They say that you are never too old, and John “Mac” Maguire has proved that by gaining his judo black belt at the age of seventy, a mere 45 years after getting his brown belt! Mac took up judo in the early sixties.
Whilst rock’n’roll was fading and the Beatles were just emerging, Mac was busy training on the mat at the then Kidderminster Judo Club and went through the kyu grades until he reached his brown belt in 1968, including getting his blue belt from Nakanishi.
However, despite being a superb player, he never went for his black belt. In time he became known by many as “the best black belt Kidderminster never had”.
In the late seventies Mac left judo, returning briefly to the sport when his son Mike started up at Samurai Judo Club in the 1980s.
However when his 7 year-old grandson Aidan started up training at Samurai just over a year ago, Mac was persuaded back onto the mat and began studying for his technical black belt in earnest, including weekly coach.
He learnt kata, which he had previously never studied, from scratch and passed all the modules. Paul Jones, 5th dan, who as a youngster was helped by Mac to become a national squad player and has been a Samurai stalwart for twenty years now, presented Mac with his 1st dan black belt at a surprise ceremony at the club.
Mac said: “Judo is great because you never stop learning. You can go for a lifetime and still find more to discover.” He added, “I wouldn’t have made it without the help and support of the Samurai coaches.” He is now carrying on his training with weekly randori and technical work and there will soon be new targets to achieve.
Samurai head coach Andrew Haffner commented: “This was something I really wanted to get done because Mac should have been a black belt long ago. His technique is excellent. It also shows what you can achieve at any age if you put your mind to it, and that sport truly is for all. It also shows how the technical grading system can be really beneficial to judo.”
Photos by Andrew Gallacher.