Just over two years ago the coaches of Kettering Premier Judo Club decided to start a new senior beginners’ course. Nothing too unusual there, but they also made the decision that this course would be run slightly differently to the courses previously run at the club. It would be a technique only class to reflect the new BJA grading syllabus, with regularly planned fitness sessions scheduled to add variety. The course developed into a successful class, which is still going strong to this day.
Although sceptical at first, head coach, Richard Hull, is delighted that this class is now the most well attended senior class running at the club. In fact around 80% of the original students who started the course still attend on a regular basis and new members have more than replaced any that have left.
Perhaps the greatest success of the class is the number of women participating. There is a committed group of women, from all age groups, attending every week and their number can swell to fourteen when all are able to attend. They are steadily progressing through the technical syllabus.
The coaches believe that the main reason that this class has attracted and retained so many women was that delivering a class with a technical focus removed the pressure to participate in Randori. But this is not the only reason for the group’s success. The women work co-operatively and support each other in their learning, training each week and helping each other to prepare for grading. This has lead to increased camaraderie and they all look forward to their Judo session. As one student put it, “We are all in it together and we all look out for each other”. The class is run in a more informal manner and students’ humour and mutual support are actively encouraged. Another lady said, “It’s the most entertaining form of exercise I’ve ever done! It’s not just a physical challenge but a mental challenge too”
Removing the pressure to participate in Randori has meant that all the students, not just the women, have been able to learn and perfect techniques and their applications without the pressure of the competitive edge. The more confident students have joined with the more traditional classes run at the club and are surprising some of the more traditionally coached players with their skills. The women too are now feeling confident enough to request Randori in the Saturday class as they look to progress to the main prize of 1 st Dan or black belt.
Anyone interested in attending a training session should contact Richard Hull on 07748 963648. The club train at the William Knibb Centre, Kettering, NN16 8AE