Share Our Passion: Stowmarket Judo Club

Share our passion: Stowmarket Judo ClubWant to try a new sport in 2017? Gail sings the praises of judo, where ‘the females always fight harder!’

Ealife: I’m a bit… ahem… more flabby than I ought to be. Does that rule me out?

Gail Aldous, Stowmarket Judo Club treasurer and welfare officer: No, not at all – all weights are catered for. Judo is a surprisingly tough and hard workout which would help with overall fitness for everyone.

Are there many women?

There are a lot of women who do judo. A local club actually has quite a few and I know they stop mid-session to have a cuppa! We currently only have a few, but are always open to people, men and women, just wanting to try it. There is no disadvantage to being female, as in competition you will only fight female opposition. (Anyway, the females always fight harder!)

What’s the philosophy?

Modern judo was founded by Prof Jigoro Kano in 1882. A descendant of the martial art of jujitsu, judo means “the gentle way” – the “gentleness” describing the abstinence from weapons and the “way”, or philosophy, describing the control of force.

If I came along, what would it be like?

You would be welcomed and made to feel at home. No-one would be throwing you hard. Firstly, you would be taught how to fall correctly without injuring yourself – very important!

Er… will it hurt? Will it ache?

Hurt? Ha ha. No, not too much – and yes, if you are a little out of fitness, I would expect a few aching muscles the following day or day after.

Why is it good?

Judo not only works-out the body but the mind. When taking judo, you will build self-confidence, trust, self-discipline and respect for yourself and others.

In addition to positively affecting the mind and body, judo is also good for the spirit. The fluid range of movement is somewhat of a meditation which calms the mind and soothes the soul.

Many people often report lower stress levels and greater peace of mind when taking a martial art, as spirituality is often a key aspect of a martial art, and is not unique to judo.

How does judo differ from other martial arts?

Judo is based upon mainly throws, holds, arm-locks and strangles (the latter two being introduced in early adult years onwards). There is no striking or kicking involved; purely trying to place your opponent flat on their back in a controlled throw.

When did the club start, and how many members do you have?

The club was running way back before me – probably before I was born in the mid ’70s. We have around 40 judo players at Stowmarket.

How long have you been involved?

I’ve been participating in judo for around three years now. My husband is a coach and both my children take part. I wasn’t really interested, although I should have been, with the 
hubby competing in the British Masters 
and Master Commonwealth – getting gold in both!

They were looking for a treasurer and I volunteered. It wasn’t until I saw my daughter in her first competition; I was watching her getting all excited and my heart was racing – that’s when I decided to give it a try. I fell in love with it!

I find I can be myself on the mat, without being judged. I love the rush of adrenaline, too, and it keeps me fit!

Can you tell us a joke?

Q When is the best season to learn judo?

A Just before the fall.