Athletes ‘blown away’ by Kendal Judo’s Winter Training Camp

World Champion Craig Fallon once described Kendal Judo Club’s Winter Training Camp as “a wake-up session after the Christmas break.“

The 27th running of the event between Friday 27 December and Monday 30 December, was no exception.

Showing their enthusiasm and dedication, more than 65 players overcame the wind, rain and flooding to arrive at the camp by lunch time.

Judoka came to the Lakes from as far south as the Camberley and Ealing clubs and there were also some players from Sweden who travelled over especially for the camp.

Hayley Willis lifts a rock triumphantly above her head

First the new ‘recruits’ were taken out on one of the outdoor activities for which the camp is renowned.

These began with a three mile run aided by 50 to 60 mph gusts that helped to propel the runners to the top of a limestone slope known as “Scout Scar” for a weight training session with a difference.

The group swapped the balanced weights with suitable grips found in most gyms for uneven rocks plucked from the ground. The “Barney Rubble” lasted half-an-hour followed by the run back to the dojo.

Day two saw Olympians, Gemma Howell, Danny Williams, Ashley McKenzie and Sam Ingram all step onto the mat as the whole day was dedicated to randori sessions.

There were also a number of GB squad players including, Nathon Burns, Owen Livesey, Lee Shinkin, Hayley Willis, Andy Burns, Michael Horley, David Groom, Connie Ramsey, Jodie Mullen, Bekky Livesey, Katie-Jemima Yeats-Brown, Kelly Edwards, Sam Hall, Patrick Dawson and Graeme Trinder.

Also in action was one of Scotland’s best up and coming juniors Neil McDonald and Scottish veteran and world bronze medallist John Buchanan.

As Neil starts out his senior career, John is working to earn a place at the Commonwealth Games, making his comeback after 10 years of retirement.

The camp is known for its randori sessions but it is even better known and “loved” for its unique outdoor sessions. Day three was comprised of two such sessions. The first began with the log run through a local beauty spot known as Serpentine Woods.

Teams of players snaked through the woods several times carrying the rather large logs, under, over, and around the trees and various obstacles, They also crawled under the net that was pinned to the ground.

This was followed by various other physical activities such as tyre pulling, sand-bag carrying, Fingles Fingers, Giant tyre flipping, Farmers walk with dumbbells and wheelbarrow pushing with your teammate in the barrow, up and down a field next to a public footpath,

All this activity was watched by amazed and amused local people taking after lunch walks.

Day four saw one final randori session in the morning before the totally exhausted judoka made their way home.

“The winter training camp is about pushing yourself to the limit and beyond! I’m still recovering now!, exclaimed Michael Horley, following the camp.

“I found this year even harder than usual, it shifted from personal endeavor to survival. The camp never gets any easier. Brian Moore and Mike Liptrot are great at calibrating how hard to push each individual.”

Gemma Howell added: “This was my first training camp. I’ve managed to escape it every other year. There were lots of people to fight and it was a good block of training to get in between Christmas and the new year.”

The camp is designed to set up athletes for the next year’s challenges. No doubt many familiar faces will be back again next year.

Words and Images by Peter Holme. Additional reporting by Donna Richardson.