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  • Ross Taylor

DJC @ The First Regional England Development Squad(REDS) Training Session


REDS First Training Session

With some trepidation and an early start, four of Drake Judo Club’s Gen1 orange belts started their journey along the Performance Pathway with a familiar trip up to the University of Bath’s dojo, in the bowels of the Sports Training Village. Lottie, Alanna, Lucy and Bodgan had made it through the assessment day a month ago and now they got their reward: 1 session a month at various locations around the country with the England coaching team. Not only do the kids have to demonstrate great technical judo but show the right attitude throughout – the parents have to show a fair degree of commitment too!

Once registered with the ever present Jason Parsons (ladies coach for the Western Area, very good to ensure he knows the girls!), it was a quick change, rei on and straight into the warm up. All the supporting parents were summarily dismissed to peer into the dojo from the second floor windows – it was actually quite sociable!

First up was a 2 hour groundwork session. Working through a number of drills, both on the ground and in transition, followed by a session of breakfalls (including a competition for which judoka could do the highest side breakfall!) and a period of work on improving uke’s techniques in response to tori’s attacks. A full on newaza randori session raised the heart rate before a nice relaxing stretching session and warm down. Phew. Round 1 completed and time for a welcome lunch break.

If the first session was anything to go by, the next session would be even harder. And so it proved. No lying down this time; standing work. A great game to warm up, with one player gripped with another and a third trying to attack! They soon worked out how to use uke to block tori’s attack. More gymnastics skills led to a series of breaking balance routines was intended to concentrate the mind on using movement and momentum to throw. Time to put it into practice with a committed randori session, firstly with the judoka choice of partners then an intensive winner stays on. Woe betide those hiding at the back not wanting to play as they were grabbed by the collar and thrust into the action by the coaches

Great to see Lottie and Bogdan getting stuck in, taking on higher graded players (and taking the medicine too). Lucy and Alanna picked up knocks early on, but still gave a brave effort. Alanna was particularly hampered by being in the “big” kids group and took on the number 1 ranked precadet (in the “overs” weight group) in her first randori. Alanna looked like she was going to be squished.

With heads dropping and bodies flagging (the benches down the side of the dojo had filled up with judoka clutching ice packs to various bits of their bodies!), everyone was collected back onto the mat for a quick warm down to get pulses under control and then they were despatched for a 5 minute pit stop. Not everyone heard the length of the break and a few judoka were seen running back to the dojo when time was called. No one wanted to be the last one back.

Final session was a glorified circuit training session. Mainly intended to stretch and work the judoka’s bodies and make up for the lack of the dreaded 12 minute run test as it was raining. A full hour of squats, sit ups, press ups and a myriad of other exercises pushed everyone well up to the red line.

And then it all stopped. 5 hours of intensive judo; a few bumps, bruises and definitely sweaty brows but also a lot of smiles and “that was great”. Everyone gained loads of knowledge about themselves and the expectations of the coaches. With only a few weeks before the next session in early March, it’s going to be interesting to see how the judoka develop and adapt to this level. Fascinating to watch!


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