Under the leadership of 1st Dan George Tones East March Judo Club has been growing in strength within east Berwickshire for the last 23 years.
Based in Foulden, and with Coach Gavin Smith working alongside George, the club has been quietly teaching judo to all abilities and ages for recreational, social, self-defence and competitive players.
Last January three talented members of East March Judo Club were invited by Peter Gardiner of Sportif Judo to train alongside their squad members giving rise to a talent pathway for East March players who are serious about competitive judo.
Sportif Judo has many clubs throughout Scotland and Sweden and each year hold the largest international tournament and training camp in the UK.
Peter Gardiner has been a professional in judo all his working life. He is a 6th Dan, former national coach for Denmark and India, former director of coaching for Judo Scotland and former director of development for British Judo, working with clubs and national governing bodies around the World.
Peter delivers seminars on behalf of the International Judo Federation, European Judo Union, Olympic Solidarity Programme and Bath University Judo Degree Course, and provides workshops, seminars and training camps, as well as longer term coach education and development plans.
Over the past year both clubs have worked tirelessly to produce young judo players and the year finished on a high with East March claiming gold and silver medals at the Scottish Championships and a 2015 Scottish National Cadet Championship title. The final event of the year for Sportif Judo saw them bring a British Cadet Championship title and gold medal back to East Lothian.
To demonstrate the commitment from both sides to the students, the two clubs decided to join forces to give their students the best opportunities available to them. East March-Sportif Judo has evolved from the collaboration as both clubs are proud to acknowledge each other’s contribution to the sport and their athletes.
George Tones said: “We are proud and humbled to think that our small club has been recognised throughout Scotland for producing quality players. Now with our new Sportif partnership we have increased the opportunities for out players and coaches within the sport. We look forward to working with Peter, his team and all the Sportif players.”
Peter Gardiner said “Sportif are delighted to build a working partnership with East March judo club. Both George and Gavin have a wealth of coaching experience and continue to produce talented young athletes. Sportif Judo have an established talent programme that has seen Sportif top the national medal table for the past nine years. Now with the addition of East March’s athletes and coaches the programme has added strength and new impetus.”
Judo Scotland’s Johnny Imrie added: “This is a great example of how one of our more successful larger member clubs are working in partnership with one of our smaller member clubs helping them to build on their performance development and grow the sport of judo within the Borders.
“As Regional Development Officer for Judo Scotland I am extremely proud to help facilitate this partnership and think this could be the way forward for the sport in The Borders. There are definitely some smaller member clubs who could benefit from a similar partnership in any sport. It is good to see judo leading the way”
This year, thanks to links with links Active Schools, judo will be accessible to all. For the more motivated and talented player there are increased training and competitive opportunities including weekend camps and contests both in the UK and abroad. One judoka from East March -Sportif has already been selected for Judo Scotland’s 2016 Talent Development Programme.
Judo is many things to different people - it is a sport, an art, a discipline, a recreational activity, a fitness programme, a form of self-defence and a way of life. First step in judo is to enter the club’s Dojo (Foulden village hall 7pm Wednesdays). Any age or fitness level is welcomed. You will be guided slowly through your first steps as a judoka.