Ever wondered what happens in a judo grading? Well, if you’d been at the club on Monday, 24 October 2016, you’d have your answer, as our judo newbies took their first grading and some of our lower grades moved a step closer to that much desired black belt.
After weeks of learning and practising the syllabus (a list of judo techniques you must learn and perform correctly to achieve your next judo belt), it was time to finally break up those judo gis with a dash of colour! Here’s what happened at the judo grading at a busy night on the mat. You may see some underpants.
Judo grading preliminaries
First thing’s first: you got to get warmed up! Instructor Nick led the charge, taking junior and senior players through their paces on our busy judo mat for the warm-up. And yes, just in case you wanted to ask but were too shy, there were a few handstands!
With their judo gis pressed and their judo books submitted to the examining officer, Billy Cusack, who is our chief instructor, the moment of truth had arrived. Our newbies were about to undergo their first judo grading and climb onto the first rung of the ladder in their judo journey. In our book, that’s just as good as getting on the property ladder!

 

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Dedicated white belts and red belts practising for the judo grading

Down to brass grading tacks

While our higher grades and junior squad tangled on the judo mat with some serious randori, our white belts were first up for assessment. If they felt nervous at first, it all melted away when they were asked to transition from judo techniques like osoto gari into a kesa -gatame hold-down – like water off a duck’s back to them, it was! All that time attending judo classes and swotting up on the judo syllabus was paying off big style! Nice one, Anna, Aidan and all you other cool ex-white-belt cats!
Next up, were the red belts, looking to come away with a yellow belt. A touch more experienced in the ways of the judo mat, they were also able to deliver. What’s that? A tai otoshi body drop – you’ve got it! An ippon seoi nage shoulder throw – here you go. In fact, here’s another for good measure. Good work, all you (ex) red belts. Enjoy your upgrade, Jack, Alan and co!

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‘That’ll do nicely!’ – white belts executing a hold-down

Going further up the belts

In the meantime, Olympians Sarah Clark and Sarah Adlington had been preparing and supervising some of our senior yellow, orange and green belts, who were looking to upgrade to orange, green and blue, as the judo belts in order would go. Yellow belts Thomas and Stuart slapped some nice looking choke holds on each other for theirs, and orange belt Stuart (yep, another Stuart!) bashed out a tidy looking tai otoshi throw–sweep combo as part of his grading.
Then it was over to the green belts. In the time it takes to blink an eye, Alasdair had sent Gavin sailing throw the air with a variation on the original tomoe nage throw. Of course, we all get our turn and Gavin was able to return the favour, plus apply a hold-down that no one would have been able to get out of this side of Christmas (except Billy, of course!). Well done, gentlemen!

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Orange belt Stuart performing a tidy throw during the grading!

A word on the randori

The late, great Muhammad Ali has been quoted famously as saying ‘I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”. Well, there’s no hatred when our black belts and high grades, as well as the juniors, come to train. The harder they go, the more they seem to love it!
Everyone on the mat meant business. There was grip fighting, with neither judoka giving an inch if they could help it. Out of it all, came some sweet uchimatas and, if this particular writer is not mistaken, some tasty kouchi gari backward techniques. But no matter how hard we go at it on the mat, we always come off it as friends, though. Remember that.

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‘Footloose… footloose…’ – quick feet on the judo mat from Malin as she sets up a throw!

Winding down

After all that excitement, you need a bit of a Zen moment! Again, Nick took the warm down, a series of exercises and movements to keep the limbs flexible and a chance to reflect on the session (but quietly in your mind!). The session ended with a traditional bow off and a round of applause for everyone who successfully graded. Congratulations, everyone! We can’t wait to see you in your new colours! And we were only joking about those underpants in the end.

 

By Peter Jenkins

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