On 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.