With my club, Dorking, being closed for half term I decided I wanted to get some practice in elsewhere. In the past I have attended BJJ at Nova Forca in Epsom when my Judo club is closed and although I really enjoy BJJ I think I need to concentrate on pure Judo for a while and maybe go back to BJJ once I’m a higher grade in Judo.
Before I moved to the Surrey countryside I used to live in South London and trained Judo at Westcroft Judo club so despite the rather long drive I decided to pay them a visit especially as I knew they had a Randori only night on Tuesday evenings.
As usual my partner in crime was Oli. After a 30 minute drive, which on reflection wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, we got to the Dojo with 15 minutes to spare.
When I used to train at Westcroft, about 7 years ago, they were based in the local leisure centre and mats had to put out and put away before and after each class. Now Westcroft have a purpose built Dojo in a Sports hall, with permanent matting on spring loaded floors and matted walls. They also have use of changing rooms and showers for both male and females.
We got changed and paid our subs (£5) and waited for the junior Randori session to finish. The Instructor Andy Ede not only recognised me from years ago but also recognised Oli from a coaching course they had both been on recently. Andy introduced both of us to the rest of the seniors present and we then proceeded to do a quick warm up and stretch before moving on to a workout.
The workout consisted of Breakfalls, Shrimping, Firemans carry with squats and various other exercises. Although it couldn’t have lasted longer than 10 minutes everyone was breathing heaving afterwards and totally warmed up and ready to spar.
We started with some Newaza from the usual kneeling position and I was paired with a green belt. I decided to pull guard and see if I could work something off my back but he was strong and wise to my attempts at subs and sweeps. Eventually though I was given an opportunity to reverse positions and I got a mune-gatame on just as Andy called matte.
Next up was a black belt and somehow I almost caught him in a Juji-gatame but he managed to escape. I’m not sure how much effort he was putting in to his roll with me but I was pleased nonetheless.
The rest of the rolls I had ended in my opponent getting some sort of pin on me but all of them were Brown belts so I wasn’t too disheartened.
Andy then changed things slightly to some situational Newaza where we started first from the guard and then from a turtle position. Following this we stood up and, still with our partners, Andy would call out a throw for one of us to perform on the other and following the throw we would continue in to Newaza. I was very impressed with this way of training Newaza as we seemed to really cover all the possible outcomes of shiai. Additionally I was suitably impressed with the skill level of their ground skills and Oli confirmed this afterwards.
By the time we finished with the Newaza I was very tired but Andy only allowed us a quick drink break before we got on to the standing Randori.
Andy wanted two pairs up at a time so luckily I was able to sit out the first round of fights whilst I caught my breath but was called on to the mat for round two. I paired up with the same green belt that I had paired up with earlier for Newaza (I’m no good at remembering names). What I found when sparring with him and indeed everyone in the club was that they were able to dominate me with their grips, thus allowing them to throw me more easily. I remembered that when I last trained here several years ago I got injured trying to avoid being thrown so this time I went with it and practiced my Ukemi. To be fair none of the guys went too hard on me but they did enough to make me realise that Tachiwaza is my weak point. After several rounds of Randori and many opportunities for me to practice my Ukemi I finally managed to throw someone, a Brown belt as well, with an O-uchi-gari.
We did a quick warm down and stretch and then Andy lined us all up and thanked both Oli and I for visiting the club. If I lived nearer and didn’t have so many responsibilities, had more money and time I would definitely train here more regularly but alas, for now my visits to Westcroft will have to be restricted to times when my own club is closed or maybe if a competition is coming up and I need the extra training.
On reflection both Oli and I were made to feel very welcome, not only by Andy but by all of the seniors that we trained with. The standard of Judo here is high and the level of their fitness is equally so. Anyone reading this that lives in the area could do a lot worse than to pay this club a visit.
Thanks Andy for a great training session.