It’s been a busy summer this year at LJC! In fact it’s the first ever time we have not closed the club for any period during the school summer holidays. As well as a busy time on the mat, during the summer we supported the delivery of a Holiday Hunger programme lead by inspiring healthy lifestyle/wigan and leigh start well centre. Although in its infancy, this program is important in providing for our community outside of our sport and contributes to our wider community services including Baby Massage, Phyisibodies, Yoga and our community cafe.
We’ve had a quiet summer on our beginner class with many of our members away on holidays at different times. However, in large part this is due to our first beginner cohort transitioning to our junior class. Well done to Joshua Jacques, Charlie Harrison, Sophie Smith, Emma Collbeck, Liam Devlin, Bethan Isherwood and Max Killen for taking the step up. Although like ducks to water, it’s a significant milestone for our club as our ‘babies’ move through to more competitive and technical judo. The fact this is achieved so effortlessly is a testament to our coaching team helping to develop the FUNdementals of sport and nurture our beginner’s confidence and skills. We are now open to new members to join our beginner class so if a friend, family member or colleague at work is looking for something to get their child into, there is no better sport.
During the last few months all of our members have made fantastic strides forward in their overall development improving in fitness, strength, balance as well as knowledge and understanding. This was clearly demonstrated during our July grading with some outstanding performances in technique, knowledge and understanding with many juniors transitioning from red to yellow belt and from yellow to orange belt. Particular recognition goes to Rebekah Bradley who has made the seamless transition from blue belt junior to now a 3 Kyu senior player. For judo as a sport there is a huge drop off during these crucial ages with many dropping out of sport for many reasons such as loss of motivation and interest or increased demands. Rebekah’s dedication, consistent effort and attitude has been, and continues to be a shining example for all of our juniors and now our seniors.
Senior judo has grown significantly over the last 2 years in every proportion and is something we are very proud of. The quality of judo on show is fantastic and improving with every session in addition to fitness and strength. Following on from our first ever senior member Chris Darnborough, Jason Cossey has now also achieved his competitive black belt (although he STILL needs to complete his theory). In addition to Jason, other members including Vicky Taylor, Mark Harrison, Tom Neagle, Tom Mcloughlin achieving their Brown belt embarking on the road to 1st Dan.
Competitively our seniors have also been successful entering national competitions with Vicky earning 20 points toward her black belt with 2 wins in 2 at an area grading and winning a bronze in the BJJ British Masters. Also competing in the British Masters this weekend, Mark Harrison earned a very well deserved Gold medal becoming the blue belt National Champion. Finally, after being plagued for many months (some would argue years), senior member John Jacques competed for the first time in a UKPC British Judo Nationals in the -90kg category. Although fighting heavier, more experienced opponents (as the -100 category was combined), John won 4 out of 4 all by Ippon taking gold and becoming the UKPC National Champion. The fact that John won each contest with different throws and techniques shows how much his judo has developed. It’s great to see the hard work and dedication the seniors put in each and every session coming to fruition. With more gradings and competitions on the horizon, there is more work yet to come.
Although we are very proud of all of our seniors and these results highlight the progress made. We are even more proud of our judo family. Every member is welcoming, friendly and kind towards new members trying judo for the first time. From their conduct on the mat when they are training, their support and helpfulness off it, they truly uphold everything our club strives to stand for and were very proud of you all.
As our club and membership expands, so does our coaching team. With head coach Luke now UKCC Level 4 qualified (progressing to be level 5) and Stuart our welfare officer and level 1 coach. Senior member Tom Neagle is now also a Level 1 qualified judo coach. As many of the junior members will be aware as Tom delivered parts of a number of lessons. His classes are always engaging and informative with all of our juniors having lots of fun. Were proud to have Tom as part of our coaching team sharing ideas and plans for the future benefit of everyone.
Following our tradition of welcoming world class judoka to the club, on Saturday 19 August we welcomed former Olympic, World and European 6th Dan and BJJ purple belt Steve Gawthorpe to the club. Despite it being during the holidays, it was a good turn out with juniors and seniors benefiting from Steve’s experience and knowledge. We apologise to those who were desperate to make but couldn’t due to holidays and commitments. Part of Steve’s masterclass will be published on our youtube channel as part of our upcoming updates to the channel. Keep your eye out! (And if you have any video editing, filming or related experience, we welcome any support!)
Our upcoming October grading is due to be announced within the next 7 days, as well as the junior and senior Christmas party. Now we are aware to Stuarts hidden bowling prowess, the activity may be changed.
As always please follow our Facebook and Twitter page for up-to-date information and news.
Thank you for all of your support throughout our club’s move, the dojo build and centre development. Each time I come into the club i’m reminded of how special this place we built is and you all are.
See you on the mat,
Luke and the LJC team