The East of Scotland Annual Disability Judo Championships is a Special Olympics GB Qualifying event. This year it took place in Livingstone, near Edinburgh.
Recently my son took up Judo at school. He is really enjoying it and shows a natural talent for the sport. Judo is a martial art that originated in Japan. It is also an Olympic sport. The name Judo means “The Gentle Way”. The aim of the sport is to throw or bring your opponent to the ground and immobilise them by pinning them down. To be good at judo you need to learn the technique which requires discipline. This discipling applies to other parts of life not just judo.
East of Scotland Annual Disability Judo Open Championships
At the end of April we sent off to Livingstone so my son could compete in the East of Scotland Physical and Intellectual Annual Disability Judo Open Championships. Livingstone is between Edinburgh and Glasgow and it takes about two and a half hours to drive there from Newcastle. We set off very early in the morning in order to arrive for registration between 8:30 and 9:00. There are a couple of ways to get there and we took the more scenic route. The A68 takes you though the wilds of woolly, into rural Northumberland and then into the Scottish borders through the centre of the Chevoit Hills. Wildlife was abundant. A deer ran across the road in front of the car, a pheasant ambled happily down the middle of the road and lapwings flew overhead. It is a good job my husband is a good driver. The scenery was stunning and in the early morning sun it was a pleasant drive. We have been to Northumberland National Park many times but not along this road before.
We arrived in time for registration at the Craigswood Sports Centre. My son went off to register, find out what weight group he would compete in and get changed. In the meantime my husband I took our seats waiting for the event to start. We met up with the rest of the school team who were ready to take part. The place was full and everyone was buzzing with excitement. The competitors practised their moves and warmed up getting ready for the championships to begin.
Soon it was time for the opening ceremony. All the athletes left the hall and after a short break filed back into the hall. They stood in two lines under the flags whilst speeches were made to open the championships. People of all ages were competing and you could tell they were nervous and excited. Soon the championships would begin.
A quick summary of the tournament rules
Competitors fight in weight groups and the number of people in each group can vary. Each group member has to fight every other group member and points are awarded during the fight. The number of points have a name:
- Ippon – a full point
- Waza-ari – or almost ippon, a half point
- Yuko (almost waza-ari)
The contest ends when one contestant scores an ippon. If neither score an ippon then the person with the highest number of points wins.
These can be gained by doing the following:
- Executing a throwing technique where the contestant ends up being thrown largely on their back with force or speed
- Holding someone in a pin for 25 seconds
- A contestant giving up because they are unable to continue.
- The other contestant being disqualified for not following the rules
- Applying an effective stranglehold.
- Earning two waza-ari
Fighting in the Judo Championships
My son’s fight was not until the afternoon so he had time to watch everyone else whilst becoming more nervous. There were two mats where the fights were going on with judges overseeing them. Our school team did well winning several of the fights. Soon it was time for my son to go on. He had five fights which were filled with drama.
The fights varied in intensity. Some went on right until the end the competitors trying to gain an advantage and pin each other down. One was really hard fought lasting ages and providing much drama. Another was over quickly after only forty seconds. After what seemed like forever the bouts were at an end and we just had to wait to find out the results. Who would be taking home the medals?
There was a brief intermission during which the hall was readied for the medal ceremony. The competitors all then sat down and the results of each group was made known. Each of the athletes then had to make their way to the podium and get their medals. Finally it was time for the winners of my son’s group to be announced. Unbelievably he had won the gold medal. My son had spent his time telling us on the way to the competition not to expect too much as he wasn’t that good. He then went away with a gold medal and is the champion of East Scotland for his weight. We were really proud and pleased for him. He also had a black eye and a split lip, the mark of a true judo champion. The school team did really well as a whole with plenty of silver and bronze medals between them.
It was a thrilling day and my son did really well. Now he can compete in the Special Olympics Games in Sheffield in the Summer. It will be a great experience for him and he is looking forward to it. Do your children do any sports? How are they getting on? Let me know below.