Fun fact: Jim Birnie started attending the annual Saxony Open before many of our current Dan grades even started judo. Otherwise it was business as usual, as our grandmaster’s paid his 7th visit to the tournament in Langenhessen, where he fought in the M7 category. 11 nations were represented at the event, where many fighters return every year just as much to catch up with their old judo friends from around Europe as for the actual fighting.
Thanks to Slimming World (Jim’s own words, Oxford Judo gives no official endorsement), he once again made weight at 89.4 kg, and a hearty breakfast later it was back to the mat. Jim’s weight category ended up being amalgamated with the u100s, so besides being a waste of missed indulgences, it also meant he was fighting bigger opponents again. That did not stop him however, as he took on the new IJF rules for the first time with only 3 shidos allowed, but a ‘mega amount of waza-aris’ (again, in Jim’s own eloquent speech).
Jim’s first fight was against a 2nd Kyu, and he quickly threw with O-uchi-gari into Kata-ha-jime and secured the ippon. In the second fight he faced a 3rd Dan, and with two waza-aris from Jim’s trusted old Ippon-seoi-nage and Tomoe-nage, he didn’t score the ippon as in the olden days, but instead the fight went to time, where he beat his opponent on scores. In the last fight Jim faced a 4th Dan, whom he was tied in points with, so this was to be the gold medal bout, and Jim was preparing his battle face. After bowing on, and the referee called hajime, his opponent decided to withdraw, leaving Jim with the win by Kiken-gachi. A less satisfying win, but a win nonetheless, and our resident Scotsman once again returned home to the island with a gold medal in the hold.