Royal Marine Turned Judo Coach – The Story of David Aston

After serving as a Royal Marine for 30 years, retiring at the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 in 2013, Drake Judo Club’s David Aston has taken the first steps to becoming a qualified judo coach.

“I have been training and coaching young people for many years and to see evidence of your own work in their development and goal-reaching is probably the most rewarding aspect of the role I can think of. When young judoka pick you out at the end of the session to personally thank you, it makes it all worth the effort and time you put in and I would encourage anyone considering coaching to step up and at least try it out; whilst it is not for everyone, the rewards and satisfaction to be gained are immeasurable.”

David’s judo career began at the age of 9 whilst living in Germany as his parents were in the Army stationed overseas. He continued to practice judo in the North West area, when he returned to the UK, in the early 1970’s and trained regularly with the North West Junior Squad.

Prior to his retirement in 2013 David received the Meritorious Service Medal for services to judo in the military from 2SL on board HMS Victory

Upon joining the Royal Marines in 1983 David continued to practice whenever and wherever he could, including on deployments in places such as Norway, USA, Romania, Italy, Former Yugoslavia states and even Iraq and Afghanistan. David regularly competed in the Royal Marines Corps and Royal Navy Championships; representing the Royal Navy in the Combined Services Championships as a lightweight player on several occasions. Having qualified as a club coach he ran the Unit Club in various Royal Marine Commando Units introducing Marines into judo and helping form teams to represent at Corps/Navy and Community events.

“Some of my best judo memories are from my time serving; these include being a regular attendee at the Commando Training Centre, Dave Starbrook Schools and training alongside other nations within the Combined Services Squad.”

On retiring from the Royal Marines David continued to work with young people to help inspire and develop character and resilience alongside physical health and wellness with a company called “Commando Joes”. A programme set up for former military personnel to work in schools alongside staff to role model positivity to help increase attendance and work on traits such as communication, teamwork, self-worth and resilience.

David now work as a Residential Child-Carer looking after young people in a care home and has introduced one of the boys under his care into judo to help him focus and encourage motivation in a more positive way: “He is progressing extremely well and is a popular regular player at our club now.”

Having been in the fitness profession for over 30 years David chose to update his judo coaching qualifications and recently attended a Level 1 course with Dermot Heslop and Keith Merrick: I am hoping to progress to Level 2 soon then on further as soon as possible to help support my club and area wherever possible as I now have more time to spare.”

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