As part of their visit to the UK, students from the prestigious Nada Junior and Senior High School in Japan joined us in the dojo this Saturday for a joint randori session. The schools, which are situated in Kobe in Japan, were founded by Jigoro Kano in 1928, and to commemorate this tie a weekly judo class is a mandatory part of the students’ education. Nada High School maintains close ties to Harrow School in London, and in connection with this visit to the UK, Matt Glossop and Paul Ajala therefore helped organise for the Japanese guests to join Oxford Judo for one session.

After being shown around Oxford in the morning, our visitors and the club’s locals filled up our already crowded dojo for a line up that stretched all the way around the mat, with too many dan grades to keep an accurate count of the turnout of the day.

After a warm up that almost required all players to move in sync to ensure enough space to operate, and a few quirky gymnastic sequences down the mat, we made the most out of our visit by allowing plenty of time for everyone to enjoy uchi-komis and randori with players they didn’t know beforehand. Being a special occasion, the Oxford judoka were keen to experience training with their Japanese counterparts, and players consistently paired up with partners from the other club to make the most out of this session. After multiple rounds of tachi-waza randori, where unfortunately space limitations meant the tatami was restricted to four pairs at a time, players took to the ground for some ne-waza randori. To finish it off, we all sat down to spectate as two of the students demonstrated the fifteen throws of Kano’s Nage-no-kata to the rest of the group.

Before the session came to a close, OUJC President Gregor handed the Japanese senseis and group leaders each their Oxford Judo t-shirt in our signature dark blue colour as a token of gratitude for visiting us, and the students all got small memorabilia from Oxford. Our guests had also brought gifts with them, as all Oxford players got a traditional cloth enscribed with Jigoro Kano’s mottos ‘maximum efficiency with minimum effort’ and ‘mutual welfare and benefit’, as well as the two schools’ emblems written in kanji. After the session the guests headed back into town for further exploration, followed by formal dinner at one of the colleges.

We had a wonderful session, and much gratitude is due to Sensei Matoba and Sensei Sakaguchi and their students for visiting us, as well as Paul and Matt for bringing their guests to see us in Oxford. Last but not least we were so happy to see Mitsuki and Jack spreading fun and smiles all around the dojo, and a special well done for impressing everyone with your excellent judo skills. We hope you have a successful stay in the UK, and who knows if you will be back in our dojo in the future as part of our university team.

Photos from the session are on our Flickr page here.

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