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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

DJC @ Bath University

The half-term holidays are a nice break from school, but makes for an excellent opportunity for more judo! On this occasion a trip to Bath University to train at their World Class facility and a great insight for the young Judoka to see where and how their future may lie.

The players were coached by Team Bath Head Coach Juergen Klinger, a 7th Dan Judoka from Germany who has been with Bath since 2006 and wife Sandra, a 4th Dan BJA Technical Officer. This session took place alongside Team Bath’s Elite Squad, including Olympian Ben Fletcher.

DJC members and Judoka met at the Plymouth Life Centre to start their journey to Bath around mid-morning; with most travelling in the mini-bus driven by DJC Chairman Ross and the rest in the entourage of cars driven by Andy and Charles.

Having arrived, parking was at a premium and it took a little time to gather the group together before being greeted by our host Sandra. We were lead along the open corridor with posters of Great Britain representatives, messages of inspiration and an open gym below with students and athletes hard at work. Whilst gathered outside eating lunch we were joined by Ben Fletcher who represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympics for an opportunity for our players and coaches to ask questions and gain an insight as to the trials and tribulations you go through to compete at the top. And to find out that he lives rather close to the grandparents of one of our own. The Judoka also took the opportunity to get yet another squiggle from an Olympian on their belts and in their books.

After lunch the Judoka were led by Sandra to the changing facilities to get ready for the action. The excited Judoka waited patiently outside the Dojo against the wall where many pictures of Bath Judoka hung, finishing with Head Coach Juergen himself. The Elite Squad would soon appear waiting to enter their domain. When the door did open our young players appeared apprehensive and in awe of what would be their surroundings for the next 2 hours. The feel of the mats beneath their feet told them this is a level of Dojo above their usual training environment.

Once Juergen took charge of the session the Bath Squad and our own took notice, but he struck a calm and relaxing presence on the mat, and once the players Rei’d the fun would begin. A game of what can only be described at judo belt hockey pitted DJC against Team Bath. It was competitive as you would expect, but fun and enjoyable. The game soon changed with the ball being replaced by a much larger red one. The matched ended 3 -1 to Team Bath, but the result did not matter, DJC held their own.

The next part of the session would focus on technique. Firstly on positioning ready to lift a player before breaking down a forward throw into 3 stages. Following at quick drink stop the players would learn about changing direction during a throw. Each stage was expertly demonstrated by Judoka of Team Bath before being repeatedly practised by everyone in pairs down the mat. This was all over seen by Sandra and Juergen as they supported and advised the players. There were some excellent techniques on display and our players were also taking the opportunity to see how the Elite Squad did it.

The pace quickened with players grouped together in threes. A player in the group was numbered 1 – 3 with each throwing the number next to them 3 times before moving to the second player and then the third. This was completed 5 times and really got the heart pumping. Before you knew it the session was nearly over, but what Judo session would be complete without a little bit of randori!

The DJC players fancied their chances against Team Bath, so took them on one-by-one, putting to practise some of what they had learned. They took every opportunity slam their larger more advanced opponents into the mat. But one favourite Olympian must have felt particularly picked on as Ben Fletcher had a queue of DJC players waiting to pit themselves against him.

The traditional bow signalled the end of the session enjoyed by all. A group photo would be a small record of the occasion that will live long with each player. There was a brief chance to talk to the star players and coaches and to gain some further autographs from the Judo celebs. Unfortunately it did have to come to an end as the players changed into travel gear (DJC hoodies and polo shirts of course) for one final photo outside the awesome facility. The players did look a bit tired, but soon perked up when club Chairman promised a Happy Meal on the way back….and he delivered.

By the time we arrived back in Plymouth it was 8pm, but the day did not seem that long, but as they say, times fly’s when you are having fun. Throughout the day the Judoka represented the club well, showed respect and made the most of their time, but there is no time to rest, there was squad training the following evening.

Well what a great day it was for the players and a wonderful experience to train at such a top facility, with elite players and top coaches. A big thank you goes to all of the DJC members for all of their hard work for making this happen, for Sandra for being a great host and the patience showed with the players, to Juergen for his top class coaching, to Ben for his time and to the elite players for sharing their mat with us. Wow!

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