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From Pizza to Black Belt: My Judo Journey

In 2019, I embarked on a judo journey that transformed my life in ways I never anticipated. Before that year, exercise had taken a back seat in my life, and martial arts were nowhere on my radar. It all started rather unexpectedly one evening when a family member, on his way to judo practice, urged me to join him just as I was about to dive into a Domino's pizza. Regrettably, I soon realised that pizza and warm-ups don't mix well.

The first few months were gruelling. I felt like I was being thrown around in every direction, constantly overwhelmed by the flurry of new techniques and the fast-paced intensity of each practice. However, one of the remarkable aspects of judo is the camaraderie and support from higher grades. Despite their advanced skills, they were always encouraging and eager to teach, making those tough initial months bearable. This supportive community was pivotal in keeping me motivated.

As I began to progress through the gradings and committed to regular training sessions, the difference in my judo became noticeable. Improvement in judo often feels slow and painstaking, but there are moments when everything clicks, and you can truly see the results of your hard work.

Competing was a whirlwind of emotions—nerves, excitement, and adrenaline. The build-up often made me question why I put myself through it, but the rush during the fight and the triumph afterward, especially after a win, is unmatched.

Reaching the 1st kyu level marked the beginning of competitive dan gradings, an experience that was both challenging and rewarding. These events felt similar to competitions but with a stronger sense of community and mutual support among participants, many of whom became friends despite never having met before.

Achieving my Dan grade was an indescribable moment. After five years of dedication, the sense of accomplishment was immense. A referee’s comment stuck with me: earning your Dan grade is not the end but the beginning of a new chapter in judo. This perspective excites me as I continue my judo journey.

Throughout this journey, I've met incredible people and made friends I wouldn't have encountered otherwise. Kensho Judo Club, in particular, fosters a welcoming and friendly environment, making it a special place for everyone involved.

I owe a huge thank you to Mike and all the sensei at Kensho Judo Club. Their guidance and support have been instrumental in my journey. Here's to many more years of learning and growth in judo!

Luke W - 1st Dan Black Belt

British Judo Association

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