Check out our photos from our biggest competition of the year – USIST!

Thank you to smifsports for taking all these brilliant action shots!

Our weekend saw Bristol face some tough competition, and for some it was their first competition experience! These photos are just a snapshot of the high quality judo that was displayed during the competition, showing all the hard work paying off from our sessions at UBJC. As well as this, UBJC had to keep up tradition regarding its commitment to socials, shown here through our fantastic ‘under the sea’ costumes!

On a sadder note, Bristol’s 7 year annual USIST Boat Race run was broken. After our first lady for the team was taken ill, we tried to put on a brave face and carry on with the competition, determined not to let this affect us as social sec Amy ‘crazy’ Cotter, stood up to the challenge. After a victorious first round, tensions were high, but unfortunately we were beaten by the Scotts in the final round…

Needless to say, we will return next year to reclaim our title!



Warwick Competition – Sam Underwood reports his experience as a fresh UBJC competitor…

Friday evening saw the Warwick Invitational team, UBJC’s finest (minus captain, minus vice-captain), pile a minibus perilously high with bags and supplies and power on up to Warwick for the second open competition of the year, and my first in eight years! Following brief stops for pizza and refreshments en route, we reached the Excel Leisure Centre, our home for the next two days, and claimed a room for ourselves in typically flamboyant Bristol style with a high-octane sleeping-bag race through the adjacent corridors, prompting not a few bemused looks- although myself and Amy made a valiant attempt at gold, Leroy and Greg proved superior at shrimping across the floor tangled in their bags…

What little sleep was available that night proved valuable when, at 7:30 the next morning, we had to decamp unceremoniously for the main event arena. Working around issues with our team composition (Group B lacked a competitor for the over-90s category, while some others in our team were forced to fight into the weight category above them), we passed weigh-in, and set about making Bristol’s presence known on the mat.

In the individual categories, Leo and Suban performed with great valour, Leo coming up against tough (and heavyweight) competition in the O90 category but walking away with his reputation as an immovable object unscathed while Suban faced some strong opposition (and some very stiff arms) in the U66 category. This round finishing with, unfortunately, no luck for either of them despite their solid performances, we moved on to the Men’s Teams category, and closer to my fight. Group B saw some incredibly tough opposition in their pool, with a number of spectacular seoi nagis and some unbreakable hold-downs eventually proving too much. Despite some brilliant performances, Group B was eliminated, and it was our turn to step up.

Our pool saw us against stiff competition from three other teams, with the O90s in particular proving very tough opponents. While Leroy performed as spectacularly as ever, winning two of his three fights with a flawless ouchi and a stylish kosoto-gake, his first bout sadly saw Greg take a serious knock to the head followed by a strangle, and despite his brave attempt to fight in the second round, the third round proved too much and his injury kept him off the mat. We were nevertheless able to hold our own against much of the excellent judo which was being thrown at us, and twice it fell to me to bring us a win: despite my best efforts, I failed both times, although not without a fight. My first round saw me against a competitor whose height and weight advantage meant that my attempted tai-otoshi was turned into a kesa-gatami which proved unbreakable, and he took the point. My second fight was far more even, with an early harai-goshi bringing me a wazari, but my opponent evened us with a wazari of his own, and eventually took the fight with a strangle out of my failed osoto-gari. My last fight saw me against the O90 competitor who would eventually take gold, and although I took a wazari up against him with a fast ko-ouchi, his blindingly quick armbar out of the throw led to me tapping for ippon. Group A, too, were finally eliminated, but it was not without effort- of all the judo which I saw, none of it was below the standard which I would expect, and Bristol truly held their own despite injuries, weight disadvantages and a very high standard from our opponents.

The day was rounded off with a truly magnificent feast of Dominoes in a bar in Coventry, with what remained of the team (two of the girls having headed home) devouring their body weight in the pizza which Warwick kindly laid on for us. Mirth later ensued in the inter-club boat race as it was revealed that Jess was drinking water for our team, leading to a two-second penalty being imposed on us, but the pressure was all practice for my hopeful debut at USIST… Clubbing followed afterwards, with what was left of the exhausted teams descending on Kasbah for a night of locally-flavoured house music and revelry, and despite my exhaustion I feel I still managed still to fly UBJC colours by having the club name face-painted onto my forehead. The night was rounded off in true fashion by the revelation, when we arrived back at the Excel Leisure Centre, that the gates were locked and the guards had failed to provide the number for us to be let in, leading to our sending of Josh on a scouting mission over the gate which, thankfully, proved successful, and finally we were able to crash out.

Although the competition was fierce and our defeat in our pool was disappointing, the Warwick Invitational nevertheless proved priceless in how far it has improved my understanding of competition Judo. I feel now that I can enter future tournaments with the hope of greater success, and progress my ability in Judo to a true competition standard. While this re-entry into competition was something of a baptism of fire, my experience of the competition of a whole- the completion, the social, meeting new clubs and experiencing so many different approaches to the sport- has rekindled my love of Judo, and inspired me to further Bristol’s deserved reputation as a force to be reckoned with even further.

Sam Underwood

Congratulations Rod Lane competitors!

UBJC returns victorious yet again! After a tough set of fights, and many fighting in higher weight categories than their own, UBJC returned with an incredible 11 medals!

Another great competition from UBJC, particularly given that for many, this was their first ever competition. Not only the new members impressed, but all brown belts also came away with more points towards their black belts!

All in all an impressive turnout for the team, a sign of good things to come for our next competition – well done everyone!



Well done to High Wycombe competitors!

Well done to our club members Marcus, Reece and Allyx on their recent victories at the High Wycombe Kyu Grade Competition! Despite their tough groups, all three returned with points to put towards their black belts. Not only this, they even brought back medals for the UBJC team – Allyx winning bronze, and Reece bringing back a silver.

A fantastic start to the year – well done everyone!

USIST 2015

Coming to Judo a complete beginner this last September, the University of Bristol Judo Club has proven a fun and sociable, casual or competitive way of keeping fit. As well as the weekly socials, I have had access to high-level instruction in a welcoming and unintimidating environment and I would urge anyone to have a go; my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner!

Since joining, I have been constantly regaled with the legacy that is “USIST”: a weekend competition in which universities from around the UK, and several from abroad, come together to fight it out both on the mats and in the pub in the legendary annual Boat Race. Running since 1998, this famed weekend has seemingly an anecdote for every possible occasion; and so an overview of this year from a USIST first-timer and member of the Judo “fresh” seems somewhat fitting.

So, packed and ready, and not entirely sure what I was getting myself into, I joined the team outside the Richmond Building at 5.30 on Friday afternoon; soon to realise that in terms of boot-space in the hire cars, many a gallon of rather ominous-looking Frosty Jacks would be taking precedence over any actual changes of clothing for the weekend!

Four hours and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts later, we arrived in Sheffield; quickly staking our claim over the crash mats in the sports hall in which we would all be sleeping. The fact that the Edinburgh team had also bothered to drive down the night before seemed to cause some confusion for certain (London-based) team mates; I was shocked to have to explain that, despite being in such wild and perilous northern territory, Sheffield was still quite a distance from the Scottish border.

Finally, after an unhealthy amount of fish and chips, some impromptu pyjama-clad Judo practice and a nightcap or two of very modestly-priced beer, we settled down; waking early on Saturday after a solid night’s sleep (or not) ready to face our adversaries!

Rising bright and early at 8 a.m. after a night’s slumber on crash mats (for the lucky ones), we arose, and having enjoyed a rushed breakfast of plastic cheese and ham toasties, we proceeded to don our judogis and warm up. Given that USIST is a student-run team judo event, the atmosphere and the level of team support is substantial, and it was not in the least bit difficult to get ourselves fired up and ready to put our training to the test. Tiredness, nerves, illnesses and injuries rapidly gave way to pure excitement and adrenaline as our older and more seasoned club members motivated us and provided coaching before, during and after fights, while all the while the rest of the club screamed themselves hoarse.

The actual judo performances on the mat were as exciting and dynamic as they were stressful to watch – there was no shortage of massive room-shaking throws and nail-bitingly intense battles on the ground, with close calls and narrow misses also featuring heavily. On this occasion, UBJC were unlucky enough not to make it through the first round of heats – despite every single player on the team going out and giving it their all and making themselves and their coaches proud, the extremely high standard of competition meant that unfortunately we were denied the opportunity to demonstrate our skills further.

Despite only actually getting to do about an hour of judo in total, everyone on the team successfully maintained the trademark UBJC unwavering positive attitude – our last fight was barely over before yet another beer run was made, and UBJC settled down on our makeshift campsite in the corner of the gym, cracked open some cans, and proceeded to enjoy watching the sport which so successfully brought all of us together.

All physical exertion now behind us, it was time to head to the pub for the much-anticipated main event: the annual USIST Boat Race, in which, as I was assured would be the case, Bristol truly excelled. In spite of the try-outs and ‘training’ at almost every social this year, I still underestimated quite how seriously this aspect of the competition is taken, however the rigorous selection process evidently paid off as our triumphant team drank us to victory and what is now an undefeated seven-year supremacy in this noble combat.

Saturday’s activities were eventually concluded in the glorious Sheffield Students’ Union and equally amazing “Pop Tarts”. More detail would be provided, however thus far no-one has managed to supply anything more descriptive than: “a great night”. The car journey back to Bristol on Sunday was consequently rather subdued.

Without a doubt one of the most memorable weekends of my time at Bristol (“memorable” used here with certain poetic licence), I would again reiterate the fun and relaxed nature of the Judo club. Equally, to any fellow girls out there looking for a way to keep fit and avoid that dreaded Freshman 15, why not also learn a little self-defence and grapple some good-looking guys while doing so?

Alex van Doorn and Marcus Jones



BUCS 2015

UBJC left the union ready to go and looking forward to a great weekend of judo. Little did we know that the journey to Sheffield would test this resolve. With El Capitan and G&T at the wheels we crept out of Bristol and headed for the motorways. All was well until John said he needed a bathroom stop. We told him to hold it and pushed on. When on the M6 toll we decided to put him out of his misery and stop. This is where it all started to go wrong. Rob tried to wrestle the tank of a Vauxhall into a parking space, being a gentleman he helped a fellow motorist adjust their wing mirror with our car. He then tried to help Murat make weight by gently squeezing him between the two cars as he tried to correct his monstrosity of a parking attempt.

When leaving the services, G&T piped up that he wasn’t trusting the sat nav in his Citroën as it was telling him to turn around and go the other way. So we soldiered on, paid the £5.50 toll to then decide that the GPS was right and turn around. We then paid a further £4 to leave the toll road to head in the right direction. With another slight detour to derby for Rob’s car due to poor back seat driving by John Gilbert. Whilst this was all going on I was frantically trying to coordinate UBJCs private weigh in, as we had no hope of making the cut off. With good diplomatic skills we managed to secure a 2130-2200 weigh in at the BUCS hotel in Sheffield. We all weighed in and racked up a hefty custard cream and jammy dodger debt to Trevor who was kind enough to stay up late for us. Now we thought it was plain sailing to the hotel, how wrong we were, Murat decided to leave his bag in Trevor’s room. We then spent the next 30 minutes or so trying to locate Trevor who was AWOL. No luck, we decided to head off to the hotel. All checked in it was time for a quick check of the timetable for the weekend then a quick pint at the bar (being students obviously) then bed.

Day 2 started with a lovely complimentary breakfast of sausage, eggs and bean….. Perfect fuel for a tough day of fighting. The 1st kyu and Dan grades headed off first with the other kyu grades steadily slaying the buffet behind us. We arrived, set up camp and started to warm up. Rob Miguel and I were up first. I found myself in a pool with the Croatian no. 3 apparently and managed to hold off for around a min or so before being thrown for wazari and held down for the remainder. Second fight I was doing well, managed to hold off for a while and tactically making my opponent score shido’s however the drop seio was too much, I was lucky for a while but eventually got thrown for a wazari (admittedly should have been ippon) I eventually lost the fight…. not a happy teddy. Miguel had a tough pool in the -73, it was a big group which meant he had to wait a while to start fighting. He had 2 fights but was unfortunate to not pick up a win. Rob found himself in the other room on mat 5 with G&T taking on the role of D as coach. Rob found himself in a very tough pool with the guy from bath who would eventually go on to win silver. Again, unlucky to pick up a win.11016349_1573997366176822_524993014_n

Next up was Allyx. She had a huge task ahead fighting in a higher weight category but none the less went in with aggression and determination. She lost her first fight to a jujigi gatame but was very unlucky to not escape. Her next few fights were very tough against very strong opponents and again very unlucky to not pick up a win. Murat found himself in the -90 having narrowly missed the cut off for -81. He came out fighting and dominated from the start, his opponent got a bit lucky and eventually beat him. the second fight was very tough, fighting a guy who was on fire, and devastating on the ground (was also the guy who wet himself at USIST last year but that’s neither here nor there) with the rest of the team cheering Murat on it looked like he was going to pull the guy’s arm off but ran out of time on the ground, the pee pants guy eventually jumped on him and pulled a strangle out of nowhere, not a fitting end to the performance Murat put up. Spurred on by this Murat had one more fight. He managed to throw his opponent for wazari and then held him down for the win and 10 shiny new points to his black belt.


That concluded the fighting but the drama didn’t end there. As we waited to watch the finals Murat misplaced his brand new gi and then spent the next 3 hours running around trying to find it. El Capitan hatched a plan to locate the gi and eventually found it in the hands of a Scot. Rob recovered what was rightfully ours and put them back in their place, hatching a plan to punish Murat for what has seemed to be a common occurrence of leaving stuff everywhere and losing it. There was plenty of ‘smelly chat’ from George T and many more antics as per. With the day drawing to a close we headed back to our place, via the scenic route of course. When we arrived it was straight to the pub for a pint and a well-earned meal. One pint turned into a few and we then set off to find a way to settle the custard cream debt we had incurred. Murat was in charge of this and decided to buy a box of biscuits for Trevor, totaling around 20 packets…. No bribery intend for the next day of competition. We finished the night with a team get together and drinks, for those who weren’t competing the next day. It was a cracking day with lots learnt and experience gained.

Sunday arrived with another horrifically early wake up. The usual breakfast was consumed and the kyu grades prepared to set off for a 0900 start. Their progress was somewhat hindered by a few members of the team thinking they could check out of the room at some point later in the day, much to the irritation of Georgey G. The Dan grades followed closely behind relying on their knowledge of the roads of Rotherham and Sheffield to navigate themselves to the venue in time for the first fights. Saying we just made it was an understatement, G&T was called for his pool as we arrived with Greg about to step onto the mat. We all made a dash to get near the mats to help coach and cheer the guys on. Greg won his first fight and lost his second, meaning he had done better than any of the Dan grades and found himself in the knock out stages, despite a slight dislocation of his shoulder. We rallied around him, forced him to see the medics so he could come back for his next fight. G&T also found himself in the knockouts after winning his first fight and losing his second. I believe he could have one the second if he didn’t become the Chunder Dragon and empty his guts into every bin in the sports center after his first fight, obviously the second helping of fruit and yogurt at breakfast wasn’t a wise choice. Both G&T, Gregg and Georgie G lost their knockout matches and were sadly out of the competition. Josh ‘Wetslut’ Zwetsloot and Richard ‘Richie Rich’ Murray-Clark also fought valiantly in very tough pools but weren’t able to make it out of the pools, with Richie Rich giving a master class on how to fly through the air from an Uchimata.

Now I have saved the best till last, whilst everyone else was fighting on mats 1-4, John was quietly smashing through everyone in his pool. When news reached us that he was through to the knockouts the entire team flooded the area, shouting and cheering him on. 1st round saw his opponent flattened by his now trademark uchimata. The quarter finals came and went and it looked like he couldn’t be stopped. John found himself against a monster of an opponent in the semifinals, yet went in undeterred, if not concerned that he may not be able to have children after his last victim was intent on making him hurt.  With tips and pointers from Murat, Rob and myself he stepped onto the mat. It wasn’t long before John landed an uchimata, what a surprise, and holding they guy down for the ippon. Silver medal secured. It looked like there would be no stopping this BUCS newbie but the final was a tough ordeal. John lead from the start and showed real dominance going a yuko up within 1 minute. He was caught by a touch of class though and thrown for an ippon. No matter, first BUCS and a silver medal for this fresher. With the team all congratulating him on his achievement we settled down to watch the team competition which saw team Bath destroy everyone in their path and demonstrate some world class Judo.


Day over we set off on the long drive back to Bristol with everyone shattered and trying not to think about Monday lectures. This was by far one of the best competitions I’ve been to and everyone did exceptionally well. I would encourage everyone to go to a BUCS competition at least once in their time at University, if not just for the laughs and good times we all had as a team. Big thanks to Rob and G&T for being the taxi drivers for the weekend and also Georgey G for booking all the hotel rooms for us. Wouldn’t have been a success without you guys. Everyone took something away from the weekend and we are all hoping that Murat didn’t leave anything there.