Best Place To Learn Judo 2022 | Eastside Dojo | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Located off Central Expressway in Plano, Eastside Dojo has been teaching the martial art judo, an Olympic sport, since 2013. From the start, they've had Olympic judokas and black belts running their classes for both kids and adults. They hold practices five days a week, Monday through Thursday plus Saturday, and also have an in-house weightlifting facility for those who feel like keeping their training going after practice ends. It's one of the largest judo training facilities in the country, and it's full of friendly folks from an international background willing to take the time to help newcomers learn the sport.

Established in 1996, the Dallas-Fort Worth Table Tennis (DFWTT) club is one of the largest and most established of its kind in DFW. But this isn't your dorm hall pingpong. They're serious players, and if you want to learn how to up your game (even if it's just for the sake of smashing on some dude bros in the dorm), then this is a great place to take lessons and get some practice in with skilled table tennis players. In fact, they've grown so much in recent years that they have multiple locations around town. Check their website or give them a call to find the onr closest to you.

Grab your ball, some friends and those dirty cleats in your closet: It's time to play some soccer. At this Richardson indoor field, lovers of the sport can compete against other passionate players on different days of the week by joining a team or coming in as a free agent. Visitors can also enjoy the Azzurri Pizzeria + Bar inside the facility and purchase some slices and pints to commemorate a win (or forget a disappointing loss).

Mike Brooks

Slow down, DORBA reader. This one is for the road cyclist, but you're welcome, too. The Santa Fe Trail should be at the top of the list if you've mistakenly cycled on a certain north-south trail in Dallas and had to slow your roll to an annoyingly low speed. Not on the Santa Fe, which will get you from White Rock Lake to Deep Ellum safely. It's wide enough, and while it has more foot traffic around the Mount Auburn neighborhood, it's smooth sailing with enough people to feel safe but not too many to cause you to slow down. (But be nice: Do announce yourself and don't be a speed demon.) While we wait for The Loop to allegedly connect things, the Santa Fe is one that does connect well. You can use the sad but technically present bike route on Main Street in Deep Ellum, hop on the Santa Fe and go to Fair Park or up to White Rock. From there, hop along another fantastic trail, the SoPac, and make a day of it.

Just 15 miles from downtown Dallas, Ascend Camp and Retreat Center offers 54 acres of nature where you can channel your inner cowboy. Enjoy a one-hour trail ride through the woods or ride inside the corral, where you can meet the horses up close and pose for selfies. No prior riding experience is required. For serious equestrians, Ascend has in-depth classes on horse safety, how to groom and saddle a horse properly, and how to ride a horse correctly with balance and communication. Even if horses aren't your groove, Ascend has many reasons to visit. A ropes course, archery, paintball, hiking, a swimming pool, soccer and so much more await visitors to this urban oasis. Check the website for special events.

There's plenty to do at Ray Roberts Lake — hike, ride horses or take a bicycle ride, to name a few things — but it's also one of the best places to take a freshwater dip on a day trip from Dallas. It's a little more than an hour drive from downtown Dallas, but it's worth the haul. There are two designated beach areas where swimming is allowed, the Isle Du Bois Unit and the Johnson Unit. If you want to work up a sweat first, go on a jog or a nice walk through the forest trails. Entry is $7 for adults as of this writing, and free for children 12 and under.

If you're afraid of water or have never been able to make it from one end of the pool to the other, know that it's not too late to learn to swim. Instructor John Thornburn, owner of Dallas Swim, is a patient saint and exclusively teaches adults basic swimming skills that allow them to feel comfortable in the water. Classes are held at the Verandah Fitness Club at the Hilton Anatole and can be taken privately or in small groups.

There are a few routes you can take on the Trinity Forest Trail, but if you're feeling especially ballsy and ambitious, grab your leash, bring some water for you and your pup and make the entire 16.8-mile hump. There are even some designated areas where you're allowed to let your dog off the leash to run free and enjoy the outdoors. The trail is open year-round, and as far as we're concerned, it's worth a visit in just about any season (though, on second thought, you might not go on a 16.8-mile hike during July). Although lengthy, it's generally considered an easy route.

North Texas has no shortage of proper bars for watching your favorite sports. But if you really want to be enveloped in the big game — all one trillion of your synapses firing — Texas Live! is the place. It's big enough that a large crowd can drive big energy, but not so big that you miss half the game standing in lines for beer or food; service is usually quick. TVs deck the walls, and there's plenty of beer and good food. If a local team is in a big game, they even pull out the smoke machines and DJs to keep things extra lively. If you can't be at the game, this is the next best thing.

Best Player of the Year You've Never Heard Of

Chris Dickens

There is one true top dog for North Texas baseball in 2022, and it might surprise you. Meet Chris Dickens, who in his freshman year at Eastfield College in Dallas led his team to the championship game of the 2022 National Junior College Division III World Series. For the season, Dickens hit .440 with a .560 on-base percentage, which ranked eighth in the country. Oh, and just for kicks he also pitched, posting a 12-2 record with a 3.63 ERA. For his efforts, Dickens was honored as the NJCAA Division III National Player of the Year. Remember his name; you can bet folks in baseball will.

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