On the 29th of October two of UBJC’s black belt hopefuls and their captain set off at the crack of dawn to head to a competitive grading in High Wycombe. With me at the helm of my trusty fiesta, Hari and Ollie settled down for the journey, praying that I didn’t kill them on the M4.

was up first in the Dan Grade category to hunt for more points towards my 2nd Dan. A poor showing meant I was only going to have 3 fights, one of which against a 2nd Dan. Losing my first against the mighty 2nd Dan after picking up a shoulder injury and getting strangled, I was determined to get something from the trip. In the second fight I faced a very energetic and dynamic heavy weight. Not being flustered and coming close to being arm locked at times, I pulled out a huge throw (I say throw as video replay is inconclusive as to what technique I actually did, answers on a postcard please) to launch my opponent into the air and land a big Ippon winning the fight. 10 points secured it was on to the last fight. Again a heavy weight in the way. I quickly established the guy in front of me only had one strong throw. Waiting for my chance to counter i scored a wazari and went for the pin to secure the fight, but the guy was too big and escaped quickly. Back up again, waiting for the opportunity to finish the fight, I set up an O soto Gake to secure the second 10 points.

There was then a little break before Hari and Ollie started. A good turn out meant there were reasonable matchups for both.

Ollie was up and faced strong opponents with lots of experience. He was unfortunate in the first to get caught with a well timed uchi mata which saw him land on his back for ippon. His second fight was a very close one. He looked certain that he was going to get the win, tactically perfect surprising his opponent with a drop seoi from the restarts and narrowly missed scoring. He was eventually caught with a counter which saw an end to his line up campaign. All was not lost as he now found himself in the lines for other players and set about crushing some dreams. Sadly it wasn’t to be Ollie’s day but he left with invaluable experience and training points to work on for future events. He has shown vast improvements since his last outing and it won’t be long until he is smashing his way through the line ups.

Hari was up next, and fighting against a tough opponent he held his ground. Down a wazari, he held on and started to make a come back until he was caught with a clean drop seoinage for ippon. His next fight was a different story, and spurred on by his previous fight Hari dominated and scored two very clean wazari’s to win the fight, booking himself a repechage fight to qualify him for a line up. The third fight came very close to disaster as his opponent dropped underneath him, but Hari had the reactions of a cat, and to this day know one quite knows how he managed to spin out of the throw and not concede points. This woke him up, and set him up for a counter which he executed beautifully to book his place in the line ups. Hari stood a real chance of completing his line up, his opponents looked promising and providing he finished the fights quickly it should have been plain sailing. The others weren’t sticking to the script. They didn’t make it easy for Hari, taking him all the way to the last minutes of his first two fights. He prevailed in both and was set to face the last fight. He never let it show but he later stated he was feeling the pain by the last fight- unfortunately, the fresh fighter was too much and managed to beat Hari, leaving him just short of the completed line up.

I left with 30 points in total for my second Dan and Hari only needing the cursed 40 points for his first Dan.

All in all it was a fantastic trip, with all showing some great judo and vast improvement all round. All left wanting more and spurred on to compete again.

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