High Wycombe Dan Grading 29 October

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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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Black Belt Success for Ex-Captain Marcus Jones!

 

img_1347On September 10th 2016, a captain and a former captain ventured down to
High Wycombe in the hunt for points towards their black belt, I  towards for points towards my second Dan, and Marcus looking for 40 points to get the illustrious first Dan. I was up first with an early morning start. I arrived along with 6 others to slog it out. It was a tough 4 fights, and having lost my first 3 I was determined not to come away empty handed and secured a ne waza win to get my first 10 points towards my second Dan. However, enough about me- the real star of the show was last year’s captain, one Marcus Jones. Since he only needed 40 points, the black belt was very much on the cards today. He arrived looking fresh and followed by an entourage of family and friends ready to cheer him on. His summer training had obviously worked wonders, as weigh in posted Marcus in well where he needed to be. With his warm-up complete, and bestowed with some last minute tactics and encouragement from myself and the team, he set about his first fight.

Marcus dominated from the start, his enormous height and reach proving too much as he quickly dispatched his opponent with two very good throws, each scoring a waza-ari (along with an attempted limb removal with what looked like a very painful but unfortunate ineffective arm bar). Fight two was more of the same, tactical perfection turning his defense into an attack to counter his opponent for a rib-crushing ippon.

The line up was next. After a brief pause to catch his breath, refuel and have a quick discussion, he was off again. Marcus paced himself beautifully and dominated all the way. His ne-waza power and dominance was too much for all that came in his path, evading legs and pinning for the score. He managed to secure the black belt on the 2nd fight of the 3, but his victory didn’t stop him there. The dream of getting a completed line up was still in sight and was obviously on his mind as he fired himself up for one last time. Playing to his strengths he took his opponent to the ground and pinned for the full 20 seconds. An amazing display of judo. 5 fights. 5 wins. 5 ippons. 1 new black belt for UBJC.

Emotion ran high as Marcus came off the mat, and understandably so- there aren’t many who don’t blubber like a baby in a moment like that. Then came congratulations, a take away, and many many beers in order to celebrate.

All in all, this was a fantastic day for the club. I’d like to congratulate Marcus again on a very well deserved black belt. He has shown true grit, determination and remarkable resilience over the past year, overcoming some nasty injuries (some my fault) and working incredibly hard both on and off the mat to get where he is today. It has been an honour to share this experience with you, Marcus- no one deserves it more and I’m over the moon to welcome you to the Dan grade club. But now the real work starts; as Sensei Chris says, “You’ve got your black belt, now you can really start to learn judo!” I look forward to seeing you on the mat for those second Dan points, brother.