Trying Judo To Get Fit?
, 8 min reading time
, 8 min reading time
Fancy trying a new sport? Why not try Judo to get fit? That's what Charlotte from Sportsballshop did last year. Check out how she got on:
I thought about Trying Judo To Get Fit in September 2018. I saw a post on facebook offering a free 6 week beginners course at my local Judo club Abingdon Judo Club. So I thought, why not pop along and see what it was like. I have always liked the idea of doing martial arts but never quite found one that I fancied. I thought why not give this a try! So after checking that it was suitable for someone of my age, I then signed up. I really wasn't very fit at the time and a Female over 30!! I received a very welcoming response back, which was encouraging. They explained to me Judo is for everyone regardless of size, fitness level and even age.
I was incredibly nervous turning up to that first session. As I really didn't know what to expect or how I would fit in. There were about 12 of us starting on the course so it was nice to not be the only one. During the first session we worked with players who were experienced to a reasonably high level. They took the time to helpus learn some of the basics.
The first thing we had to start to learn was breakfalls; these are very important in Judo as its learning how to fall safely when you are thrown. There are a few different versions of breakfalls:
Mae Mwari Ukemi- Forward rolling breakfall
Mae Ukemi – Forward breakfall
Yoko Ukemi – Side breakfall
Ushiro Ukemi – Backwards breakfall
Some of the senior players really do make this look easy. Especially as we all flopped around trying to get it right. Everyone though would help us and show us how to do it if we were getting it wrong. We then learnt a couple of the basic throws. Who knew we would be throwing and being thrown in our first lesson! This was quite a shock to us all, and proved too much for some people. As numbers for the 2nd lesson were down to about 10 or so.
So, each week went on and we were taught new throws and we also worked on our breakfalls. The target after 6 weeks was we should be able to attempt our first grading, for our red and yellow belts. Normally you go up one belt at a time but we were encouraged to go for two. This really was quite nerve-wracking as the new group was now down to just 4. The great thing is at this club everyone is there to help everyone else. When we did the grading, we were all put with a senior player. So if we had a mind blank (as you invariably do) they would just give us a sneaky tip to remind us. Thankfully we all passed and were now all in receipt of our smart yellow belts.
Once you have achieved your first grading, training starts to ramp up. You then move on to bigger and harder throws and holds. This has resulted in only 3 of us from the original beginners course left still training. With two of us are now green belts and the other an orange belt. But we all hope to go up a grade again at the end of the month. The one common attribute most Judo clubs have is how friendly and supportive everyone is. I am told it is like this across all martial arts clubs. You almost become like a family. All looking out for each other during training and also trying to help and support each other.
The other part to grading is attending competitions. So at our club it is a requirement to attend at least one competition before you are awarded your blue belt. Then at least 2 competitions before you can be awarded your brown belt. Remember I was trying Judo to get fit, not for awards. If you think it is nerve-wracking going to your first training session believe me a competition is a whole new kettle of fish. So along with 4 other members of the club I signed up to my first competition which was held at the High Wycombe Judo Centre. We got there nice and early and went and weighed in – yes you have to be officially weighed!!
I am tall and overweight. So, to be honest I had no surprises, as I knew I was going to be in the heavy category! There seemed to be less women competing especially at Kyu grade level than men. Which included Novice White up to 1st Kyu Brown belts so, the weights tend to be sorted on the day. Luckily for me one of my club mates ended up in the same weight band as me. Which meant we had 3 fights each and included one against each other.
My first fight was against a girl who was, I have since found out, a Brown belt and also competes regularly. My nerves really did get the better of me in the first fight and I did not put up much resistance and I very quickly lost. You basically have 4 minutes per fight and it can be over in a few seconds! My second fight was up against a girl who again was a brown belt but had also competed for England at the Commonwealth championships. Again this was a very tough fight but with some tips from my coach ringing in my ears I was determined to give this one more of a battle. I did manage to score a point and I almost won but, I momentarily lost focus and she turned me over and won the fight.
So it came to my last fight, it was against my club mate, who I had never beaten in training but with my coach having told me again what I should be doing I went out there, got my throw in and won the match. I could not believe it. I felt bad though for my friend who lost all 3 matches. It was nice at the end though as we had the medal ceremony and because there were only 4 of us in the group we all got medals so, my club mate and I both took away a bronze medal. The two girls who beat us were so friendly afterwards and in fact everyone there was chatty and helpful especially for me as I probably looked quite lost most of the time!
I have been doing Judo for over a year now and not only have I learnt a lot, but I have improved my strength, my fitness and also made a lot of new friends. My confidence is growing with my knowledge and even though I still have an awful lot to learn it is great fun. I was only trying Judo to get fit but was now having fun too. I would certainly recommend more people, men and women, to just give it a go.
Size really does not matter as it is all about technique not about how strong you are. So get in touch with your local club today, most will offer you a free lesson or two and you do not need to go out and buy any gear before you start. Most clubs will have Judogi jackets for you to borrow until you have decided it is the sport for you.
The British Judo Association website is the ideal place to find more information about local club locations but also a great resource to get help with throws and holds as they have lots of videos to help with your grading, which covers the red belt syllabus right up to the brown belt syllabus. They also list information on competitions which are held all over the UK throughout the year.
If you decided to give it a go after reading this post, let us know how you got on. Oh and GOOD LUCK just remember you are trying Judo to get fit and you might just enjoy it.