Fifteen members of Area 61 JJK Martial Arts travelled to the Shoalhaven Heads Community Centre on August 25 to compete in the NSW Kodokan Judo Association State Championships.
The members, both male and female between the ages of eight and 43, had varying experience in martial arts. Only one, 43-year-old Marty Jameson, had competed in a judo tournament before when he won a bronze medal at the Australian Titles last year.
The competition was run by the Bushido Judo Club, a famous Australian club that has produced many Australian, international, and Olympic champions, and there were approximately 50 competitors in various age and weight divisions at the event.
Many of the students were not used to the rules and regulations of a judo match, and most were tentative heading into their first match.
That didn't seem to phase them however, as every Area 61 competitor won a medal at the event.
One of the pleasing aspects of the day were comments made by other coaches and state-body representatives about Area 61 students showing skill, fighting spirit, good mat etiquette, and good sportsmanship.
The idea of tournaments is to allow students to use the skills they learn at training in a competition arena that is as safe as possible.
The rules are modified for each age bracket to allow for different skills to be developed. Age and weight categories are adjusted to keep every fight fair, and boys and girls compete separately.
On the same day, Roger Mayer also attended Shoalhaven Heads to attempt his black-belt Sho Dan grading.
Mayer, a retired NSW Police sergeant with the dog squad, commenced his judo training in 1966 aged 10.
He was graded to 1st Kyu brown belt in 1976, before going to train in Japan. He came back to Australia to join the Northern Territory Police Force in 1978, and returned to NSW in 1981.
After 43 years, Mayer thought it may be time to finally seek his black belt. After three months of practice with the assistance of Area 61 instructors Mark Tobin and Amanda Noble, he sought permission to be tested.
Mayer underwent a two-and-a-half hour text of his knowledge and techniques under the watchful eye of Shidoshi Bruce Fagan, an Australian team coach and international coach and referee.
Even though he was nervous at the start, Mayer calmed down enough to demonstrate and explain important judo techniques, as well as perform the Nage No Kata, a pre-arranged set of throws with a partner.
Mayer was informed he had passed the test, and pending verification from the Australian Kodokan Judo Association, he would be awarded his black belt.
At nearly 63 years of age, Mayer still trains and competes in judo tournaments, proof that age and time are not barriers to your passion.
Area 61 team members
Millie Kaushal (11)
Sahara Kaushal (9)
Tajh Dimmen (12)
Gidjet Dimmen (10)
Emma Peard (9)
Sean Peard (9)
Casey-Jade Griffiths (11)
Dylan Griffiths (8)
Ella Elwes (12)
Myles Duncombe (13)
Josh Stuchbery (15)
Monique Stuchbery (14)
Ethan Hossack (18)
Douglas d'Amico (16)
Martin Jameson (43)