June 2007

Clubmark presentation

An AwardOur club was honoured when Densign White, chairman of the British Judo Association, paid us a special visit to present us with our bronze clubmark award. Apart from being chief of the BJA, Design was one of Britain's top competitors, having won the British championships every year between 1980 and 1992; and winning gold at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the 1987 World championships. He also competed in three Olympic games. It was little wonder that the club was packed to rafters with the opportunity to meet this British Olympian and world medallist; although, it did seem for a while that he wasn't going to make it due to traffic problems on the M25.

But arrive he did, and after a quick change he finally came onto the mat to present us with our Bronze Clubmark Award. When the presentations were made Densign agreed to take both junior and senior classes.

Watching from the sidelines it was easy to see that the juniors fully enjoyed their master-class with a blend of tuition and good old fashion judo games.

The seniors' class was just as interesting with – for me – a complete new set of warm-up exorcises. I shall never forget crawling across the mat on my hands and knees with an eighteen stone blue belt standing on my back swaying to keep his balance! After fifteen minutes or so of these new warm-ups Densign smiled and said, “Right... shall we do some judo?”

 Wladerslade Judo ClubWe started with some groundwork, where Densign demonstrated various transitional techniques that I personally found to be very useful. Afterwards we went on to groundwork randori but instead of starting facing each other we began in various positions that are more akin to competition situations. The class finished with some standing randori and after bowing off we presented Densign with an official Walderslade Judo Club mug! I like to think that it is even now sitting on his desk at BJA head quarters staining some paperwork with stickycoffee rings!

It was a successful evening and we all enjoyed the master-class from one of Britain's greatest competitors.

May 2007

Barry gets stick in at the Budokwai

Barry HutchingsAs a direct result of my inability to grow old gracefully I found my myself at the High Wycombe Judo centre standing on the scales in my underpants watching the chrome balance decree my weight to be 83 kilos. Once again I questioned my sanity. What was I doing putting myself through this self inflicted torture again? After all, it was only two weeks earlier that had I fought that fearsome Russian at the London Budokwai and narrowly escaped a polonium 210 overdose! But I suppose that that was the real reason. If I am going to achieve my goal and win my black belt before old age seizes all my joints then I am going to have to loose my fear of competition. And so, with Eddie's blessing, I entered myself for the High Wycombe Masters Competition for the elderly and bewildered, with expressed purpose to toughen myself up for future gradings.

And so there I was on a Saturday morning on the 19th of May pulling on my white pyjamas and preparing for combat. I very quickly realised that this was a friendly competition without animosity nor seriousness. Not that the players themselves were cavalier about their contests and they all fought to win their bouts. But above all, win or loose, I felt that everyone was there to have fun and enjoy their day.

And with no kids to get through the first bouts began at 11:00 am.

The standard of the competitors was incredibly high with skilful judo and spectacular ippons. I very quickly realised that these 'masters' contests were no easy option. The average competitor was a third dan with twenty-odd years of experience behind them. In fact, there were quite a few fourth and fifth dans and two red and white belts, one of whom who was a seventh dan!

My first bout began at about 3:00pm. I was in the 45 to 49 year age group and fighting in under 90's. I fought two bouts against two very tough men. To be honest, they were the strongest men I have ever come up against and if it wasn't for the fact that I had once been a competitive powerlifter I believe that I would have very quickly been over-whelmed. But although I could match their strength I could not match their judo and it is fair to say that I was constantly on the back foot defending against massive drop seoi-nages and such-what. I managed to crash them out, but only just and I never managed to even get an attack started. And with my lack of experience and a few shidos I was very quickly put out of the competition.

But all was not lost. When the contest was over I was asked to take part in a national grading. This was a surprise to me but I decided to enter. When the grading was over I had won two bouts and was put a up notch to 1st kyu.

All in all a fair result and the end of good day.

Club member appointed as BJA full-time Coach

In May we were very proud to find out that Steve Stacy had been appointed as a full-time judo coach for the BJA, working within thier Enjoy Judo scheme. Steve takes up his new full-time post in May and will be coaching judo in various schools in the Ashford and mid-Kent areas. Through the scheme it is hoped to introduce more children to judo during the school day, open more after school judo clubs as well as direct children to existing local judo clubs. This is an exciting opportunity and a real career change for Steve who gained his Level 2 Coaching Award last year and we wish him all the very best for the future.

April 2007
Budokwai grading report by Barry Hutchings

"So there was I... in the birthplace of British judo, wondering why I hadn't taken up Salsa lessons with the missus! I mean, what was I thinking of? I'm forty-eight years old and with arthritic elbows. My last grading was twenty-nine years ago and there wasn't another blue belt there who even existed in those days! So I walked around the mat, self-consciously shaking a wrist, twisting a foot and rotating my hips, whilst all around me these young, honed athletes practised uchi-komi with a frightening determination. I considered going to the loo and slipping out of the window. I had visions of running down the Kings Road in my judo suit, chased by a horde of angry blue belts: A loud crash brought me out of my fantasy. A grim looking Japanese brown belt, a student fresh out Tokyo University, was performing waza worthy of Mr. Ladbrook.What Am doing here! I thought. Run away old man! But it was too late. The venerable examiners had called us all together and were detailing my fate. I had no choice but to go through with it.

The grading started. White belts first, then gradually, through the grades leading up to blue. The bouts were tough and aggressive and I noted that a large percentage of the competitors had Russian sounding names. There was even a Nepalese Green belt - a Gurkha on leave - who demolished his opponents with a frightening scream at the end of each throw. I almost expected him to whip out his knife and slit their throats.

Then it was my turn. I almost died of fear when they called my name - and again when they called my opponent. A Russian with a name like Vladimir Bolokofski. What I am doing fighting a bloody Russian! I mean... we all know how tough Russians are; they're raised on vodka, kettlebells, and wrestling. They EAT their own vodka glasses to save on the washing up!

We faced each other and the ref shouted "Hajime!"

We took grips. I kid you not he was a monster. Strong... powerful... and with breath to match. I tried to manoeuvre him into a favourable position - but my strength seemed to be neutered. He launched his attack, but I managed to crash it out and we both fell to the floor - no points scored. Usually I like groundwork but on this occasion I decided to get up as quickly as I could! The ref called us together again and we restarted the bout. My nerves were gone now, cleansed by the first few seconds of violence. This time it was me who took the powerful grip. He seemed to like this and he responded likewise. We fought each other like two bulls locked in a trial of strength. I could almost hear the 'tut-tutting' of the venerable examiners at our display of catch-as-can wrestling, as we grabbed at each other's legs and tried to lift each other off of the ground. To be fair, he was better at this than me, and he managed to have me staggering a few times. But when he launched his big attacks I always crashed them out, pushing him face down into the mat. He seemed reluctant to do groundwork with me and curled himself into a tight hedgehog position. He was impossible to open up. The bout went the distance - four minutes - and with no points scored it was declared a draw. At least I hadn't lost!

The Gurkha -who had seemed to have taken a liking to me - said that I had done well, and advised me to walk around the mat and loosen up.

When the next bout came I was much more relaxed. We took grips and I knew from that moment that this was going to be a much easier affair. I won with two wazaris- both from counter attacks. I have no idea how I did them or what they were. (Probably some kind of a hybrid-twisting hip throw)

Unfortunately I was not given a third bout and so I only advanced one grade to second kyu. It seems I will have wait unit July before I mount the top rung of the brown belt ladder. In the meantime I will still be sitting to the left of the club's venerable first kyus!

And so, with all my bouts done, there was nothing left to do but watch the Japanese student take his line-up and give his demonstration of perfect judo. Of course he won his black belt. He was Japanese wasn't he?"

Ed says...

There is a real race on in the club now with Barry, Ranj, Matt and Steve all on the verge of gaining thier Black Belts. Who will get there first ?

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