Henshaws Specialist College Students Gain Red Belts

Students and staff from Henshaws Specialist College have been awarded their 6th Kyu Red Belts in Judo during a presentation ceremony at the College’s Harrogate campus. Kyu means student and is the first stepping stone on the British Judo Grading Syllabus towards the coveted Black Belt.

This first stepping stone in Judo is a major achievement for each of the five students involved as they have a range of disabilities and learning difficulties and have worked for six months to reach this level, gaining self-awareness and self-confidence through their first experience of a physical contact sport.

The presentation was made by Dermot Heslop, Red and White Belt 7th Dan and Development Officer for the British Judo Association.

Dermot, who has been leading the sessions, said: “We’ve learnt what works for each individual and have adapted techniques if necessary to meet their needs. This often involves working from the ground upwards, so students have learnt to throw from the knees first, instead of from a standing position. All the students, and the staff supporting them, should be very proud of what they’ve achieved in gaining their first belt!

British Judo has funded the coaching sessions in conjunction with Sport England.

Sonia Yewdall, College Health, Fitness and Leisure Assistant, is one of four staff who achieved their red belts.  Sonia said: “I’ve enjoyed every single session learning something new alongside the students. The feeling of doing a martial art is awesome, I’d urge everyone to give it a go as it really is accessible to all.”

Harley Robinson, College instructor said: “This is a huge achievement for our students, for many of whom it was a challenge even feeling comfortable enough to take their shoes off and work close to other students. It has given them something to work towards each week, and the increase in confidence we’ve seen throughout the course has been amazing.”