Luna observed the Stanford Judo Club practicing. He was immediately interested and impressed by their powerful and graceful movements. He later joined the club himself, which allowed him to explore the science, nutrition and culture of judo.

Choosing this particular sport to focus on might seem a bit strange given that it is not as popular as other sports like football or soccer, but the sport has much more to offer given its dynamic nature.

Judo is unique because it has the ability to transcend cultures and can be used as its own form of language among countries. Luna spoke to this point by explaining how everyone he spoke to for his documentary, whether they were from Japan or California, all emphasized the importance of a balanced lifestyle.

Opportunities at Stanford

Luna already had the drive and dedication to pursue his education in Human Biology in terms of judo, but his university was able to push him even further so that he could truly excel.

In one of his classes, a professor mentioned something called The Beagle II, an opportunity for students to travel and create a research project. Luna seized the opportunity to participate in this project by committing his application to judo. He was eager to pursue the chance to bring judo and his studies together, as he had already seen the parallels between the two and wanted to share them with as many people as possible.

When reflecting on how his professors and university gave him the opportunity to thrive over the past few years, Luna says, “Professors equally support student initiatives by their openness and willingness to share their knowledge and expertise to see their students succeed as well.”

His professors clearly took notice of his passion toward the sport and all it has to offer and its value to Human Biology, as he was given the opportunity to travel to Japan and California to create his judo documentary, now entitled “Ippon.” The work he completed was so successful that it will premiere in London at the Royal Society of Medicine next year.

Finding Balance

Based on his work with the documentary, Luna has been able to share his stories and his findings with larger audiences. He gives talks to other college students about how they can begin to find balance in their lives, something that many of his subjects of the documentary feel passionate about.

By discussing his past, how he found his own personal path to health and the dynamic sport of judo to students, Luna is able to use his own life and sport as “a framework for improvement” and a way to introduce balance into the lives of college students.

“We often find that nutritional advice inundates us with extreme diets or exercise regimens, but the key to consistency is finding a balance of nutrition and physical activity that works for you,” Luna says about the importance of finding the perfect balance of health for each individual person.

The idea of finding a nutritional plan that works for you personally is something that Luna stresses throughout his documentary. Although the focus is on judo, Luna clarifies that the key to nutrition varies from person to person, and the answer will not always be judo, “I love judo, but not everybody has to! It is something I found to be enjoyable while keeping me healthy. I encourage other people to find their own path, and what works for them, using the lessons presented in the film as a framework for improvement.”

Future Plans

As graduation approaches, like all seniors, Luna has started to think about plans for the future. His commitment to nutrition and science will certainly follow him after he graduates as he plans to apply to medical school this semester. He is also interested in making more films regarding health, given how successful his first one has been so far.

College students from all over the world should take the time to listen to Luna’s speeches and watch his documentary because they can learn from the work he has done. He is teaching students the importance of finding their own ways to take care of their minds and bodies. By demonstrating his own success in doing so through judo, he encourages students look within themselves in order to find their own paths toward a healthy lifestyle that does not include harmful diets or excessive exercising.

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