So you’re thinking of coming down to see us, but a feeling a little intimidated, don’t be. Here is some general information that may help to answer your initial questions, as well as some basic rules.
“I haven’t any white pyjamas.”
Not a problem, at the club, we have a selection of used, but very clean Judogi (Judo suit, sometimes just called a gi) that should be able to fit all shapes and sizes. Normally you can borrow them for a few weeks until you feel it’s something you/ your child would like to continue with, by then I’m sure you’ll want a Judogi of your own (especially the kids, who’ll want somewhere to sew there badges on), speak to one of the coaching team, as they can source them at a very reasonable cost. We’ll also lend you an Obi (Judo belt).
“What do I wear on my feet?”
Simple this one, nothing. Judo is performed with bare feet and so a very strict policy of any Judo dojo, no shoes on the mat and no walking bare foot off the mat. This is very important, as introducing foreign objects to the fighting area is a complete no-no. The ideal scenario is that Judoka have a set of Judo ‘foot wear’ that they put on when entering the dojo. You’ll find most players wear a pair of flip-flops, sandals, anything really that are easy to get on and off.
“My friend says I need a license”
After approx 4 weeks, students are encouraged to register with the BJA (British Judo Association) and obtain their license/ grading book. This is important, you need your grading book to keep a record of your improvement as you progress. You can’t enter competitions without your license/ grading book. It also means obtaining your red belt and importantly it provides insurance. But again don’t worry; the coaches will remind you when it’s time.
“Surely it gets all hot and sweaty”
Hopefully, as that will show you’re getting actively involved! But it must be pointed out that personal hygiene is very important in Judo, as your engaged so closely with other people. A clean white gi is demanded not only for hygiene reasons, but is also part of the Judo image. Finger and toe nails, must be kept short, as otherwise they can be broken or worse still, can cause an injury to your opponent. Also before leaving home or the changing rooms, give the feet a quick wash, this helps to keep the mats clean and if you do unfortunately get a foot infection at any time, please stop training until the infection clears up.
“I don’t want to damage my pearl earrings”
Not something the men/ boys have to worry about, we hope!! But on a serious note, when on the mat, no jewellery of any shape or size is allowed, although for rings that can’t be removed and for young children who have recently had their ears pierced, taping them over with a plaster or some zinc oxide tape is ok. Also for the girls with long hair, it must be tied up so that it doesn’t get in the way.
“Surely martial arts’ training is expensive.”
Well I’m sure some places are, but here at Wokingham, it’s currently £2 a session (first session is free). You will at some point need to pay for grading promotions, but again, they are not expensive.
“Judo looks extremely dangerous.”
It can’t be said that injuries don’t happen in Judo, after all, it is a close contact sport, although injuries do happen, thankfully serious ones are a rare event. We always have first aid trained instructors at all training sessions, so don’t worry, normally people pick up nothing more than is found in the school playground.
“I’ve never done Judo before.”
No-one is ever expected to join in with the main class straight away and will always be taught some basic moves before. These will teach you how to break your fall correctly and some basic attack and defence moves. Some people take to it very quickly (normally the kids) and are joining in with the main group in their first session. Some take a couple of sessions, but don’t worry; you’ll never be pushed to do something the coaches are not confident you can do and you’ll no doubt surprise yourself.
“What’s all this bowing about?”
Judo is a sport that instils respect and so you will often see people when entering the dojo (training hall), bowing as a sign of respect (although in essence, everyone should bow when entering the dojo), as well as when they leave the dojo. Before the session starts, all the students will line up and once instructed by the Sensei will adopt the Seiza (formal kneeling position) and again following the Sensei’s instruction, they will be called to Rei (bow), you’ll also witness this at the end of the training session, this is out of respect for the Sensei, the other coaches and the 1st Dan (Black Belt) and above Judoka. Before each player executes Uchikomi (repeated practise), or Randori (free practise), with a partner, they will bow to there opponent as a sign of respect for their training partner/ opponent. And at the end of a good struggle, a shake of the hands is also appropriate. Confused, easy really, if in doubt, just bow!!
So as you see, nothing really to worry about, but if you’re still not sure about anything, just ask any of the coaching team or even contact Dave before hand, they will all be more than willing to help in any way they can.